LECTURE 169: THE HISTORY OF THE USE OF THE ARK (V) THE LOCATION OF THE ARK AND ITS FUNCTION IN THE DAYS OF DAVID

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy

            In this shiur, we will continue our examination of the use of the ark from the days of David and on, as recorded in the book of Shmuel.

 

Transfer of the Ark from Kiryat-Ye'arim to the city of David

 

And David arose and went with all the people that were with him from Ba'alei-Yehuda to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who dwells upon the keruvim. And they set the ark of God upon a new cart and brought it out of the house of Avinadav who was in Giv'a, and Uzza and Achyo, the sons of Avinadav, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the hose of Avidnadav which was at Giv'a, accompanying the ark of God, and Achyo went before the ark. And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of cypress wood, on lyres, and on lutes, and on timbrels, and on rattles, and on cymbals. And when they came to Nakhon's threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzza, and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. And David was displeased, because the Lord had burst out against Uzza, and he called the name of the place Peretz-Uzza to this day. (II Shmuel 6:2-8)

 

            After conquering Jerusalem and establishing himself in the city, and with the intention of uniting together all of Israel, the first thing that David does is transfer the ark from Kiryat-Ye'arim to the city of David.[1] This act involves two important novelties.

 

First, the very daring in David's show of interest in and moving of the ark is of note. As has already been mentioned, it is reasonable to assume that one of the main reasons that the people of Israel did not involve themselves with the ark until this point was their fear of its deadly power (as it expressed itself in the battle at Even-ha-Ezer, when in possession of the Pelishtim, and after it arrived in Beit-Shemesh). All this notwithstanding, David dares to move the ark.

 

            Second, it is noteworthy that the ark is not moved to Giv'on, the site of the great bama, but rather to the city of David. It would seem that the natural place for the ark is the Mishkan; if the ark is already being moved from Kiryat-Ye'arim, it should have been returned to the Mishkan. David chooses not to bring it to the great bama in Giv'on, and thereby join the site of the resting of the Shekhina to the site of the Divine service, but rather to move the ark to the city of David. David's primary reason, in our opinion, is his desire and prayer that the ark should be located in his royal capital, in order to join his kingdom with the holy, with the hope that when the time is right the Temple would be built in Jerusalem. What we have here is a statement that a connection must be created between kingship and the Temple.[2]

 

The location of the account of the transfer of the ark in the book of Shmuel

 

            David first establishes his kingship and defeats the Pelishtim, and only then does he transfer the ark to Jerusalem. The kingdom is the foundation, and only after it is laid can the Temple be built. This is stated in the baraita (Sanhedrin 20b): after entering the land, Israel must first appoint a king, then destroy the seed of Amalek, and only afterwards build the Temple.

 

            It should be noted, however, that according to the book of Divrei Ha-Yamim, the order of the events was different. The building of the Temple in Jerusalem is the goal that will broaden the foundation of the kingdom and the victory over Israel's enemies. For this reason, David moves the ark to Jerusalem immediately after he is appointed king, out of a desire that Jerusalem should become the site of the future Temple, and through it his kingdom should be blessed and become more firmly established.

 

Tehilim 29 – a Psalm connected to the transfer of the ark?

 

            In his book, "Ha-Mikra Ve-Ha-Mesora" (p. 16 and on), R. Reuven Margaliyot suggests that psalm 29 in Tehillim – "A psalm of David. Ascribe to the Lord, O you mighty" – was uttered at the time that the ark was transferred to the city of Jerusalem.

 

            R. Margaliyot bases his argument on the repeated use of the word "glory" in the psalm[3] and on the parallels between it and psalm 24, which Chazal (Shabbat 30a) connect to the ark's entry into the Holy of Holies.[4]  He also suggests that the heading of the psalm according to the Septuagint – "When the tent moves forward" – alludes to the tent that David pitched for the ark in the city of David.[5] The psalm may express the desire to honor God by moving the ark and recognizing its power and strength. These reveal themselves in the world in different ways, but only "in His Temple, everyone speaks of His glory" and His kingdom becomes manifest in the world. Only when the ark reaches its final place of rest does the blessing of peace rest upon Israel.

