I read this question and the answer says that the Ark of the Covenant was buried somewhere beneath Jerusalem during the First Temple period (~580 BC), to hide it from the Babylonian invaders. It seems no one has discovered it yet since that time.

What will be the reaction of Jewish people if the Ark of the Covenant is discovered today? Objectively speaking, have any rabbinic authorities discussed what the consequences might be? Would it be a good thing? What would they do with it? Would they reinsitute the old practices of the Tabernacle System?

  • 2
    I would like to refund the asker's bounty and close as opinion based.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 16:53
  • 1
    @DoubleAA, I think there are things here (especially the last point) that can definitely be answered objectively, and the other parts may well have been addressed by sources. At most, I'd tweak the question to preclude speculation and ask for only answers that can be backed up.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 17:29
  • @DoubleAA Your wish
    – Mawia
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 18:18
  • Discussion was continued here: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/10854526#10854526
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 18:19
  • 7
    faces melting? :) Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 11:40

3 Answers 3


The short answer(s):

Q: What will be the reaction of Jewish people if the Ark of the Covenant is discovered today?
A: Celebration and some serious debate about what to do next.

Q: What could be its consequences?
A: Nothing immediate, most likely, other than the above.

Q: Will it bring joy?
A: Yes.

Q: What would they do with it?
A: Likely put it into storage (very carefully, and without physically touching it).

Q: Will it bring back the old practices of the Tabernacle System?
A: No. This would require the rebuilt Temple on the current site of the Dome of the Rock shrine and Al Aqsa Mosque. The Second Temple (c. 530 BCE to 70 CE) operated and was improved and made into a very impressive structure, even though the Ark had not been seen since the Babylonian conquest.

  • Serious debate about what to do next? That is interesting :-)
    – Mawia
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 16:49

A different approach to this issue may be offered based on the following verses (Jeremiah 3:16-17):

וְהָיָה כִּי תִרְבּוּ וּפְרִיתֶם בָּאָרֶץ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵמָּה נְאֻם ה' לֹא יֹאמְרוּ עוֹד אֲרוֹן בְּרִית ה' וְלֹא יַעֲלֶה עַל לֵב וְלֹא יִזְכְּרוּ בוֹ וְלֹא יִפְקֹדוּ וְלֹא יֵעָשֶׂה עוֹד:‏
בָּעֵת הַהִיא יִקְרְאוּ לִירוּשָׁלִַם כִּסֵּא ה' וְנִקְווּ אֵלֶיהָ כָל הַגּוֹיִם לְשֵׁם ה' לִירוּשָׁלִָם וְלֹא יֵלְכוּ עוֹד אַחֲרֵי שְׁרִרוּת לִבָּם הָרָע:‏

And it shall come to pass, when ye are multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more: The ark of the covenant of the LORD; neither shall it come to mind; neither shall they make mention of it; neither shall they miss it; neither shall it be made any more.
At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem; neither shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart.

Based on these verses and many other sources (including the fact that the Rambam does not mention the Ark as part of the Beit Hamikdash in Hilchot Beit Habechira), Rav David Henshke (article in Megadim 11 (pdf)) explains that the main function of the Ark was to transfer the divine presence from Mount Sinai, where it was first revealed, to its permanent place in Yerushalaim. Thus, already when Shlomo built the Beit Hamikdash he created an underground space to store the Ark, and later it was indeed placed there. Thus, when the entire world will recognize Yerushalaim as the place where the divine presence resides, the Ark will have completed its purpose and will no longer be necessary.

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    Understandable but does that mean the ark won't be present in the kodesh hakodashim anymore? Or simply that it will still be there as per the mitzvah despite its use having been fulfilled? Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 23:27

What will be the reaction of Jewish people if the Ark of the Covenant is discovered today? Will it bring joy?

this obviously may vary from person to person, but i think most jews will be happy about it.

What would they do with it?

no one would be permitted to touch it, since that requires purity from "tumah" (impurity), which occurs when even being under the same roof as the dead, or even a dead limb, and is transferred by touch. and to purify from this, a special concoction including dust of a burnt red heifer, is required.

Will it bring back the old practices of the Tabernacle System?

this issue of lack of purity will also prevent anyone from entering the temple area, (and a rebuilt temple is needed to perform services) let alone perform services, which would make the utensils tameh as well, which is a transgression.

there is a concept called "tumah hudcha betzibbur", which means we ignore impurity if most, or all of the jews, are impure. im not sure exactly how it will apply.

from a article titled "Why Don't We Rebuild The Holy Temple?"

Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch, in his work, Moadim Uzmanim,(14) in his treatment of the subject, ends off by saying:

And according to what we have explained at length above, there are innumerable reasons why we do not rebuild the Holy Temple or the Altar, nor bring sacrifices today. Nor does the repossession of the Land of Israel change that Law at all. We are unable, and therefore exempt according to the Law, without a doubt, for many reasons, until the Messiah arrives...G-d forbid that anyone should reconsider or doubt this...And I only discussed these matters out of interest in the subject, due to love of the Holy Temple and the Holy Service.

May the Holy One, Blessed is He, pour upon us a spirit of purity from high above, and may we be found worthy of having G-d's Holy Manifestation in our midst when G-d returns the Service to His Sanctuary speedily, and with our own eyes may we merit seeing everything straightened out.

in addition even with purity, your average joe of the street would also not be allowed to touch it. see here, also see here

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    So the reaction is....not touching it?
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 8:11
  • @DoubleAA that would be the law, the reaction would most-probably be great joy and excitement, but thats my guess, here is facts that i can say for sure. im answering some of his questions, i.e. the ones i have a good answer to, not all of them. Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 15:01
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    Except this is not really a good answer. It neglects the facts that A there is never an obligation to touch it and B that you can move it without touching it. So while your answer is true, it's largely irrelevant.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 15:15
  • @DoubleAA "Our commentary on the parallel narrative of this event in I Samuel ch 6 discussed how David could have erred in having the Ark transported on a wagon when even little schoolchildren know that it was supposed to be carried on poles resting on the shoulders of the Levites (Numbers 7:9). Rashi (on verse 7 of our present text) states that David was impressed by the fact that when the Philistines returned the Ark from its captivity, they had put it on a new wagon (I Sam. 6:11)." azamra.org/Bible/I%20Chron%2013-14.htm Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 16:53
  • @trying And they did this without shirts on?
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 16:56

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