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Ark of the Covenant Discovery, part 6


The Contents of the Chamber

During his several visits to the chamber, he tried to thoroughly explore the contents. He measured the chamber and found it to be 22 feet long by 12 feet on 2 sides, while the other 2 sides followed the line of the cliff-face, forming a chamber that narrowed down in one corner.  The objects he saw in that chamber that he feels confident in identifying are: the Ark of the Covenant in the stone case; the Table of Shewbread; the Golden Altar of Incense that was used in front of the veil in the sanctuary; the Golden Censer; the seven-branched Candlestick holder, (which didn't have candles but had tiny, bowl-like golden oil lamps which are built into the tips of the candlestick); a very large sword; an Ephod; a Miter with an ivory pomegranate on the tip; a brass shekel weight; numerous oil lamps; and a brass ring which appeared to be for hanging a curtain or something similar.

There are more objects, but these are all Ron could positively identify.  All of these objects were covered first by the dry-rotted, dark-colored animal skins, next the dry-rotten wooden timbers on top of the skins, and finally the large rocks piled over everything.

Ron has explained basically how the Ark looked, which we won't repeat here since we covered that in newsletter #4, which is also contained in our "Discoveries Volume". The Tables of Stone are still within the Ark, under the Mercy Seat.  On the back of the Ark is a small opening which still contains the Book of the Law and is presumably the original one Moses wrote.  To the best of Ron's knowledge, the Book of Genesis is not there- only Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.  The thing that amazed Ron was that these Scrolls written on animal skins, are in perfect condition today.

Oil Lamps Inside the Chamber

Just inside the chamber near the original entrance which was sealed up, he found a total of seven oil lamps that Ron believes had to have been left behind by Jeremiah and his men who brought the items into the chamber.  The soot on the lamps and the rocks they sat upon clearly showed the direction of the breeze that followed them into the tunnel.  One of the lamps is very ornate and displays Assyrian characteristics, which is consistent with the cultural influence in Judea at this time in 586 BC.  The picture of this particular oil lamp was not taken with a camera because the design on the lamp doesn't show up well in a photo.

This picture was made by placing the lamp on a copier and it revealed a little of the design which we find very interesting.

The center depicts a goat or a ram standing on its hind legs, eating from a grape vine. This scene is very similar to the statue found in a grave in the Sumerian city of Ur.  The suggestion has been made that this may represent the ram caught in the thicket at the very moment that Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, Isaac, which served as the substitute sacrifice, sparing Isaac's life - a shadow of the coming Messiah.  This concept is further seen in the Hittite "tree of life," as it has been interpreted, which can be seen in the frieze at right from Gordium which dates to the 6th century B.C., the same approximate date of the lamp Ron found.  It is an interesting thought to consider the possibility of a relationship between the design on the lamp and the story of the ram in the thicket which was the substitute sacrifice- because the lamp was left in a chamber INSIDE Mt. Moriah where Abraham had brought Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice; and this same Mt. Moriah was where the Messiah died, the substitute sacrifice for fallen mankind.  But this is just interesting conjecture on my part.

Sealing the Passageway to the Chamber

After Ron's last visit to the chamber a number of years ago, he permanently sealed the tunnel which led to the chamber.  Ron has learned many lessons over the years, and some he had to learn the hard way.  One lesson he learned this way was that he had to be very careful with whom he shared his information.  During the course of their excavation work, they had numerous experiences with people which could have been disastrous without Divine intervention. For example, one famous evangelist stumbled upon the entrance into the excavation one day, and Ron invited him to come down into the cave system.

Believing the man to be honest, Ron told him what they were searching for.  Big promises were made of assistance.  To make a long story short, a team of individuals from this evangelist's group later returned to the site, telling the authorities they were with the Wyatt excavation and that Ron would arrive in a few days, (which wasn't true), and they went down into the cave system and began to dig.  The cave walls where they were digging suddenly collapsed and they just narrowly avoided being buried alive in the debris.  They immediately packed up and returned home.  No real harm was done except that Ron and the boys had to re-excavate the entire area of the collapse.

