But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, quarrels and fights about the Torah; because they are worthless and futile. Titus 3:9

Beware of wild claims

I recently listened to a radio interview with somebody talking about the Ark of the Covenant being a huge electrical capacitor that killed Uzah because he touched it. I had heard the capacitor theory before and was not comfortable with it then, having trained in Electrical Engineering.

The Chastisement of Uzzah by James Tissot - Wikipedia

I fear stories and claims such as this discredit those who associate with them because they are so fanciful and pseudo scientific.

What follows is rather nerdy perhaps, but I am concerned about making wild claims that can easily be disproved.

I have calculated the capacitance of the Ark from the dimensions in the Complete Jewish Bible. (You may wish to get someone else to check)

The Ark was (is?) 3.75 feet long x 2.5 feet wide x 2.5 feet high

Taking the surface area of six the wood panels overlaid on both sides with gold, the area comes to 47.2 square feet - 4.45 square metres

I have assumed the thickness of the wood to be 1 inch - 0.025 Metres

(thinner would increase the capacitance but make the ark flimsy and less capable of holding a high voltage charge)

The formula for calculating the capacitance can be found at http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/pplate.html

C = dielectric constant x Epsilon zero x Area, divided by separation, where the dielectric constant for dry wood may be (best case) 2.9 and Epsilon zero is 8.854 x ten to the power -12

So the calculation for Capacitance is C = 2.9 x 8.854 x ten to the power of -12 x 4.5 Metres squared, all divided by 0.025 metres

C = 4570 x ten to the power of -12

C = 0.0046 Microfarads - that's not a lot.

This assumes that Bezalel did not gild the top edge of the ark or the outer border of the underside of the ark cover. Doing that would short circuit the inside and outside, reducing the capacitance to zero. But the underside of the cover would have to be connected to the inside of the ark and the top of the cover to the outside of the ark.

Thus, if you brought one wire from the inside of the ark and another from the outside, you would have a 0.005 microfarad capacitor.

The charge held by such a capacitor equals Capacitance x the voltage to which it is charged.

The voltage will be limited to the voltage at which the part of the wood with lowest resistance breaks down and conducts current (probably catching fire) or any nails or metal fixings.

So although the Ark is quite a big box it is nothing like the type of capacitor I used to see in the EHT supplies of radio transmitters. They were filled with many parallel plates, separated with a specially chosen dielectric that had a high dielectric constant and electrical resistance.

Then there is the fact that the Ark / capacitor would hold its charge between the inside and the outside surfaces. For the unfortunate Uzah to be electrocuted by the charge stored in the Ark capacitor when he touched the outside, his feet would have to make an electrical connection with the inside of the Ark/capacitor. Even if there was a cable trailing along the ground from the inside of the Ark, the dry and dusty ground would not provide a path for the current.

(One might assume the Levites who carried the Ark would be in greater danger )

The speaker was speculating that there was some mystical force active in Jerusalem that charged up the Ark / capacitor. But the ark was coming back from the land of the Philistines, where its charge would have leaked away, by the time poor Uzah got fried.

Surely it is much easier to believe the plain sense of the text;

But Adonai's anger blazed up against `Uzah, and God struck him down on the spot for his offense, so that he died there by the ark of God.

 

Repeating inaccurate stories

I have had to correct false stories and quotes derived from other internet web sources. Beware of this trap by checking for yourself and/or consulting www.snopes.com to see if they have investigated it.

For example - - www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/marcopoloislam - - - www.snopes.com/politics/religion/biblechange

 

And futile speculation

Discussion of the Nephilim /N'filim (Giants) appear to offer no edification; only to cause arguments.

 

Posted 08/02/15

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