Once again God's anger blazed out against Israel. He tested David by telling him, "Go and take a census of Israel and Judah."
So David gave orders to Joab and the army officers under him, "Canvass all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and get a count of the population. I want to know the number."
But Joab resisted the king: "May your God multiply people by the hundreds right before the eyes of my master the king, but why on earth would you do a thing like this?"
Nevertheless, the king insisted, and so Joab and the army officers left the king to take a census of Israel.
They crossed the Jordan and began with Aroer and the town in the canyon of the Gadites near Jazer,
proceeded through Gilead, passed Hermon, then on to Dan, but detoured Sidon.
They covered Fort Tyre and all the Hivite and Canaanite cities, and finally reached the Negev of Judah at Beersheba.
They canvassed the whole country and after nine months and twenty days arrived back in Jerusalem.
Joab gave the results of the census to the king: 800,000 able-bodied fighting men in Israel; in Judah 500,000.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)