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 '13 at 20:06
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    @Jim I'm afraid you heard wrong, then. Sorry.
    – Double AA
    Oct 2 '13 at 15:45
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    You mean besides for Titus, right? Feb 14 '14 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 '15 at 19:34

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 '13 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 '13 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 '13 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 '13 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 '13 at 21:02
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    @wfb go ahead..
    – Ariel K
    Oct 2 '13 at 21:22
  • Is this true, a bug entered Titus' head and gnawed his brain?
    – user4951
    Oct 3 '13 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 '13 at 13:59

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 '14 at 3:12

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