 

The sin connected to the carrying of the ark and its repair

 

            What was the sin connected to the carrying of the ark when it was being transferred to the city of David? There seems to be an essential difference between transporting the ark on a cart and carrying it on one's shoulders. The cart's driver directs it, leads it, and in a certain sense controls it. In contrast, when the ark is carried, its bearers are in a certain sense subjugated to it.

 

            David largely repaired this sin already at the second stage of its transfer by consecrating the Levites, carrying the ark on the shoulders, offering sacrifices and involving the entire nation:

 

And the ark of the Lord continued in the house of Oved-Edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Oved-Edom, and all his household. And it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Oved-Edom and all that he has because of the Ark of God.” So David went out and brought up the ark of God from house of Oved-Edom into the city of David with joy. And when they that bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. And David leaped about before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen efod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the shofar. (II Shmuel 6:11-15)

 

            It seems to me, however, that the true and full repair of the sin took place at the time of Avshalom's revolt.

 

            When David leaves Jerusalem in order not to confront Avshalom in the city, he decides to leave the ark of God in Jerusalem with Avshalom. Despites the simple argument of Tzadok the priest, who wishes to take it with him, and despite the great collective benefit that could be reaped from having the ark with the exiled king, David decides to leave it in Jerusalem. In this way, he gives clear expression to the idea that it is not the ark that follows the king – a position that he himself had adopted when he moved the ark from Kiryat-Ye'arim to Jerusalem – but rather the king follows the ark. Therefore, if Jerusalem was chosen as the royal city connected to the Temple, the place of the ark is in Jerusalem, even if the rebellious Avshalom will now benefit from it. David expressed all this in his answer to Tzadok:

 

“If I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back, and show me both it, and His habitation: but if He thus says, I have no delight in you; behold, here am I; let Him do to me as seems good in His eyes.” (II Shmuel 15:25-26)

 

            It was only at this point that David internalized the full significance of his absolute dependence upon God and the dependence of his kingdom upon God's consent.

 

the true repair of Peretz Uzza – Ba'al Peratzim

 

            The order of the events in Divrei Ha-Yamim gives additional meaning to the timing of the battle fought against the Pelishtim between the two attempts to move the ark. It seems that the account of this battle, both through its wording and with its contents, presents a repair of the sin of Uzza. David says to all of Israel as follows:

 

And David said to all the congregation of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and that it be of the Lord our God, let us send abroad (nifretza)to our brethren everywhere, who are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites who are in their cities that have pasture lands, that they may gather themselves to us; and let us bring back the ark of our God to us.”[6] (I Divrei Ha-Yamim 13:2)

 

            It seems to me that this verse alludes to v. 11 in the story in Shemuel, which describes the blow with which God smote Uzza:

 

And David was vexed because the Lord had broken out (paratz peretz) upon Uzza: so that place is called Peretz–Uzza to this day.

 

            David's peritza (nifretza) involved enthusiastic action that led to a breach in the proper framework, and in corresponding fashion, God broke out (paratz peretz)against Uzza.

 

            The linguistic similarity is found again later in the context of the battle fought against the Pelishtim:

 

So they came up to Ba'al-Peratzim, and David smote them there. Then David said, “God has broken through (paratz) my enemies by my hand like a bursting flood of waters;” therefore, they called the name of that place Ba'al–Peratzim. (I Divrei Ha-Yamim 14:1)

 

            As opposed to his part in the moving of the ark, at Ba'al-Peratzim David limits himself in battle, and although it appears that he could have vanquished his enemy on his own, he waits for Divine action. As a result of this waiting, God breaks through his enemies by way of the hand of David like a bursting flood of waters. Without a doubt, the root p-r-tz serves as a guide word, and here too we are dealing with recompense that fits the action. David on his part desists from taking action in order that God's governance should reveal itself, and God on His part gives David victory over the Pelishtim.

