The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book or Paralipomena
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Chapter 21
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But now Satan disturbed the peace of Israel, by inciting David to make a re-gister of the people.
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From David the word came to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go through all the tribes from Dan to Bersabee, make a muster-roll, and let me know the full tale of them.
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Why, said Joab, my prayer is that the Lord may increase the number of his people a hundredfold. But, my lord king, are we not all at thy service? What need, my lord, to carry out such a design as may bring guilt on the whole of Israel?
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But the king’s will might not be thwarted; so Joab left his presence to make a review of the whole country, and when he came back to Jerusalem
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he handed in to David the number of those he had registered; the full muster-roll was one million one hundred thousand that bore arms in Israel, with four hundred and seventy thousand in Juda.
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Levi and Benjamin were never counted, so loth was Joab to execute the king’s will.

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But meanwhile, in his displeasure at the command given, the Lord had begun to smite down Israel;
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whereupon David confessed to the Lord, I have sinned greatly in what I have done; give my sin quittance; I have played a fool’s part.
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And the word of the Lord came to Gad, that was David’s seer,
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Go and give David this message from the Lord; Here are three choices I grant thee, to choose thy own punishment.
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So Gad presented himself before David, bidding him in the Lord’s name make his choice.
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Wilt thou have three years of famine, he asked, or three months of flight before thy enemies, and yet no escape, or three days in which the Lord’s own sword of pestilence shall pass through the land, his angel dealing death all through the realm of Israel? Think well, and tell me what answer I shall make to him whose message I bear.
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I am hard pressed on all sides, David told him; but it is better to fall into the hands of the Lord, so rich is he in mercy, than into the hands of men.
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So the Lord sent a plague on Israel, by which seventy thousand men perished.
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But when his angel reached Jerusalem, ready to carry out his errand and smite it, the Lord was moved with pity over their great calamity; and he said to the angel that would have smitten them, It is enough, stay thy hand. The angel of the Lord stood close, then, to the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite;
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and David, looking up, saw him standing there with drawn sword between heaven and earth, with his face towards Jerusalem. At that, both he and all the elders, that went clad in sack-cloth, fell prostrate on the ground.
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Nay, said David to the Lord, was it not at my command that the muster-roll was taken? The sin is mine, the fault is mine; these poor sheep of mine, what wrong have they done? Against me turn thy hand, O Lord my God, and against my father’s race; let the people be smitten no more.

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Then, at the bidding of the Lord’s angel, Gad would have David go up to Ornan’s threshing-floor and build an altar there to the Lord his God;
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and Gad’s word, that was the Lord’s word, the king made haste to obey.
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Ornan and his four sons, that were threshing wheat there, had hidden themselves upon sight of the angel standing above them;
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but now, as he saw David approaching, Ornan went to meet him, and did reverence, bowing down to earth.
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Give me, David said, this site of thy threshing-floor, to build an altar to the Lord here; ask what price thou wilt, only let the people be plagued no more.
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Why, said Ornan, let the king’s grace take all he needs and do what he will with it; here are oxen for the sacrifice, here is the sled for kindling-wood, here is corn for the offering; most readily I make the gift of them all.
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Nay, said the king, I must pay thee their price in money; should I accept them from thee, and offer the Lord a sacrifice which costs me nothing?
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So David paid Ornan six hundred golden sicles, duly weighed out, for the price of his land;
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and there he built an altar to the Lord, and brought burnt-sacrifice and welcome-offering. Fire came down from heaven upon his altar of burnt-sacrifice, to prove the divine acceptance of his plea;
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and with that, at the Lord’s bidding, the angel put his sword back in its sheath.

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So David, finding that the Lord had granted his prayer upon Ornan’s threshing-floor, offered more victims there.
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As for the tabernacle which Moses made for the Lord in the wilderness, and its altar of burnt-sacrifice, they were still, at this time, in the hill-sanctuary at Gabaon;
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and to that altar David might not repair, in his need of the Lord’s help, so adread was he of the sword which the angel of the Lord carried.