Follow the Ark in Philistine Captivity
After defeating the Israelites at Even Ha’ezer, the Philistines captured their holiest object – The Ark of the Covenant – and took it to Ashdod, and later to Gat and Ekron. Ancient Ashdod was dug up in the 1960’s and later all covered back up. Ancient Ekron was intensively excavated in the 1980’s-1990’s. Most of the site is also covered back up. However, a rich presentation of the finds made at the site can be seen at “The “Philistine Street” in a kibbutz near the mound. This will be our first stop, and presentation of the subject.
Spot the Ark in Tel Beth-Shemesh
The ark was sent back to the Israelites from Ekron and received in the town of Beth-Shemesh. Biblical Beth-Shemesh has been excavated since the early 20th century. Recently, a sensational discovery made at the site links to the ark’s presence the site. A big flat slab of stone, found in a room behind an animal sacrificial area, may have been the very spot where the ark was kept.
Track biblical Kiryat Yaarim
The Bible indicates that soon after, unfortunately, the Ark had to be moved again, as it had inflicted a plague. It was taken from Beth-Shemesh to Kiryat Yaarim. This site is suggested to be on the hill above the Arab village of Abu Ghosh. In the 19th century a church was built at its hilltop, called Notre Dame de l’arche d’Alliance. In recent years an archaeological expedition is digging around the church. They hope to find remains from the Biblical account time frame mentioning to the Ark.
In Search of Beit Oved Edom Ha-Giti
After being crowned and establishing Jerusalem as his new capital city, David came to Kiryat Ya’arim, aiming to bring the ark to Jerusalem. But causing the death of Uzzah, the ark was placed for three months at a site called “Bei Over Edom Ha’giti”. New research at Motza, a site halfway between Kiryat Yaarim and Jerusalem, uncovered an Iron age temple. Is this the very temple where the ark was kept?