The Ark of the Covenant, also known as the Holy Ark, was the receptacle that the Ten Commandments were stored in. The two tablets of stone that the commandments were engraved upon were placed in a box that was made of three separate boxes that fitted one inside the other. The inner and outer boxes were made of pure gold and the middle box was made of acacia wood. There was a lip of gold that surrounded the edges so that a person looking at the Ark would not realise that there were, in fact, three boxes. The commandment to make the Ark is found in Exodus chapter 37 verses 1-5.
During the Jewish Peoples’ journey in the desert the Ark of the Covenant was kept in the Tabernacle (a portable Temple). After the establishment of Jerusalem as the capital city of the Jewish Nation and the building of the Holy Temple the Ark was moved to its permanent resting place in the Holy of Holies.
According to Jewish Tradition when King Solomon built the First Temple he knew that it would not be the Final Temple. Subsequently, he built subterranean passageways and storerooms in order to store the Temple vessels, should the need arise.
The Babylonian Talmud relates that the most important of the vessels were hidden away by King Josiah, the grandson of Manasseh, before the destruction of the First Temple, included in these were the Holy Ark.
According to Tradition once the Temple is rebuilt all of the Temple vessels will be returned to their rightful place.