It’s 1978 and you are in Jerusalem, walking along with a trusted member of the board of antiquities, discussing ancient Roman finds. You are north of the old city wall along the “escarpment” of Mount Moriah when suddenly your left arm shoots out and points toward a pile of trash as you exclaim, “That’s Jeremiah’s Grotto, and the Ark of the Covenant is in there.” You are just as surprised as the man next to you, and when he asks, “What did you say?”, you repeat the same words.
That is exactly what happened to Ron Wyatt, an anesthetist and amateur archaeologist. But, before he took the advice of the Israeli and began authorized excavations, he consulted the Bible to see if such a thing was even possible. He discovered that the last time the Ark was mentioned in the bible is in II Chronicles 35:1 when it was placed in the Temple of Solomon in the “eighteenth year of King Josiah”, or around 621 B.C.
It was 35 years later that the temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Other passages in II Kings and Jeremiah detail the items taken back to Babylon (even “spoons”), but there is no mention of the Ark. During this time Jeremiah was a prophet in Jerusalem and a siege wall had been constructed around the city which remained for a year. He would not have wanted the Ark of the Covenant to fall into the hands of the Babylonians, and had time to remove it and the other sacred implements of the most Holy place to safe hiding somewhere between that wall and the city wall of Jerusalem.
The Ark was made of acacia wood covered with gold and the Mercy Seat cover was connected to two angel-like cherubim with wings that touched, all made of one piece of solid gold (estimated to weigh nine-hundred pounds). The Ark once contained not only the Ten Commandment tablets of stone, but a bowl of manna and Aaron’s staff that budded.
Jerusalem had been destroyed many times, and the resulting debris had accumulated to produce a 30 foot layer above the original ground level. It was through this layer that Wyatt, two of his sons, and others began digging, eventually removing tons of earth and rock, all of which they had to sift for artifacts as required by the antiquities commission.
The dig was in the vicinity of Golgotha, or “Skull Hill”, the site may believe was the location of Christ’s crucifixion. They were approximately half way between Golgotha and the Garden Tomb where Jesus was buried. While digging down they uncovered three niches carved out of the cliff face which Wyatt determined to be locations for placing signs above the heads of crucifixion victims, stating their name and offense, as an intimidating warning to those passing by. Fourteen feet below these, there was a rock shelf extending eight feet from the face of the cliff, and chiseled into it was a hole twenty three inches deep, and about twelve inches square.
Four feet below that, in front of the platform, were three more such holes chiseled into the rock. Wyatt determined that these were holes into which the vertical crucifixion posts were inserted, and that the upper one was Christ’s. The practice of crucifixion essentially ended in 70 A.D.
Under the Temple Mount and Mt. Moriah are many caves and tunnels, rather like a honeycomb. Wyatt explored many of these and in 1982 actually entered a chamber that contained the sacred objects. It was filled to within 18 inches of the ceiling with a layer of rocks, below which was a layer of timber, and below that a layer of animal skins that covered the table of shewbread, the lampstand, the incense altar, and the Ark itself, which was enclosed in a rock case and whose stone cover had cracked open. He discovered a crack in the ceiling containing a black material that had seeped down and through the crack in the stone cover of the Ark case and onto the solid gold Mercy Seat of the Ark itself. The crack had been caused by an earthquake, he concluded, and communicated with the crack twenty feet above next to the crucifixion hole.
Wyatt collected some of the blackened material by scraping with the tab of a Coke can and put it in a film canister. He later added normal saline and had it analyzed by a lab in Jerusalem and…. you need to search out the amazing results!
So, when Jesus had died on the cross and was pierced with the Roman soldier’s spear in His side, His blood poured down into the earthquake crack and then down through the crack in the Ark’s stone case and onto the Mercy Seat – onto the western side of that cover, as the high priests of the Old Testament were to only sprinkle blood once a year on the eastern side of the Mercy Seat.
Some other items found by Wyatt were seven oil lamps decorated with a design of a ram caught in a thicket (Mt. Moriah is the same location where Abraham was told to offer up Isaac), an ivory pomegranate which he gave to the antiquities commission and is the only object they have from the first temple, and a very large sword which appears to be the one used by Goliath whom David slew.
Several Israelis tried to enter the Ark chamber, but on one occasion six of them dropped dead on the spot. Ron Wyatt blocked the way in that he used, but found that there is a relatively thin wall in Zedekiah’s Cave that, once breached, would lead directly into the Ark chamber. Wyatt died in 1999 and was convinced that the contents of the chamber will be revealed to the world at the proper time. He added that the “proper time” would be when laws are passed that require citizens to break the Ten Commandments.
There are many even more fascinating additional details to be found online (such as how Wyatt was able to handle the tablets from the Ark). At first glance, all of this may seem to be a “fairy tale”, but having investigated this considerably, I believe it to be true. And this past May I was standing at Golgotha and visited the Garden Tomb, not realizing that the Ark of the Covenant was close by! I must add that I’m not the easiest to convince; after all, I am from Missouri!