Is The Fate of Ark of the Covenant Revealed in Hebrew Text?

Unless “somewhere in the middle east” or “in the hands of angels” is your idea of a location, then … no, but that didn’t stop LiveScience from attaching a click-bait headline to their story on the new translation of the pseudepigraphal “Treatise of the Vessels.”

The translation is important, however, since it marks the first English appearance of the “Treatise,” and brings this curious work to a wider audience for the first time.

The text does not mention the location of the Ark, but remarks that it and other treasures “shall not be revealed until the day of the coming of the Messiah son of David …”

The translation is found in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, co-edited by James Davila, who writes at PaleoJudaica and teaches at the University of St. Andrews. As Davila says in his introduction, “Some of these (treasures) were hidden in various locations in the Land of Israel and in Babylonia, while others were delivered into the hands of the angels Shamshiel, Michael, Gabriel and perhaps Sariel …”

The treatise is similar in some ways to the metallic “Copper Scroll,” one of the Dead Sea Scrolls found near the site of Qumran in the West Bank. The Copper Scroll also discusses the location of hidden treasure, although not from Solomon’s Temple.

The Treatise of the Vessels (Massekhet Kelim) is recorded in the 1648 Hebrew book Emek Halachah, published in Amsterdam. In the book the Treatise is published as Chapter 11 (one of its two pages shown here). The two pages also contain material from other book chapters.

The treatise describes the treasures in an imaginative way. One part refers to “seventy-seven tables of gold, and their gold was from the walls of the Garden of Eden that was revealed to Solomon, and they radiated like the radiance of the sun and moon, which radiate at the height of the world.”

The “Treatise” is valuable and its translation welcome, but it tells us nothing about the location of the ark. Nevertheless, the article has some interesting details on the scroll that contained the original text, and is worth a read in full.