 

            This victory at Ba'al-Peratzim is achieved in the wake of David's inquiry of God whether to go out in battle and God's answer in the affirmative. David inquires of God also in his second campaign against the Pelishtim:

 

So David inquired again of God, and God said to him, “Do not go up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them opposite the bakha trees. And let it be, when you shall hear a sound of marching in the tops of the bakha trees, and then you shall go out to battle; for God has gone out before you to smite the camp of the Pelishtim.” (I Divrei Ha-Yamim 14:14-15)

 

            Here, in the heat of the battle, we find the fullest repair of the sin at Peretz-Uzza. It is precisely in battle – a royal action, one that is generally dictated by purely human considerations – that David waits, desists from fighting, and subjects his royal desire in absolute fashion to God's decision.[7]

 

The meaning of the ark in the tent in the city of David

 

            Both in the book of Shmuel and in the book of Divrei Ha-Yamim, it is reported that David brings the ark to the city of David:

 

And they brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it. (II Shmuel 6:17)

 

And David made houses for himself in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent. (I Divrei Ha-Yamim 15:1)

 

            The verse in Divrei Ha-Yamim states explicitly that this is the place that David had prepared for the ark in the city of David.

 

            I wish to argue that from the moment that the ark was brought to the city of David until the building of the Temple in the days of Shlomo, the tent and the ark served as an important cultic center paralleling the great bama found in Giv'on. According to this, it is possible to understand the preparation mentioned in Divrei Ha-Yamim as the preparation of a sanctified site designated for the ark.

 

            In this context, the remark of the Gaon of Vilna concerning the preparation of the site is exceedingly interesting. According to him, preparation of the site involved the construction of a stone structure under a tent. This understanding attaches special importance to a sanctified place within the perimeters of the city of David, when at the same time the great bama was located in Giv'on. It is reminiscent of the reality of the Mishkan in Shilo, which consisted of a stone foundation that was covered with curtains.

 

            In addition, we read in Divrei Ha-Yamim:

 

And these are they whom David set over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after the ark had rest. And they ministered before the dwelling place of the Ohel Mo'ed with singing until Shlomo had built the house of the Lord in Jerusalem: and then they performed their office according to their order. (I Divrei Ha-Yamim 6:16-17)

 

            And later:

 

So he left there before the ark of the covenant of the Lord Asaf and his brethren, to minister before the ark continually, as every day's work required. (I Divrei Ha-Yamim 16:37)

 

            From here we see that a daily service involving the singing of the Levites was conducted before the ark. In light of this, it is reasonable to understand that the expression found in Tehillim (132:3), "I will not come into the tent of my house," refers to the tent that David pitched for the ark in the city of David.

 

            It is interesting that at the time of Avshalom's rebellion, when David decides to leave the ark in Jerusalem, he says to Tzadok as follows:


And the king said to Tzadok, “Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back, and show me both it, and His habitation.” (II Shmuel 15:25)

 

            The Radak explains there that the word navehu ("His habitation") refers to the house in which the ark was found.

 

            What clearly emerges from the various verses is that King David decided on his own, without inquiring at all of God and without any prophetic statement to this effect, that Jerusalem was to be the future site of the Temple. To this end, he brings the ark to Jerusalem, thereby joining the governmental capital city to the core of sanctity, the ark. He turns the tent containing the ark into a center for Divine service consisting of the daily singing of the Levites. This continues until the ark is brought to the house of God in the days of Shlomo.

 

            Another expression of this idea is found in II Divrei Ha-Yamim:

 

And Shlomo brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David to the house that he had built for her; for he said, “My wife shall not dwell in the house of David, king of Israel, because the places to which the ark of the Lord has come are holy.” (II Divrei Ha-Yamim 8:11)

 

            Scripture emphasizes the fact that the bringing of the ark to the city of David impacted upon the nature of the entire city, turning it into a holy place. If so, it is possible that bringing the ark to the city turned the city of David into a holy city and spiritual center.

 

The ark at the Battle fought against Amon

 

            The last time that the ark is mentioned in connection with a battle is at the battle fought against Amon:

 

And Uriya said to David, “The ark and Israel and Yehuda dwell in booths, and my lord Yoav and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” (II Shmuel 11:11)

 

            The Malbim writes:

 

Also that which our Sages of blessed memory have written (Eiruvin 63b) – “We have a tradition that as long as the ark and the Shekhina were not in their [proper] place, marital relations were forbidden” – does not apply here, according to what the Abravanel has written that this was not the ark containing the tablets, but rather an ark in which they deposited the efod and the Urim and Tumim; the ark and the king, which are most important, remained in their place. And he said, "My lord, Yoav," as if he were of greatest importance, and it is inappropriate to speak that way in the presence of the king, and therefore he became liable for the death penalty as a rebel.

