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. Chapter 21.

Battles against Philistine giants.

1 [vv1-27: cp 2Sam. 24.1-25] NOW SATAN, SETTING HIMSELF AGAINST ISRAEL, incited David to count the people. 2 So he instructed Joab and his public officers to go out and number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and to report the number to him. 3 Joab answered, 'Even if the LORD should increase his people a hundredfold, would not your majesty still be king and all the people your slaves? Why should your majesty want to do this? It will only bring guilt on Israel.' 4 But Joab was overruled by the king; he set out and went up and down the whole country. 5 He then came to Jerusalem and reported to David the numbers recorded: those capable of bearing arms were one million one hundred thousand in Israel, and four hundred and seventy thousand in Judah. 6 Levi and Benjamin were not counted by Joab, so deep was his repugnance against the king's order.

7 God was displeased with all this and proceeded to punish Israel. 8 David said to God, 'I have done a very wicked thing: I pray thee remove thy servant's guilt, for I have been very foolish.' 9 And the LORD said to Gad, David's seer, 10 'Go and tell David, "This is the word of the LORD: I have three things to offer you; choose one of them and I will bring it upon you." ' 11 So Gad came to David and said to him, 'This is the word of the LORD: "Make your choice: 12 three years of famine, three months of harrying by your foes and close pursuit by the sword of your enemy, or three days of the LORD's own sword, bringing pestilence throughout the country, and the LORD's angel working destruction in all the territory of Israel." Consider now what answer I am to take back to him who sent me.' 13 Thereupon David said to Gad, 'I am in a desperate plight; let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; and let me not fall into the hands of man.' 14 So the LORD sent a pestilence throughout Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel died. 15 And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it; but, as he was destroying it, the LORD saw and repented of the evil, and said to the destroying angel at the moment when he was standing beside the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, 'Enough! Stay your hand.'

16 When David looked up and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, with his sword drawn in his hand and stretched out over Jerusalem, he and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell prostrate to the ground; 17 and David said to God, 'It was I who gave the order to count the people. It was I who sinned, I, the shepherd [the shepherd: prob. rdg, Heb doing wrong], who did wrong. But these poor sheep, what have they done? O LORD my God, let thy hand fall upon me and upon my family, but check this plague on the people [check ... people: prob. rdg, Heb among thy people, not for a plague].'

18 The angel of the LORD, speaking through the lips of Gad, commanded David to go to the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite and to set up there an altar to the LORD. 19 David went up as Gad had bidden him in the LORD's name. Ornan's four sons who were with him hid themselves, 20 but he was busy threshing his wheat when he turned and saw the angel. 21 As David approached, Ornan looked up and, seeing the king, came out from the threshing-floor and prostrated himself before him. 22 David said to Ornan, 'Let me have the site of the threshing-floor that I may build on it an altar to the LORD; sell it me at the full price, that the plague which has attacked my people may be stopped.' 23 Ornan answered David, 'Take it and let your majesty do as he thinks fit; see, here are the oxen for whole-offerings, the threshing-sledges for the fuel, and the wheat for the grain-offering; I give you everything.' 24 But King David said to Ornan, 'No, I will pay the full price; I will not present to the LORD what is yours, or offer a whole-offering which has cost me nothing.' 25 So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold for the site, 26 and built an altar to the LORD there; on this he offered whole-offerings and shared-offerings, and called upon the LORD, who answered him with fire falling from heaven on the altar of whole-offering. 27 Then, at the LORD's command, the angel sheathed his sword.

28 It was when David saw that the LORD had answered him at the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite that he offered sacrifice there. 29 The tabernacle of the LORD and the altar of whole-offering which Moses had made in the wilderness were then at the hill-shrine in Gibeon; 30 but David had been unable to go there and seek God's guidance, so shocked and shaken was he at the sight of the angel's sword.

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