After 70 AD- No More Mass Crucifixions
But after the destruction in 70 AD, with most of the Jewish inhabitants having been killed or sold as slaves, the city was reduced to a Roman camp. Vespasian offered the landed property of Jerusalem for sale to foreigners, although we have no records of who purchased any land there. The garrison of 800 Romans in the camp was stationed there to insure that the city was not rebuilt. The hatred of the Romans was for the Jews. Therefore, during the time after 70 AD, when Jerusalem was only a Roman camp with the occasional foreigner (non-Jew) living in the area, the use of crucifixion would be virtually eliminated.
The Christians were apparently tolerated by the Romans, as is supported by the fact that in 130 AD, when the Emperor Hadrian came to Jerusalem to rebuild it as a Roman city named Aelia Capitolina, he showed favor to the Christians while forbidding any Jew to ever set foot in the city again.
This and other things contributed to a revolt among the Jews in Judea in 132 AD which finally resulted in the death of at least half a million Jewish men, and from this time on, Judea was no longer called by that name, but referred to by the old name of "Palestine".
The new Roman city of Aelia Capitolina remained a city, but did not prosper. The fact that the coins Ron found in the ancient building cease at about 135 AD indicates that whoever built and used this ancient structure apparently abandoned it at that time and left the region. The fact that the foundations are still intact indicates that it didn't suffer destruction at the hands of an invader, but most likely fell into disuse and decay. Eventually, over time, it was covered in dirt and debris. Whatever was the case, the evidence shows that the structures were not disturbed since the Roman time.
A "Very Great Stone" from a Very Special Tomb
As they continued to clear the area outward from the cliff-face, the layout of the building was found to be very simple. One wall ran parallel to the cliff-face, along the top of the elevated "platform" section of bedrock. Two exterior walls extended out at 90 degree angles from each end of this first wall.
They began to dig, searching for the last wall when they came to another hand-hewn rock. It was a little less than 2 feet thick, and the portion that was extending out of the dirt and debris looked as if it were curved, somewhat like a large, thick rounded table-top. Clearing more from around it, Ron saw that it was of immense size and they decided not to continue digging. He theorized that perhaps this was the seal-stone from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea in which Christ was buried. If he was correct in his conjecture that this was an early Christian church building, perhaps they had incorporated this seal-stone into the actual building. It certainly appeared to be larger than any seal stone he had ever seen or read about. The largest that had ever been found, to his knowledge, was 5 feet in diameter. THIS stone would far exceed that.
However, it would be several years later before he would learn it's true dimension- a little over 13 feet in diameter- when he used sub-surface interface radar from above the ground.
MAT 27:60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled A GREAT STONE to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
"In the Garden a New Sepulchre"
In the same escarpment is the Garden Tomb which was discovered in 1867 when the landowner was digging a cistern on his property. As with the sites Ron was excavating, this tomb was beneath the ground level, buried in the debris of many, many years.
When the owner discovered the tomb, he abandoned his plans for a cistern. When General Gordon of Britain visited the area and became convinced that the "skull face" in the relatively near section of the escarpment was the true location of Golgotha, this tomb became the prime suspect for being the tomb of Christ. It met with strenuous opposition from the traditionalists who were adamant that the Holy Sepulchre inside the city was the true site- but it soon gained some adherents.
Click to see "The Garden Tomb"
The "Garden Tomb"
When completely excavated, it did indeed exhibit characteristics which proved it was dated to the 1st century AD, the time of Christ. But the subject that now concerns us is the missing seal-stone from this tomb.
Directly in front of the tomb is a groove for a rolling stone. The width of this groove is about 2 feet, the correct size for the stone Ron found buried in the earth.
Click to see the groove for the rolling stone in front of the Garden Tomb
Another tomb from the 1st century (time of Christ) is that of Queen Helena of Adiabene. It is also located in the same general vicinity, further north, and the groove is exactly the same size as is featured in the Garden Tomb. Not only are the grooves for the seal stones identical in size, hers also contains an inclined section at one end at which the stone was rolled into the groove- exactly as does the Garden Tomb.
