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Lest You Die
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Lest You Die
Now What
The Unusual Oath
Be Still

"The (Levites from the family of Kehat) shall not come to see the holy (articles of the Tabernacle) being inserted (into their coverings for travel), less they will die."  Numbers 4:20
 
All the Levites had tasks, but only the Priests (Aaron and his sons) were allowed to insert the holiest objects into their covers - which the rest of the Levites were forbidden to witness 'less they shall die'. What may be learnt from this prohibition?
 
The only recorded case where a death took place on similar lines is recorded in the Book of Samuel, when the Holy Ark was transferred from the house of Abinadab in Givah to Jerusalem. What should have been a happy occasion was marred by tragedy. Uzzah and his two younger sons, drove the cart on which the Ark was placed, while David and the people followed with music and dancing. But when the oxen leading the cart stumbled, Uzzah touched the Ark to steady it and he died instantly, at the Hand of Yahveh. (II Samuel 6:6-7)
 
Various reasons are given for this very harsh penalty. One is that it was transferred in the manner not prescribed by the Torah. The Ark was to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites, (Numbers 7:9) not on a wagon. However, another reason may be suggested, pointing to the commandment of 'not coming to see the holy articles being inserted.' Earlier on, the Book of Samuel relates the events of the Ark being taken into battle during the days of Eli, and its being captured by the Philistines. After its return, the Ark was 'brought to the house of Abinadab in Givah. They appointed his son Elazar to look after the Ark of Yahveh. (I Samuel 7:1) This 'looking after' meant 'to take care that no one would look at it'. The Ark was the place where the Divine Presence dwelet: "I (Yahveh) will meet you there and speak to you from above the cover of the Ark, between the two Cherubim, all that I will command you regarding the Israelites."  Exodus 25:22  
 
Aaron, the High Priest and his successors, knew the Ark within the Holy of Holies at first hand - entering there once a year on Yom Kippur. Thus the act of preparing it for transport would not degrade the Divine Presence in their eyes. But the area of the Holy of Holies was non-accessible to all other people. All they knew was that Yahveh’s Divine Presence was most powerful in that place, more powerful than high power electricity ~ that instantly kills all that touched it. That’s why Uzzah, who got too close, died on the spot.