וַיֹּסֶף אַף־יְהוָה לַחֲרוֹת בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל וַיָּסֶת אֶת־דָּוִד בָּהֶם לֵאמֹר לֵךְ מְנֵה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת־יְהוּדָה׃ 24:1
2Sam. 24:1 And the “anger” of the Lord proceeded to be kindled at Israel, and He moved David against them saying, “Go count Israel and Judah.” [Return to 1Chr. 21:1]
וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל־יוֹאָב שַׂר־הַחַיִל אֲשֶׁר־אִתּוֹ שׁוּט־נָא בְּכָל־שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִדָּן וְעַד־בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע 24:2 וּפִקְדוּ אֶת־הָעָם וְיָדַעְתִּי אֵת מִסְפַּר הָעָם׃
2Sam. 24:2 So the king said to Joab, captain of the host who was with him, “Go back and forth now throughout the tribes of Israel, from Dan and as far as Beer-sheba, and count the people that I may know the number of the people.”
וַיֹּאמֶר יוֹאָב אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ וְיוֹסֵף יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶל־הָעָם כָּהֵם וְכָהֵם מֵאָה פְעָמִים וְעֵינֵי אֲדֹנִי־הַמֶּלֶךְ 24:3 רֹאוֹת וַאדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ לָמָּה חָפֵץ בַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה׃
2Sam. 24:3 And Joab said to the king, “But the Lord, your God, has added to the people, like these and like those, a hundred fold, as the eyes of my lord, the king, have been seeing. So why does my lord, the king, delight in this thing?”
וַיֶּחֱזַק דְּבַר־הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל־יוֹאָב וְעַל שָׂרֵי הֶחָיִל וַיֵּצֵא יוֹאָב וְשָׂרֵי הַחַיִל לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ לִפְקֹד אֶת־הָעָם 24:4 אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל׃
2Sam. 24:4 But the word of the king prevailed against Joab and against the captains of the host, and Joab went out with the captains of the host before the king to count the people of Israel.
וַיַּעַבְרוּ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּן וַיַּחֲנוּ בַעֲרוֹעֵר יְמִין הָעִיר אֲשֶׁר בְּתוֹךְ־הַנַּחַל הַגָּד וְאֶל־יַעְזֵר׃ 24:5
2Sam. 24:5 And they crossed the Jordan and camped in Aroer to the right of the city that was in the middle of the valley of Gad, then to Jazer.
וַיָּבֹאוּ הַגִּלְעָדָה וְאֶל־אֶרֶץ תַּחְתִּים חָדְשִׁי וַיָּבֹאוּ דָּנָה יַּעַן וְסָבִיב אֶל־צִידוֹן׃ 24:6
2Sam. 24:6 Then they came to Gilead, then to the land of Tachtim-hodshi. Then they came to Dan-jaan, then around to Zidon.
וַיָּבֹאוּ מִבְצַר־צֹר וְכָל־עָרֵי הַחִוִּי וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי וַיֵּצְאוּ אֶל־נֶגֶב יְהוּדָה בְּאֵר שָׁבַע׃ 24:7
2Sam. 24:7 Then they came to the fortress of Tyre, and all the cities of the Hivites and of the Canaanites. Then they went out to the south of Judah to Beer-sheba.
וַיָּשֻׁטוּ בְּכָל־הָאָרֶץ וַיָּבֹאוּ מִקְצֵה תִשְׁעָה חֳדָשִׁים וְעֶשְׂרִים יוֹם יְרוּשָׁלִָם׃ 24:8
2Sam. 24:8 When they had gone throughout all the land, then at the end of nine months and twenty days they came to Jerusalem.
וַיִּתֵּן יוֹאָב אֶת־מִסְפַּר מִפְקַד־הָעָם אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ וַתְּהִי יִשְׂרָאֵל שְׁמֹנֶה מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף אִישׁ־חַיִל שֹׁלֵף 24:9
חֶרֶב וְאִישׁ יְהוּדָה חֲמֵשׁ־מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף אִישׁ׃
2Sam. 24:9 And Joab delivered the number of the count of people to the king. And there was of Israel eight hundred thousand men of valor drawing sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men. [Return to 1Chr. 21:5]
וַיַּךְ לֵב־דָּוִד אֹתוֹ אַחֲרֵי־כֵן סָפַר אֶת־הָעָם וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד אֶל־יְהוָה חָטָאתִי מְאֹד אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי וְעַתָּה 24:10 יְהוָה הַעֲבֶר־נָא אֶת־עֲוֺן עַבְדְּךָ כִּי נִסְכַּלְתִּי מְאֹד׃
2Sam. 24:10 Then the heart of David smote him after thus numbering the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done, but now, O Lord, put away, I beseech You, the iniquity of your servant, for I have been a great fool.”
