2 Kings xxiv.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Stirred
up, &c. This stirring up, was not the doing of God, but of satan; as it is expressly declared, 1 Chronicles
xxi. 1. (Challoner) --- David was moved by vanity, &c., thus to displease God. --- Among. Hebrew, "against;" as
the king could have done nothing more prejudicial to his people, 70,000 of whom perished on this occasion, ver. 15. (Haydock)
--- We might also translate, "The anger of the Lord continued against Israel: for David, for their misfortune, was moved to
say, Go," &c., as this would obviate the harshness of the expression. (Calmet) --- However, as it is the same in the Septuagint,
&c., and as similar words do not prove that God is the author of sin, we may explain this in the same sense, allowing
that he suffered the evil to take place, knowing how to draw good out of it. (St. Augustine, &c.) (Haydock) --- Some take
this Satan to be an evil counsellor. (Calmet) --- The devil may be styled "the fury of God?" as he is his creature,
though rebellious. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Them.
He was led by curiosity. (Menochius)
Ver. 3. Thing.
He speaks in stronger terms, and adds, (1 Paralipomenon xxi. 3,) which may be imputed as a sin to Israel. Joab was
not extremely religious: yet he perceived the evil consequences, and, along with the other captains, expressed his
sentiments with more respect than on former occasions. (Haydock)
Ver. 5. Gad,
at the eastern extremity, on the banks of the Arnon.
Ver. 6. Hodsi.
Alexandrian Septuagint, (5) "of Gad and Eliazer, (6) and they came into Galaad, and into the land of Ethaon
Adasai, and they went into Dan Jaran." The other editions vary. Hebrew means, "to the land of new subjects," or "lately conquered"
(Junius) from the Agarites, (1 Paralipomenon v. 10,) which agrees with this situation. (Calmet; Lyranus) --- The commissioners
first took an account of the tribe of Ruben, (Menochius) and then proceeded northward, till they returned from Dan towards
the south. (Haydock) --- Woodlands. St. Jerome reads jár, instead of ján. By transposing a letter, áin would
signify Dan, "the spring," which feeds the Jordan.
Ver. 7. Tyre,
the ancient; about 4000 paces from the new city, which stands in an island. (Strabo xvi.) See Josue xix. 29.
Ver. 8. Land.
Yet they did not number the Levites or Benjamin, nor even the rest exactly, as Joab acted with reluctance, 1 Paralipomenon
xxi. 6., and xxvii. 24. (Menochius)
Ver. 9. Eight....and
five. Theodotion says nine and four, which comes to the same sum. (Haydock) --- But 1 Paralipomenon xxi. 5, reads, eleven
hundred thousand, and four hundred and seventy thousand fighting men: though even there the Arabic version has the number
here specified, which is less incredible. The fighting men are not above a fifth part of the population; and we may allow
that David might have about seven million subjects. It seems, therefore, best to abandon the latter number as incorrect, since
all commentators confess that similar mistakes have been made by the transcribers; and to maintain the contrary, would be
indirectly to throw the blame upon the sacred writers. (Calmet) --- Yet some account for the variation, by saying, that Joab
gave not in the full number here, (Menochius; Abulensis; &c.) which seems contrary to the text, there were found,
&c. (Haydock) --- Cornelius a Lapide supposes, that the excess of number was occasioned by the subsequent list of the
Levites, &c. But could they amount to so many? (Calmet) --- And what proof is there that they were numbered, after the
anger of God had manifested itself so severely? (Haydock) --- Others affirm, that Joab did not take an account of the 288,000
chosen out of the twelve tribes, that 24,000 of them might guard the palace by turns, in each of the twelve months, 1 Paralipomenon
xxvii. 1. (Bochart, Anim. p. 1. B. ii. 37.; Grotius; &c.) --- But thus there will be 18,000 more than even in Paralipomenon,
where we find in all 1,570,000, though the tribe of Juda have fewer, by 30,000, than in this book. To account for this, some
say, (Haydock) the proselytes are here taken in, or the inhabitants of all the territory, which was at first assigned to Juda,
Josue xix. 29. (Menochius) --- All this is conjecture, (Haydock) and must remain among the systems of history. (Calmet) ---
If Joab chose to diminish the numbers of Israel, why has he increased those of Juda? Did he wish to flatter the king's vanity,
or partiality for his own tribe? It is difficult to say what interest Joab could have in withholding the truth; and for the
sacred historian to countenance his delusion, would expose us to the same danger of mistake, and overthrow the authority of
Scripture, no less than if the author had been liable to error, and uninspired. It seems, therefore, most
rational to suppose that we have here the true list of the warriors, and that the book of Paralipomenon has been injured by
the negligence of transcribers, as it has on many other occasions. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. David's
heart struck him, after the people were numbered. That is, he was touched with a great remorse for the vanity and pride
which had put him upon numbering the people. (Challoner) --- His sin must have been internal, and probably involved a secret
confidence in his riches and power, without referring all to God, (Haydock) or trusting entirely in him. (St. Ambrose, pœn.
