The Chronology from King Yoshiyahu to King Tzidqiyahu and the Fall of Yerushalayim
The opinion of this author is that the period from the reign of King Yoshiyahu to the reign of the last king of Yehudah, Tzidqiyahu, is the most obscured and thus challenging to decipher and because of and in order to come as close as possible to the correct chronology of the kings of Yehudah the Babylonian Chronicles will be used since they give a most detailed picture of the events surrounding the later years of the kingdom. Here is the place to say that the synchronization of the years of reign of King Nebukadnetsar with the reigns of the last kings of Yehudah is very important in order to understand the sequence of events, therefore, we will start using the annals of the Babylonian Chronicles proven to be reliable source of information. A clay tablet of the Babylonian Chronicles, recording the events from 605-594 BC, such as, the Battle of Karkemish (the famous battle for world supremacy where Nebukadnetsar of Babylon defeated Pharaoh Neko of Egypt, 605 BC.), the accession to the throne of Nebukadnetsar, and the capture of Yerushalayim on the 16th of March, 598 BC, will be used to cast light on this obscured period:
For twenty-one years Nabopolassar had been king of Babylon, when on 8 Abu [15 August 605] he went to his destiny; in the month of Ululu Nebukadnetsar returned to Babylon and on 1 Ululu [7 September] he sat on the royal throne in Babylon. In the accession year Nebukadnetsar went back again to the Hatti-land and until the month of Shabatu marched unopposed through the Hatti-land; in the month of Shabatu he took the heavy tribute of the Hatti-territory to Babylon. In the month of Nisannu he took the hands of Bel (lord, Marduk) and the son of Bêl and celebrated the Akitu festival (Babylonian new year). In the first year of Nebukadnetsar [604/603] in the month of Simanu (May/June) he mustered his army and went to the Hatti-territory, he marched about unopposed in the Hatti-territory until the month of Kislimu (Nov/Dec). All the kings of the Hatti-land came before him and he received their heavy tribute. He marched to the city of Aškelon and captured it in the month of Kislimu. He captured its king and plundered it and carried off spoil from it. He turned the city into a mound and heaps of ruins and then in the month of Shabatu [603/602] he marched back to Babylon. In the second year [603/602] in the month of Ajaru (April/May) the king of Akkad gathered together a powerful army and marched to the land of Hatti. A. K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles (1975), ABC 5:11-12, edition of the British Museum.
The righteous Yoshiyahu reigned thirty-one years in Yehudah. During the Battle of Megiddo between the Pharaoh of Egypt, Neko, and him, the king was mortally wounded and died in the battle (2Ki_23:30), a battle Yoshiyahu should not have initiated in the first place (2Ch_35:20-21). Neko, who was in a hurry to reach the headquarters of his army at Karkemish on the Euphrates, continued his march north as soon as the forces of Yoshiyahu had been defeated. He felt that Yehudah with a beaten and demoralized army no longer posed a threat to him, and that he could postpone his political appointments in Yehudah until after the encounter with the Babylonians had taken place. It is certain that Yoshiyahu died in May or June 609 in the 31st year of his reign (2Ki_22:1). He was succeeded by Yehoahaz, who in turn was deposed by Neko after a reign of only three months (2Ki_23:31-33). King Yehoahaz might therefore have reigned from August to September, 609. Yehoahaz was not deposed until after Tishri 1 (Sept. 21), because data contained in the Babylonian Chronicles, make it certain that King Yehoyaqim, the successor of Yehoahaz, began his first regnal year in 608, either in the spring or in the autumn, and that his first year could not have started in the autumn of 609.
The Battle of Karkemish between King Nebukadnetsar and Pharaoh Neko, mentioned both in the Bible (Jer_46:2) and by Josephus (Ant. 10.6.1), in which Nebukadnetsar had defeated the Egyptians not only at Karkemish, but had “conquered the whole area of the gatti-country”, took place in the 21st year of Nabopolassar, the father of the famous king of Babylon, before he died on Av 8 (Aug 15, 605). Since the Babylonian year had begun April 12 in 605, and Nebukadnetsar had defeated the Egyptians before the end of August 605 (when word of his father’s death reached him), it can be assumed that the Battle of Karkemish took place early in the Babylonian year, perhaps before the end of April in the fourth year of King Yehoyaqim. And with this we come to the first exile of Yehudah in the reign of King Yehoyaqim.
