2Samuel (NAB) 18

The Defeat and Death of Absalom

18 1 After mustering the troops he had with him, David placed officers in command of groups of a thousand and groups of a hundred.2 David then put a third part of the soldiers under Joab's command, a third under command of Abishai, son of Zeruiah and brother of Joab, and a third under command of Ittai the Gittite. The king then said to the soldiers, "I intend to go out with you myself."3 But they replied: "You must not come out with us. For if we should flee, we shall not count; even if half of us should die, we shall not count. You are equal to ten thousand of us. Therefore it is better that we have you to help us from the city."4 So the king said to them, "I will do what you think best"; and he stood by the gate as all the soldiers marched out in units of a hundred and of a thousand.5 But the king gave this command to Joab, Abishai and Ittai: "Be gentle with young Absalom for my sake." All the soldiers heard the king instruct the various leaders with regard to Absalom.6 David's army then took the field against Israel, and a battle was fought in the forest near Mahanaim.7 The forces of Israel were defeated by David's servants, and the casualties there that day were heavy-- twenty thousand men.8 The battle spread out over that entire region, and the thickets consumed more combatants that day than did the sword.
Absalom unexpectedly came up against David's servants. He was mounted on a mule, and, as the mule passed under the branches of a large terebinth, his hair caught fast in the tree. He hung between heaven and earth while the mule he had been riding ran off.10 Someone saw this and reported to Joab that he had seen Absalom hanging from a terebinth.11 Joab said to his informant: "If you saw him, why did you not strike him to the ground on the spot? Then it would have been my duty to give you fifty pieces of silver and a belt."12 But the man replied to Joab: "Even if I already held a thousand pieces of silver in my two hands, I would not harm the king's son, for the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai in our hearing to protect the youth Absalom for his sake.13 Had I been disloyal and killed him, the whole matter would have come to the attention of the king, and you would stand aloof."14 Joab replied, "I will not waste time with you in this way." And taking three pikes in hand, he thrust for the heart of Absalom, still hanging from the tree alive.15 Next, ten of Joab's young armor-bearers closed in on Absalom, and killed him with further blows.16 Joab then sounded the horn, and the soldiers turned back from the pursuit of the Israelites, because Joab called on them to halt.17 Absalom was taken up and cast into a deep pit in the forest, and a very large mound of stones was erected over him. And all the Israelites fled to their own tents.18 During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it for himself in the King's Valley, for he said, "I have no son to perpetuate my name." The pillar which he named for himself is called Yadabshalom to the present day.

David Hears of Absalom's Death

19 Then Ahimaaz, son of Zadok, said, "Let me run to take the good news to the king that the LORD has set him free from the grasp of his enemies."20 But Joab said to him: "You are not the man to bring the news today. On some other day you may take the good news, but today you would not be bringing good news, for in fact the king's son is dead."21 Then Joab said to a Cushite, "Go, tell the king what you have seen." The Cushite bowed to Joab and sped away.22 But Ahimaaz, son of Zadok, said to Joab again, "Come what may, permit me also to run after the Cushite." Joab replied: "Why do you want to run, my son? You will receive no reward."23 But he insisted, "Come what may, I want to run." Joab said to him, "Very well." Ahimaaz sped off by way of the Jordan plain and outran the Cushite.
Now David was sitting between the two gates, and a lookout mounted to the roof of the gate above the city wall, where he looked about and saw a man running all alone.25 The lookout shouted to inform the king, who said, "If he is alone, he has good news to report." As he kept coming nearer,26 the lookout spied another runner. From his place atop the gate he cried out, "There is another man running by himself." And the king responded, "He, too, is bringing good news."27 Then the lookout said, "I notice that the first one runs like Ahimaaz, son of Zadok." The king replied, "He is a good man; he comes with good news."28 Then Ahimaaz called out and greeted the king. With face to the ground he paid homage to the king and said, "Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delivered up the men who rebelled against my lord the king."29 But the king asked, "Is the youth Absalom safe?" And Ahimaaz replied, "I saw a great disturbance when the king's servant Joab sent your servant on, but I do not know what it was."30 The king said, "Step aside and remain in attendance here." So he stepped aside and remained there.31 When the Cushite came in, he said, "Let my lord the king receive the good news that this day the LORD has taken your part, freeing you from the grasp of all who rebelled against you."32 But the king asked the Cushite, "Is young Absalom safe?" The Cushite replied, "May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rebel against you with evil intent be as that young man!"

