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ARK

 

Halpern, Baruch. David's Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King . Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001.

 

                            In the narrative, David rejects Michal, Saul's daughter, because she has some objection to the ceremony in which he introduces the icon to the capital.   Possibly, this reflects uneasiness with the ark itself among Saul's constituency, as argued above (Chapter 16).   It at least takes advantage of this uneasiness - Saul's distance from the ark - to suggest that Michal was unwilling to welcome the ark on David's terms.   (333)

 

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Fox, Everett.   Give Us a King: Samuel, Saul, and David .   New York: Schocken Books, 1999.

?A central feature of this part of the book, in fact, is the narratives around the ark (here ?Coffer').   As the great biblical symbol of the divine presence, its territorial location in these chapters emphasizes the desperate situation in which the Israelites find themselves?or rather, in the eyes of the biblical writer, the situation which they have created.   Bereft of God's presence, the people have no chance of either ?blessing' or military victory.   The Coffer's return, on the other hand, does not provide a full solution as far as they are concerned.   That they can envision only in the establishment of a monarchy irrespective of the Coffer.   Not until David shows concern about its whereabouts, and brings it to his new capital, Jerusalem, will the kingship be established on a firm footing, with apparent divine approval.?   (p. 4)

 

 

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Steussy, Marti J.   David: Biblical Portraits of Power .   Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, 1999.

 

              ?The following sequence (2 S 5:17-6:23) resonates powerfully with the ark stories of 1 S 4-7.   Similarities and differences may most easily be seen by means of a chart:

1 Samuel 4-7                                                                                     2 Samuel 5-6

Fighting with Philistines                                                         Fighting with Philistines

No consultation with God reported                                           God consulted before battle

Two brothers accompany the ark                                           Two brothers accompany the ark

God's role in battle unstated                                                         God's role in battle explicit

Philistines capture Israelite symbol                                           Israelites capture Philistine symbols

Woman gives birth and dies                                                         Woman bears no more children

Ark wreaks havoc among Philistines                                           Blessing comes to Philistine house

Philistines: To whom will it do?                                           David: How can it come to me?

Ark travels on new cart                                                         Ark travels on new cart

Israelites rejoice, sacrifice                                                         Israelites rejoice, sacrifice

Unexpected deaths associated with ark                             Unexpected death associated with ark

Ark sent to someone's house                                                         Ark sent to someone's house

Ark remains twenty years, Israel laments                             Ark remains three months, blessing

Samuel makes offerings, judges Israel                             David makes offerings, rules Israel?   (59)

 

?Finally, 2 S 6:8-10 gives more intense and extensive insight into David's inner life than any other passage in the primary history, suggesting that Uzzah's death has not more to do (narratively speaking) with David than Uzzah.

              ?The ark incident teaches David the same lesson that Israel and the Philistines learned in 1 S 4-7: God's support may not be taken for granted.   In 2 S 5:12 David perceives divine support.   Later in that chapter, he takes advantage of that support, after due consultation, to strike down the Philistines.   In 2 S 6 he decides, with no reported consultation, that the ark, an ancient and awesome symbol of divine power, should reside in the capital with him (except when it goes out to fight his battles, 2 S 11:11).   Its presence may help the anointed counter those who might protest, along the lines of Samuel's speech in 1 S 12, that Israel's proper king is God, whose leadership through wilderness and in battle has been symbolized by the ark.?   (60)

 

              ?Then Uzzah dies.   David's first reported emotion is anger, only then followed by fear.   Why anger?   The text, as usual, fails to explicate underlying psychodynamics.   I suggest that David is angry because he had interpreted kingship, fertility, and victory over Philistines as evidence of God's unconditional support.   The outburst against Uzzah seems, to David, like a violation of God's contract with him.   Anger turns to fear as David realizes that he was mistaken in his assumption about God's support.   The man who set out so confidently with thirty thousand men to fetch the ark now asks, ?how can LORD's ark come to me?' (6:9, my translation).   We learn his answer to this rhetorical question from statements about both feeling and action.   He is not willing for the ark to come to him; he leaves it at Obed-Edom's house.

              ?The ?ritual procedure' explanation of Uzzah's death is often presented in a fashion which suggests that we can count on God's blessing so long as we observe proper protocol, but the explanation presumes a rational God acting according to clear rules.   Here I believe we see something different?the warning of a mysterious, even dangerous quality to God's presence, a power which must always be approached tentatively and never presumed upon.?   (60)

 

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Halpern, Baruch. David's Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King . Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001.

 

1.               David acknowledges that Yahweh has abandoned him, and that possession of the symbol, the mere appearance, the ark, is worthless unless the hidden reality of Yahweh's favor corresponds to its possession.