The exiles went out of Yehudah in three waves, as it is written in Jer_52:28-30,
These are the people whom Nevukadnetstsar exiled: in the seventh year, three thousand and twenty-three Yehudim; in the eighteenth year of Nevukadnetstsar he exiled from Yerushalayim eight hundred and thirty-two beings; in the twenty-third year of Nevukadnetstsar, Nebuzaradan, chief of the guard, exiled of the Yehudim seven hundred and forty-five beings. All the beings were four thousand six hundred.
As we will see there will be a forth exile after the destruction of the Temple and Yerushalayim, but the aforementioned three exiles took place while the kingdom was still intact.
The First Exile
In the third year of King Yehoyaqim, 3338, which was the first year of King Nevukadnetsar, Yerushalayim was besieged (Dan_1:1-2) and Yehoyaqim became a subject to Nevukadnetsar for three years (2Ki_24:1-2).
In the second year of Nebukadnetsar, King Yehoyaqim rebelled against Babylon and in his eleventh year, the eight of Nebukadnetsar, he was taken prisoner, as it is written in 2Ch_36:5-7,
Yehoyaqim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Yerushalayim. And he did evil in the eyes of Yehovah his Elohim. Nevukadnetstsar sovereign of Bavel came up against him, and bound him in bronze shackles to take him away to Bavel.
Yehoyaqim’s eleventh regnal year (2Ki_23:36) had begun either in the autumn of 598 or in the spring of the same year, depending on the type of calendar then used. If an autumn-to-autumn calendar was used Yehoyaqim must have come to the throne after Tishri 1 (the seventh month), 609 (Sept/Oct) and reigned until March 16, 597, when Yerushalayim was taken by the king of Babylon.
Daniel went into Babylon with the first exile in 3340 where he continued until the first year of King Koresh, when Babylon fell (Dan_1:21). Yehoyakin, son of King Yehoyaqim, was put on throne in his stead.
The Capture of Yerushalayim and the Second Exile
The most exact information ever obtained from the Babylonian Chronicles for any event recorded in the Bible is that of the capture of Yerushalayim by Nebukadnetsar during the reign of King Yehoyaqin.
After three months of reign, King Yehoyakin rebelled against king of Babylon, like his father did, and he and the nobles (Jer_24:1-7) were exiled in peace in the eighth year of Nevukadnetsar which was 3346:
And Nebukadnetstsar sovereign of Bavel came against the city, as his servants were besieging it. And Yehoyakin sovereign of Yehudah, and his mother, and his servants, and his heads, and his eunuchs went out to the sovereign of Bavel. And the sovereign of Bavel, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner. (2Ki_24:11-13)
While 2Ki_24:12 states the eighth year, the record in Jer_52:28-30 and the Babylonian Chronicles state that this took place in Nevukadnetsar’s seventh year:
These are the people whom Nebukadnetsar exiled: in the seventh year, three thousand and twenty-three Yehudim. (Jer 52:28)
In the seventh year [598/597], the month of Kislîmu, the king of Akkad (Babylon) mustered his troops, marched to the Hatti-land, and besieged the city of Judah and on the second day of the month of Addaru [16 March 597] he seized the city and captured the king (Yehoyaqin). He appointed there a king of his own choice (Tzidqiyahu), received its heavy tribute and sent to Babylon. The Babylonian Chronicles
This double reckoning of Nebukadnetsar’s regnal years by the Babylonian and Jewish annalists accounts for the apparent discrepancy between the data with regard to the date of Yehoyaqin’s capture. The seventh year of Nebukadnetsar, according to the Babylonian spring calendar, lasted from March 27, 598 to April 12, 597, but according to the Jewish autumn calendar it had already ended in the autumn of 598, when Nebukadnetsar’s eighth year had begun hence, both documents, the Babylonian Chronicles as well as 2Ki_24:12, contain accurate information in spite of their apparent contradictions.
