(By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5TJT.com)
Every so often, the media gets scammed by various organizations or individuals with agendas. It happens to the general media at large as well as to the Jewish media. It is this author’s contention that the report of the lost Aron and the Kailim of the Bais HaMikdash in an Ethiopan Church are just another one of these scams.
THE REASONS TO DOUBT
Firstly, the “US-based Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration Institute (BASE)” is run by a guy named Bob Cornuke, who has no degree in Archaeology. Nor has he had any training in archaeology. He does hold degrees in biblical studies, but it is from the unaccredited Louisiana Baptist University. Most of the faculty of LBU got their degrees from LBU. LBU has no accreditation from any organization or agency that is registered with the US Department of Education.
Secondly, the Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration Institution is US based. But it is run out of Bob’s house in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Thirdly, the history doesn’t make sense. The Bais HaMikdash was destroyed by the Roman empire in 70 CE. There are mekoros that say that the aron was found during the second Beis HaMikdash by an errant kohain – the indication is that it remained hidden and or buried in Eretz Yisroel. It could only have been removed by Rome if it was taken out of eretz Yisroel. Rome was everywhere, but not deep in Africa or in Ethiopia. The first verifiable kingdom of great power to rise in Ethiopia was that of Axum in the 1st century CE – but it had nothing to do with Rome. Rome would not give up its treasures either before or after to an obscure country.
True, the Persian religious figure Mani listed Axum with Rome, Persia, and China as one of the four great powers of the time, but there were no religious, cultural, social or business connections. Christianity was only later introduced into Ethiopia at around 330 CE by Frumentius, who was consecrated first bishop of Ethiopia by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria.
Fourthly, Bob Cornuke is a former real estate agent. Generally, former real estate agents with no degree or training in archaeology, do not make for reliable archaeological experts. This is particularly true when Dr. Weaver the head of Bob Cornuke’s alma mater lists a PhD on his resume, but Weaver’s own Alma Mater does not grant such a degree.
Fifthly, Cornuke’s previous conclusions fly in the face of the Gedolei HaRishonim. For example, he places Har Sinai in Saudi Arabia, not the Sinai.
Finally, and acharon acharon chaviv, there are no traditions in the Ethiopian Jewish Mesorah (Beita Israel) about the vessels of the Beis HaMikdash or the Aron Kodesh being in Ethiopia. This is most telling.
HOW THESE THINGS HAPPEN
The media is often taken in by official sounding names. The story that is created is specifically tweaked to be somewhat plausible. They place quotes in the story, but the details are conveniently unverifiable. The people behind it often have an agenda – to promote themselves, their religious and/or social views, or both. The media members do not take adequate precautions such as a few Google searches.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)