555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

108. What Was the Real Sin of Uzzah?

The sin of Uzzah (I Chron. 13 -9,10) and its sudden punishment have been a subject of much discussion. None but priests of Aaron's family (that is, of the priest's household) were permitted to touch the Ark. Uzzah was of a Levitical family. In the house of his father, Abinadab, the Ark had rested for twenty years. When Uzzah put forth his hand to prevent the Ark from falling he was smitten, Josephus explains, because he touched it, "not being a priest." Others, however, have taken the view that Uzzah's sin was not that of laying unordained and unconsecrated hands upon the Ark in a moment of excitement, but rather —if the real reason lay in this direction at all—because he recklessly and sacrilegiously appropriated to himself powers and privileges which he well knew belonged to higher persons. One commentator writes: "The whole proceeding was disorderly and contrary to the distinct and significant regulations of the law which prescribed that the Ark should be carried on the shoulders of the Levites (Ex. 25:14), whereas it was here conveyed in a cart drawn by oxen. Besides, it should have been covered. There seems to have been no priest in charge, and it would appear that the sacred vessel was brought forth naked to the common gaze." Uzzah as a Levite should have observed and remedied these things, but his growing familiarity with the mysteries of the Jewish religion had made him careless, and the punishment came upon him at a time when it would most effectually check the evils among the people. That it had this effect is evident from I Chron. 15 '2-I3-