Monday, February 09, 2009

The LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD (2Sam 6)

In chapter 6, David decides that it's time to send for the ark and bring it to Jerusalem. This prompts a question of timing of this event, about which I have already given an opinion.

Now, the manner in which this happens is important. As the Philistines did when they had the ark and wanted to get rid of it, the Israelites get a new cart, load it up, and bring it along. This is a problem. When the ark is to be moved, the proper method of transport is supposed to be having it carried on foot by Levites. The Philistines, between the fact of their being (relatively) ignorant pagans and perhaps the more important fact of them not having Levites were able to get away with loading the thing on a cart. For the Israelites, handling the ark of God in such a cavalier manner led to God's wrath striking down Uzzah.

Where exactly was it that Uzzah was struck down? I don't see this as a problem the way the SAB does. While we are given two names for the location of this event, the fact that this account and the one in 1Chronicles 13 were written far apart in time may mean that the place was known differently at the later date. Childon was probably a descendant of Nachon, and both of them at various times owned a threshing floor at the place called Perezuzzah.

So eventually, they seem to get it figured out, and they transport the ark on foot, making sacrifices to God along the way. David comes along with the procession, dancing as it goes. Now, I'll admit that what's going on here is not completely clear, but I don't agree with the SAB's reading, neither that there might have been something wrong with David dancing, nor that David was somehow nude. Note that it does not say that David was naked, but rather that he was clothed in an ephod, which was a priestly garment. I think Michal was simply, for some reason, feeling that David was making a fool of himself by the way he was acting, which she felt was improper for a king. David's reply is that he doesn't care what people think, he just loves God.

Now the final note of this chapter says that Michal "had no child unto the day of her death." The SAB makes a surprising evaluation of this fact, calling it a contradiction (which I don't think it is, more in a moment) but not marking it with "Injustice" or "Women", which I probably would have. The Bible seems to be suggesting that Michal was made infertile as a punishment for arguing with her husband, which seems a bit extreme to me, but maybe there's something to this story I'm missing. (It might be that David simply never had sex with her again.) As for the contradiction, I assume that the children that Michal is reported to have had were all born before this incident.

7 comments:

Steve Wells said...

Wow. Nothing to say about Uzzah's death, eh Brucker? I guess you really have given up trying to defend God.

Brucker said...

Sorry, did you misunderstand the post, or do I misunderstand your question? I thought I did have something to say about it. (Albeit not much...)

Anonymous said...

What Wells means, Brucker, is that you, and other Christians, have clarified WHERE Uzzah died, but what you all miss is the fact that God killed Uzzah UNFAIRLY. Uzzah tried to HELP God by keeping the Ark from falling, and God kills him for it?! As Wells says, contradictions are the LEAST of the Bible's problems. There is so much of cruelty, filthiness, and injustice in it that, were it not an ancient religious text, no one would take it seriously.

Brucker said...

"Unfairly" is a matter of opinion. Uzzah broke the law, and received punishment for it. Sure, it's reasonable to say his intentions were good, but it doesn't change the truth of the matter. As for being possibly cruel, consider it from a theological perspective: Uzzah died, but he probably went to Heaven, so it wasn't so bad.

Anonymous said...

I see. So if someone touches God's Ark, they deserve death? HOW is that fair Brucker? Why don't intentions matter? Should a murderer and someone who committed manslaughter get the same punishment, then? And if someone's going to go to Heaven, it's okay to kill them? Can I go kill unborn babies then, because they'll go to heaven? And how could Uzzah go to heaven if he broke God's law? And if Uzzah went to heaven despite his breaking God's law, why can't we all do the same and go to heaven too?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, God doesn't have to appeal to your notions of fairness. You don't have nearly the perspective to judge God. It says that Uzzah was struck down for his irreverence. That might be a far greater deal than you have any idea.

Anonymous said...

Also, you can go to heaven, even if you've broken Gods law. You can accept His grace :)