19 1 The king was shaken, and went up to the room over the city gate to weep. He said as he wept, "My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!"2 Joab was told that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom;3 and that day's victory was turned into mourning for the whole army when they heard that the king was grieving for his son.4 The soldiers stole into the city that day like men shamed by flight in battle.5 Meanwhile the king covered his face and cried out in a loud voice, "My son Absalom! Absalom! My son, my son!"6 Then Joab went to his residence and said: "Though they saved your life and your sons' and daughters' lives, also the lives of your wives and those of your concubines, you have put all your servants to shame today7 by loving those who hate you and hating those who love you. For you have shown today that officers and servants mean nothing to you. Indeed I am now certain that if Absalom were alive today and all of us dead, you would think that more suitable.8 Now then, get up! Go out and speak kindly to your servants. I swear by the LORD that if you do not go out, not a single man will remain with you overnight, and this will be a far greater disaster for you than any that has afflicted you from your youth until now."
So the king stepped out and sat at the gate. When all the people were informed that the king was sitting at the gate, they came into his presence. Now the Israelites had fled to their separate tents,
but throughout the tribes of Israel all the people were arguing among themselves, saying to one another: "The king delivered us from the clutches of our enemies, and it was he who rescued us from the grip of the Philistines. But now he has fled from the country before Absalom,11 and Absalom, whom we anointed over us, died in battle. Why, then, should you remain silent about restoring the king to his palace?" When the talk of all Israel reached the king,12 David sent word to the priests Zadok and Abiathar: "Say to the elders of Judah: 'Why should you be last to restore the king to his palace?13 You are my brothers, you are my bone and flesh. Why should you be last to restore the king?'14 Also say to Amasa: 'Are you not my bone and flesh? May God do thus and so to me, if you do not become my general permanently in place of Joab.'"15 He won over all the Judahites as one man, and so they summoned the king to return, with all his servants.
When the king, on his return, reached the Jordan, Judah had come to Gilgal to meet him and to escort him across the Jordan.
Shimei, son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, hurried down with the Judahites to meet King David,18 accompanied by a thousand men from Benjamin. Ziba, too, the servant of the house of Saul, accompanied by his fifteen sons and twenty servants, hastened to the Jordan before the king.19 They crossed over the ford to bring the king's household over and to do whatever he wished. When Shimei, son of Gera, crossed the Jordan, he fell down before the king20 and said to him: "May my lord not hold me guilty, and may he not remember and take to heart the wrong that your servant did the day my lord the king left Jerusalem.21 For your servant knows that he has done wrong. Yet realize that I have been the first of the whole house of Joseph to come down today to meet my lord the king."22 But Abishai, son of Zeruiah, countered: "Shimei must be put to death for this. He cursed the LORD'S anointed."23 David replied: "What has come between you and me, sons of Zeruiah, that you would create enmity for me this day? Should anyone die today in Israel? Am I not aware that today I am king of Israel?"
Then the king said to Shimei, "You shall not die." And the king gave him his oath.
Meribbaal, son of Saul, also went down to meet the king. He had not washed his feet nor trimmed his mustache nor washed his clothes from the day the king left until he returned safely.26 When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, "Why did you not go with me, Meribbaal?"27 He replied: "My lord the king, my servant betrayed me. For your servant, who is lame, said to him, 'Saddle the ass for me, that I may ride on it and go with the king.'28 But he slandered your servant before my lord the king. But my lord the king is like an angel of God. Do what you judge best.29 For though my father's entire house deserved only death from my lord the king, yet you placed your servant among the guests at your table. What right do I still have to make further appeal to the king?"30 But the king said to him: "Why do you go on talking? I say, 'You and Ziba shall divide the property.'"
Meribbaal answered the king, "Indeed let him have it all, now that my lord the king has returned safely to his palace."
Barzillai the Gileadite also came down from Rogelim and escorted the king to the Jordan for his crossing, taking leave of him there.

