Where is the Ark of the Covenant?

Replica of the Ark of the Covenant

THE ARK of the Covenant, or the Ark of Testimony, is the wooden box mentioned in the Bible that housed the two stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written.

At one time it also held the golden pot that contained manna from the time the Israelites were in the wilderness (Exodus 16:34), and also “Aaron's rod that budded” (Hebrews 9:4).

Along with Noah's Ark, the Ark of the Covenant has been one of the most sought-after objects in the Bible.


The Ark of the Covenant was a rectangular box about the length and breadth of a modern 6-seat dining table (2½ cubits by 1½). It seems to have been made of beautiful orange acacia wood (shittim wood), which was covered with gold. The lid, or “mercy seat”, was a gold slab surrounded by two cherubs (angels) with their wings stretched up. The Ark was carried on acacia wood poles that were inserted in gold rings at the four lower corners. It was constructed around the year 1491 BC.

(The photo above is a replica of the Ark of the Covenant based on the Bible's description.)

Warnings that no-one but the Levite high priest could touch the Ark were in place, and when oxen on the cart carrying the Ark stumbled, one of the cart drivers, Uzzah, put his hand out to steady the Ark and immediately died for his unauthorized handling of it (2 Samuel 6:6-7).

At one point the Philistines captured the Ark (1 Samuel 4), but before long they begged their defeated foe to take it back after spending seven calamitous months with it (1 Samuel 5:7, 1 Samuel 5:8).

Search for the Ark

Bible enthusiasts have tried to find the Ark of the Covenant for centuries. If found, its value would be priceless. But if it still exists after 3500 years, where could it be?

Numerous theories exist, including these:

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Interest in the Ark of the Covenant reached fever pitch in 1981 with the release of Steven Spielberg's action-packed adventure film Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. This highly enjoyable film starring actor Harrison Ford became Paramount Pictures' highest-grossing film. It was less Bible-based than Hollywood-based, but it did get people searching for information about the Ark of the Covenant.

Traced to Ethiopia?

A popular idea among Ark-hunters is that the Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia. In fact, the leader of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church reportedly told an Italian news agency in June 2009 that the Ark was in Ethiopia and it may be put on public display soon. Some reports added that the Ark was in the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, in the northern Ethiopian town of Aksum.

However, the anticipated public display did not take place, presumably because, we suspect, the “Ark” in the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Ethiopia is only a replica — not the genuine Ark.

Ark disappears without a trace

From the Bible and the writings of first-century Jewish historian Josephus, we learn that the Ark was placed in the Temple during the reign of King Solomon about 960 BC. It was resituated in the sanctuary during Josiah's reforms in the 7th century BC. It seems to have disappeared during the Babylonians' destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC, and was not in the second Temple, according to Josephus.

Ron Wyatt's Ark

The late Seventh-day Adventist nurse Ron Wyatt from Tennessee claimed to have found the Ark of the Covenant in the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem in 1982 after divine inspiration. Wyatt also claimed to have found the real Noah's Ark (which turned out to be just a large rock formation), and a whole series of biblical artefacts that have been questioned or overturned by Christian experts.

Our Creation Tips writers attended a Wyatt lecture shortly before he died. We must say he appeared to genuinely believe he had found all these biblical objects, and he even presented a good Gospel message. But we know he was wrong on a number of his claims, which made us doubt the claims we did not have inside knowledge about.

We do not accept his claim to have found the Ark of the Covenant, and a Christian archaeologist told us he had been to the site where Wyatt claimed to have found the Ark, and all that was there was a fruit seller. No Ark. Wyatt's evidence of blurry photos and other materials have now been removed from circulation by the Wyatt Archaeological Research website.

Eyewitness reveals where he saw the Ark

We agree with the late Dr. Henry Morris that the Ark of the Covenant is now in Heaven. When the Temple was destroyed and all its treasures taken to Babylon, the Ark of the Covenant was not among them. God evidently would not allow the Ark and its contents — especially the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments — to fall into pagan hands again, so He translated it (like Enoch and Elijah) directly to the heavenly temple.

The Apostle John was the last eyewitness to have indisputably seen the Ark. He saw it more than 600 years later when he himself was translated into the distant future of the end times (Revelation 11:19). Where was it when he saw it? In Heaven.

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