King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Chronicles 21

David’s numbering the people.

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David’s numbering the people

1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

2 And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.

3 And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?

4 Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.

5 And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.

6 But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king’s word was abominable to Joab.

7 And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.

8 And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

9 And the LORD spake unto Gad, David’s seer, saying,

10 Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

11 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee

12 Either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.

13 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.

14 So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.

15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.

17 And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O LORD my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.

18 Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

19 And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the LORD.

20 And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.

21 And as David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, and went out of the threshingfloor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground.

22 Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshingfloor, that I may build an altar therein unto the LORD: thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people.

23 And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all.

24 And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.

25 So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.

26 And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.

27 And the LORD commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.

28 At that time when David saw that the LORD had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there.

29 For the tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon.

30 But David could not go before it to enquire of God: for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the LORD.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Satan. This shews that the Lord only (H.) permitted David’s sin, (2 K. xxiv. W.) and in this sense only he is said to have instigated him; (D.) though we read this was done by the fury of the Lord, or by an evil spirit. H.

Ver. 3. Israel, who will be severely punished. C. — Sin is often used in this sense. Vatable.

Ver. 5. The number, &c. The difference of the numbers here and 2 K. xxiv. 9. is to be accounted for, by supposing the greater number to be that which was really found, and the lesser to be that which Joab gave in; (Ch.) or the transcribers of this place have been inaccurate. C.

Ver. 6. Number. These might therefore escape the pestilence. D. — For. Heb. “because the king’s word was abominable to Joab.” We read that Benjamin was numbered unto David. C. vii. 5, 11. But that might be on another occasion; or the register continued in the archives, and was not brought to the king. See C. xxvii. 24. C.

Ver. 8. Iniquity. David was guilty, though he retained both faith and hope. W.

Ver. 9. Seer, or prophet, whom David kept at court and consulted. He was endued himself with the prophetic spirit.

Ver. 10. Three; a word omitted in Heb. but supplied by the Prot. H. — “I will bring three things upon thee.” Sept.

Ver. 12. Three years’ famine; which joined with the three foregoing years of famine, mentioned 2 K. xxi. and the seventh year of the land’s resting, would make up the seven years proposed by the prophet. 2 K. xxiv. 13. Ch. — Perhaps it would be as well to acknowledge a mistake, (2 K. H.) on account of the similitude of the Hebrew words signifying three and seven: (T.) unless the prophet reduced the time from seven to three years; as in Ezechiel (iv. 15.) God mitigates the severity of his first threat. Sanctius.

Ver. 13. Men. Susanna spoke on a different supposition, (Dan. xiii. 23. Eccli. ii. 22.) of eternal punishment, in consequence of sin. David prefers to be punished by the hand of a tender father, rather than that of an enemy; (T. E.) and he does not wish to screen himself from suffering in this world, but offers himself to share in the chastisement of his subjects. H.

Ver. 15. Took. Heb. “repented of evil,” taking pity of unhappy victims. — Ornan, or Areuna. Ch. — He had been king of the Jebusites before David took Jerusalem. Mariana. T.

Ver. 18. Altar. Hence it appears that holy men erected altars by God’s command. D.

Ver. 20. Now. Heb. “and Oranan turned back.” — Angel. Sept. (Vat.) “the king and his four sons with him, along with Achabin.” Other editions have, “and his four sons hidden with him.” Arab. “and the king, being come near to Aran, he saw David and his,” &c. Syr. reads in like manner; but says nothing of the children either of David or of Ornan. We do not read that Ornan saw the angel, 2 K. but this circumstance may be here supplied. It is evident the Sept. have read melec, “king,” instead of malac, “angel.” C. — Eupolemus says the angel Dianathan shewed David were to build the temple. Eus. Præp. ix. 30.

Ver. 22. Worth. Heb. “give it me for the full price,” or “worth.” Sept. “the money was weighed.”

Ver. 25. Six hundred sicles, &c. This was the price of the whole place on which the temple was afterwards built: but the price of the oxen was fifty sicles of silver. 2 K. xxiv. 24. Ch. — Or the fifty sicles were given for the threshing-floor alone. C. D.

Ver. 26. Fire, to testify his approbation. (W. T.) See Gen. iv. 4. 2 Par. vii. 1. C. — This altar represented the cross, on which the Victim of our reconciliation was offered. D.

Ver. 30. God. He performed what God had commanded. But he would have offered other voluntary victims at Gabaon, if he had been able. C. — The distance shewed the propriety of building the temple at Jerusalem, (D.) which was nearly in the centre of the country. H.