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1 Chronicles Chapter Twenty-one


1 Chronicles 21 Outline of Contents

The Census of Israel and Judah (v.1~30)

New King James Version (NKJV)



Excepting the three last verses, is contained in 2 Samuel 24:1 with some few variations, which are there observed; see the notes there.


1 Chronicles 21:1  Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.

   YLT  1And there standeth up an adversary against Israel, and persuadeth David to number Israel,

Verses 1-27

See Chapter Introduction


1 Chronicles 21:2  2 So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it.

   YLT  2And David saith unto Joab, and unto the heads of the people, `Go, number Israel from Beer-Sheba even unto Dan, and bring unto me, and I know their number.'


1 Chronicles 21:3  3 And Joab answered, “May the Lord make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt in Israel?”

   YLT  3And Joab saith, `Jehovah doth add to His people as they are a hundred times; are they not, my lord, O king, all of them to my lord for servants? why doth my lord seek this? why is he for a cause of guilt to Israel?'


1 Chronicles 21:4  4 Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Therefore Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came to Jerusalem.

   YLT  4And the word of the king [is] severe against Joab, and Joab goeth out, and goeth up and down in all Israel, and cometh in to Jerusalem.


1 Chronicles 21:5  5 Then Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to David. All Israel had one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword, and Judah had four hundred and seventy thousand men who drew the sword.

   YLT  5And Joab giveth the account of the numbering of the people unto David, and all Israel is a thousand thousand and a hundred thousand, each drawing sword, and Judah [is] four hundred and seventy thousand, each drawing sword.


1 Chronicles 21:6  6 But he did not count Levi and Benjamin among them, for the king’s word was abominable to Joab.

   YLT  6And Levi and Benjamin he hath not numbered in their midst, for the word of the king was abominable with Joab.


1 Chronicles 21:7  7 And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He struck Israel.

   YLT  7And it is evil in the eyes of God concerning this thing, and He smiteth Israel,


1 Chronicles 21:8  8 So David said to God, “I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing; but now, I pray, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”

   YLT  8and David saith unto God, `I have sinned exceedingly, in that I have done this thing; and now, cause to pass away, I pray Thee, the iniquity of Thy servant, for I have acted very foolishly.'


1 Chronicles 21:9  9 Then the Lord spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying,

   YLT  9And Jehovah speaketh unto Gad, seer of David, saying:


1 Chronicles 21:10  10 “Go and tell David, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.”’”

   YLT  10`Go, and thou hast spoken unto David, saying, Thus said Jehovah, Three -- I am stretching out unto thee; choose for thee one of these, and I do [it] to thee.'


1 Chronicles 21:11  11 So Gad came to David and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Choose for yourself,

   YLT  11And Gad cometh in unto David, and saith to him, `Thus said Jehovah, Take for thee –


1 Chronicles 21:12  12 either three[a] years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the Lord—the plague in the land, with the angel[b] of the Lord destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now consider what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.”

   YLT  12either for three years -- famine, or three months to be consumed from the face of thine adversaries, even the sword of thine enemies to overtake, or three days the sword of Jehovah, even pestilence in the land, and a messenger of Jehovah destroying in all the border of Israel; and now, see; what word do I return to Him who is sending me?'


1 Chronicles 21:13  13 And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

   YLT  13And David saith unto Gad, `I am greatly distressed, let me fall, I pray thee, into the hand of Jehovah, for very many [are] His mercies, and into the hand of man let me not fall.'


1 Chronicles 21:14  14 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell.

   YLT  14And Jehovah giveth a pestilence in Israel, and there fall of Israel seventy thousand men,


1 Chronicles 21:15  15 And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he[c] was destroying, the Lord looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, “It is enough; now restrain your[d] hand.” And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor of Ornan[e] the Jebusite.

   YLT  15and God sendeth a messenger to Jerusalem to destroy it, and as he is destroying Jehovah hath seen, and is comforted concerning the evil, and saith to the messenger who [is] destroying, `Enough, now, cease thy hand.' And the messenger of Jehovah is standing by the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite,


1 Chronicles 21:16  16 Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces.

   YLT  16and David lifteth up his eyes, and seeth the messenger of Jehovah standing between the earth and the heavens, and his sword drawn in his hand, stretched out over Jerusalem, and David falleth, and the elders, covered with sackcloth, on their faces.


1 Chronicles 21:17  17 And David said to God, “Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, O Lord my God, be against me and my father’s house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.”

   YLT  17And David saith unto God, `Did not I -- I say to number the people? Yea, I it [is] who have sinned, and done great evil: and these, the flock, what did they? O Jehovah, my God, let, I pray Thee, Thy hand be on me, and on the house of my father, and not on Thy people -- to be plagued.'


1 Chronicles 21:18  18 Therefore, the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David that David should go and erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

   YLT  18And the messenger of Jehovah spake unto Gad, saying for David, `Surely David doth go up to raise an altar to Jehovah in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite.'


1 Chronicles 21:19  19 So David went up at the word of Gad, which he had spoken in the name of the Lord.

   YLT  19And David goeth up by the word of Gad, that he spake in the name of Jehovah.


