David Counts His Fighting Men
1The Lord was very angry with Israel. He stirred up David against them. He said, “Go! Count the men of Israel and Judah.”
2So the king spoke to Joab and the army commanders with him. He said, “Go all through the territories of the tribes of Israel. Go from the town of Dan all the way to Beersheba. Count the fighting men. Then I’ll know how many there are.”
3Joab replied to the king. He said, “King David, you are my master. May the Lord your God multiply the troops 100 times. And may you live to see it. But why would you want me to count the fighting men?”
4The king’s word had more authority than the word of Joab and the army commanders. That was true in spite of what Joab had said. So they left the king and went out to count the fighting men of Israel.
5They went across the Jordan River. They camped south of the town in the middle of the Arnon River valley near Aroer. Then they went through Gad and continued on to Jazer. 6They went to Gilead and the area of Tahtim Hodshi. They continued to Dan Jaan and on around toward Sidon. 7Then they went toward the fort of Tyre. They went to all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went on to Beersheba. It was in the Negev Desert of Judah.
8They finished going through the entire land. Then they came back to Jerusalem. They had been gone for nine months and 20 days.
9Joab reported to the king how many fighting men he had counted. In Israel there were 800,000 men who were able to handle a sword. In Judah there were 500,000.
10David felt sorry that he had counted the fighting men. So he said to the Lord, “I committed a great sin when I counted Judah and Israel’s men. Lord, I beg you to take away my guilt. I’ve done a very foolish thing.”
11Before David got up the next morning, a message from the Lord came to Gad the prophet. He was David’s seer. The message said, 12“Go and tell David, ‘The Lord says, “I could punish you in three different ways. Choose one of them for me to use against you.” ’ ”
13So Gad went to David. He said to him, “Take your choice. Do you want three years when there won’t be enough food in your land? Or do you want three months when you will run away from your enemies while they chase you? Or do you want three days when there will be a plague in your land? Think it over. Then take your pick. Tell me how to answer the one who sent me.”
14David said to Gad, “I’m suffering terribly. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord. His mercy is great. But don’t let me fall into human hands.”
15So the Lord sent a plague on Israel. It lasted from that morning until he decided to end it. From Dan all the way to Beersheba 70,000 people died. 16The angel reached his hand out to destroy Jerusalem. But the Lord stopped sending the plague. So he spoke to the angel who was making the people suffer. He said, “That is enough! Do not kill any more people.” The angel of the Lord was at Araunah’s threshing floor. Araunah was from the city of Jebus.
17David saw the angel who was striking down the people. David said to the Lord, “I’m the one who has sinned. I’m the one who has done what is wrong. I’m like a shepherd for these people. These people are like sheep. What have they done? Let your judgment be on me and my family.”
David Builds an Altar
18On that day Gad went to David. Gad said to him, “Go up to the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite. Build an altar there to honor the Lord.” 19So David went up and did it. He did what the Lord had commanded through Gad. 20Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming toward him. So he went out to welcome them. He bowed down to the king with his face toward the ground.
21Araunah said, “King David, you are my master. Why have you come to see me?”
“To buy your threshing floor,” David answered. “I want to build an altar there to honor the Lord. When I do, the plague on the people will be stopped.”
22Araunah said to David, “Take anything you wish. Offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering. Here are threshing sleds. And here are wooden collars from the necks of the oxen. Use all the wood to burn the offering. 23Your Majesty, I’ll give all of it to you.” Araunah continued, “And may the Lord your God accept you.”
24But the king replied to Araunah, “No. I want to pay you for it. I won’t sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that haven’t cost me anything.”
So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen. He paid 20 ounces of silver for them. 25David built an altar there to honor the Lord. He sacrificed burnt offerings and friendship offerings. Then the Lord answered David’s prayer and blessed the land. The plague on Israel was stopped.
David enrols the fighting men
1Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.’
2So the king said to Joab and the army commanders24:2 Septuagint (see also verse 4 and 1 Chron. 21:2); Hebrew Joab the army commander with him, ‘Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enrol the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.’
3But Joab replied to the king, ‘May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?’
4The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enrol the fighting men of Israel.
5After crossing the Jordan, they camped near Aroer, south of the town in the gorge, and then went through Gad and on to Jazer. 6They went to Gilead and the region of Tahtim Hodshi, and on to Dan Jaan and around towards Sidon. 7Then they went towards the fortress of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went on to Beersheba in the Negev of Judah.
8After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
9Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: in Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand.
10David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.’
11Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: 12‘Go and tell David, “This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.” ’
13So Gad went to David and said to him, ‘Shall there come on you three24:13 Septuagint (see also 1 Chron. 21:12); Hebrew seven years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.’
14David said to Gad, ‘I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.’
15So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. 16When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, ‘Enough! Withdraw your hand.’ The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
17When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned; I, the shepherd,24:17 Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint; Masoretic Text does not have the shepherd. have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.’
David builds an altar
18On that day Gad went to David and said to him, ‘Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.’ 19So David went up, as the Lord had commanded through Gad. 20When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming towards him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.
21Araunah said, ‘Why has my lord the king come to his servant?’
‘To buy your threshing-floor,’ David answered, ‘so that I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.’
22Araunah said to David, ‘Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing-sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23Your Majesty, Araunah24:23 Some Hebrew manuscripts and Septuagint; most Hebrew manuscripts King Araunah gives all this to the king.’ Araunah also said to him, ‘May the Lord your God accept you.’
24But the king replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’
So David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels24:24 That is, about 575 grams of silver for them. 25David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer on behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.