And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Nachon’s threshingfloor.—This place is entirely unknown. 1Chronicles 13:9 has “the threshingfloor of Chidon; “but it may be doubted whether the word is a proper name at all. The name, whatever it was, was now superseded by Perez-uzzah (2Samuel 6:8). The turning aside of the oxen to snatch the scattered grain of the threshingfioor may have caused the trouble.2 Samuel 6:6. For the oxen shook it — There is perhaps no word about the signification of which commentators are more divided, than the word שׁמשׂו, shametu, here rendered shook it. Bochart and Waterland interpret it, The oxen stuck in the mire, or stumbled.2 Kings 9:33, and render the passage: "The oxen were throwing, or had thrown it down," very likely by turning aside to eat what grain there might be on the threshing-floor.
6-8. they came to Nachon's threshing-floor—or Chidon's (1Ch 13:9). The Chaldee version renders the words, "came to the place prepared for the reception of the ark," that is, near the city of David (2Sa 6:13).
the oxen shook it—or, "stumbled" (1Ch 13:9). Fearing that the ark was in danger of being overturned, Uzzah, under the impulse of momentary feeling, laid hold of it to keep it steady. Whether it fell and crushed him, or some sudden disease attacked him, he fell dead upon the spot. This melancholy occurrence not only threw a cloud over the joyous scene, but entirely stopped the procession; for the ark was left where it then was, in the near neighborhood of the capital. It is of importance to observe the proportionate severity of the punishments attending the profanation of the ark. The Philistines suffered by diseases, from which they were relieved by their oblations, because the law had not been given to them [1Sa 5:8-12]; the Bethshemites also suffered, but not fatally [1Sa 6:19]; their error proceeded from ignorance or inadvertency. But Uzzah, who was a Levite, and well instructed, suffered death for his breach of the law. The severity of Uzzah's fate may seem to us too great for the nature and degree of the offense. But it does not become us to sit in judgment on the dispensations of God; and, besides, it is apparent that the divine purpose was to inspire awe of His majesty, a submission to His law, and a profound veneration for the symbols and ordinances of His worship.Nachon, otherwise called Chidon, 1 Chronicles 13:9.
The oxen shook it; for they stumbled. 1 Chronicles 13:9. 1 Chronicles 13:9; he seems to have had two names; or it was a place that had two names, as say the Jews (h); according to a tradition of theirs (i), Chidon is the name of the place where it was said to Joshua, stretch out the spear or shield in thine hand towards Ai, Joshua 8:18; so indeed the word signifies, nor was it unusual to stretch out the shield as a signal on occasion. Thus Aeneas lifted up his shield in his left hand, as a token to his Trojans that he was come to relieve them (k): where this threshingfloor was is not said; some say (l) it was the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite; it could not be far from Jerusalem, since Baalejudah or Kirjathjearim was but about a mile from it, according to Bunting (m), from whence they fetched the ark:
Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; to keep it from falling: the reason was:
for the oxen shook it; the same word is used in 1 Chronicles 13:9; and there it is rendered, "for the oxen stumbled"; and by their stumbling the cart was shaken, and the ark in it, and in danger of falling, as Uzzah thought: or "the oxen shook", for the word "it" is a supplement; they shook as if their members were plucking asunder and parting, as Kimchi expresses it, because of the holiness of the ark; as if they were sensible it was wrong for them to draw it, when it ought to have been carried on the shoulders of Levites; and by this way, as well as by the death of Uzzah the error committed was pointed out: but others render it, "for the oxen stuck in the clay" (n), and could not go on; which Uzzah observing, and fearing that in their struggle to get out the cart should be overturned, or that the procession would be retarded too much, took hold of the ark to take it out, and carry it the remainder of the way, it not being far from Jerusalem.
(h) T. Bab Sotah, fol. 35. 2.((i) Hieron. Trad. Heb. in lib. Paralipom. fol. 83. G. (k) Virgil. Aeneid. 10. ver. 261, 262. Vid. Diodor. Sic. l. 20. p. 787. (l) Gloss. in T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 35. 3.((m) Travels, &c. p. 138. (n) "nam luto haeserunt boves", Noldius, p. 396. No. 1343. so Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 37. col. 374. ex Arabica Lingua.And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. Nachon’s threshingfloor] There is nothing to shew where this place was. It is called in 1 Chronicles 13:9, the threshingfloor of Chidon. It may have been known by both names, but more probably one of the two forms is due to corruption of the text.
for the oxen shook it] This is the most probable explanation of an obscure word. The Ark seemed to be on the point of falling from the cart, owing to some sudden start or stumble of the oxen, or the roughness of the road.Verse 6. - Nachon's threshing floor. In the parallel place (1 Chronicles 13:9) we find "the threshing floor of Chidon," and "Chidon" is proved to have been a proper name by the feebleness of the attempts made to find for it a meaning. We therefore gather that "Nachou" is also a proper name, but otherwise we should certainly have translated it "a fixed threshing floor." The people did indeed thresh or trample out their corn often on summer threshing floors (Daniel 2:35), that is, on fitting spots in the fields themselves. But as a large quantity of earth was sure in this cash to be mixed with the corn, they preferred to use places with solid floors or pavements, which lasted for many generations, and often became well-known spots (Genesis 50:10). Even if "Nachon" be a proper name, this would be a permanent floor, paved with stones, the approaches to which would be worn and made rough by the tracks of the carts bringing the corn. Here the oxen shook it; Hebrew, stumbled, and so the Revised Version. Nothing is said of the ark being in danger. Uzzah's act was one of precaution. The ground was rough, the oxen stumbled, and he put forth his hand to hold the ark till the cart had reached level ground. If the threshing floor was formed in the natural rock, those who have been in Spain, and seen how the tracks in the Pyrenees are worn by the native carts into deep ruts in the solid stone, can well understand that the neighbourhood of this much-frequented spot would need very careful driving. Joshua 18:24); so that it is quite unsuitable here. But that is not the case with Gibeon, the present el Jib, on the north-west of Jerusalem (see at Joshua 9:3); for this was on the way to Gezer, which was four Roman miles to the north of Amws, and is probably to be sought for on the site of the present el Kubab (see at Joshua 10:33).
(Note: There is no force in the objection brought by Bertheau against this view, viz., that "it is a priori improbable that the Philistines who were fighting against David and his forces, whose base of operations was Jerusalem, should have taken possession of the whole line from Gibeon to Gezer," as the improbability is by no means apparent, and has not been pointed out by Bertheau, whilst the assumption that Jerusalem was David's base of operations has no foundation whatever. Moreover, Bertheau's opinion, that Geba was the same as Gibeah in the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:57), is decidedly erroneous: for this Gibeah is not to be identified with the present village of Jeba on the south side of the Wady Musurr, half-way between Shocoh and Jerusalem, but was situated towards the desert of Judah (see at Joshua 15:57); and besides, it is impossible to see how the Philistines, who had invaded the plain of Rephaim, could have been beaten from this Gibeah as far as to Gezer.)
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