Breaking Through the Cliff-Face into the Cave System
By this time, Ron and the boys had been working here for almost 2 years. They had begun in January of 1979 and it was now late 1980.
Of course, they weren't working constantly- Ron was (as he is still today) an anesthetist with obligations to the hospitals he worked with. Due to the nature of his work, he was able to arrange to come over numerous times a year, but he could only stay for a few weeks at a time.
And Ron was getting anxious. They had made some wonderful discoveries, and provided details to the authorities of their finds along with any artifacts they found. Some, they were allowed to keep because they were deemed of no significant worth.
But they had explored the entire underground cliff-face, looking for an entrance into a cave or tunnel. If the Ark was in that location, it certainly would be hidden in a cave, he reasoned.
Finally, as they continued to search, Ron made the comment to his sons that he was "impressed" that they should just break through the rock of the cliff-face. Ronny said he thought that was a good idea, but Ron resisted. That rock is extremely hard and he knew what difficult work it would be. Finally, when Danny told his father that he, too, believed they ought to do go ahead and break through the cliff face, Ron relented and agreed. It was the only option left.
With hammers and chisels, they began their work. It wasn't long before they broke through the rock into an open space. Enlarging the hole, they saw behind it a cave which was about 15 feet in height and of about the same width. Crawling through, they finally were inside the actual mountain called "Moriah".
Inside the Cave System
For almost 2 years, they had been tunneling underground, finding artifacts and uncovering exciting structures almost daily. But now, they were in a barren cavern that they would soon learn was only a very small part of a very extensive honeycomb of natural caves and tunnels within the mountain.
Click to see Ron inside the cave system
Another of Ron inside the cave system
For almost a year, they explored this area, finding no evidence of any human presence. These natural tunnels were not all connected to each other, and they spent many hours chiseling through cave walls, searching for adjacent tunnels which they eventually found. But they found nothing else.
As 1981 came to an end, Ron and the boys took their winter holidays to come to Jerusalem and work. Even though it is cold there in the winter, the cave system was always a very comfortable and constant temperature, both in summer as well as winter. But the work was beginning to take a toll on all 3 of them. They all began to develop a fever and slight chills. The dust they had inhaled over the years in those confined tunnels perhaps contributed to their pneumonia-like symptoms. Finally, on Christmas eve, Ron had to send Ronny back to the US because he was so ill. Danny had to follow on New Year's eve. Ron, too was sick but this was a very special trip.
Ron has never heard God speak audibly- he just prays about what he should do and then sometimes receives an "impression". By now, he had been excavating for such a long time, he was beginning to wonder if he was wasting his time and had misinterpreted what he was supposed to do.
He, as usual, prayed and asked to know what to do before he scheduled this December 1981 trip. This time, although he still heard no audible voice, in his mind came the promise that he would find the Ark of the Covenant on that trip. And he believed with all his heart that it was a true promise from the One Who could make such a promise and keep it. But things couldn't have looked worse- Danny and Ronny were both very sick, and Ron was probably equally as sick but far more persistent (or stubborn)- he stayed to keep working. And alone without the boys, he needed some help.
When excavating over the years, he had hired locals to help, mostly with the above ground work, such as hauling off debris. Each time they opened their excavation and worked, they had to completely restore the above ground area before they left- this was a condition of their being allowed to continue. They had moved tons of earth and debris over the years which required local assistance in hauling it off above ground.
He had met one young local whom he had discovered was very honest and trustworthy, and he began to use him in the actual excavation when Ronny and Danny weren't available. In addition to earning Ron's trust, "James" was small and slender- perfect for squeezing through the tight tunnels of the excavation. And it was "James" that Ron hired to assist him when Danny and Ronny left.