 

            The Metzudot offers a similar explanation:

 

The ark in which were deposited the efod and the Urim and Tumim.

 

            It is interesting that these commentators chose to understand that we are not dealing here with the ordinary ark of the covenant, but rather with a different ark containing the efod and the Urim and Tumim.[8]

 

            R. Yeshaya of Trani suggests that the ark in this context is the one in which the broken tablets were deposited. This is only possible according to those who maintain that there were two arks, but not according to the view that there was only one ark. The fact that many commentators understand that we are not dealing here with the ark that was ordinarily found in the Mishkan, but rather with some other ark, stems perhaps from the understanding that in the wake of the incident involving the sons of Eli and the capture of the ark by the Pelishtim, they would have been very hesitant to take out the ark, and the reference must therefore be to some other ark.

 

The Location of the ark and its function in the days of Shlomo

 

Transport of the ark from the city of David to the house of God

 

            The practical significance of the building of the Temple was the reuniting of the ark and the great bama. The great bama in Giv'on and the ark in the city of David are both moved to the house of God on Mount Moriya. Following the completion of the building and the arrangement of the various vessels inside it, the ark is brought up from the city of David to Mount Moriya. The moving of the ark is followed by the dedication of the house of God in the month of Tishrei, as is described in the verses in the books of Melakhim and Divrei Ha-Yamim.

 

            According to the plain sense of the verses, the ark that had been in the city of David since the time that David had brought it there from Kiryat-Ye'arim was now brought from there to the house of God on Mount Moriya. According to Chazal, however, Shlomo built a new ark. Let us now try to understand this position.

 

Did Shlomo build an additional ark?

 

            The transport of the ark from the city of David to Mount Moriya and how it was brought into the house of God are described in detail in the book of I Melakhim:

 

Then Shlomo assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chiefs of the fathers of the children of Israel, to King Shlomo in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to King Shlomo at the feast in the month of Eitanim, which is the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. And they brought up the ark of the Lord, and the Ohel Mo'ed, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent,even those did the priests and the Levites bring up. AndKing Shlomo and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled to him were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numberedfor multitude. And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, into the sanctuary of the house, to the most holy place, under the wings of the keruvim. For the keruvim spread out their two wings over the place of the ark, and the keruvim covered the ark and its poles above. And they drew out the poles, so that the ends of the poles were seen from the holy place, before the sanctuary, though they were not seen outside, and there they are to this day. There was nothing in the ark save the two tablets of stone, which Moshe put there at Chorev, where the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel when they came out of the land of Egypt. And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. (I Melakhim 8:1-11)

 

            The ark of God was brought up by David from Kiryat-Ye'arim to the city of David after the conquest of Jerusalem, as is described in II Shmuel 6 and in I Divrei Ha-Yamim 13-15. From that time on, the ark rested in the city of David. At the same time, following the destruction of Shilo, the Mishkan/great bama, was erected in Nov, apparently by Shaul, and after its destruction at the hands of Shaul, the Mishkan/great bama was moved to Giv'on.

 

After he finishes building the house of God,[9]Shlomo takes the ark from the city of David and the vessels of the Mishkan from Giv'on and brings them into the Temple. According to the plain understanding of the verses, we are dealing with the ark that David had brought to the city of David, and no problem is encountered when the ark is brought into the Holy of Holies.

 

According to Chazal, however, Shlomo encountered difficulty when he tried to bring the ark into the Holy of Holies. The gemara states as follows:

 