וַיָּקָם דָּוִד בַּבֹּקֶר וּדְבַר־יְהוָה הָיָה אֶל־גָּד הַנָּבִיא חֹזֵה דָוִד לֵאמֹר׃ 24:11
2Sam. 24:11 And David rose up in the morning, and the word of the Lord had occurred to Gad, the prophet, the seer of David, saying,
הָלוֹךְ וְדִבַּרְתָּ אֶל־דָּוִד כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה שָׁלֹשׁ אָנֹכִי נוֹטֵל עָלֶיךָ בְּחַר־לְךָ אַחַת־מֵהֶם וְאֶעֱשֶׂה־לָּךְ׃ 24:12
2Sam. 24:12 “Go and you shall say to David, ‘Thus says the Lord: ‘I am imposing three on you; choose for yourself one of them that I shall do to you.’”
וַיָּבֹא־גָד אֶל־דָּוִד וַיַּגֶּד־לוֹ וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ הֲתָבוֹא לְךָ שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים רָעָב בְּאַרְצֶךָ אִם־שְׁלֹשָׁה חֳדָשִׁים 24:13
נֻסְךָ לִפְנֵי־צָרֶיךָ וְהוּא רֹדְפֶךָ וְאִם־הֱיוֹת שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים דֶּבֶר בְּאַרְצֶךָ עַתָּה דַּע וּרְאֵה מָה־אָשִׁיב שֹׁלְחִי
2Sam. 24:13 So Gad went to David and told him. And he said to him, “Shall seven years famine come to you over your land, or three months of your fleeing before your enemy as he is pursuing you, or there be three days of pestilence in your land?’ Now consider and determine what I shall return to the Sender of the word.”
וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד אֶל־גָּד צַר־לִי מְאֹד נִפְּלָה־נָּא בְיַד־יְהוָה כִּי־רַבִּים (רַחֲמֹו) [רַחֲמָיו] וּבְיַד־אָדָם 24:14
2Sam. 24:14 And David said to Gad, “It is great trouble for me. Let us fall now into the hands of the Lord, for His mercies are manifold, but let me not fall into the hand of man.”
Apparently, David selected either the first or the third choice. I assume that his not wanting to fall into the hand of man precluded the second choice. Now did he choose the first or the third? We must presume that he chose the third, as there will be a plague throughout the land and not a famine. See the next three verses.
We also have an error in this verse, in the parentheses. The spelling of the noun meaning mercies signifies it as singular, whereas the to-be verb, are, following it indicates it should be plural. The correction, the addition of a yad, is in the brackets.
וַיִּתֵּן יְהוָה דֶּבֶר בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל מֵהַבֹּקֶר וְעַד־עֵת מוֹעֵד וַיָּמָת מִן־הָעָם מִדָּן וְעַד־בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע שִׁבְעִים אֶלֶף 24:15 אִישׁ׃
2Sam. 24:15 So the Lord sent out a pestilence in Israel from the morning and until the time appointed, and from the people of Dan and as far as Beer-sheba seventy thousand men died.
וַיִּשְׁלַח יָדוֹ הַמַּלְאָךְ יְרוּשָׁלִַם לְשַׁחֲתָהּ וַיִּנָּחֶם יְהוָה אֶל־הָרָעָה וַיֹּאמֶר לַמַּלְאָךְ הַמַּשְׁחִית בָּעָם רַב 24:16 עַתָּה הֶרֶף יָדֶךָ וּמַלְאַךְ יְהוָה הָיָה עִם־גֹּרֶן (הָאוֹּרְנָה) [הָאֲרַוְנָה] הַיְבֻסִי׃
2Sam. 24:16 When the angel stretched forth his “hand” toward Jerusalem to destroy it, then the Lord repented for the evil and said to the angel who was the destroyer of the people, “It is enough now. Withdraw your hand,” as the angel of the Lord was near the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite. [Return to 1Chr. 21:15]
The name of Araunah is misspelled in this verse. The vav is displaced one position. The correction is in the brackets. This name appears five times in this chapter and is misspelled twice, two different ways, and is spelled correctly in three verses.
וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד אֶל־יְהוָה בִּרְאֹתוֹ אֶת־הַמַּלְאָךְ הַמַּכֶּה בָעָם וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי חָטָאתִי וְאָנֹכִי הֶעֱוֵיתִי 24:17 וְאֵלֶּה הַצֹּאן מֶה עָשׂוּ תְּהִי נָא יָדְךָ בִּי וּבְבֵית אָבִי׃
2Sam. 24:17 And David spoke to the Lord on his seeing the angel who was the slaughterer of the people and said, “Lo, I have sinned and I have done iniquity, but these sheep, what have they done? I pray You, let Your ‘hand’ be on me and on the house of my father.”