David Mourns for Absalom

33 It was Barzillai, a very old man of eighty and very wealthy besides, who had provisioned the king during his stay in Mahanaim.34 The king said to Barzillai, "Cross over with me, and I will provide for your old age as my guest in Jerusalem."35 But Barzillai answered the king: "How much longer have I to live, that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king?36 I am now eighty years old. Can I distinguish between good and bad? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks, or still appreciate the voices of singers and songstresses? Why should your servant be any further burden to my lord the king?37 In escorting the king across the Jordan, your servant is doing little enough! Why should the king give me this reward?38 Please let your servant go back to die in his own city by the tomb of his father and mother. Here is your servant Chimham. Let him cross over with my lord the king. Do for him whatever you will."39 Then the king said to him, "Chimham shall come over with me, and I will do for him as you would wish. And anything else you would like me to do for you, I will do."
Then all the people crossed over the Jordan but the king remained; he kissed Barzillai and bade him Godspeed as he returned to his own district.
Finally the king crossed over to Gilgal, accompanied by Chimham. All the people of Judah and half of the people of Israel had escorted the king across.42 But all these Israelites began coming to the king and saying, "Why did our brothers the Judahites steal you away and escort the king and his household across the Jordan, along with all David's men?"43 All the Judahites replied to the men of Israel: "Because the king is our relative. Why are you angry over this affair? Have we had anything to eat at the king's expense? Or have portions from his table been given to us?"44 The Israelites answered the Judahites: "We have ten shares in the king. Also, we are the first-born rather than you. Why do you slight us? Were we not first to speak of restoring the king?" Then the Judahites in turn spoke even more fiercely than the Israelites.

The Rebellion of Sheba

20 1 Now a rebellious individual from Benjamin named Sheba, the son of Bichri, happened to be there. He sounded the horn and cried out, "We have no portion in David, nor any share in the son of Jesse. Every man to his tent, O Israel!"2 So all the Israelites left David for Sheba, son of Bichri. But from the Jordan to Jerusalem the Judahites remained loyal to their king.3 When King David came to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines whom he had left behind to take care of the palace and placed them in confinement. He provided for them, but had no further relations with them. And so they remained in confinement to the day of their death, lifelong widows.
Then the king said to Amasa: "Summon the Judahites for me within three days. Then present yourself here."5 Accordingly Amasa set out to summon Judah, but delayed beyond the time set for him by David.6 Then David said to Abishai: "Sheba, son of Bichri, may now do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your lord's servants and pursue him, lest he find fortified cities and take shelter while we look on."7 So Joab and the Cherethites and Pelethites and all the warriors marched out behind Abishai from Jerusalem to campaign in pursuit of Sheba, son of Bichri.8 They were at the great stone in Gibeon when Amasa met them. Now Joab had a belt over his tunic, from which was slung, in its sheath near his thigh, a sword that could be drawn with a downward movement. 9 And Joab asked Amasa, "How are you, my brother?" With his right hand Joab held Amasa's beard as if to kiss him.10 And since Amasa was not on his guard against the sword in Joab's other hand, Joab stabbed him in the abdomen with it, so that his entrails burst forth to the ground, and he died without receiving a second thrust. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba, son of Bichri.11 One of Joab's attendants stood by Amasa and said, "Let him who favors Joab and is for David follow Joab."12 Amasa lay covered with blood in the middle of the highroad, and the man noticed that all the soldiers were stopping. So he removed Amasa from the road to the field and placed a garment over him, because all who came up to him were stopping.13 When he had been removed from the road, everyone went on after Joab in pursuit of Sheba, son of Bichri.
Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth-maacah. Then all the Bichrites assembled and they too entered the city after him.15 So David's servants came and besieged him in Abel Beth-maacah. They threw up a mound against the city, and all the soldiers who were with Joab began battering the wall to throw it down.16 Then a wise woman from the city stood on the outworks and called out, "Listen, listen! Tell Joab to come here, that I may speak with him."17 When Joab had come near her, the woman said, "Are you Joab?" And he replied, "Yes." She said to him, "Listen to what your maidservant has to say." He replied. "I am listening."18 Then she went on to say: "There is an ancient saying, 'Let them ask if they will in Abel 19 or in Dan whether loyalty is finished or ended in Israel.' You are seeking to beat down a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you wish to destroy the inheritance of the LORD?"20 Joab answered, "Not at all, not at all! I do not wish to destroy or to ruin anything.21 That is not the case at all. A man named Sheba, son of Bichri, from the hill country of Ephraim has rebelled against King David. Surrender him alone, and I will withdraw from the city." Then the woman said to Joab, "His head shall be thrown to you across the wall."22 She went to all the people with her advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba, son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. He then sounded the horn, and they scattered from the city to their own tents, while Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.
Joab was in command of the whole army of Israel. Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, was in command of the Cherethites and Pelethites.24 Adoram was in charge of the forced labor. Jehoshaphat, son of Ahilud, was the chancellor.25 Shawsha was the scribe. Zadok and Abiathar were priests.26 Ira the Jairite was also David's priest.

