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David and the Census of the People

24 Again Yahweh was angry with Israel, and he[a] incited David against them, saying, “Go count Israel and Judah.” The king said to Joab, the commander of the army who was with him: “Please go about through all the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, and count the people that I may know the number of the people.” Then Joab said to the king, “May Yahweh your God increase the people a hundred times what they are[b] as the eyes of my lord the king are seeing. But my lord the king, why does he desire this thing?” But the word of the king prevailed over Joab and over the commanders of the army, so Joab and the commanders of the army went out from before the king to count the people of Israel. They crossed over the Jordan and camped at Aroer to the south of the city, which was in the middle of the wadi of Gad, and up to Jazer. Then they went to Gilead and to the land of Tahtim Hodshi. They came to Dan Jaan and around to Sidon and came to the fortress of Tyre and all the cities of the Hivites and the Canaanites. Then they went out to the Negev of Judah at Beersheba. They went about through all the land, and they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.

Then Joab gave the number of the counting of the people to the king. Israel was eight hundred thousand valiant warriors[c] wielding the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand. 10 The heart of David struck him after he had counted the people, and David said to Yahweh, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done! So then, O Yahweh, please forgive the guilt of your servant because I have acted very foolishly.” 11 When David got up in the morning, the word of Yahweh came to Gad the prophet, the seer of David, saying, 12 “Go and speak to David, ‘Thus says Yahweh, three things I am laying on you; choose for yourself one of them and I will do it to you.’” 13 Then Gad came to David, and he told him and said to him, “Shall seven years of famine in the land come to you? Or three months of your fleeing from your enemies while he is pursuing you? Or should there be three days of pestilence in your land? Now consider and decide what I must return to the one who sent me a word.” 14 Then David said to Gad, “I am greatly distressed. Please let us fall into the hand of Yahweh, because he is great in his compassion; but into the hand of man don’t let me fall.” 15 Then Yahweh sent a plague into Israel from the morning until the agreed time,[d] and from the people from Dan to Beersheba, seventy thousand men died.

16 When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, Yahweh regretted about the evil, and he said to the angel who brought destruction among the people, “Enough, now relax your hand.” Now the angel of Yahweh was at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 17 David spoke to Yahweh when he saw the angel destroying among the people, and he said, “Look, I have sinned and I have done wrong, but these sheep, what did they do? Please let your hand be against me and against the house of my father.” 18 Then Gad came to David on that same day and said to him, “Go up and erect an altar to Yahweh at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up according to the word of Gad, as Yahweh had commanded. 20 Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants coming over to him, so Araunah went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground. 21 Then Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy from you the threshing floor, to build an altar to Yahweh who brought a halt to the plague on the people.” 22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer what is good in his eyes. Look, here are the cattle for the burnt offering and the threshing sledge and the yokes of the oxen for the firewood. 23 All of this Araunah hereby gives to the king.” Then Araunah said to the king, “May Yahweh your God respond favorably for you.” 24 Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will certainly buy[e] it from you for a price; I don’t want to offer to Yahweh my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the cattle for fifty shekels of silver. 25 David built an altar to Yahweh there, and he offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then Yahweh responded to his prayer for the land and brought the plague to a halt from upon Israel.


  1. 2 Samuel 24:1 The parallel passage in 1 Chr 21 names the “he” as Satan
  2. 2 Samuel 24:3 Literally “as them and as them”
  3. 2 Samuel 24:9 Literally “men of ability”
  4. 2 Samuel 24:15 Literally “until the time of agreed time”
  5. 2 Samuel 24:24 Literally “buying I will buy”