Where is the ark of the covenant?

The actual location of the Ark has been speculated on for centuries. According to both, the Mishna (the entire body of Jewish religious law that was passed down and developed before 200 CE, when it was finally redacted by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi) and the Tanach (the Jewish scriptures which consist of three divisions–the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings), the Ark was hidden underneath the First Temple by King Solomon. More specifically, the sources point to a spot underneath what was called the Chamber of the Woodshed located in the Women’s Courtyard.

The same sources indicate that through prophesy, King Solomon foresaw the destruction of both Temples and the building of the Third, and last, Temple. He built a secret underground chamber for the Ark directly beneath the Holy of Holies (the inner sanctuary within the Temple that was said to retain some or all of its original sanctity for use in the future Third Temple) in accordance to the original blueprints of the Temple.

According to the Lubavitch Rebbe, (Menachem Mendel Schneerson, b. April 5, 1902- June 12, 1994, the spiritual leader of the enormous Chabad Lubavitch movement and one of the most prominent and respected Hassidic rabbis of the 20th century) we see from the above sources that the Ark isn’t just a vessel, but an integral spiritual part of the Temple and the Holy of Holies itself. Thus, the Ark is what transforms the Temple from a “mere” house of worship into an actual House of G-d. If the Holy of Holies and the Ark are found in their original location, it will prove an indisputable, unbroken connection between all three Temples.

It is also interesting to note the fashion in which the Ark was lowered from the Holy of Holies into its chamber. According to the Ralbag (Rabbi Levi ben Gershon, b.1288- d. 1344, one of the most respected medieval Jewish philosophers), and the Malbim (Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Jehiel Michel Weiser, b.1809- d.1879, a Russian Rabbi, preacher, and Bible commentator), the Ark was lowered to the chamber on a golden-tiled platform which was part of the floor of the Holy of Holies. This floor of was then re-tiled to hide the opening. This is significant on two counts. Firstly, it shows that when the Ark is found it will sit on part of the original floor of the Holy of Holies, once again demonstrating the intrinsic connection of the three Temples. Secondly, it shows that the platform was never meant to come back up the same way it went down. Some other exit must have been created for the Kohanim who took the Ark down to the chamber, and to provide access to the chamber in the future.

It’s easy to see why the Ark of the Covenant holds great fascination and has been depicted and used as a central motif in myriad books and movies. But this relic holds a more special meaning to the Jewish nation. Should the Ark of the Covenant actually be found, it would provide irrefutable, incontestable proof of the Jewish sovereignty over the Temple mount, the indisputable justice of a united Jewish Jerusalem and the undeniable right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. The implications and potential ramifications of this are verwhelmingly staggering. There are those that would very much like any evidence of the Temples, and even more so, the Ark itself, never to see the light of day. And unless something is done soon, these forces will get their wish.

Since 1917, complete control of the Temple Mount has been in Arab hands. A strong military police (Waqf) presence watches over the site. Access to Jews is almost completely restricted. Therefore, a proper, full-scale archeological dig is currently next to impossible. However, there is widespread knowledge that under the guise of renovation and construction, the Arabs have been doing much digging of their own. In fact, they have been systematically destroying any evidence they find related to the Temples, while at the same time running a propaganda campaign that claims the Temples never so much as existed on Mount Moriah. The reaction of the world has been at best oblivious, at worst, compliant.