1 Chronicles 21:20  20 Now Ornan turned and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him hid themselves, but Ornan continued threshing wheat.

   YLT  20And Ornan turneth back, and seeth the messenger, and his four sons [are] with him, hiding themselves, and Ornan is threshing wheat.


1 Chronicles 21:21  21 So David came to Ornan, and Ornan looked and saw David. And he went out from the threshing floor, and bowed before David with his face to the ground.

   YLT  21And David cometh in unto Ornan, and Ornan looketh attentively, and seeth David, and goeth out from the threshing-floor, and boweth himself to David -- face to the earth.


1 Chronicles 21:22  22 Then David said to Ornan, “Grant me the place of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar on it to the Lord. You shall grant it to me at the full price, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.”

   YLT  22And David saith unto Ornan, `Give to me the place of the threshing-floor, and I build in it an altar to Jehovah; for full silver give it to me, and the plague is restrained from the people.'


1 Chronicles 21:23  23 But Ornan said to David, “Take it to yourself, and let my lord the king do what is good in his eyes. Look, I also give you the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing implements for wood, and the wheat for the grain offering; I give it all.”

   YLT  23And Ornan saith unto David, `Take to thee -- and my lord the king doth that which is good in his eyes: see, I have given the oxen for burnt-offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for a present; the whole I have given.'


1 Chronicles 21:24  24 Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.”

   YLT  24And king David saith to Ornan, `Nay, for I surely buy for full silver; for I do not lift up that which is thine to Jehovah, so as to offer a burnt-offering without cost.'


1 Chronicles 21:25  25 So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place.

   YLT  25And David giveth to Ornan for the place shekels of gold [in] weight six hundred;


1 Chronicles 21:26  26 And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the Lord; and He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offering.

   YLT  26and David buildeth there an altar to Jehovah, and offereth burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, and calleth unto Jehovah, and He answereth him with fire from the heavens on the altar of the burnt-offering.


1 Chronicles 21:27  27 So the Lord commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath.

   YLT  27And Jehovah saith to the messenger, and he turneth back his sword unto its sheath.


1 Chronicles 21:28  28 At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he sacrificed there.

   YLT  28At that time when David seeth that Jehovah hath answered him in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificeth there;

At that time when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshing floor Of Ornan the Jebusite,.... The same with Araunah, 2 Samuel 24:16, with some small variation of the letters, and are of the same signification; both signifying the "ornus", as HillerusF13Onomastic. Sacr. p. 529, 530. observes, the pine tree or ash; see Isaiah 44:14, in whose threshingfloor David now was, and where he had been praying and sacrificing; and God had accepted his prayer, as the Targum, and had answered him, by causing fire to come down on the sacrifice and consume it, and by ordering the angel to put up his sword in its sheath:

then he sacrificed there; again by the priests, and continued to do so, for he had sacrificed there before, 1 Chronicles 21:26 and finding his sacrifices in that place were acceptable, he repeated them, and did not go to Gibeon, as follows.


1 Chronicles 21:29  29 For the tabernacle of the Lord and the altar of the burnt offering, which Moses had made in the wilderness, were at that time at the high place in Gibeon.

   YLT  29and the tabernacle of Jehovah that Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt-offering, [are] at that time in a high place, in Gibeon;

For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses made,.... Or ordered to be made by the command of God, and according to his direction:

and the altar of burnt offerings, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon; which was four or five miles from Jerusalem, and too far for David to go in that time of extremity; though he must have gone thither to sacrifice, had not the Lord bid him build an altar on the threshingfloor; for there was the altar of burnt offering, on which only, according to the law of Moses, sacrifices were to be offered: this high place is, in the Targum, called the sanctuary, it including, as Kimchi observes, the whole house, the tabernacle, and the altar in it; which had been here, and at Nob, fifty seven years, as the Jewish writers sayF14Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Zebachim, c. 14. sect. 7. .


1 Chronicles 21:30  30 But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord.

   YLT  30and David is not able to go before it to seek God, for he hath been afraid because of the sword of the messenger of Jehovah.

But David could not go before it to inquire of God,.... Which yet was the proper place to seek the Lord in: the reason follows:

for he was afraid, because of the sword of the angel of the Lord; which had so terrified him, that he was so weak that he could not go; and he feared that, should he attempt to go, while he was going thither, at such a distance, the angel would make a terrible slaughter in Jerusalem, and therefore he durst not go and leave it; and besides, as the Lord had commanded him to build an altar there, he might fear it would displease him, should he depart from it; and the rather, as hereby he pointed out to him the place where the temple should be built, and sacrifices offered, as appears from what he says in the beginning of the next chapter.


──John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible


New King James Version (NKJV)


  1. 1 Chronicles 21:12 Or seven (compare 2 Samuel 24:13)
  2. 1 Chronicles 21:12 Or Angel, and so elsewhere in this chapter
  3. 1 Chronicles 21:15 Or He
  4. 1 Chronicles 21:15 Or Your
  5. 1 Chronicles 21:15 Spelled Araunah in 2 Samuel 24:16