Old Testament

2 Samuel 24
The Census
241The anger of the Lord burned against Israel again, and he incited David against them so that he said “Go count Israel and Judah.”
2The king said to Joab, the commander of his army, “Travel through all the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and register the fighting men. Then I will know how many there are.”
3Joab said to the king, “The Lord your God will make the people a hundred times larger, however many they may be, and the eyes of my lord the king will see it. But why does my lord the king have such a strong desire to do this?”
4But the word of the king overruled Joab and the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to register Israel. 5They crossed the Jordan and camped in Aroer on the south side of the city that is in the middle of the canyon. Next they went to Gad and then to Jazer. 6Then they came to Gilead and to the land of Tahtim Hodshi. After that, they came to Dan Ja'an and around to Sidon. 7Then they came to the fortress of Tyre and all the cities of the Hivites and the Canaanites. After that they went out to the Negev of Judah at Beersheba.
8So they went throughout all the land, and then came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
9Joab reported the numbers from the registration of the fighting men to the king. Israel had eight hundred thousand soldiers who could draw a sword. Judah had five hundred thousand men.
10David had a guilty conscience after he had counted the fighting men. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But, Lord, please take away the guilt of your servant, because I have acted very foolishly.”
11When David got up in the morning, the word of the Lord came to Gad the prophet, David's seer. The Lord said, 12“Go tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says. I am laying out three choices before you. Choose one of them for yourself, and I will carry it out against you.’”
13So Gad went to David and told him about this. He said, “Shall seven years[] of famine in your land come upon you, or three months of fleeing with your enemies pursuing you, or three days of plague[] in your land? Now consider this and decide what answer I should return to the one who sent me.”
14David said to Gad, “This puts me in a difficult position. Please! Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great. But do not let me fall into the hands of man.”
15So the Lord sent a plague against Israel from the next morning until the appointed time. Seventy thousand people from Dan to Beersheba died. 16The angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, but the Lord relented and did not bring the disaster. He said to the angel who was carrying out the destruction among the people, “Enough. Now hold back your hand.”
The angel of the Lord was near the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
17David said to the Lord, as he was watching the angel striking the people, “Look! I am the one who sinned. I am guilty. But these sheep-what have they done? Please! Let your hand be against me and against the house of my father.”
David Builds an Altar to the Lord
18Gad came to David on that day and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19So David went up and obeyed Gad's instructions as the Lord had commanded.
20Araunah looked up and saw the king and his servants coming toward him. So Araunah went out and bowed down to the king with his face to the ground, 21and he said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”
David said, “To purchase the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the Lord, so the plague will be held back from the people.”
22Araunah said to David, “My lord the king can take it and offer whatever seems good to him. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, as well as the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. 23O King, Araunah is giving all this to the king.” Araunah also said to the king, “The Lord your God will accept you.”
24But the king said to Araunah, “No. I insist on purchasing it from you for what it is worth. I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt offerings that I did not pay for.”
So David purchased the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels[] of silver. 25He built an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings there. The Lord heard the requests for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.


  • 24:13 seven years is the reading of the Hebrew text. The Greek text reads three years, which matches the number in the other two options. In 1 Chronicles 21:12, it reads three years.
  • 24:13 Or deadly disease
  • 24:24 Fifty shekels of silver is more than a pound. The account in 1 Chronicles 21:25 reports a larger purchase that included the whole site for the Temple.