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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
2 Samuel 6

 

 

Verses 1-23

2 Samuel 6. David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem. Michal's Scorn. Her Punishment (J). (Cf. p. 286.)—Nothing has been heard of the Ark since 1 Samuel 7:2, before the accession of Saul. The introduction of the Ark in I S 2 Samuel 14:18, is due to corruption of the text. This silence is sometimes accounted for by supposing that the Ark was under the control of the Philistines and inaccessible to the Israelites (cf. Cent.B, and EBi, "Ark"). David's action gave added importance to the new capital; and the building of Solomon's Temple probably provided Jerusalem with the chief sanctuary in Israel.

2 Samuel 6:1-11. David and the people go to Baal, or Baalah, Judah (not Baale), to fetch the Ark. This place is identified (Joshua 15:9 f., 1 Chronicles 13:6) with Kirjath-jearim, where the Ark was left in 1 Samuel 7:1. The identification however, may be due to a comparison of the two passages, and may not be correct. The two passages may come from different sources (cf. p. 276) which took different views of the history. They set out for Jerusalem in solemn procession; but a certain Uzzah put his hand on the Ark to steady it "and God smote him for his error." David abandoned his purpose, placed the Ark for a time in the house of Obed-edom of Gath, doubtless a ger (2 Samuel 1:13*). There is no question as to the regulations of the Priestly Code concerning Priests and Levites. Apparently Uzzah's fault consisted in handling the Ark roughly and unceremoniously. The narrative illustrates the imperfect morality ascribed to Yahweh by the earlier documents (cf. 1 Samuel 26:19).

According to some, the Uzzah episode is mythical, having arisen as a conjectural and mistaken interpretation of the place-name Perez-uzzah, "Breach of Uzzah." If this were so, David found the Ark at the house of Obed-edom; which would lend some support to the view that up to this time the Ark was under Philistine control. But a mythical explanation is not probable. Another improbable view is that Uzzah died from the shock which came upon him when he realised that he had committed an act of irreverence. [Parallels to this may be found in Frazer's Taboo and the Perils of the Soul.—A. S. P.] Sometimes, in the case of these ancient narratives, the safest course is to accept their substantial historicity without trying to explain everything. If we are to venture an explanation here, we might suggest that the death of Uzzah was due to excitement at the prospect of the Ark being thrown violently to the ground and broken; and to the sudden, strenuous effort needed to save it. Death under such circumstances would be interpreted as a sign of Divine displeasure and an "Act of God."

2 Samuel 6:5. with all manner of instruments made of fir wood: read, with 1 Chronicles 13:8, "with all their might and with songs."

2 Samuel 6:12-23. Obed-edom prospering, David gathers that Yahweh is appeased, and makes another attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. As soon as a start is made, sacrifices are offered and, nothing untoward happening, the procession marches on and reaches its destination in safety. David, intoxicated with religious fervour, abandons himself to an ecstatic dance before Yahweh, i.e. the Ark. David was merely clothed with the priestly linen ephod, which hardly supplied a decent covering in the wild movements of the dance (Cent.B); 1 Chronicles 15:27 provides him with a robe. When David went home, Michal railed at him for his lack of dignity; probably not the first exhibition of temper on the part of this much-tried lady. David protected himself from similar experiences by relegating Michal to a separate establishment. This is probably the meaning of 2 Samuel 6:23.

2 Samuel 6:19. a portion of flesh: represents the single Heb. word 'eshpar, the meaning of which is unknown; it occurs only here and 1 Chronicles 16:3.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/2-samuel-6.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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