David Avenges the Gibeonites

21 1 During David's reign there was a famine for three successive years. David had recourse to the LORD, who said, "There is bloodguilt on Saul and his family because he put the Gibeonites to death."2 So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not Israelites, but survivors of the Amorites; and although the Israelites had given them their oath, Saul had attempted to kill them off in his zeal for the men of Israel and Judah.)3 David said to the Gibeonites, "What must I do for you and how must I make atonement, that you may bless the inheritance of the LORD?"4 The Gibeonites answered him, "We have no claim against Saul and his house for silver or gold, nor is it our place to put any man to death in Israel." Then he said, "I will do for you whatever you propose."5 They said to the king, "As for the man who was exterminating us and who intended to destroy us that we might have no place in all the territory of Israel,6 let seven men from among his descendants be given to us, that we may dismember them before the LORD in Gibeon, on the LORD'S mountain." The king replied, "I will give them up."7 The king, however, spared Meribbaal, son of Jonathan, son of Saul, because of the LORD'S oath that formed a bond between David and Saul's son Jonathan.8 But the king took Armoni and Meribbaal, the two sons that Aiah's daughter Rizpah had borne to Saul, and the five sons of Saul's daughter Merob that she had borne to Adriel, son of Barzillai the Meholathite,9 and surrendered them to the Gibeonites. They then dismembered them on the mountain before the LORD. The seven fell at the one time; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest-- that is, at the beginning of the barley harvest.
Then Rizpah, Aiah's daughter, took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on the rock from the beginning of the harvest until rain came down on them from the sky, fending off the birds of the sky from settling on them by day, and the wild animals by night.11 When David was informed of what Rizpah, Aiah's daughter, the concubine of Saul, had done,12 he went and obtained the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh-gilead, who had carried them off secretly from the public square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them at the time they killed Saul on Gilboa.13 When he had brought up from there the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan, the bones of those who had been dismembered were also gathered up.14 Then the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan were buried in the tomb of his father Kish at Zela in the territory of Benjamin. After all that the king commanded had been carried out, God granted relief to the land.

