David Takes a Census
1Once again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the Lord told him.
2So the king said to Joab and the commanders*24:2 As in Greek version (see also 24:4 and 1 Chr 21:2); Hebrew reads Joab the commander. of the army, “Take a census of all the tribes of Israel—from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south—so I may know how many people there are.”
3But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God let you live to see a hundred times as many people as there are now! But why, my lord the king, do you want to do this?”
4But the king insisted that they take the census, so Joab and the commanders of the army went out to count the people of Israel. 5First they crossed the Jordan and camped at Aroer, south of the town in the valley, in the direction of Gad. Then they went on to Jazer, 6then to Gilead in the land of Tahtim-hodshi*24:6 Greek version reads to Gilead and to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites. and to Dan-jaan and around to Sidon. 7Then they came to the fortress of Tyre, and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went south to Judah*24:7 Or they went to the Negev of Judah. as far as Beersheba.
8Having gone through the entire land for nine months and twenty days, they returned to Jerusalem. 9Joab reported the number of people to the king. There were 800,000 capable warriors in Israel who could handle a sword, and 500,000 in Judah.
Judgment for David’s Sin
10But after he had taken the census, David’s conscience began to bother him. And he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt, Lord, for doing this foolish thing.”
11The next morning the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, who was David’s seer. This was the message: 12“Go and say to David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will give you three choices. Choose one of these punishments, and I will inflict it on you.’”
13So Gad came to David and asked him, “Will you choose three*24:13 As in Greek version (see also 1 Chr 21:12); Hebrew reads seven. years of famine throughout your land, three months of fleeing from your enemies, or three days of severe plague throughout your land? Think this over and decide what answer I should give the Lord who sent me.”
14“I’m in a desperate situation!” David replied to Gad. “But let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great. Do not let me fall into human hands.”
15So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel that morning, and it lasted for three days.*24:15 Hebrew for the designated time. A total of 70,000 people died throughout the nation, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south. 16But as the angel was preparing to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented and said to the death angel, “Stop! That is enough!” At that moment the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
17When David saw the angel, he said to the Lord, “I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are as innocent as sheep—what have they done? Let your anger fall against me and my family.”
David Builds an Altar
18That day Gad came 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 to do what the Lord had commanded him. 20When Araunah saw the king and his men coming toward him, he came and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 21“Why have you come, my lord the king?” Araunah asked.
David replied, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.”
22“Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. 23I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.”
24But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver*24:24 Hebrew 50 shekels of silver, about 20 ounces or 570 grams in weight. for the threshing floor and the oxen.
25David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.