British archeologist Sean Kingsley is claiming that the gold and silver vessels of the Temple in Jerusalem are hidden in the caves under Mar Theodosius, a Greek Orthodox monastery on the edge of the Judean desert, in the village of Ubadiyah, about 6 miles east of Bethlehem.
In his new book, God's Gold: The Quest for the Lost Temple Treasure of Jerusalem, Kingsley writes that vessels of the temple disappeared from public view more than 1,500 years ago at the time Rome was sacked by the Vandals in 455 A.D. According to Kingsley, among the vessels hidden at Mar Theodosius include the seven-branch gold Menorah, the Table of the Presence, and a pair of silver trumpets.
Israeli officials deny Kingsley’s claims. Many people in Israel believe the Temple vessels are hidden in the Vatican. In fact, in 1996 the Religious Affairs Minister, Shimon Shetreet, acting on behalf of Israel, asked the Vatican to return the Temple vessels to Israel.
In a report published in YnetNews, Yaakov Lappin writes:
Despite the prospect that the Temple artifacts could be so close to home, Kingsley warns of the dangers of attempting to retrieve them. “So many dangerous dreams for messianic redemption hinge on this Jewish birthright that I believe it would remain far safer for humanity locked away in the cleansing soils of the Holy Land, dreamt over but not recovered," Kingsley says.
He adds: "The Temple Mount is the centre of world religion but also a seething volcano of human hatred in the Arab-Israeli conflict. It takes very little provocation for all hell to break loose in Jerusalem. The Temple treasure should today be a global treasure that unites people, not a political tool validating the construction of a Third Temple on the Haram al-Sharif. If the menorah's Diaspora over the centuries tells us anything then it is a wise lesson about the irrationality of religious fanaticism: every power that sought to imprison this icon eventually crumbled into dust."
Where is the Menora?
Kingsley says that the fate of the Temple Menora, the official symbol of the State of Israel, is likely tied to the other artifacts pillaged by Rome: "Most of the splendours of the Temple were eagerly liquidated into cash by the emperor Vespasian who needed 4,000 million sesterces (£2.25 billion) to get the (Roman) empire back on an even keel after civil war, anarchy and the great fire of Rome of AD 64 left the Eternal City looking worn out. The menora, silver trumpets and Table of the Divine Presence were acknowledged as key symbols of power. Control these and you controlled heaven, the seas and all between. Rome knew that the menora was a hotline to God and was keen to 'imprison' this divine power for its own benefit. The same held true for subsequent possessors - Vandals and Byzantines."
Kingsley is confident that the Menora is not, however in the Vatican vaults, as is widely suspected by many. "I have absolutely no political or theological axe to grind but my new research proves beyond doubt that the menora was never in Rome in the medieval period or later but by the seventh century AD was only a few miles away from Jerusalem in the West Bank."
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Personally, I do not believe that the Temple treasure is hidden at Mar Theodosius. When the Romans destroyed the Temple at Jerusalem after a Jewish revolt, the Temple was looted and the Romans took the gold, the silver, and the sacred vessels to Rome. According to some historical accounts, the Temple treasure was on public display in the Temple of Peace in the Forum, in Rome between 75 A.D. and the early 5th century.
We may never know what happened to the Temple treasure.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Archaeology, Temple Treasure, Temple, Menorah, Sean Kingsley, Mar Theodosius