              The ploy of sending the ark back has its practical side.   It leaves David with partisans and runners in the capital.   The priests, Zadoq and Abiathar, are to inform him of Absalom's plans.   As specialists in divination, they would naturally be consulted in connection with any fateful decision.   By leaving them to swear fealty to Absalom, David in effect creates a situation in which the priests have two masters, in which the very sacral center of the kingdom is double-dealing.   Here, for the first time since Amnon raped Tamar, the duplicity is directed against Absalom's interests.   (44)

 

 

2.               In the narrative, David rejects Michal, Saul's daughter, because she has some objection to the ceremony in which he introduces the icon to the capital.   Possibly, this reflects uneasiness with the ark itself among Saul's constituency, as argued above (Chapter 16).   It at least takes advantage of this uneasiness - Saul's distance from the ark - to suggest that Michal was unwilling to welcome the ark on David's terms.   (333)

 

Polzin, Robert. David and the Deuteronomist . Vol.2 San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1989. 3 vols.

 

 

< style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > 3. < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >               < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > Is it a coincidence that 2 Samuel 15, like 1 Samuel 4:1-7:2, involves the leaving and returning of the ark < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > from and to its rightful place?   Or that two priests and their two sons accompany the ark in 2 Samuel 15, while Eli's two sons accompany the ark in 1 Samuel 4?...   (62) < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >               < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > Nothing symbolizes the tension-filled existence of these similarities and differences < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > so well as the speech of the Philistines in each chapter: < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >                             < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > Take courage and acquit yourselves like men < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >                             < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > O Philistines, lest < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > you serve < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   the Hebrews as < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >                             < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > they have served you. (1 Sam. 4:9) < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >                             < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > But Ittai (the Gittite) answered the king, < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >                             < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > ?Wherever my lord, < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > the king shall be, whether < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >                             < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > for death or for life, there also will < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > your < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >                             < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > servant < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   be.? (2 Sam. 15:21) < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >  

Its enemy, having feared servitude to Israel, now joyfully proclaims it.   (63)

 

< style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > 4. < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >               < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > If one has any doubt that the ark material in 1 Samuel involves a me < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > ditation on the particular kind of leadership that is royal, the intimate connection between 1 Samuel 4-6 and 2 Samuel 6 may settle the question...   (68) < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >               < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > The itinerary of the ark in 1 Samuel 4-6 is from Shiloh to the house of Abinadab on the hill, with a < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > few months' stopover among the Philistines; its itinerary in 2 Samuel 6 is from the house of Abinadab on the hill to Jerusalem, with a few months' stopover among the Philistines.   (68)... < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >               < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > Thirty thousand Israelites are singled out to die at the beginning < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > of the first story (1 Sam. 4:10); thirty thousand chosen men of Israel accompany the ark in glory at the beginning of the second story (2 Sam. 6:1).   Panic, death, and destrcution follow the first ark everywhere, even turning the brief rejoicing of the men < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   of Beth-shemesh (1 Sam. 6:13) into mourning when the LORD makes a great slaughter among them (1 Sam. 6:19); there is heardly anything but rejoicing in 2 Samuel 6.   We find mostly the language of curse in 1 Samuel 4-6, the language of blessing in 2 Samuel < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > 6: the sound of Israel crying ( < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > qol hehamon < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > ) in 1 Samuel 4:14 typically becomes the blessed Israelite multitude ( < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > hamon < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > ) of 2 Samuel 6:19.   This language of curse affects Israel and Philistia alike in 1 Samuel 4-6, just as its blessed counterpart affects Isr < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > aelite and Philistine alike in 2 Samuel 6: ?And the LORD blessed Obed-edom [the Gittite] and all his household? (6:11); ?And David blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts? (6:18)...   (69) < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >   < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >               < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > Throughout the entire Bible, no one except priest or ki < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > ng ?stands before the ark.?   (70) < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} > < style=' margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:normal;} >  

 

Polzin, Robert. David and the Deuteronomist: A Literary Study of the Deuteronomic History .

Vol. 3. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1993. 3 vols.

 

5.               Finding a Home for the Ark: Chapter 6

              The thirty thousand men that David gathers together in verse 1, just before taking the ark to Jerusalem, constitute a mirror image of the thirty thousand Israelites slain in the account of the taking of the ark in 1 Samuel 4...   (60-61)

              The chapter's frequent use of imperfective verb forms illustrates its hermeneutic challenges.   A main function of such forms is to place the reader in the center of the action,often by presenting activity from the temporal perspective of characters: the narator describes things as if the reader were observing what is happening in the story-world – even as the characters themselves do...   (61)

              There is a double dimension to these synchronic verb forms.   In verses 3, 4, 5, 14 and 15, the narrator directly shows us someone leading, walking, playing, and so forth, but in verse 16 we not only seek the ark coming and Michal looking out the window, we also see what Michal is seeing, that is ?she saw David leaping (?) and dancing (?)...?   (61)

              Consider then how the LORD's smiting of Uzzah not only illuminates the understandable caution of David regarding possession of the ark of the LORD, it also interrupts David's and all the house of Israel's ?making merry before the LORD? (v. 5).   This initial complication parallels the sour note Michal will introduce into the celebrations toward the end of the chapter. (64-65)

 

