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Two Samuel Twenty Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

2 Samuel 24:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

he moved David. There is no real contradiction here with 1 Chronicles 21:1, which says that “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” Satan can only do what God allows, as in the case of Job. In this case, Satan tempted David to commit sin, knowing that this would incur God's judgment on Israel and hinder God's plan of redemption. But God allowed Satan to do this because of David's pride in his military might. Therefore, depending on viewpoint and emphasis, it would be correct to say either that God or Satan moved David to number the Israelites.

2 Samuel 24:2 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.

2 Samuel 24:3 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?

2 Samuel 24:4 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.

2 Samuel 24:5 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:

2 Samuel 24:6 Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtimhodshi; and they came to Danjaan, and about to Zidon,

2 Samuel 24:7 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 Beersheba.

2 Samuel 24:8 So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.

2 Samuel 24:9 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.

eight hundred thousand. 1 Chronicles 21:5 gives the number as 1.1 million. Possibly the 288,000 listed in 1 Chronicles 27:1-15 make up the difference.

five hundred thousand. This number is 470,000 in 1 Chronicles 21:5. The latter number, however, did not include the men from Levi and Benjamin (1 Chronicles 21:6).

men. In 1 Chronicles 21:5 these numbers are given respectively, as 1,100,000 and 470,000. However, the 800,000 in Israel are said in 2 Samuel to be valiant men, experienced in warfare, suggesting that the other 300,000 were of military age but not yet tested in battle. As far as the numbers in Judah are concerned, the total in 2 Samuel included the tribe of Benjamin, while the total in 1 Chronicles did not (note 1 Chronicles 21:6). Apparently the 500,000 in Judah had been simply augmented by an estimated total of 30,000 for Benjamin.

2 Samuel 24:10 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 foolishly.

2 Samuel 24:11 For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying,

2 Samuel 24:12 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.

2 Samuel 24:13 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.

seven years of famine. This statement of God's seems to conflict with the “three years of famine” offered by God in 1 Chronicles 21:12. One explanation for this apparent discrepancy is that one represents a copyist's error. It may also be that the proposals were made by God on two different occasions.

2 Samuel 24:14 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.

2 Samuel 24:15 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 men.

2 Samuel 24:16 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.

Araunah the Jebusite. It is noteworthy that the death angel stayed his hand at the prosperous site owned by a former Jebusite “king” (note 2 Samuel 24:23: the Jebusites were the former rulers of Jerusalem, before it was taken by David for his own capital). David therefore offered sacrifices here, and later prepared to build the temple here (2 Chronicles 3:1), a site which was also on Mount Moriah where Abraham had been asked to offer up Isaac (Genesis 22:1-2).

2 Samuel 24:17 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.

2 Samuel 24:18 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.

2 Samuel 24:19 And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded.

2 Samuel 24:20 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.

2 Samuel 24:21 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.

2 Samuel 24:22 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.

2 Samuel 24:23 All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee.

2 Samuel 24:24 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.

fifty shekels of silver. The price of Araunah's threshing floor, where David offered his sacrifices, was only fifty shekels of silver. However, David (possibly later) paid Araunah (also called Ornan) “six hundred shekels of gold” for his “place” (1 Chronicles 21:25). This place evidently included all the grounds on which the magnificent temple of Solomon would eventually be built.

2 Samuel 24:25 And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.