Authors: K.B. Kofoed
The Bible faithfully describes the construction of an object that has mystified the public and scholars throughout history; The Ark of the Covenant, a simple wooden box overlaid with gold that was used by Moses to conquer the middle east.
But what it looked like and how it worked are questions that remained shrouded in mystery. Until now…
Jim Wilson, a graphic artist and ordinary citizen, never gave the Ark any thought until a publisher asked him to make drawings of it for a magazine article. To do this Jim was tasked with doing research that led to an amazing discovery which came not from what others had said about the Ark but from the Old Testament’s book of Exodus in his family Bible.
This project would evolve and change his life in ways he would never have believed.
© 2015 K. B. Kofoed
All artwork designed and drawn by the author.
“Ark” Copyright 1997 - 2015 by Karl B. Kofoed
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.
Electronic version by Baen Books
Edited by Janet Kofoed and Hugh McCracken
Thanks to Daniel S. Hoy who helped make this story possible; to my father Donald W. Kofoed for his guidance , to my mother Dorothy K. Kofoed who encouraged me to write in the first place, and to my sister Kathryn, and my family for their abiding love and support.
“They shall make an ark of acacia wood; two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. And you shall overlay it with pure gold, within and without shall you overlay it, and you shall make upon it a molding of gold round about. And you shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. And you shall put into the ark the testimony which I give you.
Then you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth,
And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat.
Make one cherub on one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces to one another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. And you shall put the mercy seat on the top the ark; and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you.
There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.”
PARTY TIME 1976
“What’s the point of these damned parties?” yelled Jim behind the closed bathroom door. “We can get high here and not risk a traffic accident.” Kas ignored him. Her husband of five years acted this way just before every party they’d attended, and he nearly always had a great time.
This time Jim was serious, though. He had a vicious headache that had been nagging him all day, and aspirins didn’t seem to help. He burst out of the bathroom, sending Jerry, the cat, flying down the narrow hall.
“Damned idiot,” boomed Jim. “Why does he have to hang outside the bathroom any time it’s occupied?”
Kas didn’t answer. It was all part of the drill. She put her arms around her husband. “What’s wrong, Mr. Wilson?” she asked softly. “Still got that headache?”
“‘fraid so, Mrs. Wilson,” he said, looking into her large dark eyes. “Don’t listen to me, Kas,” he added contritely. “I’m just a grouch.”
“My favorite grouch,” she said, kissing him. She caught sight of herself in the mirror and started adjusting bangs that seemed to hang too low over her eyes. “This damned haircut. I can’t get used to it.”
Jim looked critically at her short dark curls. “I liked your hair long,” he said, “but I admit that cut looks really right for you.”
“You think so ... really?” She poked at her bangs.
Jim was lying, but he felt guilty about his grouchiness. “Of course, really!” he said with conviction. “It looks great!”
Kas smiled and buttoned the top button of her blouse. “I guess I’ll adjust to it,” she said. “It’s been two days and every time I look in the mirror I get a shock.”
Jim looked out the window of their third floor apartment. It had rained, but the sky was clearing and storm clouds formed a dramatic backdrop to the Philadelphia skyline. Lights were coming on and it looked clean and fresh, almost magical.
Behind him, Kas stared over his shoulder as she slipped on her topcoat. “The rain has stopped. That’s something.”
When they got in their Chevy parked in front of their apartment, Jim slipped a cassette in the tape player. The Beatles’
blasted from the speakers.
“Here comes the sun,” sang Kas as she fastened her seat belt. The sun was indeed coming out, adding a dazzling golden edge to the crimson clouds that framed the skyline of Philadelphia.
At the Raftworks, the art studio that Jim, Lou Brooks and Werner Krupp had opened the year before,
was blasting from the loudspeakers there too. Jim had forgotten his headache by the time he greeted his friends and was soon involved in a show and tell. Kas found Lou’s wife Claire in the kitchen and almost immediately began discussing hairdressers.
“I can’t figure it out,” said Jim. “No matter how hard we try to be fashionably late we always arrive unfashionably early.”
“Who cares?” said Lou. “More beer for you. What’s to complain about?”
Lou lit a joint and poked it toward Jim. “Time to get this party off the ground, I think.” He gave Jim a sly grin. “Cambodian weed,” he added, “from the Nam.”
Figuring it might help his headache, Jim took a deep toke and let the tingling smoke stay in his lungs as long as possible. Then he exploded into a fit of coughing. “Jee-eesus!”
Werner came out from the darkroom at the back of the apartment wiping hypo off his hands. “Don’t mind if I do,” he said, reaching for the joint.
“Shit, Wern,” coughed Lou. “Don’t get chemicals all over it. This is primo.”
“No shit,” said Werner scornfully. “Who do you think scored the stuff?”
“Okay, okay.” Lou reached for the joint and took another hit.