c. 9.; St. Augustine, contra Faust. xxii. 66., &c.) --- There was otherwise no prohibition for David's taking this account,
(Calmet) which is so natural for a prince, and may frequently prove of great service. (Haydock) --- Josephus ([Antiquities?]
vii. 13.) and others assert, that he neglected to require the payment of half a sicle. (Tirinus; Estius) --- But where does
God complain of this neglect? and how do they know that the injunction which was once given to Moses, when the tabernacle
was to be furnished, (Exodus xxx. 12.) was to remain in force afterwards? Oleaster (on Exodus) says David acted against God's
intention, who had promised that the Israelites should be innumerable. But this reason seems childish; and did not the king
abstain, on that very account, from numbering any but those who were fit for war? (1 Paralipomenon xxvii. 23.) (Calmet) ---
Struck him. Contrition and confession are specified here, as satisfaction is, ver. 12. Temporal sufferings are inflicted,
even after the sin has been remitted, ver. 16. (Worthington)
Ver. 11. And
seer. This was a peculiar distinction of the prophet, (Haydock) who was appointed to direct David, (Menochius)
to whom he had been long attached, 1 Kings xxii. 5. (Calmet0
Ver. 13. Seven.
Paralipomenon, three; which makes the contrast more striking. (Haydock) --- The Septuagint, and some copies of the
Arabic version, have the latter number. (Calmet) --- Gad might first propose seven, and then reduce it to three. (Menochius)
--- But did the prophet deliver the message twice? Usher pleads for the truth of both numbers, though he says, "It was always
my opinion, that the Hebrew copy of the Old Testament has been no less exposed to the errors of writers, than that of the
New, and all other books." (Synt. p. 219.) Boxtorf also declares, "it is better piously to believe that both is right." Why?
"because both is written." (Antic. p. 401 and 420!) The contradiction, in fact, seems to have been occasioned by the mistake
of a numeral letter, g (3) for z (7). (Kennicott) --- Usher, Malvenda, &c., adopt an hypothesis, beautiful
enough, but destitute of proof, when they say that God proposed three years in punishment of David's criminal curiosity.
But as that famine would have immediately followed the three years' scarcity, already endured, (chap. xxi.) and during the
seventh, or sabbatical year, nothing could be reaped, the famine would thus rage for seven years. (Calmet) Salien places the
62nd sabbatical year at this very time, the year of the world 3017, and terminates the famine occasioned by the cruel injustice
of Saul, the year before Christ 1013, which cannot agree with the aforesaid system. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Lord,
and be exposed to the violence of pestilence, which attacks both rich and poor; whereas the rich can frequently escape the
dangers of war, or of famine. (Calmet) --- David knew that he had sinned, and he did not wish to screen himself from suffering
the temporal punishment due to sin. (Haydock) --- God punishes us equally by the hand of men, as by other means; but the king
thus intimates, that he looks upon Him as an indulgent father, who is less severe than the ministers of justice. (Menochius)
Ver. 15. And.
