David’s Military Census
1The Lord’s anger burned against Israel again, and he stirred up David against them to say: “Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.”#1Ch 21:1-28
2So the king said to Joab, the commander of his army, “Go through all the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba and register the troops so I can know their number.”#Nm 1:2-3; 1Sm 13:15
3Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times more than they are#Dt 1:11 — while my lord the king looks on! But why does my lord the king want to do this?”
4Yet the king’s order prevailed over Joab and the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army left the king’s presence to register the troops of Israel.
5They crossed the Jordan and camped in Aroer,#Dt 2:36; Jos 13:16,19 south of the town in the middle of the valley, and then proceeded toward Gad and Jazer. 6They went to Gilead and to the land of the Hittites#24:6 LXX; MT reads of Tahtim-hodshi; Hb obscure and continued on to Dan-jaan and around to Sidon. 7They went to the fortress of Tyre and all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites. Afterward, they went to the Negev of Judah at Beer-sheba.
8When they had gone through the whole land, they returned to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. 9Joab gave the king the total of the registration of the troops. There were eight hundred thousand valiant armed men#24:9 Lit men of valor drawing the sword from Israel and five hundred thousand men from Judah.#Nm 1:45-46
10David’s conscience troubled him#1Sm 24:5 after he had taken a census of the troops. He said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I’ve done. Now, Lord, because I’ve been very foolish,#Nm 12:9-12; 1Sm 13:13 please take away your servant’s guilt.”
11When David got up in the morning, the word of the Lord had come to the prophet Gad,#1Sm 22:5 David’s seer:#1Sm 9:9 12“Go and say to David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am offering you three choices. Choose one of them, and I will do it to you.’”
13So Gad went to David, told him the choices, and asked him, “Do you want three#24:13 LXX; MT reads seven; 1Ch 21:12 years of famine to come on your land, to flee from your foes three months while they pursue you, or to have a plague in your land three days? Now, consider carefully#24:13 Lit Now, know and see what answer I should take back to the one who sent me.”
14David answered Gad, “I have great anxiety. Please, let us fall into the Lord’s hands because his mercies are great,#Ps 103:8-18; 119:156 but don’t let me fall into human hands.”
15So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the appointed time, and from Dan to Beer-sheba seventy thousand men died. 16Then the angel extended his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it,#2Kg 19:35 but the Lord relented concerning the destruction#Ex 32:14; Am 7:3-6 and said to the angel who was destroying#1Co 10:10 the people, “Enough, withdraw your hand now!” The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing floor of Araunah#24:16 = Ornan in 1Ch 21:15-28; 2Ch 3:1 the Jebusite.#2Ch 3:1
17When David saw the angel striking the people, he said to the Lord, “Look, I am the one who has sinned; I am the one#24:17 LXX reads shepherd who has done wrong. But these sheep, what have they done? Please, let your hand be against me and my father’s family.”
18Gad came to David that day and said to him, “Go up and set up an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19David went up in obedience to Gad’s command, just as the Lord had commanded. 20Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants coming toward him, so he went out and paid homage to the king with his face to the ground.
21Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”
David replied, “To buy the threshing floor from you in order to build an altar to the Lord, so the plague on the people may be halted.”#Nm 16:44-50
22Araunah said to David, “My lord the king may take whatever he wants#24:22 Lit take what is good in his eyes and offer it. Here are the oxen for a burnt offering and the threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood.#1Sm 6:14; 1Kg 19:21 23Your Majesty, Araunah gives everything here to the king.” Then he said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.”
24The king answered Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for twenty ounces#24:24 Lit 50 shekels of silver. 25He built an altar to the Lord there and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord was receptive to prayer for the land,#2Sm 21:14 and the plague on Israel ended.