When good guy made a mistake, like Uzzah trying to fix the ark, God killed him (see II Samuel 6:6).

However, Uzzah does not seem that evil. I mean, the ark stumbled and he just tried to help.

Then, this site says:

Thus, the Holy of Holies in the Second Temple was an empty chamber, without the Ark of the Covenant. When the Roman General Pompey conquered Jerusalem around 63 B.C., he demanded the privilege of entering the Holy of Holies. When he did, he came out saying that he could not understand what all the interest was about the sanctuary, when it was only an empty room.

Okay, I am confused here. This Pompey is an enemy of Hashem. He came to holies of holies where many high priests have died entering. Yet he doesn't die. So many Roman soldiers would desecrate the Temple and remove all its gold. Yet those soldiers didn't die. Why?

So many westerners blaspheme God on daily basis, God didn't strike any single one of them, and yet Uzzah who only tried to help was smitten.

Why is there this double standard?

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    Have you noticed that the Roman Empire isn't around any more? Oct 1, 2013 at 20:06
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    @Jim I'm afraid you heard wrong, then. Sorry.
    – Double AA
    Oct 2, 2013 at 15:45
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    You mean besides for Titus, right? Feb 14, 2014 at 23:05
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    Well to be fair the Roman empire fell but the Jews still exist. SO maybe in his own way he did do something. G-d may work at his own pace.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jul 24, 2015 at 19:34

4 Answers 4


I think this answers it. see Yetzer Enticement #19 of the Chovos Halevavos Gate 5 ch.5 regarding not considering yourself better than a seemingly bad person.

And even if his appearance is bad, it is possible that the reason is because he is ignorant of his obligations to the Creator. Therefore he is more pardonable than me, because my knowledge is greater than his. For the Creator claims from a man only according to the extent of his knowledge. Therefore, I am more deserving to be considered reprehensible for my shortcomings in the Creator's service, despite my knowledge compared, to this man whose shortcoming is due to his ignorance. He rebels against G-d due to ignorance and error, while I rebel against Him knowingly and deliberately.

  • So, the more I know about God, the more screwed I am if I sin? Guess I should know little about God then?
    – user4951
    Oct 2, 2013 at 10:47
  • Says who the Creator claims from a man only according to the extend of his knowledge? That means all heathen that worship Baal and all atheists are favorable on God's eyes then. I mean we honestly don't know if He exist.
    – user4951
    Oct 2, 2013 at 10:48
  • @JimThio that is enticement #20 of the evil inclination. quote: In your times of difficulty, he will bring to your mind the good life of the wicked, and the success of the nonbelievers, as written "The tents of bandits prosper, and those who provoke G-d are secure" (Iyov 12:6). He will say to you: "the difficulties you are going through are due to your having clinged to the service of G-d and His commandments...Tov Halevanon commentary: "if you did not take on yourself the way of chasidut (piety) and perishut (asceticism), G-d would not have been so meticulous with you"... see there
    – ray
    Oct 2, 2013 at 12:56

What happened with Uzzah was miraculous, but that is not the usual order of the world. Commentators discuss why Uzzah deserved to die (or was caused to die), but one cannot expect such events to always happen. And while that may have been more common then, in the times of the second Temple (and after) miracles no longer happened much. In fact, there was no ark in the second temple (it was "an empty room"), so the Romans could not have been harmed from touching it.

The question is really variant of the general issue of theodicy and why bad things happen to good people and vice versa. An opinion in the Talmud (Kiddushin 39b) states "שכר מצוה בהאי עלמא ליכא", "There isn't reward for Mitzvah in this World". This would mean one cannot expect deeds to be rewarded and punished in this world, which means the Romans may have done evil and not suffered here for it. However, the Talmud (Gittin 56b) does recount that after Titus destroyed the Second Temple a bug entered his head and gnawed away his brain for many years. So it seems to hold there can be punishment in this world for the wicked.

In short, Uzzah was exceptional case in different era who touched the ark itself. The Romans were standard case in later times with no Ark and may have been punished anyways.

