USA Network premiered its highly anticipated (and marketed) event series, Dig, this past week. It’s the story of an FBI agent working in Jerusalem who uncovers a series of secrets and riddles surrounding the location of the hidden Ark of the Covenant and radical elements within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to take control of the Temple Mount.
I watched the first episode this past weekend. It had some good moments – and some bad. I grow weary of television’s overwhelming obsession with inserting sex into storylines when it isn’t a necessary or even contributing element to the story. Of course, USA started episode 1 with that. That’s disappointing.
I’m a little leary about how Orthodox Judaism and Evangelical Christianity are being portrayed. The religious Jewish element is being painted as a group of radicals who are willing to murder their own in order to keep the secrets of the Ark of the Covenant hidden. And the plot is centered on a radical Evangelical apocalyptic cult bent on bringing on Armageddon and the return of Jesus. Again, that’s disappointing.
So, why am I watching it?
Because the basic premise of the series – that there is a struggle centered around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the possible recovery of the Ark of the Covenant – is valid. Let me explain.
There are tunnels underneath the Temple Mount. The Orthodox Jewish rabbis have believed and taught that the Ark is hidden in those tunnels. In fact, one of the most influential and controversial rabbis of the 20th century, Rabbi Shlomo Goren, went on the record before his death stating that he has been in the chamber where the Ark was hidden, and seen the Ark and other Temple artifacts with his own eyes. Is there any truth to these claims?
I don’t know. I’ve spoken with several who have claimed knowledge of the events of excavations of the Temple Mount tunnels. There stories are all similar. They all have an air of credibility, yet still require an act of faith on the part of those who hear them. One of the challenges that is often presented to refute these stories, is that they almost all center on the claims of a man named Ron Wyatt.
Ron Wyatt was an amateur archaeologist who claimed to have found Noah’s Ark, the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Red Sea crossing site, the real Mount Sinai, and of course, the Ark of the Covenant.
Here’s what we know: the evidence regarding Noah’s Ark resulted in the Turkish government declaring the Wyatt’s site a national archaeological treasure. Any one of us could go to the Dead Sea and gather brimstone from what Wyatt believed to be Gomorrah. Scientists and other explorers have catalogued the remains of chariots and humans on the floor of the Red Sea in the location that Biblical record describes. There are more than 40,000 different petroglyphs in Arabia surrounding Jabel El-Lawz – the Mountain of the Law. The evidence for all of these discoveries is very credible.
But what about the Ark of the Covenant? In 2013 I participated in a tour to Israel where those who were willing to consider some “out of the box” theories regarding Biblical history gathered in the back of the tour bus. One thing we discussed at length was the story of the Ark of the Covenant.
Leading our tour was a former IDF officer. That’s not really a big deal as everyone in Israel serves in the military. But this particular former officer had some specific connections that added a level of credibility regarding Biblical archaeology. He sat at the front of the bus, so he didn’t have any knowledge of the discussions taking place on what affectionately became known as “the Back of the Bus tour.”
We stood at Bet Shemesh overlooking the valley where the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant to Israel in 1 Samuel 6. As he spoke about the Ark, one of the other passengers who wasn’t a part of our parallel tour asked if the Ark of the Covenant had ever been found. The guide immediately responded with the words, “It CAN’T be found! It is too dangerous. It would immediately set off events leading to World War III. This cannot happen.”
That’s a really strange response. If you think about it, it’s a non-denial denial. He never said that the Ark was or wasn’t found. Just that it couldn’t be found. That’s a tad bizarre.
Those of us on “the Back of the Bus tour” immediately perked up. There was something that our guide wasn’t saying. For the remainder of the tour, we probed. We did so in ways that never gave up the perspective we were coming from. We simply wanted to see what the guide’s thoughts were.
One question we asked was about the two traditional locations for the crucifixion site: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Gordon’s Tomb. This was a critical question as it relates to the Ark, because Wyatt’s claim was that the Ark was found in the the northernmost tunnels under ancient Mount Moriah – the Temple Mount. And the northernmost tunnels of ancient Mount Moriah are below Gordon’s Tomb.
When we asked this former military and government official which site was likely the true crucifixion location, he responded that the archaeological evidence regarding Gordon’s Tomb is overwhelming and conclusive; it is the site of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. This is contrary to what most supposed experts have claimed for centuries. The hair of the back of my neck was standing on end. There was something this guide wasn’t telling us.
I asked him what this evidence is. He simply said that he couldn’t go into detail regarding it, but that he was fully convinced that Gordon’s Tomb was the location. Again, he was hiding something.
At the end of the tour, our guide accompanied us to Ben Gurion Airport to ensure we made our flights without complication. Up until this moment I had prohibited anyone from asking the guide about Ron Wyatt. I knew that this would blow our cover, and he would clam up immediately. But the tour was now over.
So, one of “the Back of the Bus tour” passengers walked up to the guide and said, “I’m going to say two words, and I want your immediate reaction; simply ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Okay? Ron Wyatt.”
The guide turned white as a ghost. It was clear that he was busted. All of the questions we had been asking for the past several days suddenly made perfect sense. We knew more than we let on, and we had baited him into saying more than he should have.
After what seemed like an eternity, the guide said, “I had friends who worked with him on the Red Sea crossing site. All of that is 100% true. But the Ark of the Covenant is hogwash.” And he walked away without saying another word.
In one sentence he endorsed Wyatt’s credibility, and in the next made him out to be a liar. We knew what he was saying. His statement at Bet Shemesh came immediately to mind: “It CAN’T be found! It is too dangerous. It would immediately set off events leading to World War III. This cannot happen.”
I’ll keep watching Dig, for a while at least. But not because I’m under any delusion that this will provide any previously unknown information about the location of the Ark of the Covenant. I’m pretty sure that Israel already knows where that is. And they aren’t planning on telling anyone about it anytime soon.
What would it be like to walk through the Temple Tunnels? To stand above the now obscured location where Ron Wyatt excavated at Gordon’s Tomb? To do more than watch a fictional story about Jerusalem on television? You can! Join us in November for the Maximum CONTEXT Tour! CLICK HERE for all the details!