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1 Chronicles - Chapter 21

1 Satan took his stand against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

2 David said to Joab and the people's princes, 'Go, and take a census of Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, then bring it back to me and let me know the total.'

3 Joab replied, 'May Yahweh multiply his people to a hundred times what they are today! But my lord king, are they not all my lord's servants in any case? Why should my lord insist on this? Why should he involve Israel in guilt?'

4 But the king enforced his order on Joab, and Joab set out, travelled throughout all Israel, and then returned to Jerusalem.

5 Joab gave David the census results for the people: all Israel had eleven hundred thousand men who could wield a sword; Judah had four hundred and seventy thousand men who could wield a sword.

6 Joab had found the king's command so distasteful that he did not include Levi and Benjamin.

7 God looked with displeasure on this and punished Israel in consequence.

8 David then said to God, 'I have committed a grave sin by doing this. But now I beg you to forgive your servant for this fault, for I have acted very foolishly.'

9 Yahweh then spoke to Gad, David's seer,

10 'Go and say to David, "Yahweh says this: I offer you three things; choose which one of them I am to inflict on you." '

11 So Gad went to David and said, 'Yahweh says this,

12 "Take your choice between three years of famine; or three months of disaster at the hands of your enemies, with your enemies' sword overtaking you; or three days of Yahweh's sword, an epidemic in the country, while the angel of Yahweh wreaks havoc throughout the territory of Israel."

13 David said to Gad, 'I am very apprehensive. Better for me to fall into Yahweh's hand, since his mercies are very great, than for me to fall into the hands of human enemies.'

14 So Yahweh unleashed an epidemic on Israel, and seventy thousand Israelites succumbed.

15 Next, God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, Yahweh looked down and felt sorry about the calamity; and he said to the destroying angel, 'Enough now! Hold your hand!' The angel of Yahweh was standing by the thresh-floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

16 David, raising his eyes, saw the angel of Yahweh standing between earth and heaven, a drawn sword in his hand stretched out towards Jerusalem. David and the elders then put on sackcloth and fell on their faces,

17 and David said to God, 'Did I not order the people to be counted? I was the one who sinned and actually committed the wrong. But these, the flock, what have they done? Yahweh my God, let your hand lie heavy on me and on my family; but spare your people from the plague!'

18 The angel of Yahweh then ordered Gad to tell David that David should go up and erect an altar to Yahweh on the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

19 So, at Gad's bidding, given in Yahweh's name, David went up.

20 Ornan had turned round and seen the angel, and he and his four sons with him had hidden.

21 When David arrived Ornan was threshing wheat. He looked up and saw David and came off the threshing-floor and prostrated himself on the ground at David's feet.

22 David then said to Ornan, 'Let me have the site of the threshing-floor, so that I can build an altar to Yahweh on it; let me have it at the full price -- so that the plague may be lifted from the people.' Ornan said to David,

23 'Take it, and let my lord the king do what he thinks fit. Look, I shall give you the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing-sleds for the wood and the wheat for the oblation. I shall give everything.'

24 'No,' said King David to Ornan, 'I insist on buying it at the full price. I will not offer Yahweh what belongs to you or bring burnt offerings which have cost me nothing.'

25 So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the site.

26 There David built an altar to Yahweh and brought burnt offerings and peace offerings. He called on Yahweh, and Yahweh answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.

27 Then Yahweh ordered the angel to sheathe his sword.

28 Whereupon, seeing that Yahweh had answered him on the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, David offered sacrifice there.

29 The Dwelling which Moses had made in the desert and the altar of burnt offering were at that time on the high place at Gibeon,

30 but David could not go there to consult God because he was terrified of the angel's sword.

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