1. Again, Yahweh's anger was aroused against Israel, and he incited David against them. 'Go,' he said, 'take a census of Israel and Judah.'
2. The king said to Joab and the senior army officers who were with him, 'Now, go through all the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, and take a census of the people; I wish to know the size of the population.'
3. Joab said to the king, 'May Yahweh your God multiply the people a hundred times -- however many there are -- while my lord the king still has eyes to see it, but why should my lord the king be set on this?'
4. The king nonetheless enforced his order on Joab and the senior officers, and Joab and the senior officers left the king's presence, to take a census of the people of Israel.
5. They crossed the Jordan and made a start with Aroer and the town in the middle of the valley, then moved on to the Gadites and to Jazer.
6. They then went to Gilead and the territory of the Hittites, to Kadesh; they then went to Dan and from Dan cut across to Sidon.
7. They then went to the fortress of Tyre and to all the towns of the Hittites and Canaanites ending up in the Negeb of Judah at Beersheba.
8. Having travelled throughout the country, after nine months and twenty days they returned to Jerusalem.
9. Joab gave the king the census results for the people; Israel had eight hundred thousand fighting men who could wield a sword, and Judah five hundred thousand.
10. But afterwards David's heart misgave him for having taken a census of the people. David then said to Yahweh, 'I have committed a grave sin by doing this. But now, Yahweh, I beg you to forgive your servant for this fault, for I have acted very foolishly.'
11. When, however, David got up next morning, the following message had come from Yahweh to the prophet Gad, David's seer,
12. 'Go and say to David, "Yahweh says this: I offer you three things; choose which one of them I am to inflict on you." '
13. So Gad went to David and said, 'Which do you prefer: to have three years of famine befall your country; to flee for three months before a pursuing army; or to have three days of epidemic in your country? Now think, and decide how I am to answer him who sends me.'
14. David said to Gad, 'I am very apprehensive . . . Better to fall into Yahweh's hands, since his mercies are great, than to fall into the hands of men!'
15. So David chose the epidemic. It was the time of the wheat harvest. So Yahweh unleashed an epidemic on Israel from that morning until the time determined; plague ravaged the people and, of the people from Dan to Beersheba, seventy thousand died.
16. But when the angel stretched his hand towards Jerusalem to destroy it, Yahweh felt sorry about the calamity and said to the angel who was destroying the people, 'Enough now! Hold your hand!' The angel of Yahweh was standing by the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
17. When David saw the angel who was ravaging the people, he said to Yahweh, 'I was the one who sinned. I was the one who acted wrongly. But these, the flock, what have they done? Let your hand lie heavy on me and on my family!'
18. Gad went to David that day and said, 'Go up and raise an altar to Yahweh on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.'
19. So, at Gad's bidding, David went up, as Yahweh had ordered.
20. When Araunah looked up and saw the king and his retinue advancing towards him-Araunah was threshing the wheat -- Araunah came forward and prostrated himself on the ground at the king's feet.
21. 'Why has my lord the king come to his servant?' Araunah asked. David replied, 'To buy the threshing-floor from you, to build an altar to Yahweh, so that the plague may be lifted from the people.'
22. Araunah said to David, 'Let my lord the king take it and make what offerings he thinks fit. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering, the threshing-sleds and the oxen's yokes for the wood.
23. My lord the king's servant will give the king everything. And', Araunah said to the king, 'may Yahweh your God accept what you offer!'
24. 'No,' said the king to Araunah, 'I shall give you a price for it; I will not offer Yahweh my God burnt offerings which have cost me nothing.' David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
25. David built an altar to Yahweh and offered burnt offerings and communion sacrifices. Yahweh then took pity on the country and the plague was lifted from Israel.