The purpose of this document is to show that the much spread myth
that the lost Ark of the Covenant has been in Axum, Ethiopia, since
after the destruction of Solomon's Temple, is just that - a myth with
neither Biblical, Historical nor Chronological foundation.
Why do we consider this issue important enough to dedicate a full
document to it? Because even if the
only importance the Ark has for Catholics is of historical nature (1)
, there seems to be a
movement afoot to perhaps use it as part of the falsification in the
Second Coming of Christ.
For example - the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church,
Pauolos, has been in the high profiled news within the last six
making some rather dramatic statements. To wit:
The patriarch of the Orthodox Church of
Ethiopia says he will announce to the world Friday the unveiling of the
Ark of the Covenant, perhaps the world's most prized archaeological and
spiritual artifact, which he says has been hidden away in a church in
his country for millennia, according to the Italian news agency
Of course, Friday, June 26th came and went and not a word about the
and while addressing (3)
Third General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly of the Synod
of Bishops where he was invited as
a special guest
of Benedict XVI....
"Queen Sheba had taught her compatriots
about the Old Testament which she learnt from Israel. Since then, The Ark of the
Covenant is in Ethiopia, in the city of Axum.
The son of queen Sheba,
Manlike I, had followed her example and managed to bring the Ark of the
Covenant of Moses to Africa, Ethiopia.
Let us speak of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the heart of the Africans
and Jesus will return to
Africa, as he did when
he was a child together with the Virgin
Mary. And peace, mercy and justice will come together with Jesus!"
Notice that the Patriarch used the term "as he did"
which means physically
and not spiritually through the conversion of the African continent.
Using Bishop Usher's Biblical dating system....
The reign of Solomon started
The Temple dedication was
Queen Sheeba (Sheba or Saba) visited on 995 BC
King Solomon dies on
The prophet Jeremiah is active between
628 and 586 BC
The First Captivity took place
Destruction of the Temple took place on 586 BC
The Final Captivity took place
The Ark is allegedly in Axum, Ethiopia, seen by no one but its
in what is now the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion. It's alleged
that it reached Axum via Elephantine Island (stayed ca. 200
years) and Tana Qirqos Island (stayed ca. 800 years). That is -
the Ark allegedly reached Axum no later than the year 25 AD [200 + 800
- 975 = 25]
The child that supposedly was born from the relationship between
Solomon and Sheba (not a historical nor Biblical fact) went on to
become Menelik I, King of Axum. Menelik, who reputedly had been a
faithful practicing Jew, had allegedly been gifted with a replica Ark
the Covenant by King Solomon. However, the story goes on to say that
the replica and original Ark was switched with the original eventually
going to Axum with Menelik and his mother. The claim is that it
is still there, guarded
by a single priest charged with caring for the artifact as his life's
The problem with this romantic myth lies on two interrelated facts:
1. One just did not simply switch the Ark
that easily. Understanding how restricted the access to the Ark was and
the immense importance it had for the people of Israel,
that is about the most ridiculous explanation to justify how
the original Ark left Jerusalem no later than the year 975
time of Solomon's death).
2. The Prophet Jeremiah, who was
practically on a first-name-basis with God, wrote in a letter, as the
Second Book of Maccabees tells us:
was also contained in the same
writing, how the prophet, being
warned by God, commanded that the
tabernacle and the ark should accompany him, till he came forth to the
mountain where Moses went up, and saw the inheritance of God. 5 And
when Jeremias came thither he found a hollow cave: and he carried in
thither the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense,
and so stopped the door. 6
Then some of them that followed
him, came up to mark the place: but they could not find it. [2 Maccabees Chapter 2]
[The Second Book of
Maccabees was written between ca 180 BC and 161 BC]
Obviously God would have been aware of any switching of the Ark
as the Ethiopian myth claims.
Although Solomon's relationship with the Queen Sheba and their
alleged offspring is not a matter of Biblical record it is not
1. It indeed took place.
2. A son resulted from it.
3. The son returned to Jerusalem to meet his father, King Solomon
4. Being the son a devout Jew, his father commissioned a replica of the
Ark for his son to take to Ethiopia to be used as a focus for
the religious practice of his people.
As a matter of fact - this proposed scenario really has a "ring of
truth" to it;
however, from this scenario to having switched the Ark, taken it to
Ethiopia (with two stops on its way) and fooling God as to where the
Ark really was, makes the Star Wars trilogy
As we stated earlier - if
the Ark were to be found today in the place where Jeremiah had hidden
it, it would only be of Biblical and historical interest; therefore, it
impact in any way upon the Christian Faith in general and the Catholic
Faith, in particular.
The Resurrection of Jesus and His presence - Body, Blood and Divinity -
in consecrated hosts and wine are the absolute center of the Catholic
Granted, the Tablets contained in the Ark were engraved by the Finger
of God, but in each Tabernacle in the whole wide world God is present,
hidden under the species of wheat and wine (wine in Orthodox Holiest of