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Census and Plague

21 Then satan stood up against Israel and incited David to count Israel. So David told Joab and the leaders of the people, “Go, count Israel from Beersheba to Dan. Then bring me a report so I may know their number.”

But Joab said, “May Adonai multiply His people 100 times over! But my master the king, are they not all my master’s servants? Why does my master require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt to Israel?” Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and finally came back to Jerusalem.

Joab gave the number of the census of the people to David: in all Israel there were 1,100,000 sword-wielding men; Judah had 470,000 sword-wielding men. But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king’s word was detestable to Joab. But God was displeased with this thing and He struck Israel.

Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. But now, I entreat you, take away the guilt of Your servant for I have behaved very foolishly.”

Then Adonai spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying: 10 “Go and speak to David, saying, ‘Thus says Adonai, “I offer you three things; choose one of them and I will bring it upon you.”’”

11 So Gad went to David and said to him, “Thus says Adonai: ‘Select for yourself 12 either three years of famine, or three months being swept away from before your adversaries and the sword of your enemies overtaking you or three days of the sword of Adonai, pestilence in the land and the angel of Adonai ravaging throughout all the territories of Israel. Now, consider what I should reply to the one who sent me.’”

13 David said to Gad, “I am in a great anguish! Let me fall into the hand of Adonai for His compassion is very great. But do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

14 So Adonai sent a plague upon Israel, and 70,000 men of Israel fell. 15 And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but while he was doing so, Adonai saw and was grieved over the calamity. He said to the destroying angel, “Enough! Now withdraw your hand!”

The angel of Adonai was then standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 16 David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of Adonai standing between the earth and the heaven with a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces. 17 David said to God, “Was it not I who commanded to count the people? I alone am the one who sinned and behaved wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand, Adonai my God, be against me and against my father’s house, but do not let the plague be on Your people.”

18 So the angel of Adonai told Gad to instruct David that David should go up and build an altar to Adonai on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 19 So David went up by the word of Gad, which he spoke in the Name of Adonai. 20 While Ornan was threshing wheat, he turned and saw the angel. His four sons who were with him hid themselves. 21 When David came to Ornan, Ornan looked up and saw David. He went out from the threshing floor and bowed to David with his face to the ground.

22 Then David said to Ornan: “Give me the site of this threshing floor that I may build an altar to Adonai. Sell it to me for full price, so the plague on the people may be stopped.”

23 Then Ornan said to David, “Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever seems good in his eyes. Look, I will give the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this.”

24 King David said to Ornan, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. For I will not take for Adonai what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that cost me nothing.”

25 So David gave Ornan 600 shekels of gold by weight for the place. 26 David built there an altar to Adonai and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. He called on Adonai and He answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering. 27 Then Adonai commanded the angel, and he put his sword back in its sheath.

28 At that time, when David saw that Adonai had answered him at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he sacrificed there. 29 For the Tabernacle of Adonai, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were at that time in the high place at Gibeon. 30 But David could not go before it to seek God for he was afraid of the sword of the angel of Adonai.