There is another explanation as to which year the seventh or the eighth was the year of the end of King Yehoyaqim’s reign, which explanation is the view of the present author. The two deportations recorded in Jer_52:28-30 which took place in the seventh and eighteenth years of Nebukadnetsar must have been minor deportations, and cannot refer to the major deportations which took place after Yehoyaqin’s capture in the eighth year (597 BC) and after the fall and destruction of Yerushalayim in the nineteenth year (586 BC) of Nebukadnetsar, because of the small number of deportees. For the deportation in 597, 2Ki_24:14-16 mention 10,000 and 8,000 deportees along with King Yehoyaqin, his mother, and wives. Therefore, the deportation of 3,023 according to Jer_52:28 in the preceding year (the seventh year of Nevukadnetsar, autumn-to-autumn 599/598) must have been in connection with the harassment of Yehoyaqim by “bands of the Chaldeans” to which 2Ki_24:2 refers, in which Nevukadnetsar was not personally involved, although these military activities against Yehudah were carried out under his direction and with his sanction (2Ch_36:6). They were probably led by Nebuzaradan one of his generals, as we will see below. The opinion of this author is that the deportations in the seventh year and in the eighth year of King Nevukadnetsar are two different ones and therefore, they are not be confused, otherwise, the discrepancies in the records of the prophet regarding the deportees will remain unsolved (Yirmeyahu is the assumed author of the books of Kings). The major one in the eighth year of Nevukadnetsar (597) actually put King Yehoyaqim’s reign into end. The same reasoning is to be applied to the eighteenth and nineteenth years of Nevukadnetsar.
It is stated in the Babylonian Chronicles that Nevukadnetsar left for Yehudah (Hatti-land) in Kislev of his seventh regnal year (Dec 18, 598 to Jan 15, 597) and that he seized “the city of Yehudah” (Yerushalayim) on Adar 2 (March 16, 597). Moreover, it is stated that on that day he “captured the king” and “appointed there a king of his own choice.” This provides an exact date for the end of Yehoyaqin’s reign and the accession of Tzidqiyahu. In fact, even the exact date for the end of Yehoyaqim’s reign, because the length of Yehoyaqin’s reign is known—three months and ten days (2Ch_36:9). This leads back to Marcheshwan 22 (Dec 10, 598) for Yehoyaqin’s accession and the death of his father Yehoyaqim.
All Yerushalayim was exiled, and all the officers and all the mighty brave men – ten thousand exiles. Their return will be no earlier than seventy years are completed (Jer_29:1-10). Nevukadnetsar replaced King Yehoyakin with his uncle Tsidqiyahu, the last king of Yehudah (2Ki_24:17). And after thirty-seven years in exile in Babylon, Yehoyakin in the first year of King Evil-Merodak of Babylon, was released from prison (2Ki_25:27-30, Jer_52:31-34).
Thus, Tsidqiyahu’s installation as king by Nevukadnetsar can be dated to the early spring of 597 BC or 3346 from the Creation. There has been controversy over the date when Yerushalayim was captured the second time and Tsidqiyahu’s reign came to an end. The dispute is not about the month, however: it was the ninth of the fifth month (Jer_52:6), but about the year, with which we come to the last king of Yehudah and the beginning of the Babylonian exile.
The Babylonian Exile
Eight years later King Tsidqiyahu rebelled against Bavel, and in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth of the month, Yerushalayim was besieged (Eze_24:1-2). The siege would last for a year and half until the city was broken into in the eleventh year of the king, in the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, (2Ki_25:1-4, Jer_39:1-2).
Because Tzidqiyahu reigned eleven years (2Ch_36:11) and his own accession given by the Babylonian Chronicles was Adar 2 (March 16, 597) per the autumn-to-autumn calendar, therefore, his first regnal year would have begun in Tishri 1, 597, and his eleventh year, in which Yerushalayim was destroyed, would have been the year 587/586, autumn-to-autumn. In that case Yerushalayim’s capture would have taken place on the seventh day of the fifth month, August 14, 586, when Nebuzaradan, chief of the guard of Nevukadnetsar came to Yerushalayim (2Ki_25:8) and its final destruction on the tenth day of the fifth month, July 18, 586, when he burned the Temple and broke down the walls of Yerushalayim (Jer_52:12-14).
According to Talmud, Gittin 57b, when Nebuzaradan entered the Temple he found the blood of Zechariah seething. He asked the Yehudim what this phenomenon meant, and they attempted to conceal the scandal, but he threatened to comb their flesh with iron combs. So they told him the truth: “There was a prophet among us who chastised us, and we killed him. For many years now his blood has not rested.” Nebuzaradan said, “I will appease him.” He then killed the members of the Great and Small Sanhedrins, then he killed youths and maidens, and then school-children. Altogether, he killed 940,000 people. Still the blood continued to boil, whereupon Nebuzaradan cried: “Zechariah, Zechariah! I have slain the best of them; do you want all of them destroyed?” At last the blood sank into the ground. In addition to the 940,000 people killed in the aforementioned massacre, millions more were killed inside and outside of the city, and others died in starvation (Jer_24:8-10, Jer_29:16-19). Only the poorest of the residents of Yerushalayim were permitted to stay on to plant the vineyards and work in the fields.
