The substantial recent findings of ancient seals near the City of David in Jerusalem, sheds further light on the time period close to when the Ark of the Covenant was last given any mention in Holy Scripture.
Jerusalem site where First Temple seals found March 2019
Photo Credit: Daniel Ventura
Its significance lies in an apparent association between the almost palatial residence situated south to where the first temple was located, and the possible priestly cast owner of that home. A key theory being researched by Expedition lostArk 2020 is that the prophet Jeremiah may have shared the location of an underground tunnel network that could have served a dual purpose.
The first purpose a subterranean cavity might have served is associated with an attempt to hide prominent Biblical artefacts, in particular the Ark of the Covenant. This conforms with scriptural passages attributed to king Josiah wishing to return the Ark to a presumably safe place near the temple. Many connect this hiding place with an underground vault prepared by king Solomon, several hundred years before the time of king Josiah. The prophet Jeremiah was a contemporary of king Josiah, and as a prominent member of the priestly cast himself, well placed to have been in the know about such a hiding place. This provides segue into the second purpose an underground cavity might have served.
King Zedekiah, the last ruler of Judah, is known to have had constant dealings with Jeremiah, not all of a benign nature. However, the prophet did show concern for the king’s well being, and was quick to point out the pressing danger faced by the besieged monarch from Babylonian invaders from the north. There is ample scriptural reference to king Zedekiah fleeing Jerusalem, some respected commentators ventured to say that his escape route took him through an underground passage. Ancient legends suggest the king was captured emerging from a cave several miles away near the plains of Jericho. Whether the cave was a portal for a long tunnel between Jerusalem and Jericho is a separate issue, but on a stand-alone basis, there is the prospect that the king did use an underground cavity to effect his immediate escape from Jerusalem.
Returning to the connection between Jeremiah and his possible knowledge of subterranean Jerusalem, together with his strong association with king Zedekiah, the need for further research in this area is warranted.
Therefore the significance of this recent discovery is that further finds are anticipated in the same building. Hopefully, something might also come to light that illuminate the priestly connection with royalty, and in particular any role played for hiding temple artefacts or enhancing the kings safety through the many passageways know to exist under Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Expedition lostArk 2020 is turning its attention to a specific area north of the Old City of Jerusalem in a recent development that could also be associated with this find.
By David Bannister