Biblical Mysteries



There is a sense which the Bible is part of every person's heritage. The Bible has much to commend as it contains in its pages some fine poetry, vivid storytelling, deep insight into the human condition and moral guidance which has stood the test of time.

The Bible is, after all a book of faith, a spiritual tome whose merits do not depend on its factual accuracy as much as moral truth. The Bible is historically elusive, some historical facts in its pages have been confirmed, generally or in detail; some historical facts have been refuted or denied. What can be said of the Bible as history is that it is recorded as a 'history of faith' as the believers chose to believe it. 

Yet there are mysteries within that that call for answers, accuracy or proof.

The Bible is not purely nor intentionally a book of history. Nor does it present a formulated system of chronology, its many numbers and dates being used principally with a view to the spiritual facts and
truths with which the authors were concerned and not with arranged order of periods and dates. In our investigation we shall indeed find many accurately dated events, frequent consecutions of
events, and orderly successions of kings, and officials

Examples of mysteries include The Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, The Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, Moses and the Israelite crossing the Red Sea with the waters parting...


Where is the Ark of the Covenant?

The Ark of the Covenant is described in the Bible as a sacred container, wherein rested the tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments. According to the Biblical account, the Ark was built  at
the command of God, in accord with Moses' prophetic vision on Mt. Sinai.(Exodus 25| 10-15) God communicated with Moses "from between the two  cherubim" on the Ark's cover (Exodus 24;22) The Ark was kept in the Temple in Jerusalem until the Babylonians plundered and destroyed the Holy Edifice. From then on the Ark of the Covenant entered into legend of its whereabouts. From the later periods theories abound to where the location of the Ark. First the concealment of the Holy Ark by the priests of the Temple in the very earth of the Temple Mount, but archaeological digging there is heavily restricted as today on the mount rest the holy shrines of the Muslim faith. 

Another theory is the removal of the Ark of the Covenant by the Ethiopian Prince Monalik I to his country. According to the faithful of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, one of its churches, 'Our Lady Mary of Zion' is host to the original Ark of the Covenant. However, only one priest is allowed into the building where the Ark is located ostensibly due to dangerous Biblical warnings.


Where is the Garden of Eden?

The Garden of Eden was where God intended Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, to live in peaceful contented innocence, effortlessly reaping the fruits of the earth. The garden contained the 'Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil' and the 'Tree of Life' from which Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of its fruit. When they disobeyed and ate of the forbidden fruit, the Lord drove them from the garden. (Gan Eden means Paradise, or, tellingly, the Garden of Eden: It derives from the
descriptions found in the Talmud, a collection of traditional oral Jewish tales and teachings.)

 The Book of Genesis provides some fairly specific information on the garden's location:  "A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden: and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the
first is Piston; it flows around the whole land of Avila, where there is gold. The name of the second river is Gijon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows
east of Assyria and the fourth river is the Euphrates.''. (Genesis 2:10-14) 

Most scholars agree that Eden was located somewhere near the Persian Gulf. This location was the formation by the union of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers near the gulf. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers are easy to find because they still flow. The images from satellite photos clearly show 'fossil rivers' that once flowed, which modern Saudis and Kuwaitis know as the Wade Rupiah and the Wade Bating. Furthermore, as the Bible says, this region was rich in bdelliun (Hebrew bedolach), an
aromatic gum resin that can still found in North Arabia, and gold, which is still mined in the general area in the present day. From 1974 paleontologists have evacuated six million years of the life of man
and they have concluded that East Africa in scientifically the location of human origin, a scientific 'Garden of Eden'.

Note: The concept of the Garden of Eden is probably a symbolic, abstract understanding and the garden never existed in the real world.


The lost ten tribes of Israel

The 'Ten Lost tribes of Israel' refers to the tribes of Ancient Israel that formed the kingdom of Israel. They constituted the northern kingdom of Israel that broke away from the kingdom of Judah after the
death of King Solomon. (On the succession of Solomon's son, Rehoboam, in c. 930 BCE the country split into two kingdoms: Israel (including the cities of Shechem and Samaria) in the north and Judah
(containing Jerusalem) in the south.) The Northern Kingdom disappeared from the Biblical account after the kingdom was destroyed and the people enslaved and exiled in about 720 BCE by ancient
Assyria.

The people of the Northern Kingdom were relocated to Assyria after the conquest of Israel. Through the ensuing years the lost Ten Tribes of Israel have been identified with various peoples of the world. 

There are many theories about what happened to the lost tribes. This is a subject based partially upon written religious tradition and partly upon speculation; and various legends and myths telling of their fate.

Yet there were only 12 tribes of Israel and none of them were lost as twelve in the Bible is a perfect number, signifying in the Bible the perfection of governmental perfection. Jacob produced twelve sons, each of whom became the father of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. (The 12 sons of Israel (=Jacob) were: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher and Joseph. These were the ancestors of the original twelve tribes.)  There were twelve patriarchs from Seth to Noah, and twelve from Shem to Jacob. That is why there were only 12 tribes of Israel. Thus
the myth of the "Ten Lost Tribes" has no real Biblical basis.  They are based upon misconceptions derived from the misreading of various Bible passages. Of the people of Northern Kingdom the
Assyrians exiled, many returned to the Kingdom of Judah and, like almost every other conquered people in the ancient world, those that remained in Assyria lost their separate identity and were assimilated away into the sands of history.


Where is Noah's Ark?

