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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Elation, The King, Two Nuun's and The Ark of The Covenant

A good friend and refined Torah scholar reflected on King David's aborted attempted to bring the Ark of The Holy Covenant to The City of David after it had been shunned by the Philistines who had previously captured it. Immediately before David, the state of the nation was apparent because the tribes had failed to consolidate their power to protect their nations most holy object.  


David was anointed king in Hebron in the Hebrew year 2884 considered to be the midpoint of Jewish history and the year Prophet Samuel passed away. Seven years later he entered the city that was to become known as the City of David where he consolidated power, including by returning the Ark of The Holy Covenant to its people. King David was elated by the prospect that the Ark would finally be settled in its permanent and eternal place. However, the elation was short lived because the poles, once used to carry the Ark were inadvertently removed when the Ark was placed onto an Ox drawn wagon. During the journey the Ark jolted with the wagons movement and tragedy struck when Uzza touched the Ark and died. The ominous sign halted immediate attempts to move it and it was housed on a farm of a prominent family outside of Jerusalem till another attempt could be mustered.


Following the first attempt, King David motivated national leaders to participate in moving the Ark to its temporary location in the City of David. He officially re-appointed the tribal priesthood who had retained their family lineage through Moses brother High Priest Aharon. Their job was to re-insert the poles, to lift the Ark and carry it back, on their shoulders up the mountains surrounding Jerusalem to the City of David. The mission was successfully accomplished and the Ark finally rested in a temporary dwelling the King had erected for it.


After these events, King David proceeded to cement political and supply agreements to construct his palace, but it bothered him that he would live in a permanent dwelling while the Ark rested in a tent. The Prophet Nathan advised him; not he, but his son would be the one to build the temple as a permanent dwelling for the Ark. Intent on facilitating the process and his son, the King did everything in his power to prepare the Divine decree. This included the King locating the altar, the ultimate requirement, according to Jewish law for identifying the precise relative position for the Ark of the Covenant to finally rest. During approximately 37 years of King David’s reign the Ark rested at the City of David and served people as one of the nation’s principal places of worship.


Toward the end of the King’s reign, he desperately struggled, spiritually and politically to locate the altar. He had experienced many difficulties including his controversial marriage to Bathsheba and his oldest son Absalom attempting a coup d'etat that forced the King to temporarily leave his City with the Ark. Finally he ordered an ill fated census of the nation that was directly attributed to the death of more than 70,000 people. But, the national pandemonium also brought opportunity and with it the King momentarily unified the disparate nation by his public display of soul searching and personal repentance. During these whirlwind events he bought the crest of the mountain, above the City of David, from the Jeubusite King on which he built an altar and offered personal sacrifices. The public took favor and the site was declared as the national location for the future temple altar to be located. The King was then able to complete the temple plans and progress the construction of its foundation including the preparation of materials, making it all but ready for his son Solomon to construct.


When the King first attempted to move the Ark to the City of David, he was impassioned. Elated by the prospect that the Ark was going to finally rest, he quashed the legally prescribed requirement to maintain the attachment of the poles to the Ark. With the building of the permanent location so close to being achieved, he believed the messianic era, the permanent temple and peace in the world would prevail during his reign, but it wasn’t to be. Similarly Moses had become elated, on the nation’s first journey after receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai he began in earnest marching toward Israel, believing he would enter the land, bring the nation Israel to settle and build a permanent temple for the Ark. However, it wasn’t to be, that brief, painful moment for Moses was recorded for posterity. Written in 85 letters, placed between two backward letter Nuuns, isolated it separates Torah’s five traditional books into seven with the words of Moses; “Arise Hashem and disperse Your enemies and those that hate You shall flee from before You.” And when it came to rest he would say: “Return Hashem, the myriads of the thousands of Yisrael.” (10:35-36)”.


The end point of Israel’s history, the year 5768 (2008) has already marked the nations redemptive return. Now the moment awaits for Israel to return, for the world to mature, for the messianic era to be recognized and ultimately for the Ark to finally rest in the permanent holy temple in Jerusalem.