Exploits of David's Men

15 There was another battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his servants and fought the Philistines, but David grew tired.16 Dadu, one of the Rephaim, whose bronze spear weighed three hundred shekels, was about to take him captive. Dadu was girt with a new sword and planned to kill David,17 but Abishai, son of Zeruiah, came to his assistance and struck and killed the Philistine. Then David's men swore to him, "You must not go out to battle with us again, lest you quench the lamp of Israel."18 After this there was another battle with the Philistines in Gob. On that occasion Sibbecai, from Husha, killed Saph, one of the Rephaim.19 There was another battle with the Philistines in Gob, in which Elhanan, son of Jair from Bethlehem, killed Goliath of Gath, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's heddle-bar.20 There was another battle at Gath in which there was a man of large stature with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot-- twenty-four in all. He too was one of the Rephaim.21 And when he insulted Israel, Jonathan, son of David's brother Shimei, killed him.22 These four were Rephaim in Gath, and they fell at the hands of David and his servants.

David's Song of Thanksgiving

22 1 David sang the words of this song to the LORD when the LORD had rescued him from the grasp of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.
This is what he sang: I "O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,
my God, my rock of refuge! My shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold, my refuge, my savior, from violence you keep me safe.
'Praised be the LORD,' I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies. II
"The breakers of death surged round about me, the floods of perdition overwhelmed me;
The cords of the nether world enmeshed me, the snares of death overtook me.
In my distress I called upon the LORD and cried out to my God; From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry reached his ears. III
"The earth swayed and quaked; the foundations of the heavens trembled and shook when his wrath flared up.
Smoke rose from his nostrils, and a devouring fire from his mouth; he kindled coals into flame.
He inclined the heavens and came down, with dark clouds under his feet.
He mounted a cherub and flew, borne on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness the shelter about him, with spattering rain and thickening clouds.
From the brightness of his presence coals were kindled to flame.
"The LORD thundered from heaven; the Most High gave forth his voice.
He sent forth arrows to put them to flight; he flashed lightning and routed them.
Then the wellsprings of the sea appeared, the foundations of the earth were laid bare, At the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of the wind of his wrath.
"He reached out from on high and grasped me; he drew me out of the deep waters.
He rescued me from my mighty enemy, from my foes, who were too powerful for me.
They attacked me on my day of calamity, but the LORD came to my support.
He set me free in the open, and rescued me, because he loves me. IV
"The LORD rewarded me according to my justice; according to the cleanness of my hands he requited me.
For I kept the ways of the LORD and was not disloyal to my God.
For his ordinances were all present to me, and his statutes I put not from me;
But I was wholehearted toward him, and I was on my guard against guilt.
And the LORD requited me according to my justice, according to my innocence in his sight.
"Toward the faithful you are faithful; toward the wholehearted you are wholehearted;
Toward the sincere you are sincere; but toward the crooked you are astute.
You save lowly people, though on the lofty your eyes look down.
You are my lamp, O LORD! O my God, you brighten the darkness about me.
For with your aid I run against an armed band, and by the help of my God I leap over a wall.
God's way is unerring; the promise of the LORD is fire-tried; he is a shield to all who take refuge in him." I
"For who is God except the LORD? Who is a rock save our God?
The God who girded me with strength and kept my way unerring;
Who made my feet swift as those of hinds and set me on the heights;
Who trained my hands for war till my arms could bend a bow of brass. II
"You have given me your saving shield, and your help has made me great.
You made room for my steps; unwavering was my stride.
I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, nor did I turn again till I made an end of them.
I smote them and they did not rise; they fell beneath my feet. III
"You girded me with strength for war; you subdued my adversaries beneath me.
My enemies you put to flight before me and those who hated me I destroyed.
They cried for help-but no one saved them; to the LORD-- but he answered them not.
I ground them fine as the dust of the earth; like the mud in the streets I trampled them down. IV
"You rescued me from the strife of my people; you made me head over nations. A people I had not known became my slaves;
as soon as they heard me, they obeyed.
The foreigners fawned and cringed before me; they staggered forth from their fortresses."
"The LORD live! And blessed be my Rock! Extolled be my God, rock of my salvation.
O God, who granted me vengeance, who made peoples subject to me
and helped me escape from my enemies, Above my adversaries you exalt me and from the violent man you rescue me.
Therefore will I proclaim you, O LORD, among the nations, and I will sing praise to your name,
You who gave great victories to your king and showed kindness to your anointed, to David and his posterity forever."