6.               The glory somehow departs from Israel when the ark of God is taken up in behalf of kingship.   Michal's childlessness may represent the Deuteronomist's hope that the glory would one day return to Israel, and that Israel, like Michal, would remain kingless before the LORD to the day of her death.   (71)

 

7.               Perhaps the ark is not allowed to cross the Jordan with David because it is no longer with Israel in Babylon.   David may be stating to Zadok what many Israelites in Babylon hoped in their heart, ?If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me see both [the ark] and his habitation? (15:25).   As we saw indications of the exilic situation of discourse lying behind references to exile or captivity in 1 Sam. 4:21-22, so also the use of galah here in 2 Sam. 15:19 – where Ittai the exile ( goleh ) is allowed to cross the Jordan with David into a king of double exile – is the only other instance in the Books of Samuel of galah denoting ?exile.?   (159)

 

Footnotes from Robert Alter, The Story of David   W.W.Norton

 

              Footnote, 1 Samuel 4:4

troops .   The Hebrew has a collective noun, c am , ?people,? which in military contexts refers to the ordinary soldiers.

the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Hosts Enthroned on the Cherubim .   This extravagantly full title is a kind of epic flourish reflecting the power that the elders of Israel attribute to the Ark.   ?Hosts,? bearing its older English sense of ?armies,? underscores the Lord's martial nature.   The cherubim are fierce winged beasts imagined as God's celestial steeds, and so the carved cherubim on the Ark are conceived as the earthly ?throne? of the invisible deity. (22)

 

              Footnote, 1 Samuel 4:21

Ichabod?Glory is exiled .   The Hebrew name is conventionally construed to mean ?Inglorious,? though Kyle McCarter, Jr. has argued that the more probable meaning is ?Where is glory?? or ?Alas for glory!?   In any case, it is a most peculiar name?the dying mother, overcome by the loss of the Ark (which affects her much more than her husband's demise), inscribing the national catastrophe in her son's name.   Where one must agree unhesitatingly with McCarter is that the verb in this verse and the next should be rendered as ?exiled? and not, as it is customarily translated, as ?departed.?   Exile is what it clearly denotes, and it is surely significant that this whole large sequence of stories that will provide an account of the founding of Israel's dynasty and the crystallization of its national power begins with a refrain of glory exiled from Israel.   It is also noteworthy that the term for ?glory,? kavod , is transparently cognate with kaved , ?heavy,? the adjective used to explain Eli's lethal tumble from his chair?the leader who might be supposed to represent Israel's glory exhibits only deadly heaviness.   (25-6)

 

              Footnote, 1 Samuel 5

The Ark Narrative at this point leaves behind the house of Eli, Samuel, and the paramount question of Israel's leadership in order to tell a bizarre satiric story of a battle between cult objects?the potent Ark of the Covenant, which is conceived as the conduit for the cosmic power of the God of Israel, and the idol of Dagon, vainly believed to be a real deity by the Philistines. (27)

 

              Footnote, 1 Samuel 6

This chapter?the episode actually ends in the first verse of Chapter 7?which concludes the Ark Narrative also brings to a climax the traits that set it off from the larger narrative of Samuel, Saul, and David in which it is placed.   Instead of the sharply etched individual characters of the surrounding narrative, we have only collective speakers and agents.   Instead of the political perspective with its human system of causation, the perspective is theological and the culminating events of the story are frankly miraculous.   God, Who does not speak in this narrative, manifests His power over Philistines and Israelites alike through supernatural acts in the material realm, as the strange tale of the cart and the golden images vividly demonstrates.   (30)

 

              1 Samuel 6:4-6a

And they said, ?What guilt offering should we give back to Him??   And they said, ?The number of Philistine overlords is five.   Five golden tumor and five golden mice.   For a single plague is upon all of you and upon your overlords.   And you shall make images of your tumors and images of your mice that are ravaging the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel?perhaps He will lighten His hand from upon you and from upon your god and your land.   And why should you harden your hearts as Egypt and Pharaoh hardened their hearts.?   (30-31)

 

              Footnote, 1 Samuel 6:5

you shall give glory to the God of Israel?perhaps He will lighten His hand .   Once again, the writer harks back to the play of antonyms, kavod/kaved (glory/heavy) and qal (light, and in other contexts, worthless).   Glory has been exiled from Israel with the capture of the Ark: now, with the restitution of the Ark together with an indemnity payment of golden images, glory will be restored.   This process helps explain the insistence on the term ?give back? associated with the guilt offering.   (31)

 

              Footnote, 1 Samuel 6:20

Who can stand before this holy Lord God?   Throughout the Ark narrative, including what may be its epilogue in 2 Samuel 6, runs an archaic sense of God's sacred objects as material precipitates of an awesome and dangerous power.   (34)

 

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Exum, J. Cheryl.   Tragedy and Biblical Narrative .   New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

 

?In 2 Samuel 6, David twice seeks to bring the ark of the covenant of Yhwh to Jerusalem, a move that lends religious authority to his newly established kingdom.?   (85)

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