1 Jehovah became angry at Israel again. He provoked David to turn against Israel. He said: »Go count the people of Israel and Judah.«
2 King David said to Joab the commander of the army: »Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and count the people. That way I will know how many there are.«
3 Joab answered reluctantly: »Your Majesty, may Jehovah your God make the people of Israel a hundred times more numerous than they are now. May you live to see him do it. But why does Your Majesty want to do this?«
4 The king made Joab and his officers obey his order. They left his presence and went out to count the people of Israel.
5 They crossed the Jordan and camped south of Aroer, the city in the middle of the valley, in the territory of Gad. Then they went north to Jazer.
6 They went to Gilead and to Kadesh in Syria. Then they went to Dan Dan-jaan, Ijon, and on toward Sidon.
7 They came to the fortress of Tyre. They went through every town of the Hivites and the Canaanites. Finally, they went to Beersheba in the Southern Desert of Judah.
8 After they went through the whole land, they went back to Jerusalem. It took them nine months and twenty days.
9 Joab told David: In Israel there is eight hundred thousand who can serve in the army. In Judah there are five hundred thousand.
10 After David had everyone counted, he felt guilty and told Jehovah: »What I did was stupid and terribly wrong. Jehovah, please forgive me.«
11 When David got up in the morning, Jehovah spoke his word to the prophet Gad, Davids seer.
12 »Go tell David: This is what Jehovah says: »I offer you three choices. Choose the one you want me to do to you.« «
13 Gad told David the three choices as follows: »Seven years of famine could come to you and your land. You could flee from your enemies as they pursue you for three months. Or there could be a three-day plague in your land? Think it over, and decide what answer I should give the one who sent me.«
14 »I am in a desperate situation,« David told Gad. »Please let us fall into Jehovahs hands because he is very merciful. But do not let me fall into human hands.«
15 So Jehovah sent a plague among the Israelites from that morning until the time he had chosen. Of the people from Dan to Beersheba, seventy thousand died.
16 When the angel stretched out his arm to destroy Jerusalem, Jehovah changed his mind about the disaster. »Enough!« He said to the angel who was destroying the people. »Put down your weapon.« The angel of Jehovah was at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
17 David saw the angel who had been killing the people. He said to Jehovah: »I have sinned. I have done wrong. What have these sheep done? Please let your punishment be against me and against my fathers family.«
18 Gad came to David and said: »Go, set up an altar for Jehovah at Araunah the Jebusites threshing floor.«
19 David obeyed Jehovahs command and went as Gad had told him to.
20 Araunah saw David and his soldiers coming toward him. He went over to David and bowed down low,
21 and said: »My lord the king! Why have you come to see me?« David answered: »I came to buy your threshing place. I have to build Jehovah an altar here, so this disease will stop killing the people.«
22 Araunah said: »Take what you want and offer your sacrifice. Here are some cattle for the sacrifice. You can use the threshing-boards and the wooden yokes for the fire.«
23 Araunah gave this to the king and said: »May Jehovah your God accept you.«
24 »No!« The king said to Araunah. »I must buy it from you at a fair price. I will not offer Jehovah my God burnt sacrifices that cost me nothing.« So David bought the threshing floor and the cattle for one and one quarter pounds of silver.
25 David built an altar for Jehovah there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. So Jehovah heard the prayers for the country. The plague on Israel stopped.