I have seen the film many times, but so far I do not understand what it is supposed to be that kills the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Are they ghosts? Or maybe angels or demons? Is what happened in the movie according to the bible? I do not know what the bible says about the Ark.

I hope someone can clarify that for me.

  • 3
    Face-melting evil!
    – DA.
    Nov 24, 2016 at 20:49
  • 1
    It's supposed to contain the Ten Commandments...and thus the Power of God
    – Paulie_D
    Nov 24, 2016 at 20:49

2 Answers 2


The Ark of the Covenant, in biblical lore, is a chest that contains the stone tablets that constitute the Ten Commandments.

The Ark is a sacred object, and those who tried to steal it were often struck with curses (sometimes fatal, but always different.) The face-melting of the Nazis in this movie is an appropriate response to a group of people trying to steal or befoul the Ark.

This is not specifically what the Ark does in the Bible, however, it's not a contradiction either, since the fates of those who mess with Ark are not always the same.

  • 3
    Somewhat more relevant is that it was actually stated in the film that the Ark contained the remains of the stone tablets.
    – Paul
    Nov 24, 2016 at 23:02
  • 1
    The Bible does say what it holds. The contract between God and his people. Also a radio through which God talked to Moses and Joshua.
    – cde
    Nov 25, 2016 at 0:09
  • 4
    @cde - ssck God to Moses, God to Moses, you there dude? ssck
    – Tim
    Nov 25, 2016 at 3:03
  • 4
    @tim Moses can't reply until you say "over", over.
    – cde
    Nov 25, 2016 at 4:02
  • 1
    So basically God's power is what on the inside and can take many forms to eradicate evil. OK I understand.
    – Franj
    Nov 25, 2016 at 17:24

I think this is addressed early in the movie, when two Army officers are telling Indy and Brody about the Nazi communiqué they've intercepted. They ask Indy what the Ark looks like, and in response (according to the script):

Indy pulls a big format book from the stack on his lectern and flips through the pages until he finds a large color print. […] two men carry the Ark of the Covenant, a beautiful gold chest, crowned by two sculptured gold angels. […] the most astounding thing in the picture is the brilliant jet of white light and flame issuing from the wings of the angels. It pierces deep into the ranks of the retreating enemy, wreaking devastation and terror.

One of the officers asks:

MUSGROVE: What's that supposed to be coming out of there?

INDY: Who knows... lightning... fire... the power of God.

That seems a fair description of what we see when they open the Ark at the end of the movie.

  • This seems like the best answer as it answers the original question in the context of the movie’s universe, siting references from the movie. May 6, 2023 at 21:10

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