The Last Words of David

23 1 These are the last words of David: "The utterance of David, son of Jesse; the utterance of the man God raised up, Anointed of the God of Jacob, favorite of the Mighty One of Israel. 2 The spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.3 The God of Israel spoke; of me the Rock of Israel said, 'He that rules over men in justice, that rules in the fear of God,4 Is like the morning light at sunrise on a cloudless morning, making the greensward sparkle after rain.'5 Is not my house firm before God? He has made an eternal covenant with me, set forth in detail and secured. Will he not bring to fruition all my salvation and my every desire?6 But the wicked are all like thorns to be cast away; they cannot be taken up by hand.7 He who wishes to touch them must arm himself with iron and the shaft of a spear, and they must be consumed by fire."

David's Mighty Men

8 These are the names of David's warriors. Ishbaal, son of Hachamoni, was the first of the Three. It was he who brandished his battle-ax over eight hundred slain in a single encounter. 9 Next to him, among the Three warriors, was Eleazar, son of Dodo the Ahohite. He was with David at Ephes-dammim when the Philistines assembled there for battle. The Israelites had retreated,10 but he stood his ground and fought the Philistines until his hand grew tired and became cramped, holding fast to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory on that day; the soldiers turned back after Eleazar, but only to strip the slain.11 Next to him was Shammah, son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines had assembled at Lehi, where there was a plot of land full of lentils. When the soldiers fled from the Philistines,12 he took his stand in the middle of the plot and defended it. He slew the Philistines, and the LORD brought about a great victory. Such were the deeds of the Three warriors.13 During the harvest three of the Thirty went down to David in the cave of Adullam, while a Philistine clan was encamped in the Vale of Rephaim.14 At that time David was in the refuge, and there was a garrison of Philistines in Bethlehem.15 Now David had a strong craving and said, "Oh, that someone would give me a drink of water from the cistern that is by the gate of Bethlehem!"16 So the Three warriors broke through the Philistine camp and drew water from the cistern that is by the gate of Bethlehem. But when they brought it to David he refused to drink it, and instead poured it out to the LORD,17 saying: "The LORD forbid that I do this! Can I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?" So he refused to drink it.18 Abishai, brother of Joab, son of Zeruiah, was at the head of the Thirty. It was he who brandished his spear over three hundred slain. He was listed among the Thirty19 and commanded greater respect than the Thirty, becoming their leader. However, he did not attain to the Three.20 Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, a stalwart from Kabzeel, was a man of great achievements. It was he who slew the two lions in Moab. He also went down and killed the lion in the cistern at the time of the snow.21 It was he, too, who slew an Egyptian of large stature. Although the Egyptian was armed with a spear, he went against him with a club and wrested the spear from the Egyptian's hand, then killed him with his own spear.22 Such were the deeds performed by Benaiah, son of Jehoiada. He was listed among the Thirty warriors23 and commanded greater respect than the Thirty. However, he did not attain to the Three. David put him in command of his bodyguard.24 Asahel, brother of Joab....Among the Thirty were: Elhanan, son of Dodo, from Bethlehem; 25 Shammah from En-harod; Elika from En-harod;26 Helez from Beth-pelet; Ira, son of Ikkesh, from Tekoa;27 Abiezer from Anathoth; Sibbecai from Hushah;28 Zalmon from Ahoh; Maharai from Netophah;29 Heled, son of Baanah, from Netophah; Ittai, son of Ribai, from Gibeah of the Benjaminites;30 Benaiah from Pirathon; Hiddai from Nahale-gaash;31 Abibaal from Beth-arabah; Azmaveth from Bahurim;32 Eliahba from Shaalbon; Jashen the Gunite; Jonathan,33 son of Shammah the Hararite; Ahiam, son of Sharar the Hararite;34 Eliphelet, son of Ahasbai, from Beth-maacah; Eliam, son of Ahithophel, from Gilo;35 Hezrai from Carmel; Paarai the Arbite;36 Igal, son of Nathan, from Zobah; Bani the Gadite;37 Zelek the Ammonite; Naharai from Beeroth, armor-bearer of Joab, son of Zeruiah;
Ira from Jattir; Gareb from Jattir;39 Uriah the Hittite-thirty-seven in all.

