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1 Chronicles 21-23 (Amplified Bible)

1 Chronicles 21-23

Census Brings Pestilence

21 Satan [the adversary] stood up against Israel and incited David to [a]count [the population of] Israel. So David said to Joab and the leaders of the people, “Go, count Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me their total, so that I may know it.” Joab said, “May the Lord add to His people a hundred times as many as they are! But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why then does my lord require this? Why will he bring guilt on Israel?” But the king’s word prevailed over Joab. So Joab left and went throughout all Israel and came to Jerusalem. Then Joab gave the total of the census of the people to David. And all Israel were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword; and in Judah 470,000 men who drew the sword. But he did not count Levi and Benjamin among them, because the king’s order was detestable to Joab.

Now God was displeased with this act [of arrogance and pride], and He struck Israel. Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly because I have done this thing. But now, I beseech You, take away the wickedness and guilt of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”

And the Lord said to Gad, David’s seer, 10 “Go and tell David, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “I offer you three choices; choose for yourself one of them, which I will do to you [as punishment for your sin].”’” 11 So Gad came to David and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Choose for yourself 12 either three years of famine, or three months to be swept away before your enemies, while the sword of your enemies overtakes you, or else three days of the sword of the Lord and plague in the land, and the angel of the Lord bringing destruction throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now therefore, consider what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.” 13 David said to Gad, “I am in great distress; please let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

14 So the Lord sent a plague on Israel, and 70,000 men of Israel fell. 15 God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it; and as he was destroying it, the Lord looked, and relented concerning the catastrophe and said to the destroying angel, “It is enough; now remove your hand [of judgment].” And the angel of the Lord was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 16 Then David raised his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, covered in sackcloth, fell on their faces. 17 David said to God, “Is it not I who commanded the people to be counted? I am the one who has sinned and done evil; but as for these sheep [the people of Israel], what have they done? O Lord my God, please let Your hand be against me and my father’s house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.”

David’s Altar

18 Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up and build an altar to the Lord on the [b]threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 19 So David went up at Gad’s word, which he spoke in the name of the Lord. 20 Now Ornan was threshing wheat, and he turned back and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him hid themselves. 21 As David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw him, and went out from the threshing floor and bowed down before David with his face to the ground. 22 Then David said to Ornan, “Give me the site of this threshing floor, so that I may build an altar on it to the Lord. You shall charge me the full price for it, so that the plague may be averted from the people.” 23 Ornan said to David, “Take it for yourself; and let my lord the king do what is good in his eyes. See, I will give you the oxen also for burnt offerings and the threshing sledges (heavy wooden platforms) for wood and the wheat for the grain offering; I give it all.” 24 But King David said to Ornan, “No, I will certainly pay the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing.” 25 So David gave Ornan 600 shekels of gold by weight for the site. 26 Then David built an altar to the Lord there and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings. And he called on the Lord, and He answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. 27 Then the Lord commanded the [avenging] angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath.

28 At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he sacrificed there. 29 For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses 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 inquire of God, for he was terrified by the sword of the angel of the Lord.

David Prepares for Temple Building

22 Then David said, “This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel.”

So David gave orders to gather the foreigners who were in the land of Israel, and he assigned stonecutters to hew out stones to build the house of God. David prepared large quantities of iron to make nails for the doors of the gates and for the clamps (trusses), and more bronze than could be weighed; and cedar trees beyond number, for the Sidonians and Tyrians brought large quantities of cedar timber to David. David said, “Solomon my son is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the Lord shall be exceedingly magnificent, famous, and an object of glory and splendor throughout all lands [of the earth]. So now I will make preparations for it.” Therefore, David made ample preparations before his death.

Solomon Charged with the Task

Then he called for Solomon his son and ordered him to build a house for the Lord, the God of Israel. David said to Solomon, “My son, I had intended to build a house for the [c]Name (Presence) of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house for My Name, because you have shed so much blood on the earth before me. Behold, a son will be born to you, who will be a man of peace. I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. 10 He shall build a house for My Name (Presence). He shall be My son and I will be his father; and I will establish his royal throne over Israel forever.’ 11 Now, my son, may the Lord be with you so that you may be successful and build the house of the Lord your God, just as He has spoken concerning you. 12 Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. 13 Then you will prosper, if you are careful to observe and fulfill the statutes and ordinances which the Lord commanded Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and courageous, do not fear nor be dismayed. 14 Now listen, [d]with great trouble I have prepared and provided for the house of the Lord 100,000 talents of gold, 1,000,000 talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond weighing, for they are great in quantity. I have also prepared and provided timber and stone, and you may add to them. 15 Further, you have workmen in abundance: stonecutters and stonemasons and carpenters, and all men who are skillful in every kind of work. 16 As for the gold, the silver, the bronze, and the iron, there is no limit. So arise and begin working, and may the Lord be with you.”

