The Race For The Lost Ark
By Dvora Waysman
Thousands of people saw the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark", and most of them knew that Indiana Jones was based on a real person, famous archaeologist Dr. Vendyl Jones. Less well-known is another charismatic contender, who believes he will be the first to uncover the hiding place of this fabulous prize. He was recently in Jerusalem, and his name is Lt. Barry S. Roffman of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Roffman is basing his search on the Bible Code ... a code encrypted in the Bible some 3,000 years ago, now unlocked by computer. [...]
"Thousands"? More like hundreds of millions. My son and I just watched it last week, he for the first time, I for the umpteenth. But most of them didn't (and don't) know anything about Vendyl Jones. Indeed, Vendyl Jones himself disclaims any connection with the movie character. As for this:
In the case of Vendyl Jones, he plans to uncover the lost Ark of the Covenant by Tisha b`Av.
Jones says on his website that he didn't say this, he just said it would be neat if he did find it before then.
Readers may be interested to learn that I'm working on a relevant Hebrew text that is likely to be translated for the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project. It's called Massekhet Kelim, the Treatise on the Vessels, and it purports to tell the story of the hiding of the vast Temple treasures -- including the Ark of the Covenant -- at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The hiding places, we are told, were inscribed on a bronze plaque, and it looks to me as though at least some of them are given in this text. The Massekhet Kelim is not to be confused with the Copper Scroll, but the parallels are obvious and have not gone entirely unnoticed in the scholarly literature. Milik translated this text into French, but it has never been translated into English and it deserves more attention.
So if I come into sudden wealth in the next few years, you'll know why.
Joking aside, I'm not going to go into all the problems with these efforts or I'd be at it all day. (Don't even get me started about the Bible Code.) I'll just say that I'll take this Ark hunt seriously when one of these guys actually produces the Ark of the Covenant. Don't hold you breath.
UPDATE: For those interested, the Massekhet Kelim was published by Adolph Jellinek in the nineteenth century in Bet ha-Midrasch, vol. 2, #xiii, pp. xxvi-xxvii, 88-91. Milik published another copy found inscribed on a marble plaque in Beirut, in Revue Biblique 66 (1959), 550-75, esp. pp. 567-75.