2 Samuel 24
God tells David to have a census
And again the anger of
the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them
to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go
now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number
ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.
And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how
many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king
may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?
Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab, and against the
captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from
the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.
And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of
the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer:
Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtimhodshi; and they came
to Danjaan, and about to Zidon,
And came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites,
and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the south of Judah, even to
So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the
end of nine months and twenty days.
And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight
hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah
were five hundred thousand men.
Job counted 800,000 and 500,000 men who drew the sword from Israel and Judah, respectively.
Of course, this is a ridiculously high number for a tribal armies in 1000 BCE. (The United States had
1,281,900 active duty soldiers in 2017.)
soldiers did Israel have?
God kills 200,000 people because of the census
And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the
LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech
thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very
David felt guilty for taking the census that God told him to take.
So he said to God, "I have sinned greatly. Please forgive me."
Did David sin?
For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the
prophet Gad, David's seer, saying,
Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things;
choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
God came to the prophet Gad, and said,
Go and say to David, Thus saith the Lord,
"You have three choices. Choose one of them and I'll do it to you."
So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine
come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue
thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise,
and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.
So Gad came to David and said to him,
Which would you prefer?
Seven years of famine, fleeing three months before your enemies, or three days of pestilence?
How many years of famine?
And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the
hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not
fall into the hand of man.
David said, "I am in big trouble. Let me fall into the hand of the Lord, since he is so merciful.
Just don't let me fall into the hand of man."
Is God merciful?
So the LORD sent a
pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and
there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand
And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented
him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is
enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the
threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.
And David spake unto
the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have
sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done?
let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house.
I guess God took David's non-answer as a choice for option three -- or maybe God just chose for him.
In any case, God sent a pestilence on Israel, which killed 70,000 men -- so maybe 200,000 people, including women and children.
But just as the angel was stretching out his hand to destroy Jerusalem with God's pestilence, God repented
the the evil he had planned to do.
God said, "I've killed enough people. Put down your hand."
Does God repent?
When David saw the angel killing the people, he said to God, "I've sinned, but what have these people done?
Please stop killing them."
DWB: 86. God killed 70,000 because David had a census
that God (or Satan) told him to do
And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar
unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.
And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded.
Gad came again to David, and said, "Build and altar to God in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite."
And David did as Gad commanded.
And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward
him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face
upon the ground.
And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And
David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the
LORD, that the plague may be stayed from the people.
And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what
seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and
threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood.
All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah
said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee.
And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a
price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that
which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty
shekels of silver.
And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings
and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague
was stayed from Israel.
David built the altar and God stopped killing people in the plague that he sent.