Last Saturday Scott Wolter went in search of the Ark of the Covenant, and the programming geniuses at H2 seemed to have missed a golden opportunity to pair that episode with this week’s Ancient Aliens, which also decided to take on the Ark as part of the History family of networks’ full-on slide into becoming the Christian heresy channel. From Jesus’ secret Freemason-Templar cult to Yahweh as an alien, from programs featuring Biblical analysis from one of Jesus’ alleged psychic descendants to a new horror series about Jesus’ wildest exorcisms, History and H2 are all heresy all the time. I miss the days when religion and history weren’t synonymous on TV.
Ancient Aliens S06E10 “Aliens and the Lost Ark” is a recycling of age-old ancient astronaut claims, but it certainly attacks the very foundation of the Judeo-Christian worldview since the Ark is the sign and the seal of Yahweh’s covenant with Israel. Do Jews worship aliens? A man claiming to be a Rabbi, Ariel Bar Tzadok, is on this episode to talk about how Judaism is all about venerating alien technology, and he is apparently well-known in the world of Judaism for his extreme and unsubstantiated claims that the Hebrew Bible supports reincarnation, that aliens are invading our world, and that many other races of intelligent creatures walked the earth before man. His ideas seem more Theosophical than Judaic.
We open in the West Bank in July 2013 where archaeologists excavate holes at a settlement dating to around 1300 BCE, which biblical advocates claim held the poles that supported the Tabernacle covering the Ark of the Covenant, which is obviously an exaggeration beyond the evidence; post holes do not imply the existence of the Ark.
Giorgio Tsoukalos tells us that the Ark of the Covenant is “one of the most fascinating and unexplored stories of the Bible,” which immediately marks him as a man unfamiliar with, literally, thousands of years of commentary on the Ark, expeditions to find the Ark, and speculation about the Ark. Graham Hancock appears to talk about The Sign and the Seal, his early-1990s book about the Ark, which he said “took me out of mainstream journalism.” It represents the latest developments the show is willing to contemplate.
The show then summarizes the Exodus account of how God ordered the construction of the Ark to house the Tablets of the Law. Various allegedly ordained religious people who seem to think God was an alien offer little more than what the Bible says since, obviously, there isn’t anything else to go on.
The narrator asks why the Ark should be constructed to “such exact specifications,” as though the highly variable “cubit” was mathematically precise. The narrator wants to know why the incorporeal God needs a physical throne. We next hear from Tsoukalos the age-old claim, famously made by Erich von Däniken, that Moses was irradiated by an alien; this is just like the radiation poisoning claim made by Hancock in Sign and the Seal.
We continue on with the Exodus account of the Ark’s later movements and the many warnings that the Ark could not be touched or viewed. The show reveals its religious point of view by calling the Hebrew Bible the “Old Testament,” a Christian term. The narrator then tells us that the Ark held Aaron’s rod, which turned into a serpent, showing that no one on this show pays the least attention to their product because, while Aaron’s rod is the correct identification, a few weeks ago, the show incorrectly identified this same rod as belonging to Moses. William Henry calls the Ark of the Covenant a “tool kit” composed of rods, stones, gold, and manna.
The show asserts that the Exodus account of forty years of wandering in the desert was literally true and therefore the Ark produced manna to feed the Israelites. Tsoukalos summarizes the old book The Manna Machine by George Sassoon and Rodney Dale, which claimed that a nuclear-powered device created food, and David Childress rhapsodizes that super-energy from the Ark “duplicated” whatever was put into the box, creating infinite food.
Tsoukalos asserts that the Zohar’s “Ancient of Days” is a mistranslation of “The Transportable One with the Tanks.” This is utterly wrong. The Zohar wasn’t written until the 1200s CE, and the term Tsoukalos cites is from Daniel 7:9; the Zohar (3.136b) refers to “Ancient of Ancients.” The words involved have been studied and restudied and mean what they say; Tsoukalos’ translation is from a claim made by the authors of The Manna Machine and not supported by any mainstream scholarship. The authors claim that they and they alone have correctly translated the Zohar and other texts; they try to break down the term used in Daniel to make the words say “transport” and “vessels,” but to do so, they blatantly swap out words in a way that makes no linguistic sense, as Ancient Aliens Debunked described a couple of months ago.
After the first break, we continue our very slow journey through the Ark’s biblical story. Joshua is taking the Ark across the Jordan, and the show proceeds to suggest that if we take the story that the Jordan stood still as truth, then the Ark used “high speed winds” to part the river. However, as a technical matter, the Biblical text (Joshua 3:16) simply states that the river stopped flowing for a time: “the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.” The show confuses this with Moses parting the Red Sea.
I frankly don’t know what to say next since the show is more or less literally just reading the Bible to us. We hear about the march around Jericho and the trumpets the brought down the walls, and we get some speculation that suggests without ever really saying so that the Ark sent out pressure waves to blow down the walls.
Unable to even bother thinking about the fact that Jericho is a well-studied archaeological site, not to mention a thriving modern city, the show never bothers to even consider whether there is archaeological evidence for the destruction of the walls (the walls of Jericho fell centuries too early for the Biblical narrative to be literally true, according to radiocarbon dating), and instead it simply moves one—without even mentioning the sun standing still (Joshua 10:1-15), clearly a UFO!
