Could this buccaneering rabbi uncover the lost Ark?


He is described as the Jewish Indiana Jones, but where Harrison Ford played the role of a fictional archaeologist, Harry Moskoff is a real-life rabbi, explorer and treasure hunter.

And he believes he knows where the Ark of the Covenant is hidden.

A film director, inventor and writer, Mr Moskoff describes himself as a "buccaneer". Visiting London he explained the thinking behind his archaeological efforts.

"My purpose is to strengthen Jewish sovereignty over the region and show the ancient Jewish connection to the region," he says.

Mr Moskoff was born in Canada before later moving to Israel, where he lives with his wife and children. He received his rabbinic ordination from Chabad in Beit Shemesh.

He does not claim to be an archaeologist, but is rather a researcher who takes the studies of others and analysing them in the context of Rabbinic sources.

This has led to his "Moskoff Theory", a hypothesis which claims the Ark is buried on the Temple Mount - but not below the Dome of the Rock as is commonly thought.

Mr Moskoff explains: "In the Rambam it actually states the Ark was buried in tunnels with four or five different levels, and that the chamber was actually set up in the original blueprint of King Solomon when he built the Temple.

"So that chamber is actually right beneath the Holy of Holies, but it's not where the Dome of the Rock is, it's further to the south west."

Mr Moskoff has spent time both in front and behind the camera. His sci-fi short film, The ARK Report - Secret for the Century, which he produced and featured in, won an award at the oldest independent film festival in the United States.

He now intends to publish his latest book, with the same title as the film, in Britain next month. The work navigates the mysteries of Jerusalem's temples with a particular focus on the Ark of the Covenant.

It is a mixture of rabbinical sources, pro-Israel cheerleading, and speculation on popular conspiracy theories, including the Bermuda triangle and CIA involvement in the excavations at Qumran - the site of the Dead Sea Scroll findings - in the 1990s.

Mr Moskoff's enthusiasm is evident, but if he is so sure about the Ark's location, why not prove that he is right and reveal Judaism's holiest object?

Apart from the "impossibility" of getting permission to excavate in that location, there is, he says, a separate question: "Should you look for it? Is it the right thing to do?"

"All of my research is essentially to say, when the time comes, here's where you could look."

He believes the use of laser-mapping technology could lead to a discovery.

"This is what they're using in the City of David excavations - laser radar. Theoretically a person could fly a drone and see what's underneath. The Ark would be at least 50 metres below, because this is first temple period.

"Of course, many people, especially the Christian right, really do want to move forward - a lot of people that are pro-Israel, but who's going to give that permission?

"Is it going to be the Chief Rabbi, is it going to be Prime Minister Netanyahu, who knows, is it going to be, the Pope?

"All of this, my whole work, is essentially good PR - hasbara - for Israel."

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