David's Census of Israel and Judah

24 1 The LORD'S anger against Israel flared again, and he incited David against the Israelites by prompting him to number Israel and Judah. 2 Accordingly the king said to Joab and the leaders of the army who were with him, "Tour all the tribes in Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba and register the people, that I may know their number."3 But Joab said to the king: "May the LORD your God increase the number of people a hundredfold for your royal majesty to see it with his own eyes. But why does it please my lord the king to order a thing of this kind?"4 The king, however, overruled Joab and the leaders of the army, so they left the king's presence in order to register the people of Israel.5 Crossing the Jordan, they began near Aroer, south of the city in the wadi, and went in the direction of Gad toward Jazer.6 They continued on to Gilead and to the district below Mount Hermon. Then they proceeded to Dan; from there they turned toward Sidon,7 going to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites, and ending up at Beer-sheba in the Negeb of Judah.8 Thus they toured the whole country, reaching Jerusalem again after nine months and twenty days.9 Joab then reported to the king the number of people registered: in Israel, eight hundred thousand men fit for military service; in Judah, five hundred thousand.

Judgment on David's Sin

10 Afterward, however, David regretted having numbered the people, and said to the LORD: "I have sinned grievously in what I have done. But now, LORD, forgive the guilt of your servant, for I have been very foolish." 11 When David rose in the morning, the LORD had spoken to the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying:12 "Go and say to David, 'This is what the LORD says: I offer you three alternatives; choose one of them, and I will inflict it on you.'"13 Gad then went to David to inform him. He asked: "Do you want a three years' famine to come upon your land, or to flee from your enemy three months while he pursues you, or to have a three days' pestilence in your land? Now consider and decide what I must reply to him who sent me."14 David answered Gad: "I am in very serious difficulty. Let us fall by the hand of God, for he is most merciful; but let me not fall by the hand of man."15 Thus David chose the pestilence. Now it was the time of the wheat harvest when the plague broke out among the people. (The LORD then sent a pestilence over Israel from morning until the time appointed, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beer-sheba died.)16 But when the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD regretted the calamity and said to the angel causing the destruction among the people, "Enough now! Stay your hand." The angel of the LORD was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.17 When David saw the angel who was striking the people, he said to the LORD: "It is I who have sinned; it is I, the shepherd, who have done wrong. But these are sheep; what have they done? Punish me and my kindred."

David's Altar on the Threshing Floor

18 On the same day Gad went to David and said to him, "Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite."19 Following Gad's bidding, David went up as the LORD had commanded.20 Now Araunah looked down and noticed the king and his servants coming toward him while he was threshing wheat. So he went out and paid homage to the king, with face to the ground.21 Then Araunah asked, "Why does my lord the king come to his servant?" David replied, "To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be checked among the people."22 But Araunah said to David: "Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever he may wish. Here are oxen for holocausts, and threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for wood.23 All this does Araunah give to the king." Araunah then said to the king, "May the LORD your God accept your offering."24 The king, however, replied to Araunah, "No, I must pay you for it, for I cannot offer to the LORD my God holocausts that cost nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty silver shekels.
Then David built an altar there to the LORD, and offered holocausts and peace offerings. The LORD granted relief to the country, and the plague was checked in Israel.

2Samuel (NAB) 18