Septuagint insert, "And David chose death, (the pestilence, as they usually render it; Salien). And it was the time of the
wheat-harvest. And the Lord gave death in Israel, from morning till dinner-time." (Haydock) --- Appointed, for three
days; though before the end of the last, God took pity on the people, ver 16. (Calmet) --- Bochart thinks the pestilence ceased
to rage at some hour of the first day. Syriac and Arabic, "till the sixth hour."
Ver. 16. Areuna.
Hebrew styles him, Araniah, (ver. 18.; Calmet) i being substituted for u, and placed after n. He is called
Ornan, 1 Paralipomenon xxi. 18, (Haydock) and has the title of Jebusite, as he was originally of that nation, and had
been permitted to retain his effects, on his embracing the true religion. Moria was his property, and seems not to have been
much inhabited. It was not yet enclosed within the city walls. Here David saw the angel, in the air, ready to strike the inhabitants,
and heard the voice from heaven. (Calmet) --- He had already witnessed the death of many in the city, 1 Paralipomenon xxi.
14. The angel waited for God's orders how many to destroy. (Haydock) --- He did not sheath his sword till David had offered
sacrifice to appease the Lord; (ver. 21) though others think that the sacrifice was to thank God for the deliverance. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Are,
like sheep. (Menochius) --- They were not accountable for the fault of their shepherd, or king; nor were they punished for
it, (Haydock) but for joining in the revolts of Absalom, Seba, &c., (Salien) as well as for other secret offences. (Haydock)
--- Some groundlessly condemn the people, for entertaining sentiments of pride, along with David. Both king and people suffer,
when either draws down the vengeance of heaven.
Ver. 18. Altar.
This was done by a positive order. People still had the liberty of sacrificing on the heights of Gabaon. (Calmet) --- This
place was honoured with the tabernacle; and David would have gone thither, if he had not been so much terrified, 1 Paralipomenon
xxi. 30. (Haydock)
Ver. 22. Wain.
So Josephus reads. Septuagint, "wheels." Hebrew, "rollers," to beat out the corn. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "threshing instruments,
and other instruments of the oxen for wood." Paralipomenon adds, that Areuna offered wheat, and saw the angel, as his
four sons, and probably most of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, did.
Ver. 23. As
a king. Literally, king Areuna:" e may have been substituted for c, "like," though the latter word is often
understood. (Haydock) --- Some suppose that he was formerly king of the Jebusites, (Vatable) or one of their descendants,
(Grotius) or possessed of great riches, &c. But why is the title never given to him elsewhere? (Bochart) --- The Septuagint,
Syriac, and many Latin copies, do not recognize it; nor was it found in the Chaldean, in the 12th age [12th century]. Yet
without making any changes, we may translate, "O king, Areuna has given all these things to the king." The Jews often speak
of themselves in the third person, out of respect. (Le Clerc.) (Calmet)
Ver. 24. Free-cost,
or given gratis. This shews that subjects have property, otherwise they could only yield what was due to the king, as his
own. (Worthington) --- Silver. Septuagint, "for the silver of fifty sicles." (Haydock) --- Bochart explains for the
money of 50 sicles of gold, which make 600 sicles of silver. Gold was formerly as twelve to one, compared with
silver. (Plato in Hipparcho.) --- But the best method of reconciling this passage with 1 Paralipomenon is to say, that David
gave the 50 sicles for the oxen and floor, and afterwards purchased the whole piece of ground for 600 (Calmet) sicles of gold,
(or 902l. 5s. sterling.; Haydock) being informed that the temple was to be erected there, (Calmet) where Isaac
had formerly been brought to be sacrificed. (Menochius) --- We might also make a colon, or pause, at floor, as if its
price were specified elsewhere, and the fifty sicles were given for the oxen. (Du Hamel; Menochius) --- The sum amounts to
only about 1l. 14s. (Haydock)
Ver. 25. Holocausts;
a second time. The former victims had been consumed by fire from heaven, 1 Paralipomenon xxvi. 28. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
David numbereth the people: God sendeth a pestilence,
which is stopt by David's prayer and sacrifice.