Whether the date of the destruction of Yerushalayim is reckoned by the Babylonian calendar, according to which Nevukadnetsar’s nineteenth year began Nisan 1, 586, or by an autumn-to-autumn calendar, according to which Nevukadnetsar’s nineteenth year would have begun Tishri 1, the result is the same: the capture and destruction of the city took place in the summer of 586, because only during that summer both months fell in the nineteenth year of Nebukadnetsar. Hence, all other Biblical passages mentioning regnal years of Nebudchadnezzar then fall in line. In Jer_25:1, the fourth year of Yehoyaqim of Yehudah is equated with the first year of Nebukadnetsar, the autumn-to-autumn year 605/604. The fall and final destruction of Yerushalayim is dated in the autumn-to-autumn year 587/586.
So, in the tenth year of the king (the eighteenth year of Nevukadnetsar) 832 people were exiled (Jer_32:1-2, Jer_52:29). One month after the city was broken into, in the fifth month of the nineteenth year of King Nevukadnetsar, his commander Nebuzaradan burned the Temple and Yerushalayim in year 3357 (2Ki_25:3-12, Jer_52:6-16, 2Ch_36:19-23). And Nebuzaradan took into exile the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters with the rest of the multitude, but he left some of the poor of the land as vinedressers and farmers (2Ki_25:11-12). He appointed Gedalyahu over the people who were left in the land of Yehuḏah. And Gedalyahu said to the people, “Do not be afraid of the servants of the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land and serve the sovereign of Bavel, and let it be well with you.” But in the seventh month, Yishma’el son of Nethanyah, son of Elishama, of the seed of the reign, came with ten men and killed Gedalyahu, the Yehudim, and the Chaldeans who were with him. And all the rest of the people rose up and went to Egypt, because they were afraid of the Chaldeans for what Ishma’el had done (2Ki_25:22-26). Thus, the land was left desolate.
The following year, 3358 from the creation, was the first year the land began its rightful rest. Let us recall that there were seventy unobserved sabbatical and jubilee years accrued in the total number of the last 436 years during which the land should have observed its due rest. The nation would not come back to the land until the seventy years of exile had been completed in the first year of King Koresh of Persia in order to fulfill what is written in the Torah (Lev_26:33-35, 2Ch_36:19-23). See Jubilees Table.
In remembrance of the above mentioned dates of tragedy of the chosen people YHVH set days of fast:
Thus said Yehovah of hosts, ‘The fast of the fourth, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth months, are to be joy and gladness, and pleasant appointed times for the house of Yehudah – and they shall love the truth and the peace.’ (Zec 8:19)
Which, however, are to be joy and gladness for Yehudah because,
Be glad in the day of prosperity, but in the evil day take note that Elohim has also appointed the one as well as the other, so that man should not uncover whatever shall be after him. (Ecc 7:14)
The fast of on the ninth of the fourth month marks the aniversary when Yerushalayim was broken into (2Ki_25:1-4, Jer_39:1-2, Jer_52:6-7). The fast of the tenth day of the fifth month marks the day when the Temple was burned to the ground (Jer_52:12-14). The seventh month fast is the Yom Kippur fast and the fast of the tenth of the tenth month marks the aniversary of the siege of Yerushalayim (2Ki_25:1, Eze_24:1-2).
The Forth Exile
And in the twenty-third year of Nebukadnetsar, Nebuzaradan exiled 745 people, who had been gathered from those scattered through the land, which makes total of 4,600 people exiled in Babylon, as it is written in Jer_52:28-30,
These are the people whom Nebukadnetstsar exiled: in the seventh year, three thousand and twenty-three Yehudim; in the eighteenth year of Nebukadnetstsar he exiled from Yerushalayim eight hundred and thirty-two beings; in the twenty-third year of Nebukadnetstsar, Nebuzaradan, chief of the guard, exiled of the Yehudim seven hundred and forty-five beings. All the beings were four thousand six hundred. (Jer 52:28-30)
Why is the number so small? Even if it is taken into account 2Ki_24:11-16, according to which 10,000 were exiled instead of 3,023, this number is still small given the fact that 42,360 people came out Bavel with Zerubavel in the first return and according to the Jewish tradition only a small number of people returned. How can that be? The Talmud puts it this way: “The Jewish people are compared to the moon, and therefore we count according to her cycle.”