This and other similar incidents led Ron to seal the passage.  With the honeycomb of tunnels, it would be almost impossible for anyone to find the correct passage, and this one now looked - even up close - as if it was a natural stone wall.  Ron had done all that he could do using that passageway.  It would be impossible to get any large object out of the chamber through that passage.  All his attempts to photograph anything in the chamber resulted in photos or slides that looked like a complete blur, so he concluded that he simply wasn't supposed to take any photographs.  He later understood why.  At that time, he was much freer with sharing his information and this could have caused a lot of serious problems if some of the unsavory characters he came in contact with over the years had SEEN evidence that this solid gold object REALLY existed.  (Noah's wife's grave was plundered after Ron told others.)  The next order of business would be to find the main entrance into the chamber - the passage through which the items were originally taken.

The Original Passage Used to Carry the Ark into the Cave

Before permanently sealing the cramped passageway, Ron went into the chamber that contained the Ark and opened the original entrance to see if he could follow it to its point of origin. When he opened it, he discovered a very large tunnel which extended in two directions.  He observed that the tunnel appeared to be a natural formation and had been enlarged, as he saw chisel marks.  But the bad news was that it was completely blocked with large stones in both directions. The problem now to be solved was determining which path was used by Jeremiah who put the items in the chamber.

To resolve this question, Ron began by using simple reason. The items had been in the temple - that was their point of origin.  They were now in this chamber, many feet below ground level.  A great number of tunnels have been found under the temple mount and the city, but none that he knew of were heading in this direction. Was the entrance into the tunnel within the city or was it somewhere across the street in front of the northern wall?  Ron had an idea as to where to begin his search.

Zedekiah's Cave

In the winter of 1854, Dr. Barclay, a physician and missionary, went for a walk in Jerusalem.  He was walking to the site of the traditional Jeremiah's Grotto which is along the same Calvary escarpment.  As he walked past the Damascus Gate, his dog ran ahead of him and vanished.  As he searched for his dog he heard a muffled barking coming from the direction of the city wall.  When he approached the wall, he noticed a deep hole. When he peered inside, he heard his dog's familiar bark.  This is how Zedekiah's Cave was discovered.

This vast cavern is located underneath the Muslim section of the city, extending 750 feet into Mt. Moriah, beginning at the trench or dry moat separating the northern and southern portion.  It is 325 feet wide at the maximum point and the average height is almost 50 feet.  It was clearly a stone quarry, but at what point it was in use, we really do not know. There are those who believe its stone was used in the first temple, and that may be true.  But its existence was not a well known fact and most likely it was always kept completely sealed for fear of any enemies trying to tunnel into the city.  So little is known for sure about the giant quarry, but one point everyone agrees on is the fact that there was no entrance into the city from the quarry.

Viewing the diagram of its layout, the dark areas are pillars of solid rock left in place to support the ceiling, like the pillars left in a coal mine.  As the miners work their way back out of the mine after depleting it of all its coal, they remove these pillars of coal and the mine usually caves in.  These were obviously left in place to prevent the cavern from collapsing since part of the northern city is above it.  As Ron examined the quarry carefully, he noticed one thing that concerned him.

When Ron tackles a project, the first thing he does is determine the easiest way to accomplish the task that requires the least work.  As he walked the giant quarry, something didn't make sense. He tried to put himself in the shoes of the ancient stonecutters as he surveyed this massive quarry.

Seeing how deep into the side of the mountain the quarry extended, he thought about how much work it would have been to bring all that stone out of the quarry, carry it through one of the northern gates and into the city.  It would have been easier to quarry it out of the quarry across the street than to haul it out of that cavern. To Ron, the solution was obvious - to cut a hole through the ceiling of the quarry and simply haul the rocks up into the city.  The more he thought it about, the more obvious it became to him - yet, no one had ever found an entrance into the quarry from the city. So Ron began to examine the rock pillars.  Sure enough, he found a vertical mound that wasn't a stone pillar at all.  Ron believed it was a giant mound of earth and debris piled up to the ceiling and through a hole in the ceiling.  Unable to examine the section above ground, he didn't know if the rock had been cut in a manner that would allow the cut-out section to fit back over the hole like a "man-hole cover" or if it was only the piled up earth that filled the hole.  But he was convinced that the opening was there.

Next Page: The Ark of the Covenant, Continued


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