Even though there has been much talk, study, and intrigue about the whereabouts of the Ark, its location is still unknown.
Much has been written about the Ark being in Ethiopia. That rumor says that when the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon around 1000 ʙ.ᴄ., Solomon was so infatuated with the queen that he gave her the Ark to take back home. The story then says that the Ark went to Ethiopia almost 3000 years ago, and has been handed down through the royal families to the present day.
There have even been reports that some Ethiopians who immigrated to Israel in 1991 during Operation Solomon secretly brought the Ark with them to Israel. Yet those reports have been found baseless.
The Ark has most likely never left the land of Israel since the time it was brought into the Promised Land at the time of Joshua’s conquest. Both the Bible and extrabiblical Jewish writings state that the Ark is hidden in a location the Levites had prepared for times of war or danger.
In 2 Chronicles 35, we read details about the times prior to the dispersion of the Jewish people during the Babylonian captivity. The ruler of Judah, King Josiah, believed the temple would come under attack by the Babylonians. He instructed the Levites to take the Ark and “put [it] in the house” (2 Chronicles 35:3).
King Josiah was not referring to the temple when he used the word “house,” but the place that King Solomon had previously prepared to keep the Ark safe. We can know this because the Ark had already been in the “house” (or temple) for almost 400 years by this time. King Solomon had built the temple and had placed the Ark in the “Holy of Holies” around 1000 ʙ.ᴄ. (1 Kings 8:1-11).
Also, the word used for “house” in Hebrew is bayit, which means “a special place, a shelter, in the inward parts.” It refers to a location that was under the Holy of Holies, which today is underneath the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. The Talmud states that the Ark can be found there.
In 1982, two rabbis (Shlomo Goren and Yehuda Getz) decided to go under the Temple Mount to see if the Ark was still there. They broke through the Western Wall at what is called the Warren Gate. Continuing underground, they claim to have seen—but not reached—the Ark of the Covenant.
Rabbi Goren shared that he had come within 25 feet of touching the most important piece of temple furniture. When asked why he did not bring the Ark out from beneath the Temple Mount, Goren replied, “We will bring the Ark out from its hiding place when there is a place [a temple] to put the Ark.”
Both of these rabbis are now dead, but they have passed along information about their findings to associates who claim to know the exact whereabouts of the Ark. These associates say they plan to reveal the Ark at the appropriate time when the Jewish temple is rebuilt.
Adapted from Israel Under Fire by John Ankerberg and Jimmy DeYoung