According to the Bible account in the book of Genesis, Noah's Ark came to rest over 4,300 years ago on the mountains of Ararat (The mountains of  Ararat is located in the northeast corner of Turkey close to the borders of Iran and Armenia). "On the seventh day of the seventh month the Ark grounded on a mountain in Ararat.'' (Genesis 8:4-5). From the time of Eusebisus (276-329 AD) to the present day, the search of the physical remains of Noah's Ark has been a fascination for people of all faiths including charlatans. Despite many rumors, claims of sightings and expeditions, no scientific evidence of the Ark has ever been found--a wild goose chase according to many reputable archaeologists. There have been a number of hoaxes in relation to the search for the physical remains of Noah's Ark, as well as stories
which have the status of urban myths.

"The size of the ship was 300 by 50 by 30 ells, according to the book of Genesis.This makes it about half the size of the ship Queen Elizabeth 2. It would have had about the same tonnage (weight) as the Titanic". It was much bigger than any ship of that time. Very probably, the wood used in its construction was that of the cypress tree and wood, off course, deteriorates through the course of time.

Through the years all attempts to find the remains on Mount Ararat have proved that the story of the flood is a myth that should not taken literally. Many cultures of all faiths and Jews accept the
deluge story as an allegory to convey meaning of the might of the Lord, not historical fact. ("God gave Noah this covenant, whereby people were given dominance over all animals and were now permitted to
eat meat for the first time but not with its life still in it, and instructed to spread over the earth, but under a new law: that if a man spill another man's blood, his own blood must be spilled. God uses
the rainbow in the skies above to seal and remind future generations of this everlasting covenant.")

The Epic of Gilgamesh, epic poetry from Mesopotamia contains the Gilgamesh flood myth and has a number of parallels to the story of Noah and the Flood in Genesis 6-9. During his search for immortality, Gilgamesh meets a man, Utnapishtim, who succeeded in attaining such a goal.
Utnapishtim goes on to explain how he attained it, that an assembly of gods resolved to destroy mankind by means of a flood. Utnapishtim lived on the island of Dilmun and had achieved a great age when Gilgamesh sought him out for the secret of immortality.


Mystery: Sodom and Gomorrah--were they real cities and where were they located?

The Biblical account of the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah is recorded in Book of Genesis chapters 18-19. Genesis chapter 18 records the Lord and two angels coming to speak with Abraham. The Lord informed Abraham that "the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous." Verses 22-33 records Abraham pleading with the Lord to have mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah because Abraham's nephew, Lot, and his family lived in Sodom.

Genesis chapter 19 records the two angels, disguised as human beings, visiting Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot met the angels in the city square and urged them to stay at his house. The angels agreed. The Bible then informs us, "Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom crowded around the house. They called to Lot, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have intercourse with them.'" The angels proceed to blind the men of Sodom and Gomorrah at the doorway so they could not find the door. They urged Lot and his family to flee from the cities to escape the wrath that God was about to deliver. Lot and his family fled the city, and then "the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the Lord out of the heavens." 

''When they brought them out they urged Lot not to look back." But as the as they went out
the city, Lot's wife looked back behind Lot and she was turned into a "Pillar of Salt."

For the sins of the inhabitants the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by "brimstone and fire from the Lord up in Heavens'. (Genesis 19:24-35).' The Historical evidence of the location of Sodom
and Gomorrah is still in dispute by archaeologists; yet the Bible indicates they were located near the Dead Sea (Israel). Sites excavated by teams of archaeologists located near the ' Sea of Salt'
revealed evidence of burning and traces of sulphur, and the cessation of habitation towards the early Bronze Age. But, the actual sites of these two cities has never been never proven.

Thus the names of the cities Sodom and Gomorrah have been associated with incorrigible sin, vice, and godlessness; the calamity of their fall was with the manifestation of God's wrath. 


Crossing the Red Sea

The escape of the Israelites from the pursuing Egyptians in the Book of Exodus 13:17-14:29. "The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: "Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth,
between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.'
Then I will harden Pharaoh's heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so."

Yet The Hebrew term for the place of the crossing is "Yam Suph". Although this has traditionally been thought to refer to the Red Sea located between Africa and the Arabian peninsula, this is a mistranslation from the Greek Septuagint, and Hebrew suph never means "red" but rather "reeds," "rushes" or possibly "seaweed." Thus, a few Biblical Scholars believe the crossing took place north of the Red Sea, an area with abundant with lakes and reeds. They usually designate one of these shallow bodies of water as the site of the Israelite crossing and say that the Egyptians, with their heavy chariots, got bogged down in bottom mud and drowned.

Other scholars prefer a southern route, pointing to evidence that they feel demonstrates that 'yam suph' may mean "sea at the end of the world," as some conceive it to have been. Says theology professor Bernard F. Batto: "What we call the Red Sea. Some want to preserve a
very narrowly literal reading of the exodus narrative. Many Biblical historians argue that the point of exit from the land of Egypt was across the Red Sea "as the Bible clearly says" (at least in some
translations). This would mean that the Israelites journeyed to the south before turning across the Red Sea into the Sinai peninsula. Some like to point out the great width and depth of the sea as a
further proof of the miraculous nature of the escape.



Conclusion

The Biblical tales are miraculous, but new discoveries in geology, archaeology, and astronomy suggest many, if not all of these stories may actually refer to real events.


Bibliography

1)  The New English Bible--Oxford University Press, England

2)  The Bible as History--Werner Keller, Bantam Books, USA

3)  Peake's Commentary on the Bible--Thomas Nelson and Sons, publisher, London, England

4) The Book of the Bible--Eunice Riedel, Thomas Tracy and Barbara D. Moskowitz