August 09, 2020

Ethiopia: The Land of the Ark of the Covenant

Africa ›   Ethiopia ›  

By Dr. Mark S.

Travel Stimulus Check Entry #2 of 5

(See Also Stopped Pick-Pocket #180: The Pick-Pocket Technique of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

Was it hidden? Was it captured? Or, as history tells us, it was moved for safety. King Solomon built a fantastic temple in Jerusalem over 3000 years ago. Then the Ark of the Covenant disappeared. Many stories have been written about the Ark and seeking to find it. This one is mine.

Legend tells us that the Ark was floated down the Nile river, and each night it was hidden on the hillside by the river, covered by the holy animal skins and cloth made for the transport of the Ark. The stories of history now place the Ark in one of the thousands of ancient churches of Ethiopia. Legend also retells the story that many duplicates of the original Ark were made and scattered in churches all over Ethiopia and into Eritrea to keep the location of the real Ark a complete secret. Priests have dedicated their entire lives to live at the church and protect the Ark. They are never permitted to look at it or allow others to view it, and to this very day, no one knows for sure if their church has a facsimile of the real Ark (if the real Ark is really inside any one of these churches or if it was lost to history.) Where is the real Ark? In which church is the real one or do hundreds of priests dedicate their lives to protecting a false Ark?

For 20+ years, I have traveled to this land and visited many churches and priests. They all have a magnificent story to tell. Did the real Ark ever leave Jerusalem on a journey down the river? Has it survived over two millennia of being hidden? Stories abound around Ethiopia on where the true Ark of Covenant might be. Every priest is sworn to secrecy, and they dedicate every day to live and protect their Ark... never knowing if they are protecting a false Ark or possibly the real Ark. These men do not know which Ark is hidden behind the veil of their church. Biblical accounts, the tales of history, legends, stories from childhood, and rumors of hope abound.

It is not uncommon to sit with a group of Ethiopians, to listen to the stories they have passed on for multitudes of generations and share a meal of genuine Ethiopian food as the stories come alive, the legends of miracles happening in each church that “just might” have the real Ark hidden behind the veil. Yet, no priest, no leader, no bishop will ever be bold enough to look under the veil and see if they have and protect the true Ark of antiquity. Moses built the Ark with his brother Aaron, King David danced in the front of the Ark, the Philistines stole the Ark, Solomon built the most glorious temple to hold the Ark. So is it in Ethiopia as the stories abound and are passed from generation to generation? Perhaps we will never know...

Behind the security built into Clothing Arts is also a traveler's peace. When you want to spend decades looking at church after church; knowing you will never be permitted to look behind the veil, there is a wonderful knowledge that security and peace of mind create a journey into another country, another culture, and into the world of antiquity... As I seek to find the history at each church, to sit and talk with the priests, some have worked together to try and pick my pocket. While generations have passed and Ethiopia has grown, some still have a way of finding the talent to lift a traveler's wallet. One youngster grabs your arm so hard you wince with pain, and they hope who will lose concentration over your wallet or papers or passport. Yet, never has a single pick-pocket been able to get inside a pocket and get my phone or wallet or passport. Thankfully the triple protection of your travel pants offers security and mind of peace on my quest for the Lost Ark!