Thursday, March 31, 2011

Finding The Arc of The Covenant!

Looking For The Ark of The Covenant? I May Have Just Found it....
That is I may have just found it a one of those turning points in history--At the time of the destruction of the second temple of Jerusalem--the temple of Herod The Great. I did not find the physical object but have found a place where it would have been in context. The story of Josephus Flavius is what got me thinking that if the Ark ended up anywhere it should have ended up in the Eternal City of Rome just as Josephus did as slaves were just as much a type of trophy and form of booty as Gold encrusted objects taken in conquest were. Josephus arrived in Rome after having been a higher ranking leader among the Zealots and he returned to Judea with the last name of his imperial host and owner. Josephus had become a dear friend of the emperor and imperial class. He was marched into Rome a slave and sort of became the Roman equivalent of The American Wild West Shows. Josephus was a master of multiple languages including Latin , a writer a historian not to mention one of the most popular writers of the era he lived in . He returned to Judea as a sort of governor. The revolts had still not ended even though Herod's temple was destroyed. It would not be until Emperor Hadrian that the Jews would finally be expelled from Jerusalem and all traces of the original temple covered over. The Ark of the Covenant in this historical period would not necessarily likely be the exact same one that existed in the Temple of Solomon. The reason for this is simple. The Bible tells of the precise dimensions of the original Ark not so it could necessarily be preserved but so that it could at a later date be rebuilt to those exact dimensions. It was not the exterior of the ark, a box as it was, that was important but the contents. The contents would not likely have appealed to the Romans who had no difficulty burning down the great library of Alexandria earlier in the Imperial era. The Romans would not have given much of a damn for any writings that were not in Latin but they would have wanted the Ark with its shimmering golden exterior as a trophy. The same thing would have happened with the Babylonian seizure of the Arc when Solomon's temple was raised. There is nothing like golden objects for trophies of military conquest. There is more evidence now that the Romans were looking for any excuse possible to have provocation to go into the holy temple mount of Herod and remove the treasures and also , why not, to have access to a ready supply of slaves and of course direct ownership of Herod's lucrative Dead Sea salt mining business. Herod the great had died and as Josephus said left much of his family dead which put a power vacuum into the region filled by competing powers and at least one of Herod's surviving sons. The fall of the temple in Jerusalem lead to a spike in imperial Roman wealth and this lead to the building of the Coliseum among other major public and private works by the Emperor and Son. The place where the lucrative plundering is recorded besides in the preserved writings of Josephus are on at least one of the wall panels of the ceremonial arch (of triumph) of Titus leading into the forum of Rome. It was an arch placed at a particularly important entry point into the Roman Forum in a place that commemorated the triumphal march celebrating the reconquest of Jerusalem by Titus in the great city of Rome. In the famous Menorah bas relief from the inside panel of the arch the booty from the temple is shown including graven images on the menorah shown. Some have thought it was Roman fantasy because of this discrepancy. Herod the great was a Greek Jew who rebuilt the temple in a somewhat Greco -Roman style or at least under the influence. His rebuilding of the temple was not appreciated by all sects of Jews and priests in the holy city of Jerusalem and in fact he his best to cover over the original site of the temple of Solomon which had been an active shrine in ruins on the site for centuries much like the western wall is today. There is now evidence that the original site of the temple of Solomon may be as much as 70 feet below the grade of the temple mount because under the temple mount have been found internal buttressing stones behind the visible wall that are estimated to be as much as 500 tons. That one rock in particular suggests that Herod may have vaulted over the original shire of the remaining ruins of the temple of Solomon below the present day temple mount. Additional evidence comes from the cave under the dome of the rock which looks as if it had been one of those ancient cisterns on a hill top above solomon's temple mount that would have provided water for the ceremonial ritual services that went on there. Herod rebuilt the temple up to the highest level of the site at no small cost in doing so as the inner stones have now revealed that Herod's temple walls that survive were just there to level off the grand plaza at the highest existing level at the time and this was just left massive retaining walls we see today upon which the ceremonial center of the temple and Herod's Jerusalem place once stood with fortifications. There may also be surviving stones from Herod's temple complex warning gentiles that they might suffer death if they entered. The Romans entered and trespassed as they pleased with their army offering protection. so the Romans had seen the wealth of gold at the temple including the leaves of gold shaped as grape leaves by beating pilgrims coins into the shape of grape leaves and hanging them on solid gold vines on the exterior. The no trespassing signs invited the Romans in and it was inevitable that they would eventually have to find an excuse to lay siege to the temple and the assets that were available there for the taking.

