1 Again the anger of Yahweh blazed out against Israel. So he let David harm them in this way, “Count the people of Israel and Judah.” 2 The king said to Joab and the commanders of the army who were with him, “Go through all the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beer sheba and count the people that I may know how many they are.”
3 Joab told the king, “May Yahweh your God multiply the people a hundred times and may my lord the king see this blessing. But why does my lord the king want to take a census?”
4 But the king’s word prevailed so that Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the king’s presence in order to count the people of Israel. 5 They crossed the Jordan and started with Aroer, the city in the middle of the valley, and went on toward Gad and to Jazer. 6 Then they proceeded to Gilead and to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites. They then went to Dan, and from Dan to Sidon, 7 and arrived at the fortress of Tyre and the cities of the Hivites and the Canaanites. They went out through the Negeb of Judah at Beersheba and 8 after having gone through all the land, returned to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. 9 Joab gave the total count of the people to the king: eight hundred thousand sword-wielding warriors in Israel and five hundred thousand men in Judah.
10 But after he had the people counted, David felt remorse and said to Yahweh, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done, but now, O Yah weh, I ask you to forgive my sin for I have acted foolishly.”
11 The following day, before David awoke, Yahweh’s word had come to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, 12 “Go, and give David this message: I offer you three things and I will let one of them be fall you according to your own choice.” 13 So Gad went to David and asked him, “Do you want three years of famine in your land? Or do you want to be pursued for three months by your foes while you flee from them? Or do you want three days’ pestilence in your land? Now, think and decide what answer I shall give him who sent me.”
14 David answered Gad, “I am greatly troubled. Let me fall into the hands of Yahweh whose mercy is abundant; but let me not fall into human hands.”
15 So Yahweh sent a pestilence on Israel from morning until the appointed time, causing the death of seventy thousand men from Dan to Beersheba. 16 When the angel stretch ed forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, Yahweh would punish no more and said to the angel who was causing destruction among the people, “It is enough, hold back your hand.” The angel of Yahweh was already at the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite.
17 When David saw the angel striking the people, he spoke to Yahweh and said, “I have sinned and acted wickedly, but these are only the sheep; what have they done? Let your hand strike me and my father’s family.”
18 Gad went to David that day and said to him, “Go, set up an altar to Yahweh on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David left to follow Yah weh’s command made through Gad. 20 When Araunah saw the king and his officials coming toward him, he went forward, paid homage to the king with his face to the ground, and said, 21 “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David answered, “I will buy your threshing floor in order to build an altar to Yahweh so that the plague may end among the people.” 22 Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take the threshing floor and offer the sacrifice that seems good to him: here you have my oxen for the burnt offering, the threshing sledges, and the oxen’s yokes for the wood. 23 All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king. May Yahweh your God hear you.”
24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, I will pay you for all this, for I will not offer to Yahweh my God something that costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25 David built there an altar to Yahweh and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So Yahweh had mercy on the land and the plague ended in Israel.