Exploring Every "Nook and Cranny"
Ron and the boys had explored most of the tunnels over the last year, but there were always more. Ron's plan this trip was to leave no possibility unexplored. He and "James" crawled through the vast system of tunnels, now much larger and extensive because of the passages they had opened up and the walls they had chiseled through. Ron would decide where to go next and he and James would follow that tunnel. If and when they found a small opening, Ron would enlarge it enough for "James" to crawl through, and he would carefully check it out and report to Ron everything that he saw.
They followed one particularly difficult passageway which took them through a "chimney" which extended straight up and a tight tunnel which was so small that Ron had to exhale in order to squiggle through. He had to stop to take a breath and when he inhaled, the tunnel was so tight be couldn't fill his lungs completely.
When they got through, Ron saw a very small opening in the wall of the tunnel they were now in. Directly in front of it was a stalactite about 16 inches long which almost appeared to be "guarding" the tiny hole. He knocked the stalactite off (and ended up bringing it home where we still have it today). Peering through the tiny hole, he could see nothing.
So, he enlarged it enough to peer in. All he could see with the aid of his flashlight shining through the hole, was a chamber completely full of rocks (all larger than "fist" size) with about 18 inches of clearance between the rocks and the ceiling. It didn't look promising at all, but he was leaving nothing unexplored. So he enlarged it enough for "James" to crawl through.
Click to see a photograph of the hole that "James" crawled through.
"What"s in There? What's in There?"
Almost as soon as "James" crawled through the tiny opening, he frantically came tumbling back out, shaking and shouting "What's in there? What's in there? I'm not going back in there!!" Ron saw in his eyes sheer, complete and utter terror- yet, James said he had seen nothing! But whatever he experienced was real, for he left not only that chamber, but the entire cave system, never to return.
It was "James'" reaction which sparked the hesitant excitement in Ron- he would have never given that chamber another look if not for "James'" terror. Now alone in this vast cave system, he took his hammer and chisel and enlarged the hole, crawling through.
The Incredible Discovery
Expectant after what happened to "James", he looked at his watch- it was 2:00 pm, Wednesday, January 6, 1982. Shining his flashlight down through the massive pile of large rocks, his eye caught a glimpse of something shiny.
He began slowly removing the rocks one at a time and discovered some dry-rotted wooden timbers just beneath the rocks, and then some dry-rotted remains of animals skins that turned to powder when he moved them. The animals skins were covering a gold veneered table with a raised moulding around the side which consisted of an alternating pattern of a bell and a pomegranate. It only took him a moment to realize that at the least this WAS an object from the first temple! But he was in such a confined space, he couldn't uncover the entire table. He later concluded, after closer examination, that this was the Table of Shewbread.
Discovery of the Earthquake Crack in the Ceiling
With adrenalin flowing through his veins and great anticipation, he looked around to see what else he could see, which wasn't much. He shined his flashlight around the open area and then up to the ceiling. There, he saw something that caught his eye- it was a crack in the ceiling with a black substance within the crack.
Crawling slowly and painfully over the rocks to the rear of the chamber, he saw a stone case extending through the rocks. It had a flat stone top which was cracked completely in two and the smaller section was moved aside, creating an opening into the stone case. But the top was too near the ceiling for him to look inside. Yet he knew what was inside- the crack in the ceiling was directly above the cracked part of the lid, where it was open, and the black substance had fallen from the crack into the case because some of it had splashed onto the lid.
Click for illustration of Ron inside the chamber
It was at this time, as Ron recalls, as the instant realization of what had happened here dawned on him, that he passed out. When he realized that the crack in the ceiling was the end of the crack he had found in the elevated cross-hole many feet above him, and the black substance was blood which had fallen through the crack and into the stone case, he KNEW the Ark was in the stone case. But the most overwhelming realization was that Christ's Blood had actually fallen onto the Mercy Seat.