Look at this same picture now. Google it--the famous Menorah bas relief from the Arch of Titus in Rome to see the details up close. It is not what you see in the picture that helps to locate the missing Ark but what you do not see. Look closely there are four men near the front of the procession whose arms are flexed carrying something that appears to be relatively heavy. Their arms are lost and so is what ever they were holding. It looks like four men carrying what would be a litter just like the one that used to transport the ark of the covenant. Even more interesting are the dimensions available to add the ark of the covenant. Remember this is a roman procession carrying the trophies from the reconquest of Judea into the Roman Forum probably to the temple of Mars where these objects would have been put up as public display . These were objects that did not contain huge amounts of gold but were flashy for the ceremonial procession . The real heavy gold would have been carted away to vaults near the guarded place of the emperor. It is possible the ark would have been emptied of it's original contents and stuffed with more valuable booty from the temple mount Besides the menorah are other objects that are known to have come from the temple including a ceremonial salt box near the front of the procession. The Roman standards are not from the temple but are to tell you which divisions of the army were involved in the battles. What is interesting is this is an accomplished trained Roman or Greek sculptor who did this frieze and he did not do it from memory given the details. No models either the actual soldiers or slaves posed and this process would have taken a while. That means the artifacts from the temple in Jerusalem sat in Rome in a temple commemorating the re-conquest for some time as it may have taken more than a year or 5 to build the arch of Titus and install all of the carved panels. Look at the image up close and you will notice that there are four men who were originally holding up something that is now missing in the image . In the front are two men with fast rides and the arms in a position to be carrying something flashy and gold from the trove of treasures brought back to Rome as trophies. In back of them are two more men. The one in front seems younger than the bigger one who seems to be a heavy lifter plodding along in the scene. The other one in front is making a bigger stride and what is left of the upper arm shows that it is under stress holding up a heavy object or the arm of one of two poles used to transport what could have and increasingly looks to have been the Ark. It would not have been Solomon's Arc but again as described above the Herod recreation and replica according to the biblical description. History was repeating itself in the scene as the Babylonians did the exact same thing to Solomon's temple, stripped it clean and took the booty back to Babylon in the exact same manner putting the value of gold high above anything of a literary nature that the box was originally said to contain. This panel is certainly no new discovery. Chances are an earlier drawing shows the bas relief panel with what definitely now appears to be missing in the image. The four men were not just marching with the procession near the front of the line but had to be carrying something of great importance. There is no doubt about that. We also know that the sculptor required models to obtain the details that he has and we know that the graven images on the menorah were accurate now and not a Roman misunderstanding because Herod the great was a Greek Jew who saw no problem with representational images in his temple which borrow greco roman style motifs and other attributes fused into his rending of a building of Solomon's temple on his new temple mount level as much as seventy feet above the original walls of Solomons temple that appear to have been saved by Herod under the temple mount as a disputed holy worshiping spot in the time when he decided to cover it over. This would have been Herod's Ark of the Covenant , an exact replica and not the original though the contents may have survived going back to Solomon. Then if all of that is true there is almost no doubt that Josephus Flavius would have had direct access to the contents as he was one of the few people in Rome at the time who was fluent in a rather great number of languages and was no longer a slave but an advisor to emperors and the imperial class. The proof looks like it can be found by photoshopping the image of the ark of the covenant into the picture by scaling it to the size and shape of the other known objects in the picture possibly based not on the height of the men in the sculpture but on the size of an eye in the depiction because the size of eyes might be the thing that remains constant to this day among humans? There maybe other proof elsewhere in ancient to modern drawings of this panel on the arch possibly showing the missing elements where that suspicious void is between the four litter carrying men near the front of the procession of trophies. This is a very dedicated to accuracy narrative picture that the roman sculptor was given the commission to do. It is dubious that the image was created by a captured Jewish stone mason because this style is very Greco -Roman and not judean. I believe it is carved in Carrara Marble which was the choice of Roman sculpture. it is a very well executed piece by a very well trained artist with a lot of details in accuracy that leaves very little to the imagination. The Romans soldiers would march the spoils of war in to Rome including prized slaves along the sacred ceremonial road into the forum. This picture records some objects that had to be guided otherwise there was no reason to show them off in a city as opulent as Rome at the time. Near the front of the procession would not be four ordinary soldiers with a voided space between them near the front of the procession of the spoils of war. NO there had to be something very important gilded and flashy near the font of the procession. This sculptural negative is of course something that recalls and recreates the procession from memory but the sculptor would have needed models and the original objects available just to know and remember what they looked like to carve them accurately. it is possible that the models were actual soldiers or war heroes or just those involved in the ceremonial procession but its not as if the sculptor should have snapped a photograph to remember all the details and had he wanted to show the detail he does he would have needed a good amount of time to work on it. Look at the original image in this context and voila! You do necessarily begin to see what is not there....the Ark of the Covenant and that is just because it fits. Something a lot like it has to fit in that space--something heavy that takes four men to lift and something that rides relatively close to the ground as pictured in the image. Look closely a few times at where the arms of those four men would have to be and there is something important missing from the picture. Enter the biblical measurement to the scale of this picture and it does seem that Herod's recreation of the Ark of the Covenant is located.