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1 Chronicles 21 Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV)

David’s Census

21 Satan stood up against Israel and incited David to count Israel. David said to Joab and to the officers of the army, “Go, count Israel from Beersheba to Dan. Let me know how many they are.”

Joab said, “The Lord will multiply his people a hundred times. Are not all of them your servants, my lord the king? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should there be guilt upon Israel?”

But the word of the king overruled Joab.

Joab went throughout all Israel and came back to Jerusalem. He reported the total number of the people to David: In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who could draw the sword, including four hundred seventy thousand from Judah who could draw the sword. He did not include Levi and Benjamin in the census because the king’s directive was offensive to Joab. This action was also evil in the eyes of God, so he struck Israel.

David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Please forgive the guilt of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”

The Lord said to Gad, David’s seer, 10 “Go tell David this is what the Lord has said. I am offering you three choices. Choose one of them for yourself, and I will impose it on you.”

11 So Gad came to David and said to him, “This is what the Lord says. Choose one of these for yourself: 12 either three years of famine, or three months of devastation in which you are overwhelmed by the sword of your enemies, or three days of the sword of the Lord bringing plague on the land, with the angel of the Lord causing destruction throughout all the territory of Israel. Now decide what answer I should take back to the one who sent me with this directive.”

13 David said to Gad, “This puts me in a difficult position. Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, because his compassion is very great. But do not let me fall into the hands of man.”

14 The Lord caused a plague[a] in Israel. Seventy thousand men from Israel fell. 15 God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. The Lord saw the destruction, and he relented from this devastation. He said to the destroying angel, “Enough. Hold back your hand.”

The angel of the Lord was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan[b] the Jebusite.

16 David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between the earth and the heavens, with his sword drawn in his hand and stretched out over Jerusalem. David and the elders, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces. 17 David said to God, “Look, I am the one who said to count the people. I am the one who has sinned and acted very wickedly. But these sheep! What have they done, O Lord my God? Please let your hand be on me and on the house of my father. But not a plague on your people!”

18 The angel of the Lord told Gad to tell David to go and set up an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 19 David went up according to the directive from Gad, which he had spoken in the name of the Lord.

20 While Ornan was threshing wheat, he turned and saw the angel. Ornan and his four sons hid themselves.

David Builds an Altar

21 As David approached Ornan, Ornan looked up and saw David. He went out from the threshing floor and bowed to David with his face to the ground. 22 David said to Ornan, “Give me the site of the threshing floor. I will build an altar to the Lord on it. You will give it to me for full price, and the plague will be averted from the people.”

23 Ornan said to David, “Take it for yourself. My lord the king may do what is good in his eyes. Look here. I have given the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I have given everything.”

24 David said to Ornan, “No. I am determined to buy it for the full price, because I will not take what belongs to you for the Lord and for burnt offerings without paying for it.”

25 So David weighed out six hundred shekels[c] of gold to Ornan for the site.

26 Then David built an altar to the Lord there, and he offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He called to the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar for burnt offerings. 27 The Lord spoke to the angel. The angel put his sword back into its sheath.

28 At that time, when David saw the Lord had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he sacrificed there.

29 The Dwelling for the Lord, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering at that time were at the high place at Gibeon. 30 David was not able to go before it to seek answers from God because he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord.


  1. 1 Chronicles 21:14 Or deadly disease
  2. 1 Chronicles 21:15 He is called Araunah throughout 2 Samuel 24.
  3. 1 Chronicles 21:25 About fifteen pounds
Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV)

The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version®, EHV®, © 2019 Wartburg Project, Inc. All rights reserved.


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