When he came to, it was 2:45 pm. A mere 45 minutes had passed since he entered the chamber, yet in that short time, he became the first witness to the literal fulfillment of the "type" represented by all the sacrifices made by God's people since Adam and Eve, and later specifically directed by God, Himself, in the laws of the sacrificial system.
Now he knew why he and the boys had to do the last 3 years of excavation that he had sometimes felt was useless. If they had not found first, the cut-out niches, and then the elevated cross-hole with the earthquake crack, he would not have recognized what had happened here. And the promise Ron believed he had received HAD been fulfilled- he DID find the Ark of the Covenant on that trip. But he didn't even lay eyes on it. And in his frustration and complaining, he received another VERY strong impression- "I only promised that you would FIND it. It will come out when the time is right."
The condition of the chamber, completely full within 18 inches of the ceiling, made it impossible for Ron to do anything else. He could not foresee any possible way of bringing anything out unless the entrance to the chamber through which the objects were originally taken in was found. He climbed out the small hole, back through the tortuous series of tunnels and sealed the passageway with a stone. To anyone looking through the tunnel, it would appear that it came to an abrupt end. However, the rock could and would be easily removed by Ron when he returned.
Ron didn't report his experience to anyone at that time. He needed time to think and it would be a long time before his mind quit whirring with everything he had experienced. He had expected to find the Ark and bring it out, but that now seemed impossible.
He made several more trips into the chamber, and eventually reported to the authorities as to what he had found. Perhaps not able to believe what he had told them he had found, or perhaps recognizing the problems that this could cause if made known, his superiors told him not to tell anyone about his discovery. However, it was too late for that because Ron had already told a few people and he confessed this fact to them. Realizing that "what is done is done", they then ordered him not to reveal any MORE details than he already had revealed. Therefore, from this point on, we cannot be as specific as we have to this point.
The Chamber with the Ark of the Covenant
Ron returned to the chamber on several occasions- one time he took a "Trinkle Drill" used by Orthopedic surgeons and a colonoscope used to look into the human body. He wanted to be sure the Ark was in that stone case. He tried to drill a small hole with the "Trinkle Drill" but it wouldn't penetrate the stone. So he took his star-tipped stone chisel and hammer to accomplish the job. He would hammer the tip a little, then turn the bit, hammer then turn, over and over until he had an approximately 5/8" hole into the stone case.
The "colonoscope" is an optical device with a powerful light source which allows doctors to peer into the human body, and Ron had borrowed one from one of the doctors at the hospital he worked at. Inserting the colonoscope through the tiny hole, he guided it downward, rotating the lens until he saw what he recognized as the bottom of the crown-molding around the top of the Mercy Seat and then he saw the flat golden side. Since the colonoscope doesn't allow viewing of a large area, and since he had little means to guide it other than a small latitude of rotation, he couldn't see a great deal. But he saw enough to KNOW it was the Ark.
Measuring the Depth of the Earthquake Crack
On one trip, he had one of his helpers sit by the elevated cross-hole with the earthquake crack while he ran a metal tape measure through the crack in the ceiling of the chamber. It extended through to the cross-hole and when his helper grabbed it to show that it had come through, Ron noted that the crack extended through 20 feet of solid rock.
The Contents of the Chamber
During his several visits to the chamber, he tried to thoroughly explore the contents. He measured the chamber and found it to be 22 feet long by 12 feet on 2 sides, while the other 2 sides followed the line of the cliff-face, forming a chamber that narrowed down in one corner.
The objects he saw in that chamber that he feels confident in identifying are:
the Ark of the Covenant in the Stone case;
the Table of Shewbread;
the Golden Altar of Incense that was in front of the veil;
the Golden Censer;
the 7-branched Candlestick holder, (which didn't have candles but had tiny, bowlike golden oil lamps which are built into the tips of the candlestick);
a very large sword;
a Miter with an ivory pomegranate on the tip;
a brass shekel weight; numerous oil lamps;
and a brass ring which appeared to be for hanging a curtain or something similar.
