They were slaughtered and tried to stop the raiders of the lost ark in reality – an artifact so powerful and sacred that it was forbidden to ever see it.
The horrific massacre of at least 800 people in an Ethiopian church in Tigray highlighted the apparent abode of the Ark of the Covenant, one of the greatest mysteries in the field of religion and film legend.
The ark – a large, gold-plated wooden coffin that is said to contain the Ten Commandments of Moses – was kept in the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem for centuries, but disappeared after Jerusalem was fired in 586 or 587 BC. according to the Old Testament.
Since then, its whereabouts have remained unknown ̵
Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christians, however, have long claimed that the ark was kept in a chapel by the Church of St. Mary of Zion in the holy northern city of Axum.
According to legend, the ark was brought to Ethiopia in the 10th century BC. after being stolen by the staff of Menelik, the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon of Israel – who considered the theft permissible by God because none of his men were killed.
The ark is said to be so dangerous that it was always covered while it was being moved – and in Axum only virgin monks are ordained to be its keeper allowed to look at it.
There have never been any photographs of it, only illustrations based on the description from Exodus chapter 25, verses 10-21, of an “acacia tree” box covered with gold and carried on two poles.
“Even the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is” forbidden to see it, “the then leader, His Holiness Abuna Paulos, told Smithsonian Magazine in 2007.” The guardian of the ark is the only person on earth who has the incomparable honor, “he said. he then.
The guard “constantly prays at the ark day and night, burns incense in front of it and praises God,” Aksum’s then high priest told the magazine
“Only he can see it; everyone else is forbidden to look at it or even walk close to it. ”
Thousands gather in Zion Church in late November to celebrate the day Ethiopians believe the Ark of the Covenant was brought there – one of the reasons so many people were there during the massacre in November, as first was recently reported.
“When people heard the shooting, they ran to the church to support the priests and others there to protect the ark,” Getu Mak, 32, a senior lecturer at The Times of London. “Certainly some of them were killed for doing so.”
Reports of destruction and looting of invaluable artifacts by troops gave rise to fears that the ark would be targeted. “Everyone was worried that it would be taken … or just disappear, including me,” Mak told the British newspaper.
It was not immediately clear how the church’s ark was saved, nor what happened to its guardian.
Some historians also insist that the victims were brought to defend a worthless replica.
Edward Ullendorff, a late professor at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), previously told the Los Angeles Times that he saw the ark during World War II and it was “a wooden box, but it is empty.”
“Medieval to late medieval construction, when these were made ad hoc,” he said in the 1992 interview, saying that the mystery surrounding it was “mostly to maintain the idea that it is an honored object.”
Before his death, Ullendorff associate professor Tudor Parfitt told that “it does not differ in any way from many sheets he had seen in other churches in Ethiopia,” Parfitt told WordsSideKick.com in 2018.
“It was not old and certainly not the original sheet,” Parfitt said.
Ethiopians have long removed such reports, but insisted that people be shown forgeries to protect the real sheet, with their faith as strong as ever.
“If you attack Axum, you are attacking first and foremost the identity of Orthodox Tigrayans, but also all Ethiopian Orthodox Christians,” said Wolbert Smidt, an ethnic historian specializing in the region. “Axum itself is considered a church in the local tradition, ‘Axum Zion.'”
With mail cables