For R. Yehuda said in the name of Rav: What is meant by: "Show me a token for good, that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed" (Tehillim 86:17)? David prayed before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe! Forgive me for that sin! He said to him: It is forgiven you. He said to Him: Show me a token in my lifetime. He said to him: In your lifetime, I will not make it known, but I will make it known in the lifetime of your son Shlomo. For when Shlomo built the Temple, he desired to take the ark into the Holy of Holies, whereupon the gates clave to each other. Shlomo uttered twenty-four prayers, yet he was not answered. He opened [his mouth] and exclaimed: "Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be you lifted up, you everlasting doors: And the King of glory shall come in" (Tehillim 24:7). They rushed upon him to swallow him up, crying: "Who is the king of glory"? He said to them: "The Lord, strong and mighty." Then he repeated: "Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you everlasting doors: and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah." Yet he was not answered. But as soon as he prayed: "O Lord God, turn not away the face of your anointed; remember the good deeds of David your servant" (II Divrei Ha-Yamim 6:42), he was immediately answered. In that hour, the faces of all David's enemies turned [black] like the bottom of a pot, and all Israel knew that the Holy One, blessed be He, had forgiven him that sin. (Shabbat 30a)

 

            First, it should be noted that it is difficult to find a Biblical foundation for this midrash of Chazal. Second, while this midrash teaches that Shlomo is unable to bring the ark into the Holy of Holies on his own, it does not explain why he is unable to do so. To a certain degree, the ark succeeds in entering by virtue of the reference to the good deeds of Shlomo's father, David. The midrash draws a connection between the ark's entry and the full pardon of David's sin and all of Israel's knowledge that God had forgiven David for that sin.

 

            What is not clear in this midrash is stated explicitly in another midrash. The midrash (Shemot Rabba 8:1 and Tanchuma Va'era) describes how Shlomo built a new ark and did not use the ark that, according to the plain sense of the verses, had been brought up from the city of David to the house of God:

 

"And it came to pass on the day when the Lord spoke… And the Lord said to Moshe, ‘See, I have made you a god to Pharaoh’" (Shemot 6:28-7:1). This is the meaning of the verse that says: "Lift up your heads, O you gates" (Tehillim 24:7). Shlomo uttered this verse when he brought the ark into the Holy of Holies. He made an ark of ten cubits. When he reached the entrance of the Temple, the entrance was ten cubits and the ark was ten cubits, and ten cubits cannot enter through [an opening of] ten cubits. Moreover, there were those who were carrying it. When he came to bring it in, he was unable to do so. Shlomo stood up and was ashamed, and did not know what to do. He began to pray before the Holy One, blessed be He. What did Shlomo do? Our Rabbis, of blessed memory, said: He went and brought David's coffin, and said: "O Lord God, turn not away the face of your anointed" (II Divrei Ha-Yamim 6:42). R. Berakhya said in the name of R. Chelbo: At that moment, David was revived, as David said: "O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit" (Tehillim 30:4). And Shlomo said: Master of the Universe, act for the merit of this one. As it is stated: "Remember the good deeds of David your servant" (II Divrei Ha-Yamim 6:42). He was immediately answered. What is written afterwards? "Now when Shlomo had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house" (II Divrei Ha-Yamim 7:1). And the holy spirit proclaimed: "So I praised the dead that are already dead more than the living that are yet alive" (Kohelet 4:2). Shlomo began to say: "Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be you lifted up, you everlasting doors: And the king of glory shall come in" (Tehilim 24:7). The gates said to him: "Who is the king of glory"? He said to them: "The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah." Once he said [this], they were at once appeased. Were it not for this, they would have tried to smash his head in order to kill him.

 

            The midrash relates that Shlomo built a new ark that was different than the ark made by Betzalel. There is, however, no hint in the actual verses that a new ark was built. According to the midrash, a new ark was built, the width of which was ten cubits, so that it could not enter the Holy of Holies, the entrance to which was also ten cubits. He then brought David's coffin, David was revived, and Shlomo prayed to God that He should act for the merit of David. The midrash explains why at first the gates remained closed and prevented the ark from entering.

 

            A question may be raised: Didn't Shlomo, the wisest of all men, know that a ten cubit ark cannot enter through an opening of ten cubits? And why was a new ark needed? What was missing from the original ark fashioned by Betzalel that lasted throughout the years of the Mishkan? It seems that Chazal were strongly critical of Shlomo, who at a certain point thought that he himself was the king of glory. Were it not for the fact that he retracted this position, the gates would have tried to crush his head.