There are more objects, but these are all Ron could positively identify. All of these objects were covered by the dry-rotted dark-colored animal skins, then dry-rotten wooden timbers on top of the skins, and finally the large rocks piled over everything.
The Tables of Stone are still within the Ark, under the Mercy Seat. On the back of the Ark is a small open cubicle which still contains the "Book of the Law" and is presumably the one Moses, himself, wrote. To the best of his knowledge, the Book of Genesis is not there- only Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy. The thing that amazed Ron was that these Scrolls, written on animal skins, are in perfect condition today.
Oil Lamps Inside the Chamber
Just inside the chamber, by and near the original entrance which was now sealed up, he found a total of 7 oil lamps that Ron believes had to have been left behind by those who brought the items into the chamber. The soot on the lamps and the rocks they sat upon clearly showed the direction of the breeze that followed them into the tunnel.
One of the lamps is very ornate and displays Assyrian characteristics, which is consistent with the cultural influence of Judea at the time just prior to the Babylonian captivity. The picture (below) of this particular oil lamp was not taken with a camera because the design on the lamp doesn't show up well in a photo. This picture was made by placing the lamp on a copier and it revealed a little of the design, which we find very interesting.
Click to see one of the oil lamps
The center depicts a goat or a ram standing upon it's hind legs, eating from a grape vine. This scene is very similar to the statue found in a grave in the Sumerian city of Ur. The suggestion has been made that this may represent the ram caught in the thicket at the very moment that Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, Isaac, which served as the substitute sacrifice, sparing Isaac's life- a "shadow" of the coming Messiah.
Click to see Sumerian statue from Ur
It is an interesting thought to consider the possibility of a relationship between the design on the lamp and the story of the "ram in the thicket" that was the substitute sacrifice- because the lamp was left in a chamber INSIDE Mt. Moriah where Abraham had brought Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice; and this same Mt. Moriah was where the Messiah died, the "substitute" sacrifice for fallen mankind. But this is just interesting conjecture on my part.
Sealing the Passageway to the Chamber
After his last visit to the chamber through the hole he had chiseled, he permanently sealed the tunnel through which they first entered. Ron has learned many lessons over the years, and some he had to learn the hard way. One lesson he learned this way was that he had to be very careful whom he shared his information with.
During the course of their work there, they had numerous experiences with people which could have been disastrous without "Divine Intervention". For example, one famous evangelist stumbled upon the hole into the excavation one day and Ron invited him to come down into the cave. Believing the man to be honest, Ron told him what they were searching for and big promises were made of assistance. To make a long story short, a team of individuals from this evangelist's group later returned to the site, telling the authorities they were with the Wyatt expedition and that Ron would arrive in a few days (which wasn't true).
They went down into the cave system and began to dig. The cave walls where they were digging suddenly collapsed and they just narrowly avoided being buried alive in the debris. They immediately packed up and returned home. No real harm was done except that Ron and the boys had to re-excavate the entire area of the collapse.
This and other similar incidents led Ron to seal the passage. With the honeycomb of tunnels, it would be almost impossible for anyone to find the correct passage, and this one now looked- even up close- as if it was a natural stone wall.
Ron had done all that he could do using that passageway, anyhow. It would be impossible to get any large object out of the chamber through that original passage.
All his attempts to photograph anything in the chamber resulted in photos or slides that looked like a complete blur, so he concluded that he simply wasn't supposed to take any photographs. (He later understood why- at that time, he was much freer with sharing his information and this could have caused a lot of serious problems if some of the "unsavory characters" he came in contact with over the years had SEEN evidence that this solid gold object REALLY existed.)
The next order of business would be to find the main entrance into the chamber- the passage through which the items were originally taken.
Ark of the Covenant Part 4
The Ark of the Covenant
by Mary Nell Wyatt
Originally published in Ron Wyatt's newsletter in Fall of 1996
The Discoveries of Ron Wyatt