Kas and Claire came into the room. Claire gave Jim a friendly peck on the cheek before she launched her attack on her husband. “I thought I told you not to smoke that shit in the front room, Lou. What if the cops walk in?”
Lou laughed. “Hell, I didn’t invite ’em.” He gave Kas a scornful look. “Let’s go back to the loft. It’s quieter back there.”
The record changed and Janis Joplin’s voice followed them to the back room. Jim climbed into the loft behind Lou and settled into a corner, watching the kaleidoscopic light machine cast blue, green, then magenta shadows sprawling across the ceiling from somewhere behind the headboard. “Cool! That’s new.”
The marijuana was beginning to affect him. He took another drag when Lou offered it just as the drug began to take hold. “This IS good shit,” he said, laying his head on a huge paisley pillow.
Lou was watching a girl with long blond hair who had just appeared at the doorway. She wore a loose flowing dress and the light spilling into the room made it nearly transparent. “Nice,” said Lou. He poked the joint back at Jim but never took his eyes off the blond. “Yes, yes, yes.”
The girl stared into the dark room and sniffed the air. She made a face and vanished from view.
The Raftworks was shared studio space, a renovated storefront at Third and South streets. It had been founded by Werner, an industrial designer from Sweden who designed perfume bottles by day and renovated brownstones at night. He described himself as a frustrated architect who got more compliments on his custom millwork than on his perfume designs.
The symbol of the happy union of Lou, Jim and Werner was a raft that sat in the front room of the studio, built by the three of them to compete in an annual raft race near the New England college that Lou had attended. They had carted the twenty foot monster to Maine on a borrowed boat trailer, got drunk, fired off the raft’s plastic confetti cannon, and came in second from last in the race. Now the raft took up two thirds of their studio, but none of them would admit that the Albatross was in their way. This was, after all, called the Raftworks.
It was at parties like this one that the raft redeemed itself. Already the arriving guests were taking up positions on its white plywood deck. Like a massive piece of furniture it was a great conversation piece, so Lou and Jim never listened to their wives’ suggestion that they should get rid of it. Claire had only mentioned it once and from the reaction that came from the boys, she resolved never to say anything about it again.
Lou was lying face down on the loft mattress, debating with Jim whether the girl had been a natural or a bleached blond and thanking God for the current ‘no underwear’ fad, when Gene Henson, the editor of an electronics magazine, entered the room. He had given Jim and Lou so much editorial design and illustration work that he had become a member of the family and remained so even though Jim and Lou had moved on to other lines of work. Now Gene was a regular at parties, always providing the best snacks. His wife was a magnificent cook and responsible for the goodies, but she was also the person Lou regarded as an ‘evil mole’. The enmity probably stemmed from her frequent complaints when her husband smoked that stinky shit with his corrupt friends, as she described them. Even the easygoing, self effacing Jim found Fostia difficult to be around, and Lou’s wife Claire openly detested Fostia’s critical nature. As she often put it, “Everything that passes in front her face is fuel for her wrath.”
When Gene entered the room, both Jim and Lou expected Fostia to pop in and drag Gene away to his salvation, but that didn’t happen. Fostia didn’t even appear at the door. Gene climbed into the loft and slumped heavily against the headboard, obscuring the light show.
“Yo,” protested Jim. “The colors, man. You’re blockin’ the show.”
“Sorry,” said Gene, moving to the opposite side of the loft. He watched wordlessly as the colors played on the white ceiling. Then he sniffed the air and said, “Why isn’t that lit? I need to get screwed up!”
“What?” jibed Lou, looking at Gene’s ass. “The mole burrowed into your butt again?”
Gene didn’t smile. “At her mother’s,” he said. “Her dog is sick or something.”
“Geeee, too bad about the dog,” said Lou, rolling another joint. He wet and twisted the ends and handed it to Gene. The three of them watched the colors dance above them as Gene smoked the entire joint by himself. He nearly set himself on fire with a flash of sparks when he tried to snuff out the butt that suddenly roasted his fingertips.
“Holy Moses, that smarts,” shouted Gene licking his fingertips. “Yow.”
“Moses can’t help you now, friend.” Lou laughed. “You’re a stoned sinner, like us.”
Gene laughed. “That’s right. You’re a reformed Jew. You don’t believe in anything.”
“Sure I do,” Lou countered, a little annoyed. “I just don’t think that Old Testament crap has any relevance to my life.”
Gene didn’t argue. He realized that the marijuana had loosened his mouth a bit too much. Lou was in one of his unflappable moods. He’d just received a large check for a corporate brochure he’d designed. When the money was good, little could dampen his spirits.
“You’re not going to lecture us on the Old Testament tonight, are you, Gene?” he asked.
“I just might!” roared Gene.