 

            The ark is the vessel that most strongly represents the resting of the Shekhina. Replacing the ark with a new one built by Shlomo means that Shlomo saw himself as the king of glory. The fact that the opening was not big enough teaches that in such a situation, it is impossible to enter. The ark could enter only by virtue of the good deeds of David, who began his kingdom as a shepherd and therefore reflects the quality of humility needed for worldly kingship. With this quality, the ark in the end was able to enter the Holy of Holies, but Shlomo by himself was incapable of getting the ark into the Holy of Holies.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)

 



[1] We dealt with this issue at length in the framework of our shiurim on David. Here we will relate to the matter in brief in order to preserve continuity and present the full picutre.

[2] This idea is expressed in the gemara in Yoma 12a, according to which a strip of land jutted out from the tribal territory of Yehuda into the portion of Binyamin, and in Zevachim 53b, according to which the south-eastern corner of the altar did not have a foundation, thus teaching that also the tribe of Yehuda, the royal tribe, had a connection to the holy.

[3] A connection between the word kavod ("glory") and the ark is found in several places. The revelation of the Shekhina is called "glory" and the ark is the site of the resting of the Shekhina in the Mishkan. See Shemot 40:34: "And the glory of God filled the Mishkan." See also I Shmuel 4:21: "And she named the child I-Khavod, saying, ‘Honor is departed from Israel,’ because the ark was taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband."

[4] R. Margaliyot notes also the custom of reciting these two psalms when the Torah scroll is returned to the ark.

[5] His claim that the next psalm, Tehillim 30, refers to David's census accords with the chronological order: transfer of the Mishkan followed by the revelation fo the site of the Mikdash.

[6] The word nifretza is understood by the Rishonim in different ways: Let us be strong (Metzudat David); let us send out messengers in all directions (Radak); let us breach a fence that had been closed until now, no man seeking out God (Rashi).

[7] The midrash sees in this the difference between Shaul and David: "And similarly you find that when Shmuel went to anoint David, the ministering angels denounced him before the Holy One, blessed be He, saying: Master of the Universe, why did you remove the kingdom from Shaul and give it to David? He said to them: I will tell you the difference between Shaul and David. Shaul went and inquired of the Urim and Tumim. When he saw that the Pelishtim were coming upon him, he said to the priest: Withdraw your hand, and he did not wait until he finished speaking, as it is stated: ‘And it came to pass, while Shaul talked to the priest… and Shaul said to the priest, ‘Withdraw your hand’ (I Shmuel 14:19). But David, when he saw the Pelishtim coming upon him in Emek-Refa'im, he immediately inquired of the Urim and Tumim. As it is stated: ‘And the Pelisthtim came up yet again, and spread themselves in Emek-Refa'im. And when David inquired of the Lord, He said, ‘You shall not go up; but make a circuit behind them’ (II Shmuel 5:22-23). You do not have permission to strike at them, even if they are close to you, until you see the tops of the trees moving. As it is stated: ‘And let it be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the bakha trees, then you shall bestir yourself’ (ibid. v. 24), a term of cutting, as it is stated: ‘Seeing his days are determined’ (Iyov 14:5)… When the Pelishtim came, Israel saw them, and they were not even four cubits away from them. Israel said to David: Why are we standing [in place]? He said to them: I have already been commanded from heaven not to strike at them until we see the tops of the trees moving. If we strike at them immediately we will die, and if we don't strike at them, they will immediately kill us. And it is better that we die righteous and not die liable. Rather, I and you, let us raise our eyes to the Holy One, blessed be He. Immediately all the trees swayed, and immediately they struck at them, as it is stated: ‘And David did so, as the Lord had commanded him, and smote the Pelishtim’ (II Shmuel 5:25). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to the ministering angels: See the difference between David and Shaul. What caused David to be saved? The word of the Holy One, blessed be He, which he fulfilled and it shined for him. Therefore it says: ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet’ (Tehillim 119:105).” (Midrash Tehillim, ed. Buber, psalm 27). The words of the midrash complete what we said about the difference between Shaul and David and emphasize the qualities of inner strength, humility, and submission that are necessary in order to refrain from fighting in compliance with God's will, even when fighting is militarily possible.

[8] In a previous shiur, we mentioned in this connection the position of R. Yoel Bin-Nun.

[9] And he also finishes building the house of the king. We brought proofs for this in our shiur dealing with the period of Shelomo and the relationship between the house of the king and the house of God.