May 6, 2013
I don’t buy guidebooks before I visit different places. It sounds like a great thing to do but I usually am so busy preparing for a trip that I cannot take time to read about it. And then even if I did buy it to read on the journey, it would just sit on a shelf after I return. So it isn’t something I do. Many times wherever I go, there is someone who has one that I can glance at or I can read something online. I did check on information on the Ark of the Covenant though since one of the main interests for people visiting Ethiopia is to see the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark of the Covenant was the most treasured artifact of the Jewish faith when it resided in Jerusalem. After the destruction of Solomon's temple, it disappeared. Despite several attempts over the centuries, the Ark has never been officially recovered.
Graham Hancock, in his book “The Sign and the Seal,” investigated the Ethiopian claim to the Ark and constructed a plausible sequence of events to support it. Hancock points out, and he is not the first person to have done so, that there is strong reason to believe the Ark vanished from Jerusalem long before 587 BC. Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that the Ark was taken by the Babylonians, which seems decidedly strange, considering its religious importance; books written during the reign of Josiah (640 BC) hint that it had probably disappeared by then. Hancock suggests the Ark was removed during the reign of Manasseh (687-642 BC), a king who horrified religious leaders by desecrating Solomon's temple with an idol they considered to be sacrilegious. He suggests that the Ark was removed from the temple by angry priests and taken out of the kingdom, and that the loss of the Ark, when it was discovered by Josiah, was kept a secret from the laity.
Others have stated that the Queen of Sheba had a baby by King Solomon after she returned to Ethiopia from her visit to Jerusalem. The legend goes that the alleged son, named Menelik I, went back to Jerusalem and met his father. It was at that time he supposedly brought the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia. Personally, I don’t believe this. There are several reasons why but one is that there is no reference in the Bible to any romance or relationship.
I am not a historian but Hancock provides a strong case for the Ark residing in Axum, Ethiopia. I saw the building it is said to be in. It seems strange to me though that no one is allowed to see it, not even the Bishops. And that since the first reference to the Ark being in Ethiopia is around the year 1210. Read the book for yourself and let me know what you think.
Although I do not read guide books, I do try to read other books as I plan to travel to a country. A couple months ago I read a novel by an Ethiopian author, called “Cutting for Stone.” I enjoyed that immensely and look forward to reading another book by this author, “Tennis Partner.” In anticipation of going to China next week, I am reading “River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze.” It’s a story of a Peace Corp worker in a rural part of China that gives you a good exposure to the Chinese culture and personalities. I would recommend all of these books.
There is lots to do between now and May 14 when I leave for 2 ½ weeks once again. Already I am looking forward to June as I will be home most of that month.
Hope to chat with you then!