OopsBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
This chapter discusses David’s first, abortive attempt to return the Ark to Jerusalem, parallel to the account found in II Samuel chapter 6.
David consulted with the leaders of the Tribes about his plan to return the Ark to Jerusalem. He suggested gathering the nation in order to return the Ark to Jerusalem, a course of action that had not been pursued during the reign of Saul. Everyone agreed, so the Jews were gathered from far and wide for the occasion. David led the people to Kiryas Y’arim, where the Ark had resided since it was returned by the Philistines, who had captured it in battle (way back in I Samuel chapter 4).
The Ark was loaded onto a new wagon, which was a mistake, as the Ark was meant to be carried. (“Rashi” suggests that perhaps David thought it was all right to use a wagon since the Philistines had done so when they returned the Ark.) The people danced and sang before G-d. When they passed a certain threshing floor, the wagon shook and Uzza, one of the wagoneers, reached out to steady the Ark. The Ark must not be touched, only carried by its poles, so Uzza died on the spot. This put quite a damper on the celebration. David felt personally responsible and he decided to leave the Ark in the house of a man named Oveid Edom. The Ark remained there for three months, during which time Oveid Edom thrived because of it.