An American tourist snuck into Zedekiah’s Cave in Yerushalayim, purported to contain the treasure of Korach and his followers, on Thursday and hid inside overnight, eluding the guards as they closed the cave to the public.
During his one-night stay, the tourist dug in search of the cave’s legendary treasures. When workers opened the cave the next morning, they found the intruder covered in mud and dust, carrying archaeological finds in his bag. He removed rock fragments from the cave considered archaeologically valuable since they were quarried for generations during biblical times for the construction of the Second Bais Hamikdosh.
The ancient 9,000-square-meter cave is generally closed on Fridays but was opened by chance on March 11 for work purposes. After the tourist was discovered he was taken into police custody, and the archaeological findings were returned to the cave.
The tourist was not the first to dig in Zedekiah’s Cave for hidden treasures, though other digs have been allowed by the authorities.
In 1968, a Muslim resident of the Old City claimed his grandfather found three crates of gold coins in the cave before 1948. The site is important to Muslims as the place where the earth swallowed Korah as punishment for his attempt to rebel against Moses.
The man claimed his grandfather told him where to find the crates. After promising to donate 75% of the bounty to the State of Israel, the government permitted the search, which ultimately found nothing.
Zedekiah’s Cave is a dug-out expanse beneath the Old City walls. Archaeologists believe the cave was in continuous use from the 8th-7th centuries BCE through the 15th century CE, when it was sealed for about 300 years until being discovered again in 1854.
The cave, also known as Solomon’s Quarries, is revered by the Freemasons who believe that King Solomon was the first Freemason and used stones from the site to build the Temple. The Freemasons still hold annual ceremonies in the cave and consider it one of their most treasured sites.
Alexander J. Apfel, TPS/Tazpit Press Services