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Raiders Of The Lost Ark
by Wayne Blank
"Indiana Jones" vs The Bible
In referring to the Tables of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were written, that Moses broke when he come down off Mount Sinai and discovered that the Israelites were running amok, "Indiana Jones" said that "the Hebrews took the broken pieces and put them in the Ark." That is incorrect. A second set of Ten Commandments was made, and it was the unbroken second set that was placed in the Ark:
"At that time The Lord said to me, 'Hew two tables of stone like the first, and come up to Me on the mountain, and make an Ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the Words that were on the first tables which you broke, and you shall put them in the Ark.' So I made an Ark of acacia wood, and hewed two tables of stone like the first, and went up the mountain with the two tables in my hand. And He wrote on the tables, as at the first writing, the Ten Commandments which The Lord had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly; and The Lord gave them to me. Then I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they are, as The Lord commanded me." (Deuteronomy 10:1-5 RSV)
"Indiana Jones" said that "an army that carries the Ark before it is invincible." Only if they truly obeyed God! The Israelite army, at the time being lead by corrupt hypocrites, carried the Ark into battle with them, and they were defeated:
"So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home; and there was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. And the Ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain." (1 Samuel 4:10-11 RSV)
"Indiana Jones" says that the Ark was most likely looted by Egyptian Pharaoh Shishak, about 980 BC (the actual date was probably closer to around 930 BC). That looting is referred to in the Bible:
"And it came to pass in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: And he took away the treasures of the house of The Lord, and the treasures of the king's house" (1 Kings 14:25-26 RSV)
For many, that's when the Ark was "lost" - some believe that it was taken to Egypt, or Ethiopia, or elsewhere, about 930 BC. The movie Raiders Of The Lost Ark is based upon that having happened. But it didn't. The Temple and king's palace were looted of their "treasures," the Bible plainly says that, but the Bible doesn't say that the Ark was taken - as it surely would have plainly stated.
How can we know that the Ark was not carried away by Shishak in 930 BC? Because, in the Book of Jeremiah, God, in referring to a future time when the Israelites would not have it, describes the Ark's existence, in Jerusalem, in the time of King Josiah, who reigned from about 640-610 BC, about 300 years after Shishak looted Jerusalem:
"The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah ... The Ark of the covenant of The Lord." It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed" (Jeremiah 3:6,16 RSV)
Egyptian Pharaoh Shishak didn't loot the Ark in 930 BC for the same reason that the Babylonians didn't loot the Ark in 586 BC (see Why Babylon?). God allowed only the Levites to touch the Ark. Anyone else, whether an Israelite from another tribe, or any foreigner who tried to loot it, would have been destroyed if they laid hands upon it. Examples of that were Uzzah who was immediately struck down dead by God for merely touching the Ark when it was being moved to Jerusalem, and the Philistines upon whom God inflicted bubonic plague when they tried, and failed, to take possession of the Ark:
"And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the Ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of The Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there because he put forth his hand to the Ark; and he died there beside the Ark of God." (2 Samuel 6:6-7 RSV)
So, where is the lost Ark of the Covenant that no one but Levites could have had possession of without being killed? How far could it have actually gone from its last known location on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem to where it is right now? See the Fact Finder below.
Fact Finder: Where should have "Indiana Jones" searched for the Ark of The Covenant?