וַיָּבֹא־גָד אֶל־דָּוִד בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ עֲלֵה הָקֵם לַיהוָה מִזְבֵּחַ בְּגֹרֶן (אֲרַנְיְָה) [אֲרַוְנָה] הַיְבֻסִי׃ 24:18
2Sam. 24:18 Then Gad came to David on that day and said to him. “Go up, raise up an altar to the Lord in the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite.”
The second misspelling of the name Araunah appears here in the parentheses and is corrected in the brackets.
וַיַּעַל דָּוִד כִּדְבַר־גָּד כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה׃ 24:19
2Sam. 24:19 So David went up according to the word of Gad as the Lord had commanded.
וַיַּשְׁקֵף אֲרַוְנָה וַיַּרְא אֶת־הַמֶּלֶךְ וְאֶת־עֲבָדָיו עֹבְרִים עָלָיו וַיֵּצֵא אֲרַוְנָה וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לַמֶּלֶךְ אַפָּיו אָרְצָה׃ 24:20
2Sam. 24:20 And Araunah looked out and saw the king and his servants passing by near him, and Araunah came out and he prostrated himself to the king, his face to the ground.
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲרַוְנָה מַדּוּעַ בָּא אֲדֹנִי־הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל־עַבְדּוֹ וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד לִקְנוֹת מֵעִמְּךָ אֶת־הַגֹּרֶן לִבְנוֹת מִזְבֵּחַ 24:21 לַיהוָה וְתֵעָצַר הַמַּגֵּפָה מֵעַל הָעָם׃
2Sam. 24:21 And Araunah said, “Why does my lord, the king, come to his servant?” And David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you to build an altar to the Lord so the plague will be withdrawn from the people.”
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲרַוְנָה אֶל־דָּוִד יִקַּח וְיַעַל אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ הַטּוֹב (בְּעַיְנוֹ) [בְּעֵינָיו] רְאֵה הַבָּקָר לָעֹלָה 24:22
וְהַמֹּרִגִּים וּכְלֵי הַבָּקָר לָעֵצִים׃
2Sam. 24:22 And Araunah said to David, “Let my lord, the king, take and offer up what is good in his eyes. Behold the oxen for the burnt offering, and the threshing tools and the furniture of the oxen for the wood.”
The word in parentheses is missing a second yad. The correction in the brackets makes the noun plural rather than singular.
הַכֹּל נָתַן אֲרַוְנָה הַמֶּלֶךְ לַמֶּלֶךְ וַיֹּאמֶר אֲרַוְנָה אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ יִרְצֶךָ׃ 24:23
2Sam. 24:23 “All this Araunah gives to the king, O king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the Lord, your God, accept you.”
וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל־אֲרַוְנָה לֹא כִּי־קָנוֹ אֶקְנֶה מֵאוֹתְךָ בִּמְחִיר וְלֹא אַעֲלֶה לַיהוָה אֱלֹהַי עֹלוֹת חִנָּם 24:24 וַיִּקֶן דָּוִד אֶת־הַגֹּרֶן וְאֶת־הַבָּקָר בְּכֶסֶף שְׁקָלִים חֲמִשִּׁים׃
2Sam. 24:24 And the king said to Araunah, “No, but surely I shall buy it from you at a price, that I should not offer to the Lord, my God, burnt offerings costing nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen with fifty silver shekels.
וַיִּבֶן שָׁם דָּוִד מִזְבֵּחַ לַיהוָה וַיַּעַל עֹלוֹת וּשְׁלָמִים וַיֵּעָתֵר יְהוָה לָאָרֶץ וַתֵּעָצַר הַמַּגֵּפָה מֵעַל יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ 24:25
2Sam. 24:25 Then David built an altar to the Lord there and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and the Lord interceded for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.
This verse makes it sound as if the plague continued after the angel had ceased destroying (v. 24:16). And it required David’s offerings before it was brought to a close.
I have to say that the events of this chapter raise many questions for which the lack of answers makes me quite uneasy. What was God angry about? What was the sin of the people? And why did He move David against them? Why was it a sin to count the people? Why did God need to have David’s action as His excuse for the punishment? And why did He have David choose the punishment? What was the plague? I have no answers to any these questions, and I’m rather bewildered by the entire chapter.
The sages have also grappled with this chapter and have tried to offer some answers, but none of them has provided any satisfaction.
Finally, what does the phrase “the Lord interceded for the land” mean? To whom did the Lord intercede? How can the Lord intercede? To Himself? To the angel? Why would He have to do that? Strange indeed!
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