reply to post by Blue Shift
There seems to be no mention of the 'ark of the Testimony / ark of the Covenant' after the time of Manasseh whose Baalite priesthood scared away the
Yahwists who fled to Elephantine Island in Egypt c,. 660 BCE here they built a small shrine in imitation of the Jerusalem temple - the yahwistic ruins
are still there (the shrine existed until c. 400 CE) and may have housed at least one copy of the 'ark'.
If it managed to survive up until Babylonian times (invaded 587 BCE), the Ark was certainly long gone (melted down?) after the Persians invaded (c.
530 BCE), or after the Greeks invaded (c. 331 BCE) and long before the Romans invaded (Pompey, 63 BCE).
Read the Greek 3rd Book of Ezra (=1 Esdras) suggests that Babylonians "...took the holy vessels of YHWH, both great and small, and the ark of ELOLHIM
and all the treasury belonging to the King and carted them off to Babylon." (1 Esdras 1:54)
In Rabbinic Literature, the final location of the Ark is disputed some rebbes suggesting that it must have been carried off to Babylon, while others
believe that it was hidden beneath Mt Moriah somewhere so that it might not be taken away and melted down by the invading Babylonians.
But there is merit to the idea that the Ark was carried away long before the Babylonians got to it - and there must have been a fairly ancient
preExilic shrine (i.e. pre 587 BCE) at the Elephantine island site (built to house the Ark?) since an ancient paleo Hebraic plaque was found there
stating 'this holy place is dedicated to Yahweh & his Asherah' (i..e. the goddess wife of YHWH) prior to Ezra's reforms c. 440 BCE when the
'Yahweh alone' cult took over. ('Hear o Yisro'el, YHWH is our clan-god, YHWH alone' i.e. Shemaq o Yisroel YHWH elohenu, YHWH echad) i.e. no other
gods but YHWH - the phrase is mistranslated in modern bibles in English as 'The Lord our God the Lord is One' which is a faulty translation both
grammatically and syntactically.
At Axum in Ethiopia (St Mary's Church) there is a regular procession of what they consider to be the True Ark - but what may well be an ancient copy
of the original(s) - not sure how many were actually made - but the lid (kapporeth, aka the Mercy Seat or Seat of Chesed ) would have weighed several
hundred pounds if it really was made of pure gold.
But see Jer. 3:16, written around BCE 570 which spoke of some time around then when the Ark will no longer be talked about or be made again:
"And it shall come to pass that when you are again multiplied and the land again becomes fruitful - those who speak the word of YHWH will never
again mention 'The Ark of the Covenant of YHWH' for such a thing will never come to their mind to utter: nor with they even recall it: it will not
be used any more."
Which suggests by the time of Jeremiah and the Babylonian captivity, the Ark was already gone.