Archaeologists will commence the first-ever excavation of a major Biblical site where the Ark of the Covenant was believed to be kept for two decades prior to King David bringing it to Jerusalem.
The excavation is due to begin this summer.
Kiryat Ye’arim, as the site is known in Hebrew, is mentioned over twelve times in the Bible as a Judean town near Jerusalem during the historic period of Judges and King David. Currently, it is the last Biblical landmark left unstudied.
The Book of Samuel recounts the Ark moving from Beit Shemesh to Kiryat Ye’arim after being returned back to the Israelites by the Philistines. The Philistines suffered disease as a punishment from God for having stolen the Ark during battle. The Ark remained at Kiryat Ye’arim for twenty years as the people returned back to God.
At the end of this period, King David brought the Ark to Jerusalem.
After King Solomon, David’s son built the first Temple, the Ark was placed there until the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. This is where the Ark was last seen before it disappeared.
After the Temple was destroyed, there were no further records of it. The dig at Kiryat Ye’arim will look for clues to where it may be located hoping that uncovering its journey may yield some positive results.
Israel Finkelstein, one of the three archeologists told the Times of Israel that the excavation is on the large, central site in the Jerusalem hills. It may possibly be the only site in Judah that has not been systematically excavated.
Currently, the archaeologists believe that a smaller temple may exist close to where the Ark was. However, the city was also known for the pagan worship of Ba’al, and the newfound area may be a place of idol worship.
Finkelstein’s hope is that what they unearth will give them more insight into the rule of King David.