The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Kings
But still the Lord’s vengeance threatened Israel; and now it was through David he disturbed their peace, with a design for registering Israel and Juda.✻
The king said to Joab, the chief of his army, Go through all the tribes of Israel from Dan to Bersabee, and make a muster-roll of the people, so that I may know the full tale of them.
Why, said Joab, my prayer is that the Lord may increase yet more the number of the people, great as it is, and that thou mayest live to see it a hundred times as great! But what is it my lord the king means by this design?
But all that Joab and the captains of the army could say might not thwart the king’s will; so Joab and the other commanders left the king’s presence to make a register of Israel.
They crossed the Jordan, and reached Aroer, on the right side of the city that stands in the vale of Gad;
then they passed by way of Jazer into Galaad to the plain country of Hodsi, and so reached the woodlands of Dan. Thence they turned towards Sidon,
passed close to the walls of Tyre, and all along the country that was still held by Chanaanite and Hevite, and came at last to the southern end of Juda, at Bersabee.
So they made their review of the whole country, and returned to Jerusalem after nine months’ and twenty days’ absence.
And Joab gave in the register to the king; it proved that there were eight hundred thousand warriors that bore arms in Israel, and five hundred thousand in Juda.
But, now the count of Israel had been made, David’s heart reproached him. And he confessed to the Lord, I have sinned greatly in what I have done; Lord, give my sin quittance; I have played a fool’s part.✻
And by the time he rose next morning, the word of the Lord had come to the prophet Gad, that was David’s seer,
Go and give David this message from the Lord; he is given a threefold choice, and he must choose his own punishment among the three.
So Gad went to David with the message: Wilt thou have seven years of famine in thy country, or three months of flight from the pursuit of thy enemies, or three days in which thy country is smitten with plague? Think well, and tell me what answer I shall make to him whose word I bear thee.
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.
So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, from that morning till the time he had appointed; and it raged all the way from Dan to Bersabee, till seventy thousand men had perished.
But when the angel of the Lord was stretching out his hand over Jerusalem, to bring destruction on it, the Lord was moved with pity over their calamity, and said to the angel who was smiting the people down, It is enough, stay thy hand. The angel of the Lord stood close, then, to the threshing-floor of Areuna the Jebusite.
David, when he saw how the angel was smiting the people down, had said to the Lord, The sin is mine, the fault is mine; these poor sheep of mine, what wrong have they done? Nay, turn thy hand against me, and my own father’s race!
Then Gad brought David the message, Go up to the threshing-floor of Areuna the Jebusite, and build an altar there.
So David went up, in obedience to the command which the Lord had given him through Gad;
and when Areuna looked round, to see the king and the king’s servants coming towards him,
he came forward, bowing down with his face to the ground to do the king reverence. What would my lord king with his servant? he asked. And David said, I have come to buy thy threshing-floor; I must build an altar here to the Lord, to put an end to the mortality which goes unhindered among the people.
Then Areuna answered, Let the king’s grace take all he needs for his offering; here are sheep for a burnt-sacrifice, here is the waggon, and the yoke my oxen bear, for kindling-wood.
All this is Areuna’s royal gift to the king.✻ And may the Lord, Areuna added, grant thy prayer.
But the king would not let him have his will; Nay, said he, I must buy it from thee; the victims I offer to the Lord my God must not be procured without cost. So David bought threshing-floor and ox-team for fifty silver pieces;
there he built an altar to the Lord, and there he brought burnt-sacrifice and welcome-offering. So the land was received back into the Lord’s favour, and the plague disappeared from Israel.
The Holy Bible