Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 6:13

And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ark;   David;   Jerusalem;   Measure;   Thompson Chain Reference - Sacrifices;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Ark of the Covenant;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ark of the Covenant;   Uzzah;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ark;   Tabernacle;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Jerusalem;   Psalms, Theology of;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Fatling;   Tabernacle;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Dance;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ark of the Covenant;   Cattle;   Fatlings, Fatted;   King, Kingship;   Pilgrimage;   Samuel, Books of;   Transportation and Travel;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Chronicles, I;   Jerusalem;   King;   Priests and Levites;   Weights and Measures;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Nachon;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - David;   Jerusalem;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Weights and Measures;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Priest;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ark of the Covenant;   Cart;   Pace;   Priesthood;   Priests and Levites;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Ark of the covenant;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Cattle;   Samuel, Books of;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The meaning is, not that they sacrificed oxen and fatlings every six steps, which would have been impossible, but that when - after the arrangement made by David for the Levites to carry the ark 1 Chronicles 15:2, 1 Chronicles 15:12, 1 Chronicles 15:15 they had borne it successfully and with visible tokens of God‘s favor, out of the house of Obed-edom and six “steps” on the road to the city of David to the sound of the musical instruments - then they stopped and offered solemn sacrifices. Possibly “the step” may have had a technical sense, and denoted a certain distance, say a stadium. Six such distances would have been nearly a mile, and if the ground was difficult and steep, the successful progress of “those that bare the ark,” so far, would have been a fit cause for a thanksgiving sacrifice.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-samuel-6.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the Lord,.... The Levites; for now David had seen the former mistake, and rectified it, and ordered the Levites to "carry" it, as they did upon their shoulders, with the staves therein, see 1 Chronicles 15:2; when these

had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings; upon an altar, which was at once erected for that purpose; the number and kind of sacrifices offered were seven bullocks and seven rams, 1 Chronicles 15:26; and these David offered, not by himself, but by the priests that were with him, and that as soon as they had gone six paces from the house of Obededom; whereby they perceived the Levites, were able to carry the ark, with what was in it, the Lord helping them, as in 1 Chronicles 15:2, and without stumbling and falling, or any evil attending them; and Kimchi thinks these six paces were just the measure of the ground Uzzah went before what befell him; but it is highly probable that he had gone further; however, no doubt by the order of David, the Levites set down the ark, and sacrifices were offered by way of thanksgiving to God, and for the continuance of his goodness, and for atonement for former errors. Some think these seven oxen and rams were offered, at seven different times and places, at every six paces an ox and a ram; but this is not very likely.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-6.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

had gone six paces — Some think that four altars were hastily raised for the offering of sacrifices at the distance of every six paces (but see on 1 Chronicles 15:26).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-samuel-6.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

The bearers of the ark are not particularly mentioned in this account; but it is very evident that they were Levites, as the Chronicles affirm, from the fact that the ark was carried this time, and not driven, as before. “And it came to pass, when the bearers of the ark of Jehovah had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatted calf” (i.e., had them sacrificed). These words are generally understood as meaning, that sacrifices of this kind were offered along the whole way, at the distance of six paces apart. This would certainly have been a possible thing, and there would be no necessity to assume that the procession halted every six paces, until the sacrificial ceremony was completed, but the ark might have continued in progress, whilst sacrifices were being offered at the distances mentioned. And even the immense number of sacrificial animals that would have been required is no valid objection to such an assumption. We do not know what the distance really was: all that we know is, that it was not so much as ten miles, as Kirjath-jearim was only about twelve miles from Jerusalem, so that a few thousand oxen, and the same number of fatted calves, would have been quite sufficient. But the words of the text do not distinctly affirm that sacrifices were offered whenever the bearers advanced six paces, but only that this was done was soon as the bearers had taken the first six steps. So that, strictly speaking, all that is stated is, that when the procession had started and gone six paces, the sacrifice was offered, namely, for the purpose of inaugurating or consecrating the solemn procession. In 1 Chron 15 this fact is omitted; and it is stated instead (1 Chronicles 15:26), that “when God helped the Levites that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they offered seven bullocks and seven rams,” i.e., at the close of the procession, when the journey was ended, to praise God for the fact that the Levites had been enabled to carry the ark of God to the place appointed for it, without suffering the slightest harm.

