The stone table was found within an ancient temple unearthed approximately 20km west of Jerusalem.
The golden chest believed to have held the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, the Ark remains one of the most sought-after and mystifying religious artifacts in history.
For years researchers have attempted to determine where it might be or if it even still exists at all. It’s last known location was King Solomon’s Temple but when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem the temple was destroyed and the Ark disappeared along with it.
Now archaeologists have discovered a distinctive stone table in the ruins of a 3,100-year-old temple near Beit Shemesh – a city with strong biblical connections to the Ark.
According to the book of Samuel, the Ark had been placed upon a ‘large stone’ in the city after being returned by the Philistines. Could the recently discovered table be that stone ?
The temple in which the table was unearthed, which has been undergoing excavation since 2012, is a perfect square with walls 8.5m long. Inside, archaeologists have found pottery and animal bones, suggesting that the building may have been used to conduct rituals.
“There is a lot of evidence that this was indeed a temple,” said Prof. Shlomo Bunimovitz of Tel Aviv University. “When you look at the structure and its content, it’s very clear that this not a standard domestic space but something special.”
While the temple and its stone table do seem to roughly align with the story of the Ark being brought to Beit Shemesh, proving that the Ark really was rested upon is going to be very difficult.
One major issue is that the temple’s destruction seems to pre-date the Ark story by 400 years.
“I don’t think anyone would take this literally and conclude that this is the stone from the biblical story,” said Prof Avraham Faust from Bar-Ilan University.
“Obviously the story was written much later, but this find might support the theory that there are some very early traditions that made their way into the Bible.”
A 3100-year-old temple uncovered near Beit Shemesh. The archaeological site has now recently yielded a stone table, which echoes Biblical narratives of a slab on which the Ark of the Covenant to have been placed…https://t.co/Sfcx1b5K78
— Pauline N ♦️ (@Pauline_Nollet) December 20, 2019