1 a 24:1–25 Cp. 1 Chr. 21:1–27 . ONCE again the Israelites felt the LORD's anger, when he incited David against them and instructed him to take a census of Israel and Judah. 2The king commanded Joab and the officers of the army b 24:2 Joab…army: prob. rdg, cp. 1 Chr. 21:2 ; Heb. Joab the officer of the army. with him to go round all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and make a record of the people and report back the number to him. 3Joab answered, ‘Even if the LORD your God should increase the people a hundred-fold and your majesty should live to see it, what pleasure would that give your majesty?’ 4But Joab and the officers, being overruled by the king, left his presence in order to take the census.
5They crossed the Jordan and began at Aroer and the town at the wadi, proceeding towards Gad c 24:5 began…Gad: prob. rdg; Heb. encamped in Aroer on the right of the level land of the wadi Gad. and Jazer. 6They came to Gilead and to the land of the Hittites, to Kadesh d 24:6 of the … Kadesh: so Gk (Luc.); Heb. of Tahtim, Hodshi. , and then to Dan and Iyyon e Iyyon: prob. rdg, cp. 1 Kgs. 15:20 ; Heb. Yaan. and so round f round: so Gk; Heb. obscure. towards Sidon. 7They went as far as the walled city of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites, and then went on to the Negeb of Judah at Beersheba. 8They covered the whole country and arrived back at Jerusalem after nine months and twenty days. 9Joab reported to the king the numbers recorded: the number of able-bodied men, capable of bearing arms, was eight hundred thousand in Israel and five hundred thousand in Judah.
10After he had taken the census, David was overcome with remorse, and said to the LORD, ‘I have acted very wickedly: I pray you, LORD, remove your servant's guilt, for I have been very foolish.’ 11When he rose next morning, the command of the LORD had come to the prophet Gad, David's seer, 12to go and tell David: ‘This is the word of the LORD: I offer you three things; choose one and I shall bring it upon you.’ 13Gad came to David and reported this to him and said, ‘Is it to be three years g 24:13 three years: so Gk, cp. 1 Chr. 21:12 ; Heb. seven years. of famine in your land, or three months of flight with the enemy in close pursuit, or three days of pestilence in your land? Consider carefully now what answer I am to take back to him who sent me.’ 14David said to Gad, ‘This is a desperate plight I am in; let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; and let me not fall into the hands of men.’
15The LORD sent a pestilence throughout Israel from the morning till the end of the appointed time; from Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand of the people died. 16The angel stretched out his arm towards Jerusalem to destroy it; but the LORD repented of the evil and said to the angel who was destroying the people, ‘Enough! Stay your hand.’ At that moment the angel of the LORD was at the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
17When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, ‘It is I who have sinned, I who committed the wrong; but these poor sheep, what have they done? Let your hand fall on me and on my family.’
18Gad came to David that day and said, ‘Go and set up an altar to the LORD on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.’ 19David obeyed Gad's instructions, and went up as the LORD had commanded. 20When Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants coming towards him, he went out and, prostrating himself before the king, 21said, ‘Why has your majesty come to visit his servant?’ David answered, ‘To buy the threshing-floor from you so that I may build an altar to the LORD, and the plague which has attacked the people may be stopped.’ 22Araunah answered, ‘I beg your majesty to take it and sacrifice what you think fit. See, here are the oxen for the whole-offering, and the threshing-sledges and the ox-yokes for fuel.’ 23Araunah h 24:23 Araunah: prob. rdg; Heb. adds the king. gave it all to the king for his own use and said to him, ‘May the LORD your God accept you.’ 24But the king said to Araunah, ‘No, I shall buy it from you; I am not going to offer up to the LORD my God whole-offerings that have cost me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25He built an altar to the LORD there and offered whole-offerings and shared-offerings. Then the LORD yielded to his prayer for the land, and the plague in Israel stopped.
c 24:5 began…Gad: prob. rdg; Heb. encamped in Aroer on the right of the level land of the wadi Gad.
d 24:6 of the … Kadesh: so Gk (Luc.); Heb. of Tahtim, Hodshi.
f round: so Gk; Heb. obscure.
h 24:23 Araunah: prob. rdg; Heb. adds the king.