The most obvious similarity between the Jews and the moon is their extreme swinging between waxing and waning moon. In the demographic map of the Jewish population throughout the six millennia, the graph line sweeps up and down, dramatically marking the acute cycles of Jewish rise and decline similar to the moon’s cycle:
1. two million in the time of King David,
2. two hundred thousand after the Babylonian exile,
3. three million during the Hasmonean Kingdom,
4. four to six million at the time of King Herod
5. ten million before the destruction of the Second Temple
6. 900,000 after the destruction of the Second Temple,
7. eighteen million before 1939,
8. twelve million six years later.
Also, per the tradition, the rise of the Jewish population in the period of Herod and the Second Temple is due to the fact of the conversion of … the Roman people to Judaism. The tradition also says that had to be no circumcision, this number could have been even greater. The sages say that this is also due to … the new sect in Judaism in the first century. And that Apostle Shaul, they say, gained on this.
And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Yehoyakin (the twenty-sixth year of the seventy-year Babylonian exile), in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth of the month, King Evil-Merodak king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, released Yehoyakin from prison, and set his throne above those of the kings who were with him in Babylon until the day of his death (Jer_52:31-34).
In conclusion of this matter, we can sum up and establish a correct chronology of the reigns of the last kings of Yehudah. There are very strong indications given to us in Yirmeyahu’s prophecy which lock in the thirteenth year of King Yoshiyahu, the fourth year of King Yehoyaqim, the first year of Nebukadnetsar, and the eleventh year of King Tzidqiyahu. In Jer_25:1-12, we are told that the word of YHVH came to Yirmeyahu, in the fourth year of Yehoyaqim of Yehudah, which was the first year of Nebukadnetsar, to warn the people about the coming judgment, the seventy years of exile, the words the prophet was proclaiming from the thirteenth year of King Yoshiyahu until the fourth year of Yehoyaqim, for twenty-three years, until their fulfillment in the final destruction of the Temple and Yerushalayim in the end of the eleventh year of Tzidqiyahu, Jer_1:1-3. Starting from the fourth year of Yehoyaqim, the first year of Nebukadnetsar (604 BC), and counting backwards twenty-three years will lead us to the thirteenth year of Yoshiyahu (626 BC) and to his first year in 638 BC. Then, from the first year of Yehoyaqim (607 BC) counting forward eleven years of reign to his last year in 597 BC which was also Nebukadnetsar’s eighth year and eleven more years of Tzidqiyahu’s reign, we arrive at 586 BC when the destruction of the temple took place, which was in the nineteenth year of Nebukadnetsar. (see Jubilees Table)
This is the recapitulation the events which took place in the last years of the kingdom: Nevukadnetsar took Yerushalayim in the third year of Yehoyaqim (Dan_1:1-2) and defeated Pharaoh Neko in the great battle at Karkemish in the fourth year of Yehoyaqim (Jer_46:2). Yehoyaqim, who had been retained on the throne of Yehudah as a vassal king, after three years rebelled against Nevukadnetsar. The king of Babylon proceeded a second time against Yerushalayim, which submitted without a struggle (Jer_22:18-19). Yehoyaqim was taken prisoner to Babylon and his son, Yehoyaqin, was set up in his stead. The new vassal king showed disloyalty within three months and Nevukadnetsar for the third time came up against the city, deposed him, and carried off to Babylon where he was kept in prison for thirty-six years. King Tsidqiyahu, son of Yoshiyahu and uncle of Yehoyaqin, was now made vassal king, but he entered into a treaty with the Pharaoh of Egypt, in spite of the warning of Yirmeyahu (Eze_17:15), and renounced his allegiance to the king of Babylon. Nevukadnetsar, after eighteen months of siege, again captured Yerushalayim and the sons of Tsidqiyahu were executed in the sight of their father an then his own eyes were put out, and was carried off to Babylon, there to languish until the close of his life. The set-apart city was burned to the ground and the Temple destroyed.
