The Raider of the Hidden Ark
This is just a short note to let you know that Vendyl Jones will be speaking in Kochav Yakov this Shabbat at our house and at a location to be announced later on Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) at 9:45 pm. (Please e-mail me for details.) He will be speaking in English with his homespun Texas accent. There will be a translator into Hebrew at the Motzei Shabbat event for those who do not speak English.
He is the genuine article. In 1988 he found one flask of the shemen HaMishkhah (the anointing oil for Temple vessels, priests, and kings) either made by Moshe Rabbeinu himself or made during the first Temple. This flask is sitting in the Israel Museum at this time. The oil itself has thickened up over the last 2500 years, but it is still inside the flask. In 1992 in an even more spectacular find V. Jones found the Pitum Qetoret (the eleven spice incense mixture) for twice daily service on the inner Golden Altar of the Temple/Mishkan sanctuary. It was analyzed by at least three independent teams of Chemists and Botanists and was found to contain amongst its finely ground powder plant remains of all eleven spices. One of the teams was personally picked by Rav Ovadia Yosef, and another was lead by Rabbi/Dr. Marvin Antelman. Rav Yehudah Getz the former "Rav of the Kotel and Holy Places in Israel", I believe, also had the Qetoret analyzed. Vendyl Jones found up to 600 kg. of the finely ground powder, but just to verify it was the Qetoret, he found several containers of "Karshina lye (potassium hydroxide)" and containers of Sodom salt lying right next to the stone vat which was holding the qetoret. Both the lye and the salt are necessary ingredients in the composition of the incense mixture used for Temple Service.
He found all of these things with his heavenly blessed genius and the information on two key documents:
- The Copper Scroll: found in Qumran in 1952. It turns out to be a treasure map to the cave where all of the implements of First Temple service were hid along with the golden vessels of the Mishkan (Desert Tabernacle) that were made by Betzalel. The scroll begins as follows: "In the desolations of the Valley of Achor, under the hill that must be climbed, hidden under the east side, forty stones deep, is a silver chest, and with it, the vestments of the High Priest, all the gold and silver with the Great Tabernacle (Mishkan) and all its Treasures." This is the cave where Vendyl has been digging and from which he hopes to have photos of the "treasures" by Tisha B'Av.
- the lost mishnayot of Tosefta gimel on Keilim (vessels): These 12 mishnayot specifically outline the five tzaddikim who hid the vessels of the desert Tabernacle during the reigns of King Yoshiyahu (Josiah) and King Tzidkiyahu (Zedekiah) just before the destruction of the First Temple at the request of Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) the Prophet. The mishnayot contain information on all the vessels that were hidden including all of the golden vessels built by Betzalel in the desert with specific direction by Moses himself. This, of course, would include the Ark, the Menorah, the showbread Table, the golden inner altar, etc. It also refers to a chest which contains within it the Bigdei Kehuna (the garments of Aharon HaKohen) along with the Breastplate of Judgment. The five Tzaddikim were Shimor HaLevi, Chizkiya, Tzidkiyahu (may or may not be the king who ruled in Yehudah during the last eleven years of the First Temple), Chagai the Prophet, and Zecharia grandson of Iddo the Prophet. In the second mishna of this lost chapter in the Tosefta on Keilim, it specifically says that Shimor HaLevi and his companions wrote down the treasure list for the Tabernacle that was also in the First Temple on to a copper scroll (See above). This list does not include implements that may have been made by King Solomon, for it says in the Book of 2nd Kings that the vessels made by Solomon were carried off by Nebuchadnezzar during the reign of Jehoyachin son of Jehoyakim (The father reigned for 11 years and the son for a grand total of three months). Adding up the years of the various kings that ruled in Yehudah, the Southern Kingdom, from the death of Yoshiyahu until the destruction of the First Temple, one arrives at a figure of 22 1/2 years. This includes three months for Yeho'ahaz son of Yoshiyahu who reigned for another grand total of three months before the rule of Jehoyakim another son of Yoshiyahu. This means that the implements from the Mishkan must have been hidden for at least 22 1/2 years since the Talmud says that this hiding of implements occurred during the reign of Yoshiyahu. It is worth noting that the references in known Rabbinic literature about the hiding of the implements of the Mishkan and the First Temple seem to say that they were hidden in a cave underneath the Temple Mount and/or connected with the Temple Mount by a long winding passage. This passage has been found by V. Jones. It begins in the Old City of Jerusalem and goes directly under the Temple Mt. Also while it forks off into many dead ends, it does wind up 18 miles from the Temple Mount at a closed up entranceway to the Cave of the Column, near the northern tip of the Dead Sea. Some of the things that were not carted off by Nebuchadnezzar such as the Qetoret and other minor vessels could have been hidden during the reign of Tzidkiyahu before the First Temple was completely destroyed in the year 3338 after Adam. It has been completely sealed now for almost 2500 years.
These mishnayot have been found by several people in several locations. One place was the Sefer Emeq HaMelekh (Valley of the King) written by Rav Naftali Hertz ben Ya'akov Elchanon in 1648 in Amsterdam. Another place was the genizah of the Cairo Synagogue. A genizah is a place for storing sacred texts that can no longer be used, usually in the belfry or the attic of ancient and medieval buildings. It was found there in 1895 by Dr. William Bowen and later studied by Solomon Schechter. It was soon discovered that the 10th century scroll was the identical text found in Rav Naftali Hertz's book. The most amazing aspect of divine providence in all this, though, is that the same text was later found to be on two marble tablets that were found in the basement of a museum in Beirut, Lebanon with ancient Hebrew text inscribed on them. These tablets were "coincidently" found in 1952, the exact same year that the copper scroll was independently found in Qumran!! G-d does work in mysterious ways!! These marble tablets start out as follows: "These are the words of Shimor HaLevi, the servant of HaShem, in the year 3331 from Adam" The rest of the scroll is the identical text for the entire missing chapter of the Tosefta, found in Rav Naftali Hertz's sefer!! By the way if these tablets were written in 3331, they were written exactly seven years prior to the destruction of the First Temple.
Based on all the above please join us. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in coming. You can believe the following that if he finds the main cavity of the Cave of the Column by Tisha B'Av, with all of the blessings that he had received, these golden implements will not be sitting in a Jerusalem museum. I will write more about why Tisha B'Av is important in our redemptive process, G-d willing, next week.