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Shemini Haftorah in a Nutshell

Shemini Haftorah in a Nutshell


II Samuel 6:1-19.

This week's haftorah mentions how Uzzah was struck dead when he disrespectfully touched the Ark of the Covenant; reminiscent of Nadab and Abihu's death described in this week's Torah reading.

The Holy Ark had been in storage in the house of Avinadav for many years, ever since the destruction of the Tabernacle in Shiloh. Recently crowned King David decided to move the Ark to the new capital, Jerusalem. He had the Ark placed on a cart and it was transported amidst singing and dancing. When the procession reached Goren Nachon, the oxen misstepped and Uzzah, Avinadav's son, took hold of the Ark to steady it—whereupon he was instantly killed.1 David was devastated, and he temporarily placed the Ark in the home of Oved-edom the Edomite, where it remained for three months.

"And it was told to King David saying: 'G‑d has blessed the house of Oved-edom, and all that belongs to him, because of the Ark of G‑d.' And David went and brought up the ark of G‑d from the house of Oved-edom into the City of David with joy." The Ark was brought up to the city of David with great singing and dancing. David then blessed and distributed presents to all the assembled Israelites.


Uzzah forgot that the Ark "carried its carriers." When the Levites would "carry" the Ark, they would be lifted in the air and were literally carried by the Ark. If it carried its carriers, it could certainly carry itself!

This is a synopsis of the Haftorah that is read in Chabad synagogues. Other communities could possibly read more, less, or a different section of the Prophets altogether. Additionally, specific calendrical conditions can cause another Haftorah to be read instead of this one.
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Anonymous April 1, 2016

HaShem is always to be honored Reply

Carla Netherlands April 6, 2013

Shemeni Haftorah Thank you for your comments. I'm learning from this is not to jump to conclusions.
It looks cruel, Uzzah only wants to support and is struck dead. To see it, not as a punishment, but as a natural cause&effect situation, I come to quite a different conclusion. It is a reminder not to judge what you see, because things are often not what they seem. Reply

Jennifer Oklahoma March 30, 2013

God didn't strike him dead because he touched it. The nature of the ark is that it couldn't be touched. The carriers didn't touch the ark either, they touched wooden poles. It is more like a hot stove. You are warned what will happen if you touch it. Your mom doesn't hurt you because you touch it, the stove hurts you because it is hot. Reply

Neil Bridgeport, CT March 24, 2013

Innocent victim Perhaps that is the point. Our knowledge of matters must be thorough to the extent of reflexive actions springing from good intentions. Karl Marx must have been concerned with social justice. Unfortunately he did not realize the consequences of his writings. Knowledge of divine law and steadfast obedience to it is a first protection. Reply

Anonymous Atlanta, GA April 15, 2012

Shemeni Haftorah Could it be that only the Levites could carry the ark and Uzzah was not of that tribe Reply

Mr. rodger slininger via April 11, 2012

Carriers In what scripture is the fact the carriers were carried by the Ark? Reply

betzelel galut oklahoma city, ok April 10, 2010

the ark i believe that there is something scientific to this. the ark itself seems to act as a "tesla coil" from the descriptions of it in the Torah. it sounds like it had the ability to pick up electricity from the environment surrounding it. so when he touched it, it probably grounded the electricity and killed him. this does not negate the holiness of the ark, but i think re-inforces the idea that G-d will be sanctified by those that draw near to him. Reply

Anonymous New York City, NY April 8, 2010

Shemeni Haftorah I do not understand why Uzzah, with good intentions was killed? This explanation doesn't satisfy me, though the footnote describing the Levites as being lifted into the air - the Ark "carried its carriers" is very beautiful. Reply

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