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David commanded that the soldiers be counted
Satan decided to cause the Israeli people to have trouble. So he incited David to find out how many men in Israel were able to be in the army.
So David commanded Joab and the other army commanders, “Count all the men in Israel who are able to be in the army. Start at Beersheba town in the south and go all the way to Dan city in the north. Then come back and report to me, in order that I may know how many men there are.”
But Joab replied, “Your majesty, even if Yahweh allowed us to have a hundred times as many soldiers as we have now, you would [RHQ] still rule all of them. So why do you want us to do this? You will surely [RHQ] cause all the people of Israel to be guilty of sinning.”
But David would not change his mind. So Joab and his soldiers went everywhere in Israel and in Judah, and counted the people. Then they returned to Jerusalem, and they reported to David that there were 1,100,000 men in Israel who could be in the army, and 470,000 in Judah. Joab did not count the men from the tribes of Levi and Benjamin, because he was disgusted with what the king had commanded.
God punished the people of Israel
David's command to count the people caused God to become angry, so he told David that he had decided to punish the people of Israel. Then David prayed, saying, “Yahweh, what I did was very foolish. I have sinned greatly by what I have done. So now I plead with you, please forgive me.”
Then Yahweh said to Gad, David's prophet, 10 “Go and tell this to David: I am allowing you to choose one of three things to punish you. I will do whichever one you choose.”
11 So Gad went to David and said to him, “This is what Yahweh says: ‘You can choose one of these punishments: 12 three years of famine in Israel, or three months during which your armies will run away from their enemies who will attack them with swords, or three days during which I will send my angel to cause many people in the country to die because of a ◄plague/very serious illness►.’ So, you must decide what I will say to answer Yahweh, the one who sent me.”
13 David replied to Gad, “I am very distressed. But allow Yahweh to punish [MTY] me, because he is very merciful. Do not allow humans to punish me, because they will not be merciful.”
14 So Yahweh sent a plague on the people of Israel, and 70,000 of them died because of it. 15 And God sent an angel to destroy the people in Jerusalem by the plague. But when the angel was standing at the ground where Araunah, from the Jebus people-group, threshed grain, Yahweh saw all the suffering that the people had endured, and he was grieved. So he said to the angel, “Stop what you are doing [IDM]! That is enough [IDM]!”
16 David looked up and saw the angel whom Yahweh had sent, standing between the sky and the ground. The angel had a sword in his hand that was pointed toward Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of the city, who were wearing clothes made of rough sackcloth, prostrated themselves on the ground.
17 David said to God, “I am [RHQ] the one who ordered the men who could be in the army to be counted. I am the one who has sinned and done what is very wrong, but these people are as innocent as [MET] sheep. They have certainly not [RHQ] done anything that is wrong. So Yahweh my God, punish [IDM] me and my family, but do not allow this plague to continue to cause your people to become sick and die.”
18 Then the angel who was sent by Yahweh told Gad to go up to the place where Araunah threshed grain and tell David to build an altar to worship Yahweh there. 19 So after Gad told David, he obeyed the message that Yahweh [MTY] had given to Gad, and he went up there.
20 While Araunah was threshing some wheat, he turned and saw the angel. His four sons who were with him also saw the angel, and they hid themselves. 21 Then David approached. When Araunah saw him,he left the place where he was threshing grain and prostrated himself, with his face touching the ground.
22 David said to him, “Please sell me your threshng place in order that I can build an altar here to worship Yahweh. Then he will stop this plague. I will pay the full price.”
23 Araunah replied, “Take it! Your majesty, do whatever you want to. I will give you the oxen that thresh the grain for an offering to be completely burned on the altar. And I will give you the threshing boards to use as wood on the altar, and I will give you grain for a grain offering. I will give all those things to you.”
24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, I will not take these things as a gift. I will pay you the full price for it. I will not take things that belong to you, things that have cost me nothing and offer them as sacrifices to Yahweh to be completely burned on the altar.”
25 So David paid Araunah 600 pieces of gold for the whole area. 26 David built an altar to worship Yahweh there, and he offered sacrifices to be completely burned on the altar and sacrifices to restore fellowship with Yahweh. David prayed to Yahweh, and Yahweh answered by sending a fire from heaven to burn up the offerings on the altar.
27 Then Yahweh spoke to the angel, and told him to put his sword back into its sheath. So the angel did that. 28 And when David saw that Yahweh had answered him there at the place where Araunah threshed grain and had ended the plague, he offered sacrifices there. 29 Yahweh's Sacred Tent, which Moses had commanded to be set up in the desert, and the altar for burning sacrifices completely, were at that time on a hill at Gibeon city. 30 But David did not want to go there to request God to tell him what he wanted him to do, because he was afraid that the angel sent from Yahweh might strike him with his sword.