1 Satan wanted to bring trouble on the people of Israel and so he made David take a census of the Israelites. 2 David said to Joab and to the senior army officers, “Go, and take a census of Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, then come back that I may know their number.” 3 Joab said, “May Yahweh multiply the people a hundred times! My lord king, are they not all your servants? Why do you want to do this? Will you bring guilt upon Israel?”
4 But the king enforced his order on Joab, and Joab went away, traveling through the whole country of Israel before he returned to Jerusalem. 5 Joab gave David the figures for the census of the people: the whole of Israel numbered one million, one hundred thousand men capable of drawing sword, and Judah four hundred and seventy thousand capable of drawing sword. 6 But Joab disapproved of the king’s command, and, because of this he had not taken any census of Levi or of Benjamin.
7 God looked with displeasure on what had been done and so he began to punish Israel. 8 Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. But now I beg you to forgive me for this fault. I have been very foolish.” 9 Then Yahweh spoke to Gad, David’s prophet, 10 “Go and say to David, ‘Yahweh says this: I offer you three things; choose one of them for me to do to you.” 11 So Gad went to David and said, “Yahweh says this, ‘Take your choice: 12 three years of famine, three months running away from the armies of your enemies, or three days of Yahweh’s own sword, an epidemic in your land, with Yahweh’s destroying angel bringing death throughout Israel.’ Now decide how I am to answer him who sends me.” 13 David said to Gad, “This is a hard choice, but let me rather fall into the power of Yahweh, since his mercy is very great; and not into the power of men.”
14 So Yahweh sent an epidemic on Israel, and sev enty thousand men of the Israelites died. 15 God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, Yahweh looked and changed his mind; and he said to the destroying angel, “Enough! Now withdraw your hand.” The angel of Yahweh was standing beside the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 16 David saw the angel of Yahweh standing between the heavens and earth with a naked sword in his hand, ready to destroy Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces. 17 And David prayed to God, “Was it not I who sinned, by ordering this wicked census? But these, this flock, what have they done? Yahweh my God, let your hand lie heavy on me and on my family; but let your people escape the plague.”
18 The angel of Yahweh then said to Gad, “David must go up and build an altar to Yahweh on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” 19 So David obeyed the command which Gad had spoken in the name of Yahweh. 20 Now Ornan, as he turned, had seen the angel and had hidden, with his four sons.
20 Ornan was threshing wheat 21 when David came to him. When Ornan looked up and saw David coming, he left the threshing floor and with his face to the ground did homage to David. 22 Then David said to Ornan, “Sell me your threshing floor, to build an altar to Yahweh. Let me have it at its full price, that the plague may be turned away from the people.” 23 “Take it,” Ornan said to David, “and let my lord the king do as he thinks right. Look, I will give you the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing sled for the wood and the wheat for the grain offering; I give them all.”
24 But King David said to Ornan, “No, I must buy it from you at the full price; I will not take for Yahweh what is yours, or offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” 25 So David gave Ornan six hundred gold coins for the threshing place.
26 David built an altar there to Yahweh and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. He called on Yahweh, and Yahweh answered him with fire from heaven on the altar for burnt offerings 27 and ordered the angel to put his sword away. 28 Then David saw that Yahweh had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, so he kept on offering sacrifices there. 29 The Holy Tent of Yahweh that Moses had made in the wilderness and the altar for burnt offerings were at that time at the High place at Gibeon, 30 but David had not been able to go there before God to consult him, so fearful was he of the sword of the angel of Yahweh.