African Ark of Covenant

For years scholars have speculated that the lost tribes of the Jewish Nation, somehow found their way to Africa, southern Africa specifically. The Ark of Covenant, which carried the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed on them, was lost. How do these two occurrences coincide?

Tudor Parfitt, a British scholar, has been trying to make the same connection for years. Parfitt tracked down a 700-year-old relic in Zimbabwe that he believes is a replica of The Ark of Covenant that once carried the Ten Commandments.

African legends give meaning to the relic, as nothing more then a “drum that thunders” but Parfitt insists that perhaps it has a connection with The Ark and even deeper with the Jewish presence in Africa. This has angered many of the Zimbabwean scholars who believe that the artifact is simply a product of the African culture.

What connection do Jewish people have exactly with Africa? Other then the Jewish enslavement under the rule of the Pharaoh in Egypt, the Jews have a long history in Africa dating back to more then 2,700 years ago. Groups such as the Lemba, located in South Africa, practice Christianity but show signs of preserving Jewish customs and rituals such as observing a weekly Sabbath, practicing circumcision, shunning pork and keeping Jewish kosher rules. Also many members of the Lemba society have been found with a genetic trait, Cohen Modal Haplotype, which is commonly found within Jews.

No one knows exactly what happened to The Ark of Covenant or the Aron Habrit as it is called in Hebrew, but most scholars agree that there were two arks built; one by Moses and a later one built by Bezalel. The Ark was always covered by an animal skin to conceal it from the eyes of the people. This attribute connects directly to the relic found and Parfitt’s explanation of its connection to the Ark.

The artifact was described by the Zimbabwean scholars as an African drum but the fact that the Ark was always covered by animal skin also connects  to Parfitt’s theory that the relic is in fact a replica of the Aron Habrit.

The museum that houses the historical object (Harare Museum of Human Sciences) is careful when displaying the artifact, making sure that both sides of the story are portrayed.

The Zimbabwean government refuses to carbon-date the artifact, which would settle the dispute once and for all but Parfitt refuses to give up and continues to search for evidence of Judaism in South Africa.

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