587 BC

With the revolt suppressed, Nebuchadnezzar's forces sacked Jerusalem itself, stripping the Temple of all its gold sheeting and valuable artefacts. The latter, presumably, having been reproduced over the years to replace those seized by Ramesses II some three centuries previously. The Babylonians then broke up the two pillars, the laver and sacrificial altar before burning down the structure which had stood for over 370 years. They followed this by dismantling the citadel walls so thoroughly that little trace of them was left.

Sometime during this period, the Ark of the Covenant vanished completely, and was never referred to again in the Bible. One is forced to presume either, that this was because it was destroyed or, more intriguingly, because it was secreted away some time during the previous ten years, never to be rediscovered. It seems inconceivable that the High Priest would have passively allowed its capture. Equally the removal of such a holy artefact, together with the profound religious significance that it exerted, could hardly have passed unnoticed or unrecorded. It is not unreasonable to suspect that it could have been hidden in the depths of Mount Moriah.

On the other hand Jeremiah, in the Apocrypha, is reported to have stated clearly that he removed and hid the Ark in a cave outside Jerusalem and which he then sealed up (29).

Graham Hancock, in his BBC programme of 8th. August 1993, submitted another theory in that it might have been transported secretly to Aksum, the ancient former capital of Ethiopia. At all events, what ever the answer, its disappearance still remains the greatest biblical mystery.