17 David also commanded all the leaders of Israel to help Solomon his son, saying, 18 “Is not the Lord your God with you? And has He not given you rest and peace on every side? For He has given the inhabitants of the land into my hand, and the land is subdued before the Lord and before His people. 19 Now set your heart and your soul to seek (inquire of, require as your vital necessity) the Lord your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy articles and utensils of God into the house built for the Name (Presence) of the Lord.”

Solomon Reigns

23 When David reached old age, he made his son Solomon king over Israel. And he assembled together all the leaders of Israel with the priests and Levites.

Offices of the Levites

The Levites thirty years old and upward were counted, and their number man by man was 38,000. Of these [e]24,000 were to oversee and inspect the work of the house of the Lord and 6,000 were to be administrators and judges, and 4,000 were gatekeepers, and 4,000 [musicians] were to praise the Lord with the instruments which David made for giving praise. And David organized them into divisions according to the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.


Of the Gershonites: Ladan (Libni) and Shimei. The sons of Ladan: Jehiel the first and Zetham and Joel—three in all. The sons of Shimei: Shelomoth, Haziel, and Haran—three in all. These were the heads of the fathers’ households of Ladan. 10 The sons of Shimei: Jahath, Zina (Zizah), Jeush, and Beriah. These were the four sons of Shimei. 11 Jahath was the first and Zizah the second; but Jeush and Beriah did not have many sons [not enough for a father’s house or clan], so they were [counted together] as one father’s household, one working group.


12 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel—four in all. 13 The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses. Aaron was set apart to consecrate him as most holy, he and his sons forever, to burn incense before the Lord, attend to His service, and to bless [worshipers] in His name forever. 14 But as for Moses the man of God, his sons were counted among the tribe of Levi. 15 The sons of Moses: Gershom and Eliezer. 16 The son of Gershom: Shebuel the chief. 17 The son of Eliezer was Rehabiah the chief. Eliezer had no other sons, but Rehabiah’s sons were very many [in number]. 18 The son of Izhar: Shelomith the chief. 19 The sons of Hebron: Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, and Jekameam the fourth. 20 The sons of Uzziel: Micah the first and Isshiah the second.


21 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. The sons of Mahli: Eleazar and Kish. 22 Eleazar died and had no sons, but daughters only, and their relatives, the sons of Kish, took them as wives. 23 The sons of Mushi: Mahli, Eder, and Jeremoth—three in all.

Duties Revised

24 These were the Levites by their fathers’ households, the heads of the fathers’ households of those registered, according to the number of names of the individuals who were the servants of the house of the Lord, from twenty years old and upward. 25 For David said, “The Lord God of Israel, has given peace and rest to His people, and He dwells in Jerusalem forever. 26 Also, the Levites will no longer need to carry the tabernacle and all its utensils for its service.” 27 For by the last words of David, the Levites from twenty years old and above were counted. 28 For their duty is to assist [the priests] the sons of Aaron in the service of the house of the Lord, in [caring for] the courtyards, the chambers, the purifying of all holy things, and any work of the service of the house of God, 29 and with the showbread, and the fine flour for a grain offering, and unleavened wafers, or what is baked in the pan or what is well-mixed, and all measures of volume and size [as the Law of Moses required]. 30 They are to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening, 31 and to offer all burnt sacrifices to the Lord on the Sabbaths, the new moons, and the festivals by number according to the ordinance concerning them, continually before the Lord. 32 So they shall be responsible for the Tent of Meeting, the Holy Place, and the sons of Aaron their relatives, for the service of the house of the Lord.


  1. 1 Chronicles 21:1 David may have begun to think of himself as a powerful man in command of an invincible nation, rather than a man who relied on God for direction and success in warfare. Joab realized what David was thinking and pleaded with him to change his mind (v 3).
  2. 1 Chronicles 21:18 This threshing floor was on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem, thought also to be the area where Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice. Solomon later built the temple on the site of David’s altar (2 Chr 3:1).
  3. 1 Chronicles 22:7 See note Deut 12:5.
  4. 1 Chronicles 22:14 Lit in my affliction.
  5. 1 Chronicles 23:4 This number might seem high if the situation is not clarified. There are several important factors to consider: 1. The Levites were divided into 24 rotating divisions (1 Chr 24:6-19). 2. It is plausible that 1,000 Levites were on duty at any one time for Solomon’s temple, considering the many purposes and required maintenance of the building, its ornate ritual, and the scale of the work. 3. In the wilderness, the worshiper would kill the animal he brought for an offering, skin it, cut it in pieces, and wash the entrails and legs. But now all these tasks were the duty of the Levites or Nethinim (servants of the temple); in addition, the number of worshipers had greatly increased, requiring a large number of Levites.
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