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1 Chronicles 20-24 Common English Bible (CEB)

Defeat of the Ammonites

20 In the spring, the time when kings go to war, Joab marched out with the army, destroyed the land of the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. David stayed in Jerusalem while Joab attacked Rabbah and overthrew it. David took Milcom’s[a] crown from his head. He found that it weighed one kikkar of gold and was set with a valuable stone. It was placed on David’s head. The amount of loot David took from the city was huge. After removing the people who were in the city, David demolished the city with saws, iron picks, and axes,[b] as he did to all the Ammonite cities. Then David and all his troops returned to Jerusalem.

War with the Philistines

Once again war broke out at Gezer with the Philistines. At that time Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Sippai, one of the descendants of the Rephah,[c] and the Philistines were subdued. In another war with the Philistines, Jair’s son Elhanan killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam. At another war in Gath there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all, who was also descended from Raphah. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of David’s brother Shimea killed him. These were descended from the Raphah in Gath, and they fell by the hands of David and his servants.

David’s census

21 A heavenly Adversary[d] arose against Israel and incited David to count Israel. So David told Joab and the leaders of the people, “Go throughout all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beer-sheba, and take a census of the people so I know how many people there are.”

But Joab replied, “May the Lord increase his people a hundred times! Sir, aren’t you the king, and aren’t they all your servants? Why do you want to do this? Why bring guilt on Israel?”

But the king overruled Joab, who left and traveled throughout all Israel. When he returned to Jerusalem, he reported to David the total number: there were 1,100,000 men available for military service in all Israel, while Judah alone had 470,000. He didn’t include Levi and Benjamin among them, because Joab disagreed with the king’s order.

God was offended by this census and punished Israel. Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done! Now please take away the guilt of your servant because I have done something very foolish.”

The Lord told Gad, David’s seer: 10 Go and tell David, This is what the Lord says: I’m offering you three punishments. Choose one of them, and that is what I will do to you.

11 When Gad came to David, he said to him, “This is what the Lord says: Take your choice: 12 three years of famine, three months of fleeing[e] from your enemies while your enemies’ sword overtakes you, or three days of the Lord’s sword, that is, plague in the land and the Lord’s messenger bringing disaster in every part of Israel. Decide now what answer I should take back to the one who sent me.”

13 “I’m in deep trouble,” David said to Gad. “I’d rather fall into the hands of the Lord, who is very merciful; don’t let me fall into human hands.” 14 So the Lord sent a plague throughout Israel, and seventy thousand Israelites fell dead.

15 Then God sent a messenger to Jerusalem to destroy it. But just as the messenger was about to destroy it, the Lord looked and changed his mind about the destruction. He said to the messenger who was destroying it, “That’s enough! Withdraw your hand!” At that time the Lord’s messenger was standing near the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

16 When David looked up, he saw the Lord’s messenger stationed between the earth and the sky with a drawn sword in his hand stretched out against Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, dressed in mourning clothes, fell on their faces; 17 and David said to God, “Wasn’t it I who ordered the numbering of the people? I’m the sinner, the one responsible for this evil. But these sheep—what have they done? Lord, my God, turn your hand against me and my household, but spare your people from the plague.”

18 The Lord’s messenger ordered Gad to tell David that he should go up to the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite in order to set up an altar for the Lord. 19 So David went up, following the instructions Gad had delivered in the Lord’s name.

20 Ornan turned around and saw the king.[f] His four sons who were with him hid themselves, but Ornan continued threshing wheat. 21 When David approached Ornan, Ornan looked up, recognized David, left the threshing floor, and bowed to David with his face to the ground. 22 David said to Ornan, “Give me the site of the threshing floor, charging me full price, so that I may build an altar to the Lord, and the plague among the people may come to an end.”

23 Ornan replied to David, “Take it for yourself, and may my master the king do what he thinks is best. I’ll even provide the oxen for the entirely burned offerings, the threshing boards for wood, and the wheat for the grain offering—I’ll provide everything!”

24 But King David said to Ornan, “No, I will buy them from you at a fair price. I won’t offer to the Lord what belongs to you nor offer an entirely burned offering that costs me nothing.” 25 Then David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the site. 26 David built an altar there for the Lord and offered entirely burned offerings and well-being sacrifices. He called on the Lord, who answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of the entirely burned offering, consuming the entirely burned offering.[g] 27 Then the Lord commanded the messenger to return his sword to its sheath.

Location of the future temple

28 At that time, after David saw that the Lord had answered him at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he offered sacrifices there. 29 The Lord’s dwelling that Moses had made in the desert and the altar for entirely burned offerings were then at the shrine in Gibeon, 30 but David couldn’t go there to seek God because he feared the sword of the Lord’s messenger.

