Skip to main content

“Ark of the Covenant”: revealing the mysterious treasure of King Solomon 3,000 years ago

A real life Indiana Jones has uncovered details about King Solomon’s riches in a newly translated Hebrew text.

But treasure hunters may have to wait a bit longer as, unlike the film ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ details about the exact location of these treasures are unclear.

Rather than a guide to lost treasure, the newly translated ‘Treatise of the Vessels’ was a legendary story written in Biblical times that was meant to entertain.

The Ark of the Covenant is a gilded case believed to have been constructed nearly 3,000 years ago

The text, translated by Professor James Davila from St Andrews University, suggests the artefacts from King Solomon’s temple were tucked away in various places throughout the Middle East.

It lists a number of treasures including the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, musical instruments made of gold, ornaments from the Garden of Eden and various precious religious stones.

It describes: ’77 tables of gold, and their gold was from the walls of the Garden of Eden that was revealed to Solomon, and they radiate like the radiance of the sun and moon, which radiate the height of the world.’

‘The number of stones was forty-six thousands and the number of pearls was the same…seven curtains of fold in which was collected twelve thousands talents of gold and the vestments of the Levites and their belts.’

‘The text tells us no more about where the Ark and other treasures might be than if you watched the film,’ Professor Davila told MailOnline.

‘But it does provide some interesting insights into Jewish legends in the Middle Ages….Mostly it tells us ways in which people understood the Bible that are not part of official interpretation.’

The Ark of the Covenant is a legendary gilded case believed to have been constructed nearly 3,000 years ago.

According to biblical text, the Ark holds the Ten Commandments handed down to Moses by God. It was housed in King Solomon’s Temple, which contained a variety of different treasures.

But when King Solomon’s Temple was captured and destroyed by the Babylonians in 597 and 586 B.C., the coveted artefact disappeared forever.

Archaeologists are still unsure whether Ark was captured, destroyed or hidden, and many have searched for it throughout the centuries.

The text, which dates back at least as far back as the 15th century, says the ‘treasures were concealed by a number of Levites and prophets.’

‘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,’ he writes.

The writer of the text draws on traditional methods of scriptural explanation to explain where the treasures might have been hidden.

But there are a number of inconsistencies in the text. For example, in the prologue it states that Shimmur the Levite and his companions hid the treasures.

Later on the text mentions the treasures being in the keeping of, or hidden by, Shamshiel and other angels.

‘I believe the author looked at various legends without much concern about making them consistent,’ said Professor Davila.

He added that 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.

Indiana Jones, right, carries away the glistening Ark of the Covenant in the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark by Steven Spielberg

The Copper Scroll, which dates back around 1,900 years, shows several ‘striking parallels’ with the newly translated treatise, Professor Davila said.

The treatise says that the treasures from Solomon’s Temple were recorded ‘on a tablet of bronze,’ a metal like the Copper Scroll.

The Copper scroll also discusses the location of hidden treasure, although not from Solomon’s Temple. Professor Davila said this might reveal a tradition of inscribing lists of treasures on metal.

The oldest confirmed example of the treatise, which survives to present day, is from a book published in Amsterdam in 1648 called ‘Emek Halachah.’

However, Professor Davila is the first to translate the text into English.