So far, by interpolating the forementioned findings into the Jubilees Table, we have established an irrefutable and undisturbed chain of events from the first year of King Yoshiyahu in 3305 (638 BC) to the last year of King Tzidqiyahu in 3357 (586 BC), and beginning of the 70-year exile in Babylon, thus proving the validity of the Biblical accounts and the Babylonian Chronicles.
Now, there is no account in the Scripture that the Ark of the Covenant had been taken to Babylon along with other objects after the destruction of the first Temple by Nebukadnetsar. And since we know that the most Set-apart Place in the second Temple built after the return of the exile was empty, we may ask the question: Where was the Ark of the Covenant? There is no lack of speculations as for the whereabouts of the ark. The most popular among them is that the ark is in Ethiopia brough in there by King Shlomo’s son from Queen Sheba, the queen of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian traditions claim that the Queen was pregnant when she left Yerushalayim and gave birth back in Ethiopia to a male child. King Shlomo gave her a ring to give the child as proof that he was indeed his son. The child’s name was Menelek. Twenty years later Menelek visited his father and showed him the ring. The king welcomed him and invited him to stay permanently with him. But he desired to return to Ethiopia. Modern day Ethiopians claim that their rulers were all descended from Menelek, also known as “the son of the wise man.” He would establish the kingdom of David in Ethiopia (Cush), a dynasty that would reign until Haile Selassie was overthrown by the communists in 1974. The entire period covered 225 different kings, all descended without interruption from Menelek.
When King Shlomo realized that his son Menelek was determined to go back to his mother, he gave him a replica of the Ark of the Covenant. This would constantly remind him of the real one and be a source of spiritual inspiration that he would need when he was so far away from Yerushalayim. Before he reached Ethiopia he realized that somehow someone had substituted the real Ark for the replica. He interpreted the incident to be a message from God. He realized that it was divine providence that he had the possession of this sacred object.
The present author does not hold this view and believes that the Ark had been hidden somewhere else. Below are the accounts that give credibility concerning the whereabouts of the most set-apart object in the Temple. They are from the Apocryphal books of Baruch the disciple of the prophet Yirmeyahu and of Maccabees which speaks of what Yirmeyahu did to hide the Ark:
And it came to pass on the morrow that, lo! The army of the Chaldees surrounded the city, and at the time of the evening, I, Baruch, left the people, and I went forth and stood by the oak. And I was grieving over Zion, and lamenting over the captivity which had come upon the people. And lo! Suddenly a strong spirit raised me, and bore me aloft over the wall of Jerusalem. And I beheld, and lo! Four messengers standing at the four corners of the city, each of them holding a torch of fire in his hands. And another messenger began to descend from heaven, and said unto them: ‘Hold your lamps, and do not light them till I tell you. For I am first sent to speak a word to the earth, and to place in it what the Lord the Most High has commanded me And I saw him descend into the Set-apart of holies, and take from thence the veil, and the set-apart ark, and the mercy-seat, and the two tables, and the set-apart raiment of the priests, and the altar of incense, and the forty-eight precious stones, wherewith the priest was adorned and all the set-apart vessels of the tabernacle. And he spake to the earth with a loud voice: ‘Earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the mighty Elohim, And receive what I commit to thee, And guard them until the last times, So that, when thou art ordered, thou mayst restore them, So that strangers may not get possession of them. For the time comes when Jerusalem also will be delivered for a time, Until it is said, that it is again restored forever.’ And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up. (2Baruch 6:1-10)
It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain, where Mosheh climbed up, and saw the heritage of God. And when Yirmeyahu came thither, he found an hollow cave, wherein he laid the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door. And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but they could not find it. Which when Yirmeyahu perceived, he blamed them, saying, As for that place, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather his people again together, and receive them unto mercy. Then shall the Lord shew them these things, and the glory of the Lord shall appear, and the cloud also, as it was shewed under Mosheh, and as when Shlomo desired that the place might be honourably sanctified. (2Ma 2:1-8)
Therefore, according to these accounts, the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, and the altar of incense are hidden in a cave in the mountain where the prophet Mosheh was burried, Mount Nebo. As no one knows where Mosheh was burried, so no one knows where the Ark was hidden. Later on, in Part III Time of Reckoning of this study, we may find an answer to the question why it might have been hidden there.