There are three distinct Treasures of Israel:
- The Treasure of the Copper Scroll
- The Ark of the Covenant
- The Temple Furnishings – Trumpets of Truth, the Golden Lamp Stand and the golden Table of the Showbread.
They all disappeared at different times during different invasions. Often they can be traced through references in the Bible and through references in the land of the conquers. There are carvings in Rome, Babylon and Egypt that depict various treasures as plunder of war.
The Copper Scroll was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls in Cave 3 at Qumran. It is an oddity, describing in detail the hiding places of a great treasure. Since the map was recorded on what was then a hideously expensive sheet of copper, it should be taken seriously. But, where is the treasure? The locations described seem to be in Egypt and may represent the treasure collected from the people of Egypt during the Exodus. Exodus 12:35. Pharaoh Akhenaten, the husband of Nefertiti, worshiped the One God. No one knows why he converted his people from many gods to the One. The priests didn’t like it and after his death, changed things back, attempting in the process to eradicate Akhenaten’s memory. His reign coincided with Israel’s Egyptian Captivity. The treasure locations seem to coincide with sites associated with Pharaoh Akhenaten. Theories of the Copper Scroll abound. Here is the Copper Scroll Project. Robert Feather’s book The Mystery of the Copper Scroll of Qumran is also interesting.
- Joseph enters Egypt as a slave sold by his brothers ca. 1671 B.C.
- The Hyskos Dynasty, a Canaanite tribe related to the Hebrews, rose to power ca. 1648 B.C.
- Joseph interpreted dreams for the Hyskos pharaoh ca. 1648 B.C.
- The Israelites, Joseph’s family, arrived seven years later ca. 1641 B.C., fleeing drought in the land of Canaan.
- Joseph stored surplus grain for seven years and then sold it to the people of Egypt during a seven year drought thus consolidating the wealth and land of Egypt under pharaoh ca. 1634 B.C., turning the people into slaves of the government. Genesis 47:13-26.
- Egyptians drove out the Hyskos and the Israelite persecution began ca. 1540 B.C. “There arose a pharaoh who knew not Joseph.” Exodus 1:8.
- Akhenaton took the throne in 1351 B.C. and ended pantheism choosing instead to worship the One God, the Sun.
- Moses was born between 1351 and 1336 B.C. but likely closer to 1351, if we accept Biblical accounts of his great age. The 1351 date also allows for Moses being raised in the house of the pharaoh, Akhenaton.
- Akhenaton died in 1336 B.C.
- Moses killed an Egyptian and fled to the Sinai around 1336 to 1331 B.C. but likely closer to 1331.
- Moses spent years with Jethro, his father-in-law, in the Sinai between 1331 and 1271 B.C.
- Ramses II took the throne in 1271 B.C.
- Moses returned to Egypt to free his people in 1271 B.C.
- The Plagues of Egypt began and the Moses led his people out of Egypt before 1250 B.C.
Moses was set afloat in the Nile to be found by pharaoh’s daughter. Thus he was Born of Water, his very un-Hebrew name meaning something like this in Egyptian. His brother, Aaron, was his mouthpiece and front-man, something of a Monster Slayer. Born of Water and Monster Slayer emerge as culture heroes in Native American mythology.
The Ark of the Covenant. Exodus 25:10-22 The Ark was created during the Exodus out of gopher wood covered with hammered gold. The verses listed above give a detailed description. It was at the center of Hebrew worship for hundreds of years. Carried on long poles, the Ark could not be touched, even by accident, for it was so holy it would strike a man dead for the desecration. Kept in the Holy of Holies, only the High Priest was allowed to see it except when it was carried before Israel’s armies in battle. With the Ark before them, they could not lose. It was at the heart of King Solomon’s Temple, built in 950 B.C., where, when the city of Jerusalem was overrun, it was captured several times by Israel’s enemies, who always returned it as it brought them great ill-fortune. In 586 B.C., Babylon invaded Israel and captured Jerusalem beginning the Babylonian Captivity. Babylonian carvings show the conquering armies returning with captives and the Temple furnishings but not the Ark. 70 years later the Israelites were allowed to return to Israel and rebuilding their Temple, the Second Temple. The Temple furnishings – the Trumpet of Truth, the golden Table of the Showbread, and the golden Menorah, Lamp Stand – were all returned but not the Ark. Where did the Ark go? Some believe that it was hidden in secret crypts deep under the Temple on Temple Mount and that knowledge of their location was the secret the three murderers sought from Hyram Abiff. The Tribe of Dan may also have had a hand in protecting the Ark.
The Temple Treasures. The following verses describe the temple treasures: Numbers 10:2, 9; Exodus 25:23-30; Exodus 31:40; 2 Chronicles 13:11. These were the Trumpets of Truth, the golden Table of the Showbread and the golden Menorah. In 586 B.C. they were taken when the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem and the Temple, but were returned to the Israelites 70 years later when they were allowed to return and rebuild the Temple, the Second Temple. Between A.D. 66-70, Titus Vespacian conquered the Holy Land in the First Jewish-Roman War sacking the Second Temple and removing its sacred artifacts. In A.D. 70, Titus conducted his triumph through Rome carrying the Trumpets of Truth, the Menorah and the Table of the Showbread through the city and depositing them at the Temple of Peace. They appear in carvings of the time.
In 455, the Vandals sacked Rome and carried off this treasure to their base at Carthage in North Africa. In 533, the Byzantine armies under Belisarius conquered Carthage and carried away the prize to Constantinople in the Eastern Roman Empire. Emperor Justinian I may have ordered the treasure taken to the Temple of the Holy Sepulcher in the Holy Land. There is no further record of these treasures.