(Note: There is no discrepancy, therefore, between the two different accounts; but the one supplements the other in a manner perfectly in harmony with the whole affair, - at the outset, a sacrifice consisting of one ox and one fatted calf; and at the close, one of seven oxen and seven rams. Consequently there is no reason for altering the text of the verse before us, as Thenius proposes, according to the senseless rendering of the lxx, καὶ ἦσαν μετ ̓ αὐτοῦ αἴροντες τὴν κιβωτὸν ἑπτὰ χοροί, καὶ θῦμα μόσχος καὶ ἄρνες (“with David there were bearers of the ark, seven choirs, and sacrifices of a calf and lambs”), which has also found its way into the Vulgate, though Jerome has rendered our Hebrew text faithfully afterwards (i.e., after the gloss, which was probably taken from the Itala, and inserted in his translation).)

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The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:13". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/2-samuel-6.html. 1854-1889.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 6:13 And it was [so], that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.

Ver. 13. Had gone six paces.] Gravi et decenti incessu, in a grave and decent equipage, and had felt by comfortable experience that God helped them to bear the ark, [1 Chronicles 15:16] - supporting it haply together with them by a divine power invisibly, so that it seemed light unto them. David thereupon took order to have sacrifices offered in the place, for the better carrying on of the good work in hand.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:13". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-6.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Had gone six paces with safety and comfort. He sacrificed oxen and fatlings, upon an altar suddenly erected, as was usual in such cases. See Exodus 20:24. This he did either to appease God for the former miscarriage; or to praise him for his present mercy, that he had not made another breach upon them; or to implore his favour and gracious presence with them in this great affair.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:13". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-6.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

13.When they’ had gone six paces, he sacrificed — Some think such sacrifices were offered all along the way, at the distance of six paces apart, from the house of Obed-edom to Zion. But this is improbable, and the text only affirms that the sacrifice was offered after the bearers of the ark had gone the first six steps. 2 Samuel 6:17 and 1 Chronicles 16:1, however, inform us that other offerings were made after the ark arrived at Zion.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-6.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Paces. So altars of turf (Grotius) were erected at this distance from each other, on each side of the road. The pagans have sometimes treated their emperors and deities with the like respect. (Suetonius in Otho and Calig.) --- Paris thus addresses Helena in Ovid's Heroic Epistles. Ibis Dardanias ingens Regina per urbes,

Teque novam vulgus credet adesse Deam,

Quaque feres gressus, adolebunt cynnama flammæ,

Cœsaque sanguineam victima planget humum.

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:13". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-6.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

six paces. See App-51. Compare 1 Chronicles 15:26.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:13". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-6.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.

When they that bare the ark ... had gone six paces. Some think that four altars were hastily raised for the offering of sacrifices at the distance of every six paces (but see 1 Chronicles 15:26).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-samuel-6.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(13) They that bare the ark.—David no longer presumed to violate the law, but took care that the ark should be borne by the proper persons. In 1 Chronicles 15 a detailed account is given of the sanctification of the priests and Levites for the purpose, and of the musical arrangements.

Had gone six paces.—As soon as the removal of the ark had been successfully begun, David offered sacrifices of thanksgiving and of prayer; and again, when the journey was completed, “they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God” (2 Samuel 6:17, 1 Chronicles 16:1). The work was begun and ended with solemn sacrifice. It is quite unnecessary to suppose that offerings were made at each six steps of the way, for although this might have been possible, it is not recorded. Of course, David offered these sacrifices, like all Israel” in 1 Kings 8:62, through the ministration of the priests whom he had called together.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:13". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-6.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.
when they
Numbers 4:15; 7:9; Joshua 3:3; 1 Chronicles 15:2,15,25,26
oxen
1 Kings 8:5; 2 Chronicles 5:6
Reciprocal: 1 Samuel 15:9 - the fatlings;  2 Samuel 15:24 - bearing;  Psalm 66:15 - I will offer

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:13". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-6.html.