1 And *the anger of the Lord was again kindled against Israel, and stirred
up David among them, saying: Go, number Israel and Juda.
2 And the king said to Joab, the general of his army: Go through all
the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Bersabee, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of them.
3 And Joab said to the king: The Lord thy God increase thy people, and
make them as many more as they are now, and again multiply them a hundred-fold in the sight of my lord the king, but what
meaneth my lord the king by this kind of thing?
4 But the king's words prevailed over the words of Joab, and of the captains
of the army: and Joab, and the captains of the soldiers, went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.
5 And when they had passed the Jordan, they came to Aroer, to the right
side of the city, which is in the vale of Gad.
6 And by Jazer they passed into Galaad, and to the lower land of Hodsi,
and they came into the woodlands of Dan. And going about by Sidon,
7 They passed near the walls of Tyre, and all the land of the Hevite,
and the Chanaanite, and they came to the south of Juda, into Bersabee:
8 And having gone through the whole land, after nine months and twenty
days, they came to Jerusalem.
9 And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people to the king, and
there were found of Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword: and of Juda, five hundred thousand fighting
10 *But David's heart struck him, after the people were numbered: and
David said to the Lord: I have sinned very much in what I have done: but I pray thee, O Lord, to take away the iniquity of
thy servant, because I have done exceeding foolishly.
11 And David arose in the morning, and the word of the Lord came to Gad,
the prophet, and the seer of David, saying:
12 Go, and say to David: Thus saith the Lord: I give thee thy choice
of three things, choose one of them, which thou wilt, that I may do it to thee.
13 And when Gad was come to David, he told him, saying: Either seven
years of famine shall come to thee in thy land: or thou shalt flee three months before thy adversaries, and they shall pursue
thee: or for three days, there shall be a pestilence in thy land. Now therefore deliberate, and see what answer I shall return
to him that sent me.
14 And David said to Gad: I am in a great strait: *but it is better that
I should fall into the hands of the Lord (for his mercies are many) than into the hands of men.
15 And the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel, from the morning unto
the time appointed, and there died of the people from Dan to Bersabee, seventy thousand men.
16 And when the angel of the Lord had stretched out his hand over Jerusalem,
to destroy it, the Lord had pity on the affliction, and said to the angel that slew the people: It is enough: now hold thy
hand: And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing-floor of Areuna, the Jebusite.
17 And David said to the Lord, when he saw the angel striking the people:
It is I, I am he that have sinned, I have done wickedly: these that are the sheep, what have they done? let thy hand, I beseech
thee, be turned against me, and against my father's house.
18 And Gad came to David that day, and said: Go up and build an altar
to the Lord, in the threshing-floor of Areuna, the Jebusite.
19 And David went up according to the word of Gad, which the Lord had
20 And Areuna looked, and saw the king and his servants coming towards
21 And going out he worshipped the king, bowing with his face to the
earth, and said: Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said to him: To buy the threshing-floor of thee,
and build an altar to the Lord, that the plague, which rageth among the people, may cease.
22 And Areuna said to David: Let my lord the king take, and offer, as
it seemeth good to him: thou hast here oxen for a holocaust, and the wain, and the yokes of the oxen for wood.
23 All these things, Areuna, as a king gave to the king: And Areuna said
to the king: The Lord thy God receive thy vow.
24 And the king answered him, and said: Nay, but I will buy it of thee,
at a price, and I will not offer to the Lord my God holocausts, free-cost. So David bought the floor, and the oxen, for fifty
sicles of silver:
25 And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered holocausts
and peace-offerings: and the Lord became merciful to the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.
1: Year of the World 2987, Year before Christ 1017.;
1 Paralipomenon xxi.
10: 1 Kings xxiv. 6.
14: Daniel xiii. 23.