22 Then David said, “This is where the Lord God’s temple will be, along with Israel’s altar for entirely burned offerings.”

David prepares to build the temple

David gave orders to gather the immigrants living in the land of Israel, and he appointed masons who would cut stones for building God’s temple. David also provided a huge amount of iron for nails for the doors of the gates and for the braces, so much bronze that it couldn’t be weighed, and innumerable cedar logs from the Sidonians and the Tyrians, who gave them to David. David thought, My son Solomon is too inexperienced to build the Lord’s temple. It must be great beyond compare in order to win fame and glory throughout all lands, so I myself will prepare things for him. So David made extensive preparations before his death.

Instructions to Solomon

David sent for his son Solomon and instructed him to build a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel. David said to Solomon, “My son,[h] I had intended to build a temple for the name of the Lord my God. But the Lord told me: You’ve shed much blood and waged great wars. You won’t build a temple for my name because you’ve spilled so much blood on the ground before me. A son has just been born to you. He’ll be a man of peace, and I’ll give him peace with all his surrounding enemies. In fact, his name will be Solomon,[i] and I’ll give Israel peace and quiet during his reign. 10 He will be the one to build a temple for my name. He’ll become my son, and I’ll become his father, and I’ll establish his royal throne over Israel forever.

11 “Now, my son, may the Lord be with you so that you may successfully build the temple of the Lord your God, as he promised you. 12 May the Lord be sure to give you insight and understanding so that when he appoints you over Israel, you will observe the Instruction from the Lord your God.[j] 13 Then, if you carefully follow the regulations and case laws that the Lord commanded Moses concerning Israel, you’ll prosper. Be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid or lose heart! 14 With great effort I’ve now provided for the Lord’s temple one hundred thousand kikkars of gold, one million kikkars of silver, and so much bronze and iron that it can’t be weighed, as well as wood and stone, though you may add to these. 15 You also have innumerable people to do the work: stonecutters, masons, and carpenters with every skill required for any task, 16 whether in gold, silver, bronze, or iron. So get to work, and may the Lord be with you.”

Instructions to Israel’s leaders

17 Then David ordered all of Israel’s leaders to help his son Solomon: 18 “The Lord your God is with you! He’s given you peace on every side. He’s placed under my power the land’s people, so that the land is under the control of the Lord and his people. 19 Now then, dedicate yourselves to seeking the Lord your God. Get to work and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that the chest containing the Lord’s covenant together with God’s holy equipment may be brought into the temple built for the Lord’s name.”

David appoints the Levites

23 When David had grown old after a long life, he made his son Solomon king over Israel. He then gathered together all Israel’s leaders along with the priests and the Levites. When the Levites were counted, the head count of every male 30 and older totaled 38,000. Of these, there were 24,000 to supervise the work on the Lord’s temple, 6,000 officers and judges, 4,000 gatekeepers, and 4,000 praising the Lord with instruments made[k] for offering praise. Then David divided them into three groups named after Levi’s family members: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.


The Gershonites included Ladan and Shimei.

Ladan’s family: Jehiel the first, Zetham, and Joel—three in all. Jehiel’s[l] family: Shelomith, Haziel, and Haran—three in all. These were the heads of the households of Ladan.

10 Shimei’s family: Jahath, Ziza,[m] Jeush, and Beriah. These four were Shimei’s family: 11 Jahath was the first, and Ziza the second; since Jeush and Beriah didn’t have many children, they became a single household.


12 Kohath’s family: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel—four in all.

13 Amram’s family: Aaron and Moses. Aaron, together with his sons, was set apart to make the holiest objects holy, to make offerings before the Lord, to serve him, and to give blessings in his name forever.

14 As for Moses the man of God, his sons were considered to be Levites. 15 Moses’ family: Gershom and Eliezer.

16 Gershom’s family: Shebuel the first.

17 Eliezer’s family: Rehabiah the first; Eliezer had no other sons, but Rehabiah had many children.

18 Izhar’s family: Shelomoth[n] the first.

19 Hebron’s family: Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, and Jekameam the fourth.

20 Uzziel’s family: Micah the first and Isshiah the second.


21 Merari’s family: Mahli and Mushi.

Mahli’s family: Eleazar and Kish.

22 Eleazar died without sons, but he did have daughters who married their relatives from Kish’s family.

23 Mushi’s family: Mahli, Eder, and Jeremoth—three in all.

24 These were the members of Levi’s family according to their households. The household heads were registered, along with a listing of the names of each person 20 years old and above who carried out assigned tasks in the Lord’s temple.