Jim glimpsed his wife carrying a tray of food from the kitchen to the deck of the Albatross, where a table on top of its false smokestack put at least part of the raft to a practical use.
Lou sniffed the air. “I hate Swedish meatballs,” he growled.
“I guess it’s all we get without Fostia’s cooking,” said Jim.
“Are they made with pork?” asked Gene, climbing down the ladder. “Is it kosher?”
“How should I know?” said Lou. “When have you seen me near a kitchen? Besides, what difference does it make? You mean to tell me you can’t eat pork chops because of some ten thousand year old rule?”
“Make that FOUR thousand years ago,” said Gene, “and, YES, I DO think it matters. Those laws make sense. Protected the Israelites from trichinosis and such.”
“We have meat inspectors today, Gene,” offered Jim. He punctuated his words by singing, “Jeeesus is just aaalright with meee.” Gene laughed as Jim got up and added, “Say a prayer for me, Gene. I’m going for the meatballs.”
“Me too,” added Lou, following Jim’s lead.
When the three of reached the raft a large group of guests had arrived. The wives club, as Lou called them, pressed them into service handling coats, drinks, and procuring more ice. Kas turned on a fan to blow the scent of burnt weed from the back room.
Soon the party was in full swing and remained so until two in the morning. Over thirty people were strewn around the small studio, sprawled on the Albatross or crowded in the loft watching the light show. In the background Abbey Road played continually and had already developed a scratch. Jim stood at the wheel of the raft munching pretzels. At his feet were Lou and Claire swaying back and forth as the Beatles sang, “... and in the end ... the love you take ... is equal to the love you make.”
Gene sat next to Claire, lost in thought. “It’s going to be a different world soon,” he said, barely audible over the thrumming of the music.
“Deep,” mocked Lou. “Very deep.”
Claire jabbed a sharp finger into his ribs. “Gene’s right,” she said. “You’ve said so yourself. ‘The world is changing too fast.’”
“Not fast enough,” said Werner. “Still a lot to do. The streets are filthy. Buildings falling down ...”
“No, it’s not that,” said Gene. “I’ve been reading this book and it made me think.”
“Never a good idea, Gene,” said Lou, only to get another sharp jab from Claire.
“Gene smiled. “Well, what made me think wasn’t the book itself. I checked out the facts and it turns out the book is right.”
“What book?” asked Kas. “What did it say?”
The music had ended. Most of the people in the room were looking at Gene, and he felt slightly embarrassed.
“Never mind,” he said. “It’s not important, not exactly party talk.”
“That’s not fair, Gene,” said Jim. “Now you’ve got us all curious. Come on and tell us the name of your book.”
Chariots of the Gods
, by Erik Von ... something,” said Gene.
“Von Daniken,” said Lou to everyone’s surprise. “I hear it’s bullshit.”
“Maybe some of it is,” said Gene. “But the man’s right about one thing.”
“Yeah?” challenged Lou. “What’s that?”
“That the description of how to build the Ark of the Covenant is in the Old Testament. It does seem to have, well, let’s say, electronic properties. Von Daniken said the ark was a radio for talking to God.”
“Christ,” said Lou. “I told you it was bullshit.”
Gene was right about one thing. The conversation definitely broke up the party. Half the guests began putting on their coats. As each couple left Lou threw a spiteful glance at Gene for being the party pooper.
“Come on, Lou. This is interesting stuff,” Jim finally said.
“Yeah, interesting as a spider walking up a wall,” scoffed Lou. “What’s the point of worrying about this stuff? It’s all made-up shit, I tell you.”
I don’t know,” Gene said doubtfully. “Have you read Exodus 25? It’s in there. Like it was told by a witness.”
Lou’s jaw dropped. “You’re serious, aren’t you? Okay, Jim, I’ll make a bet with you. I’ll bet you can’t read that story and come up with working drawings; drawings that Werner, say, could use to build an ark.”
“How much of a bet?” asked Jim.
“Fifty?” said Lou.
“Done,” said Jim. “Now bear in mind that I might have to do some research.”
“No, no, no,” said Lou. “If you do research then you’ll get to see what the ark looks like.”
Gene raised his hand. “I’ll jury this thing,” he said. “The drawings have to be made by Jim based only on the text. The only research he can do is to get the sizes and things like that.”
Jim scratched his head. “You’re confident that this description will describe a radio?”
Gene shrugged. “Well, I don’t know, really. It sounds like a resonating cavity, though.”
Werner yawned. “Draw her up, Jim,” he said, stretching his arms. “I’ll build it for you. Now, everybody out. I have to sleep.”
“I’ll tell you why you’re going to lose the bet, Jim,” Lou said. “If the instructions are that simple to follow, then the thing would be rebuilt hundreds of times by now.”
“Good point,” said Werner.
Gene frowned. “Perhaps. But before you make judgments you should do what I did.”
“And that is?” said Lou.