Monday, 27 July 2015

Jericho: Countdown to Oblivion - Chapter 6: The Ark of the Testimony


Whatever else the Ark might be, one thing is certain in the Bible: it is dangerous. It is so dangerous that the greatest king of Israel was scared to death of it. Everyone was. The Israelites relied on the Ark to win many of their battles and called for it to be brought into a battle they were losing against the Philistines with disastrous consequences: they lost the battle, and also the Ark. But, when it was captured by the Philistines, they could not wield its awesome power and were perplexed regarding the fate of this very beautiful yet terrifying artefact, so they moved it to several different cities where it brought a plague of tumours and mice upon their people, thus it was removed from their kingdom entirely (1 Samuel 6:5-12).

     The story of the Ark’s removal is even more fantastic: carried by two cows, and left to its own devices, it mysteriously guided itself back to Judea, and there are similar, strange stories about the Ark from other sources outside of the Bible including the ‘Kebra Nagast’This highly regarded ancient text among the Ethiopian people also reports that the Ark had a mind of its own, and the ability to levitate both itself and an entire caravan on their homeward journey from Jerusalem to Ethiopia following its mysterious disappearance from the Holy of Holies inside the Temple of Jerusalem.

     During Joshua’s conquest, it was believed to be the most powerful object in the world. So powerful was this awesome weapon, that none but the Israelites dared use it. But even they were not permitted:

And when they came to the threshing-floor of Nacon, Uzzah put forth 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 for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. (2 Samuel 6:6-7)

     Just to clarify, God did not hate Uzzah for touching the Ark, but He had no choice, it would have set a precedent. Any general would have done the same thing lest there be insubordination among the troops, which then leads to disrespect. This was often the case in the Old Testament and was the reason for a lot of the smiting. The message was made perfectly clear to everyone that day.

     Anyone who gazes upon the Ark when not permitted is smitten by the LORD and thousands have died from doing so (1 Samuel 6:19). This thing is lethal. There are also stories to this day of impure men who, upon approaching the Ark, are killed. The only man presently allowed to access it is supposedly an Ethiopian priest at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Aksûm, Ethiopia, where the Ark is said to currently reside. And it is believed by the Ethiopians to have been brought there by Solomon’s firstborn son Menyelek—this information and many more revealing facts about the Ark can be found in the ‘Kebra Nagast’. According to this book, once Menyelek had reached adulthood, he returned to Jerusalem to meet with his father and later brought the Ark back with him to Ethiopia.

“The Ark is a thing of fire.” 

—Aba Tesfa Marium, so called “Guardian of the Ark” in Aksûm, Ethiopia

Adam Cherrington, Author of Jericho

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