Tigrai Online Jan. 13, 2013
One of the hot new destinations for 2013, Ethiopia may surprise you. Famous for its rock-hewn churches and ancient monasteries, it also boasts lush, dramatic scenery - in the Simien Mountains National Park, for example, where ibex, baboons and the rare Ethiopian wolf inhabit a landscape of jagged volcanic peaks and deep valleys.
The city of Axum is not only the legendary home of the Queen of Sheba but also the reputed final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, believed to hold the tablets of stone bearing the Ten Commandments, which Moses brought down from Mount Sinai. Take a boat across Lake Tana to island monasteries filled with ancient manuscripts and beautiful frescoes. The trip ends in Lalibela, with its mysterious 700-year-old rock-cut churches. In late September the Meskel festival will be in full swing here, with dancing, feasting and a big bonfire all celebrating the discovery in the fourth century of the true cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.
Source: Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/artsandculture/9790984/The-best-guided-tours-for-2013.html
The Ark was the portable wooden chest, gilded inside and out, adorned with cherubs and topped with a throne, that was constructed by the Israelites to house the Ten Commandments during their 40 years of desert wanderings to the Promised Land.
But it was also a kind of supercharged electric capacitor – a telephone line directly to God, who instructed that if the device was set up just right, “There, I will meet with thee.”
Whoever possessed the Ark was invincible. “Biblical and other sources speak of the Ark blazing with fire and light . . . stopping rivers, blasting whole armies,” Hancock writes in his book.
The Bible says the Philistines had it for a while but were smitten by “swellings” for their troubles.
Taken to King Solomon's first Jewish temple, it lay in the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies. But according to Jewish tradition, it vanished during (or after) the Babylonian sack of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C., creating one of the greatest mysteries of all time.
Except in Ethiopia, where many educated people believe the real Ark rests in the Chapel of the Tablet, where it was moved from an adjacent 10th-century cathedral because divine “heat” from the relic had cracked the stones of its previous sanctum.