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    I think you should have mentioned what the Gemara says about this, namely מי כמוך באלמים. If you don't, I might have to.
    – wfb
    Oct 2, 2013 at 20:49
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    [Especially as the same Gemara refers to miracles performed for Titus (Gittin 56b).] You may also wish to incorporate Yoma 69b ("זו היא גבורתו שכובש...")
    – wfb
    Oct 2, 2013 at 21:02
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    @wfb go ahead..
    – Ariel K
    Oct 2, 2013 at 21:22
  • Is this true, a bug entered Titus' head and gnawed his brain?
    – user4951
    Oct 3, 2013 at 2:21
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    @JimThio historians don't know the cause of death, so it could have been some kind of "bug" in his brain.
    – Ariel K
    Oct 4, 2013 at 13:59

I'm not going to address the double standard directly, but perhaps you can infer the subtle answer from this amazing gemara in Chagiga 13:b

״וָאֵרֶא וְהִנֵּה רוּחַ סְעָרָה בָּאָה מִן הַצָּפוֹן עָנָן גָּדוֹל וְאֵשׁ מִתְלַקַּחַת וְנוֹגַהּ לוֹ סָבִיב וּמִתּוֹכָהּ כְּעֵין הַחַשְׁמַל מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ״. לְהֵיכָן אֲזַל? אֲמַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר רַב: שֶׁהָלַךְ לִכְבּוֹשׁ אֶת כָּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ תַּחַת נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר הָרָשָׁע. וְכׇל כָּךְ לָמָּה? שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם: בְּיַד אוּמָּה שְׁפָלָה מָסַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת בָּנָיו. אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא: מִי גָּרַם לִי שֶׁאֶהְיֶה שַׁמָּשׁ לְעוֹבְדֵי פְסִילִים — עֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵן גָּרְמוּ לִי.

The verse states: “And I looked and, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, a great cloud, with a fire flashing up, so that a brightness was round about it; and out of its midst was like the color of electrum, out of the midst of the fire” (Ezekiel 1:4). The Gemara poses a question: Where did that wind go? Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: It went to conquer the entire world under the wicked Nebuchadnezzar. And why was all of this necessary? Why was it necessary that the entire world be subjected to his dominion? So that the nations of the world would not say: The Holy One, Blessed be He, delivered His children into the hands of a lowly nation. Since it was already decreed that the kingdom of Israel would fall into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, God made him into a great conqueror, so that Israel would not be ashamed of being defeated by him. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said with regard to this: Who caused Me to be an attendant to worshippers of molten images, forcing Me to wage their wars? It was the sins of Israel that led Me to do so.

God made Nebuchadnezzar, the first to destroy the temple, into a great warrior. But he did so only for the honour of Israel - do you see where this is going?

Another important gemara relevant to this question is Yoma 69b, where the gemara is wondering why Hashem's praises were reduced by prophets and how the Men of the Great Assembly got their name because they restored them. The reason given for having lost the praise "HaGibor", "The Mighty One" is because Hashem let the Temple get destroyed, so it appeared, chas veshalom, that He wasn't mighty. How did the Men of the Great Assembly restore it? By arguing for Hashem's Might from another angle:

אֲתוֹ אִינְהוּ וְאָמְרוּ: אַדְּרַבָּה, זוֹ הִיא (גְּבוּרַת) גְּבוּרָתוֹ: שֶׁכּוֹבֵשׁ אֶת יִצְרוֹ — שֶׁנּוֹתֵן אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם לָרְשָׁעִים

The members of the Great Assembly came and said: On the contrary, this is the might of His might, [i.e., this is the fullest expression of it], that He conquers His inclination in that He exercises patience toward the wicked.


God’s anger is flared by the gentile nations’ enslavement of His people, yet He expresses tremendous might by suppressing His anger and holding back from punishing them immediately. Therefore, it is still appropriate to refer to God as mighty.

In Hashem's infinite wisdom, delaying the punishment of the wicked in this case is the best course of action, but in order to do so, Hashem has to, so to speak, go against His nature.

The gemara continues and explains that part of the reason for this is in order to preserve the Jewish nation:

וְאֵלּוּ הֵן נוֹרְאוֹתָיו — שֶׁאִלְמָלֵא מוֹרָאוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הֵיאַךְ אוּמָּה אַחַת יְכוֹלָה לְהִתְקַיֵּים בֵּין הָאוּמּוֹת?

And these acts also express His awesomeness: Were it not for the awesomeness of the Holy One, Blessed be He, how could one people, survive among the nations?

This destruction somehow preserved us. The most common explanation is so that our sins can be forgiven, as sin is the true cause of suffering and death (e.g. Berachot 5a). There may be deeper explanations too.


The issue is not one of blasphemy but of proximity to holiness, which holiness was with the ark.

  • I believe that Art did answer the question. They were not killed because the chamber was empty. No ark, no death. At least that is how I understood the comment.
    – user7234
    Oct 18, 2014 at 3:12

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