“In the morning, they found the idol on the floor with its head and hands cut off.”

Living in the holy land of Israel was never a picnic.

In the times of King Shaul and King David, there were constant wars.Time and again, the Pelishti people attacked the Jews, sometimes in small bands, often with large armies. Always there was war.

One time, the armies of K’naan overpowered the Jews. They swarmed into Shilo, and destroyed the Holy Temple, and carried off the holy Ark in triumph with the Ten Commandments in it.

But their rejoicing was short lived. First they placed the Ark in the temple of their god, Dagon. But the next morning, they found the idol on the floor, with its head and hands cut off!

Terrified, the people sent the Ark to a different city. But after a few days, everyone there was sick and dying.

From one place to another, wherever the Ark went, it brought only death and terror.

The Pelishti people realized that they had to get rid of it. But how? Their wise men advised placing it in a beautiful new wagon, together with gifts of gold and silver.The wagon would be hitched to two nursing mother cows.“Let us see where they pull it to,” they said scoffingly.

To their amazement, the cows ignored their hungry baby calves, and pulled the wagon right back to the Jews.

It was an open miracle. All Israel rejoiced. For the next 20 years, the Ark remained in the keeping of a righteous man named Avinadav.

In the meantime, David became King and fought a series of battles until he had totally defeated the Pelishti enemy.

“Now at last,” he thought,“there is peace. I can bring the Ark back where it belongs, to Yerushalayim.”

In his heart,Dovid yearned to build a permanent home for the Ark, a holy Temple like the Mishkon that Moshe had set up in the desert.

But bringing the Ark was not a simple thing.This was the Ark of G‑d, with the Tablets of the Law in it. Special honor and ceremony had to be arranged.Tens of thousands of Jews were invited to attend, and 150,000 judges.

The Ark would be brought in the same beautiful wagon that the Pelishti had made, to remind everyone of the great miracle that had taken place.

It was a fatal mistake.

A huge crowd accompanied the King to the home of Avinadav.The Aron was loaded onto the wagon pulled by prize oxen.

Lively music filled the air.Musicians played the harp, the flute, and drums.Tens of thousands of people followed the procession.

But it was all terribly wrong.

The festive spirit was out of place.The Aron is not allowed to be placed in a wagon. It must be carried on the shoulders of men from the Levite family of Kehos. And no one is allowed to gaze upon it.

As the procession passed by the farm of Aravna the Yevusi, where the Bais HaMikdosh would one day be built, the oxen suddenly lost their balance, and the wagon shook.

“Oh no!” cried Uzza, the son of Avinadav.“The Ark is falling!” Instinctively, he ran forward and stretched out his hand to support the Ark.

But it was a mistake.

No sooner did Uzza touch the holy Ark, than he suddenly fell lifeless to the ground!

Amazingly the Ark did not fall! It floated in the air, supported only by its own holiness.Whoever saw it was filled with fear and awe.

The procession could not continue.The death of Uzza put a halt to everything.

The Ark was instead taken to the home of a righteous person, called Oved Edom.

He treated the Ark with great respect and honor. Every day he would clean the room where it was kept, and light a candle before it, morning and evening.

For three months the Ark stayed there, and Oved Edom prospered unbelievably. His fields produced bumper crops, and all the women in his family, his wife and daughters-inlaw, gave birth to healthy sons.

Everyone could see that great blessing had come his way.

So once again, King David prepared to bring the ark to Yerushalayim. But this time the Ark was covered, as it was when the Jews had travelled in the desert. And Leviyim carried the Ark on their shoulders. Miraculously, they did not feel its great weight. It even seemed like the Ark was carrying them!

Shofars and trumpets were sounded to remind everyone how serious this was.

“With boundless joy the King danced and leaped before the Ark...”

The King did not dress in royal robes, but in simple white linen, like a Priest on Yom Kippur. On his head he wore tefillin, and in his arm he cradled a small Sefer Torah.

King David was unbelievably happy.The Ark was returning.The Tablets that G‑d Himself had given at Mt. Sinai had been taken way from the Jews! And now they were coming home!

With boundless joy the King danced before the Ark, leaping and cavorting with happiness.

Finally the Ark was brought into the city and placed in a special tent that had been prepared.Then the King blessed all the people, and presented every one with a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a flask of wine, so that they could all rejoice with their families.

But one person was not happy, It was Dovid’s wife,Michal, the daughter of King Shaul.When she saw her husband from the window, dancing and leaping in the street, she was very upset. She had never seen such behavior in her father’s house. It seemed to her lowly and shameful for a King to make such a spectacle of himself, dancing and cavorting in public.

When Dovid came home, she could not contain her feelings, and burst out with harsh words against him.

“How could you behave like that?” she said.“Have you no sense of dignity? You have brought shame on the kingship. And shame on us all.”

“No,” said Dovid.“That is not true. If I danced in public before the Ark of G‑d, it was only for the honor of Hashem. He is my great Master! Before Him I am nothing, less than a simple common person. For He is all my honor and my joy, and whatever I did is only for His sake.”

And so the Ark with the Tablets of the Law, and the Ten Commandments came to its resting place in Jerusalem.

Dovid then began making plans for the building of the Holy Temple, the Bais HaMikdosh, where the Ark would one day find its permanent home,may it be restored speedily in our days, Amen.