Levites’ duties

25 David said, “Since the Lord, Israel’s God, has given his people peace and has made his home in Jerusalem forever, 26 the Levites need no longer carry the dwelling or any of the equipment used in its service.” 27 David’s last instructions were to count the Levites 20 years old and above. 28 Their assignment was to be at the side of the Aaronites to serve in the Lord’s temple, maintaining the courtyards and side rooms and cleansing all of the holy objects and doing whatever was needed in the service of God’s temple. 29 They were responsible for the stacks of bread, the fine flour for grain offerings, the wafers of unleavened bread, the cakes made on the griddle, the offering mixed with oil, as well as all the measuring. 30 They were to be present every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and to do the same every evening. 31 Whenever entirely burned offerings were offered to the Lord for the sabbaths, the new moons, and festivals, a designated number were to serve in the Lord’s presence continuously. 32 In this way they were to observe the instructions for the meeting tent, the instructions for the sanctuary, and the instructions for Aaron’s family and relatives about serving in the Lord’s temple.

Divisions of the priests

24 The divisions of the Aaronites:

Aaron’s family: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

Nadab and Abihu died before their father did, without having sons, and so Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests. David, with the help of Zadok from Eleazar’s family and Ahimelech from Ithamar’s family, divided them according to their appointed duties. Since Eleazar’s family was found to have more male heads than Ithamar’s family, they divided them so that Eleazar’s family had sixteen household heads and Ithamar’s family had eight. They divided both groups by lots because there were holy leaders, even outstanding leaders, among both Eleazar’s and Ithamar’s descendants. Shemaiah, Nethanel’s son, the levitical scribe, recorded their names in the presence of the king; the leaders; Zadok the priest; Ahimelech, Abiathar’s son; and the household heads of the priests and Levites. One household was taken from Eleazar followed by one from Ithamar.

The first lot fell to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah,

the third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim,

the fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin,

10 the seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah,

11 the ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah,

12 the eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim,

13 the thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab,

14 the fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer,

15 the seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Happizzez,

16 the nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezkel,

17 the twenty-first to Jachin, the twenty-second to Gamul,

18 the twenty-third to Delaiah, and the twenty-fourth to Maaziah.

19 These were to enter the Lord’s temple according to their appointed duty and by the procedure established for them by their ancestor Aaron, just as the Lord God of Israel had instructed him.

Rest of the Levites

20 The rest of the Levites included:

from Amram’s family: Shubael;

from Shubael’s family: Jehdeiah;

21 from Rehabiah and his family: Isshiah the first;

22 from the Izharites: Shelomoth;

from Shelomoth’s family: Jahath;

23 Hebron’s family:[o] Jeriah the first,[p] Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, Jekameam the fourth;

24 Uzziel’s family: Micah;

from Micah’s family: Shamir;

25 Micah’s brother Isshiah;

from Isshiah’s family: Zechariah;

26 Merari’s family: Mahli, Mushi and his son Jaaziah’s family;

27 Merari’s family by his son Jaaziah: Shoham, Zaccur, and Ibri;

28 from Mahli: Eleazar, who had no sons;

29 from Kish and his family: Jerahmeel;

30 and Mushi’s family: Mahli, Eder, and Jerimoth.

These were the Levites according to their households. 31 Both the household head and his youngest brother cast lots, just as their relatives, Aaron’s descendants, had done in the presence of King David, Zadok, Ahimelech, and the heads of the priestly and levitical households.


  1. 1 Chronicles 20:2 LXX, Vulg; MT their king
  2. 1 Chronicles 20:3 Cf 2 Sam 12:31; MT saws
  3. 1 Chronicles 20:4 Or giants; also in 20:6-7
  4. 1 Chronicles 21:1 Heb satan
  5. 1 Chronicles 21:12 LXX, cf 2 Sam 24:13; MT being swept away
  6. 1 Chronicles 21:20 LXX, cf 2 Sam 24:20; MT messenger
  7. 1 Chronicles 21:26 LXX; MT lacks consuming the entirely burned offering.
  8. 1 Chronicles 22:7 LXX, DSS; MT his son
  9. 1 Chronicles 22:9 Solomon sounds like peace in Heb.
  10. 1 Chronicles 22:12 Heb uncertain
  11. 1 Chronicles 23:5 LXX, Vulg; MT I made
  12. 1 Chronicles 23:9 Cf 23:8, 10; MT Shimei’s
  13. 1 Chronicles 23:10 LXX; MT Zina
  14. 1 Chronicles 23:18 LXX, Syr, Aram; MT Shelomith
  15. 1 Chronicles 24:23 LXX; MT my sons
  16. 1 Chronicles 24:23 Cf 1 Chron 23:19; MT lacks Jeriah.
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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