It feels like we’re going to get every mention of the Ark in the Bible; I’ve seen religious channel programming that was less reliant on reciting the Bible out loud. We next get the narrative from 1 Samuel when the Philistines capture the Ark and they die as a result. We hear that the Ark gave them radiation poisoning, and then we hear the narrative of how the Ark broke the statue of Dagon. I’m not really interested in summarizing the Bible, so I honestly don’t know how to review this. We are just listening to people reciting the Bible and telling us about the glory and grandeur of God, only the people pretending to be Jewish and Christian clerics are instead ancient astronaut theorists who apparently are trying to tell us that they worship the aliens.
The show is painfully repetitive, and the same claim (“nuclear device”!) comes out over and over and over again, and Tsoukalos tells us that God is an atom bomb, apparently taking his cues from Beneath the Planet of the Apes. The priests’ clothing (robes and breastplate) are supposedly meant to shield the body from radiation poisoning—as though thin layers of gold and cloth could substitute for lead.
After the break, we go back to start cataloguing times when the Ark served as a hotline to God.
Jason Martell shows us a full-scale model of the Ark of the Covenant and calls it an electrical capacitor. He views the model with UC Irvine physicist Michael Dennin, who seems thoroughly convinced that the Ark is an electrical device, or at least willing to pretend it is for the camera. He’s quite the media figure; in addition to many Ancient Aliens appearances, he also showed up in The Science of Superman to talk about how Superman might function in the real world of physics and Batman Tech to talk about the Caped Crusader’s weapons, so he’s no stranger to pretending bizarre claims are true and then rationalizing them with ways they “could” have been done if they were true.
Citing the Talmud, Kathleen McGowan Coppens (a new name from her appearance on Bible Secrets Revealed last week, I guess) and David Childress talk about how “vibrations” from the Ark caused “vibrations” in the twelve stones of fire on the high priest’s breast plate, and Childress calls this “extraterrestrial Morse code.” They drop it before even bothering to finish the thought.
After this, we talk about the loss of the Ark, and here we start to wander into Scott Wolter territory. Man, they are stretching this out beyond tolerance.
After the break, we look at a Japanese Shinto ritual involving the carriage of a chest, and this goes back to a Lost Tribes of Israel claim made not, as the show suggests, in ancient times but in 1878, when Nicholas McLeod attempted to fit Japanese history into a scheme whereby biblical prophecies would be fulfilled in the east. He’s the one who picked and chose among many and varied rituals and customs to find “parallels” to presumed Israelite practices. It’s rather insulting to the Japanese to assert that their religion is bastardized Judaism, and it’s also depressing that a goodly number of Japanese came to adopt the colonialist ideology—if only to assert nationalist claims over Western religious artifacts.
Next we get the Knights Templar, about whom we have heard far too much on this channel. McGowan Coppens discusses the Ark’s alleged passage to France, and she asserts that the Nazis went looking for the Ark in France (they did not—it was the Holy Grail they sought there; she seems to have confused this with Raiders of the Lost Ark), at no time revealing that she has for a decade asserted that she is herself the semi-divine descendant of Jesus Christ, receiver of visions from Mary Magdalene.
Mike Bara tells us about the Templars transporting the Ark to Rosslyn Chapel, but none of this has anything to do with ancient aliens.
The narrator asks if the Ark went to North America, and in what I am sorely tempted to read as Prometheus Entertainment’s attempt to bitch-slap Committee Films and America Unearthed for stealing their spotlight, the narrator simply dismisses this entire line of speculation with an arch “Perhaps.” You know America Unearthed is dumb when even Ancient Aliens finds its claims too stupid to bother discussing.
We review the Ethiopian claim to hold the Ark of the Covenant in Axum, drawn from Graham Hancock’s work. No conclusions are drawn.
After the final break, we listen to a recitation of the incident at the Dome of the Rock where some excavators tried to dig out the Ark of the Covenant, causing an interfaith conflict. The show is just burning time to get to the end of the hour. A long-debunked hoax UFO sighting in Jerusalem is asserted to be true by our alien-loving rabbi (who implies that the debunking is itself a coverup), and David Childress tells us that “some”—who exactly he never says—think the UFO that wasn’t actually there was recharging the Ark, which the rabbi says is in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah (Zech. 14) in which a “sonic vibration” splits the Mount of Olives and the Ark will arise from the hole. Read it yourself; he’s lying. There is nothing about the Ark or sonic vibrations in Zechariah’s prophecy.
William Henry asserts that the Messiah is tied to the Ark and both will return to earth in the End of Days, but with no evidence presented, this is so much hot air.
The show finishes with various talking heads telling us that if the Ark exits and if the Ark could be found and if the Ark is extraterrestrial, then we could have magic technology, an ET hotline, and a world-changing orgasm of extraterrestrial wonderment.
The narrator reviews the many mutually-exclusive theories presented on the show and then gives a sop to religion by telling us that it may be none of these and is instead “beyond our comprehension,” which is to say, divine. We finish with another paean asking us to contemplate an animistic reunion with our alien ancestors.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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