Ark of the Covenant
The Knights Templar are also known as the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, a name that was adopted in reference to the location of the Orderís headquarters, which was established around the year 1118 CE in Jerusalem.
The French knight, Hughes de Payens, who was a veteran of the First Crusade, was permitted to establish the Knights Templar headquarters on the ruins of the Temple of Solomon, which had been destroyed by the Babylonians around 586 BCE. It has been speculated that along with other ancient relics such as the True Cross and the Holy Grail, the Knights Templar may have found the Ark of the Covenant in these ruins.
What is the Ark of the Covenant?
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Ark of the Covenant is a sacred container that was built to house the stone tablets of containing the Ten Commandments. The building of the ark was commanded by God when Moses received his vision on Mount Sinai, and subsequently constructed and carried by the Israelites who at the time remained wandering in exile.
The ark is believed to have been constructed with acacia wood and plated with gold. It
was believed to symbolize the physical manifestation of God, and became the most important symbol of Jewish faith.
History of the Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant was used by the wandering Israelites in the desert during their historical march from Sinai and the crossing of the Jordan River. During this travel, the Ark was carried 2000 cubits ahead of the nation and functioned as a signal of advancement. It is also believed to have provided a safe path for the Jews by miraculously burning thorns and killing serpents and scorpions that were encountered along the way.
The Ark is believed to have dried up the Jordan River in order allow the Israelites to cross the river. It also accompanied the nation during the wars against Emor and Midian. The Ark was eventually captured by the Philistines and brought to a temple in southern Canaan. However, after a series of plagues believed to have been brought upon by the captured Ark, the Philistines returned the Ark to the Israelites along with gifts to be housed in Beit Shemesh.
The Ark was eventually transported to Jerusalem by King David, whose son Solomon built the First Temple of Jerusalem. When the Ark was brought into Solomonís temple, it is believed that the golden trees that decorated its walls had blossomed with fruit. The Ark remained in this temple and could only be accessed once a year on Yom Kippur by the High Priest, who would ask God for forgiveness on behalf of the nation of Israel. The whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant became unknown after the destruction of the temple by the Babylonian empire. It remained absent from the Second Temple of Jerusalem built several hundreds of years after the initial destruction.
The Knights Templar
In the twelfth century, crusaders from France and English conquered the city of Jerusalem and established a Christian kingdom, leading to the formation of various orders to protect Christian interests in the region. Among these were the Knights Templar.
According to the Arab chronicler Numari, the Knights Templar discovered a sealed cave in Jebel Madhbah, which was believed to contain treasures belonging to the ancient Israelites, including a golden chest that had a very similar description to the ancient Ark of the Covenant.
When the Arabs conquered Jerusalem in 1189, the Templars were forced to return to England, supposedly carrying their findings with them. Twelfth century records of land and property holdings list "expensive" sacred objects returned from the Crusades in the possession of Templar leaders.
The Church persecution of the Knights Templar beginning in the fourteenth century has led to speculations about the possible possessions held by the Order. The Knights Templars themselves had diverged, migrating across Europe, and groups such as the Freemasons origin form the Templars.