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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb. Uzzah , עֻזָּה , strength, i. q. Uzza, whiich in a few passages stands instead of it; Sept. Ο᾿ζά [and so Josephus] v.r. Ἀζά; Vulg. Oza), the name of two Hebrews.

1. A Merarite Levite, son of Shimei (q.v.) and father of Shimeai (1 Chronicles 6:29 [Hebrews 4]; A.V. "Uzza"). B.C. ante 1043. For a refutation of some arbitrary hypotheses of interpreters on this genealogy, see Keil ad loc.

2. One of the sons of Abinadab, in whose house at Kirjath-jearim the ark rested for twenty years. In 2 Samuel (2 Samuel 6:3 in the A.V.; and in Hebrews 4:6-8 in the Heb, also) he is invariably called "Uzzah;" but in 1 Chronicles (1 Chronicles 13:7; 1 Chronicles 13:9; 1 Chronicles 13:11) as invariably "Uzza." The eldest son of Abinadab (1 Samuel 7:1) seems to have been Eleazar, who was consecrated to look after the ark. Uzzail, probably, was the, second, and Ahio (q.v.) the third. The latter two accompanied its removal when David first undertook to carry it to Jerusalem. B.C. 1043. Ahio apparently went before the cart- the new cart (1 Chronicles 13:7) on which the ark was placed, and Uzzah walked by its side. The procession, with all manner of music, advanced as far as a spot variously called "the threshing-floor" (1 Chronicles 13:9); "the threshing floor of Chidon" (ibid.); "the threshing floor of Nachotn" (2 Samuel 6:6, Sept. "Nachor"). At this point perhaps slipping over the smooth rock the oxen (Sept. "the calf") stumbled (Sept. "overturned the ark'"). Uzzah caught it to prevent its falling. He died immediately by the side of the ark. H is death, by whatever means it was accomplished, was so sudden and awful that, in the sacred language of the Old Test., it is ascribed directly to the divine anger. "The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there." "For his error," עִלאּהִשִּׁל, adds the Hebrew text, "because he put his hand to the ark" (1 Chronicles 13:10). Josephus (Ant. 7:4, 2) makes the sin to be because he touched the ark not being a priest (see below). But the narrative seems to imply that there was a rough, hasty handling of the sacred coffer. The event produced a deep sensation. David, with a mixture of awe and resentment, was afraid to carry the ark farther; and the place, apparently changing its ancient name, (See UZZA, GARDEN OF), was henceforth called "Perez-Uzzah" (q.v.), the "breaking" or "disaster" of Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:8; 1 Chronicles 13:11). (See DAVID).

Josephus distinctly says that Uzzah was of a Levitical family (Ant. 6:1 4). It was because Abinadab, his father, was a Levite, no doubt, that the ark was taken into his house at Kirjath-jearim, as it was afterwards taken into the: house of Obed-edom, the Gittite, for the same reason. Nor can it be very well understood how, if Abinadab was not a Levite, his son Eleazar should have been consecrated to take charge of the ark (1 Samuel 7:2). It is possible that Abinadab (Sept. Ἀμιναδάβ, Josephus, Ἀμινδάαβος ) was the same as Amminadab, spoken of in 1 Chronicles 15:10 as one of the chiefs of the Levites appointed by David to bring up the ark from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem. It is most reasonable to suppose that the person who had entertained the ark at Kirjath-jearim should have the honor of attending its coming up afterwards from the house of Obed-edoin to Jerusalem; and Amminadab was a son of Uzziel, and therefore of the family of Kohath, who were the persons appointed to bear the ark (1 Chronicles 6:18; Numbers 4:15). But they were forbidden to touch the ark. It was only a priest of Aaron's family, i.e. of the high-priest's family, that was allowed to touch the, ark Numbers 4:5; Numbers 4:15). The sin of Uzzah, therefore, was not, as commonly represented, that of a layman or an unordained person presuming to encroach upon the office of the ministry, but, if all irregularity at all in this respect, the sin of those who, being ministers, dare to arrogate to themselves powers and prerogatives which belong only to higher officers. Fairbairn. The whole proceeding was very disorderly, and contrary to the distinct and far from unmeaning regulations of the law, which prescribed that the ark should be carried on the shoulders of the Levites (Exodus 25:4), whereas here it was conveyed in a cart drawn by oxen. The ark ought to have been enveloped in its coverings, and thus wholly-concealed before the Levites approached it; but it does not appear that any priest took part in the matter, and it would seem as if the ark was brought forth, exposed to the common gaze, in the same manner in which it had been brought back by the Philistines (1 Samuel 6:13-19). It was the duty of Uzzah, as LeVite, to have been acquainted with the proper course of proceeding; he was therefore the person justly accountable for, the neglect, and the judgment upon him seems to have been the most effectual course of insuring attention to the proper course of proceeding, and of checking the growing disposition to treat the holy mysteries with undue familiarity. That it had this effect is expressly stated in 1 Chronicles 15:2; 1 Chronicles 15:13 (See ARK).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Uzzah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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