Did the Ark of the Covenant end up in Ethiopia in biblical times only to be stolen by the Knights Templar during the medieval period?
Let’s start with an Ethiopian version of the bible. It has similarities to what you will have learned in the Old Testament – but some significant differences too.
The Kebra Negast tells how Maqeda, the Queen of Sheba (modern Yemen), visited King Solomon in Jerusalem. He got her pregnant. The resulting son – Ebna-Lahakim – grew up in Jerusalem and when he’d grown to be a young man, decided to steal the Ark of the Covenant.
With the connivance of some local nobles, he broke into the Holy of Holies – the sacred space where the Ark was kept – and robbed it. Then he fled to Ethiopia.
There, he became an emperor – Menelik I – the first in a line of emperors that ended with Haile Selassie in 1973.
So – the Ark of the Covenant was hidden away deep in the Horn of Africa. Now we fast forward two millennia to the 12th century AD and the Knights Templar are on the scene in Jerusalem.
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The Templars, according to some, are looking for the Ark of the Covenant. In fact, it’s why they’ve insisted on being based in what was the Temple of Solomon. But, after years of digging underground, nothing shows up.
But they were about to have a stroke of luck. Because in the year 1165, an Ethiopian prince called Lalibela turned up in Jerusalem. His half-brother Harbay had tried to kill him and so, understandably, poor Lalibela had escaped.
Harbay was now king of Ethiopia while Lalibela was reduced to being a refugee from his homeland. Smarting with rage, Lalibela shared the details of his misfortune with the Knights Templar mentioning in passing that the Ark of the Covenant happened to be in Ethiopia.
So, the theory runs, the Templars conspired with the disgruntled prince to help him take the Ethiopian throne from Harbay while they would make off with the Ark. Despite complaining letters from Harbay to the crowned princes of Europe about the threatening knights, Lalibela seized power with Templar help.
But the Templars don’t appear to have got their hands on the Ark. Indeed, some knights are still in Ethiopia over a century later helping the locals to build churches – with the treasure out of their grasp.
The author Graham Hancock has posited this theory. He believes that at some point, the Ethiopians got fed up of the Templars eyeing up the Ark and sent a delegation to the Pope begging him to bring the knights to heel.
And pointing out that if they did managed to get the Ark, it would make the Templars incredibly powerful. So mighty in fact that they could pose a serious problem for the King of France.
The Pope at that time, Clement V, was firmly under the King of France’s thumb. He reported back to King Philip who took the Ethiopian warning extremely seriously….and the rest…as they say…is history.