Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go, number Israel and Judah."
So the king said to Jo'ab and the commanders of the army, who were with him, "Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beer-sheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people."
But Jo'ab said to the king, "May the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see it; but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?"
But the king's word prevailed against Jo'ab and the commanders of the army. So Jo'ab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to number the people of Israel.
They crossed the Jordan, and began from Aro'er, and from the city that is in the middle of the valley, toward Gad and on to Jazer.
Then they came to Gilead, and to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites; and they came to Dan, and from Dan they went around to Sidon,
and came to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites; and they went out to the Negeb of Judah at Beer-sheba.
So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
And Jo'ab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to the king: in Israel there were eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand.
But David's heart smote him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, I pray thee, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly."
And when David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying,
"Go and say to David, 'Thus says the LORD, Three things I offer you; choose one of them, that I may do it to you."
So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, "Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days' pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me."
Then David said to Gad, "I am in great distress; let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man."
So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time; and there died of the people from Dan to Beer-sheba seventy thousand men.
And when the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented of the evil, and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, "It is enough; now stay your hand." And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Arau'nah the Jeb'usite.
Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was smiting the people, and said, "Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let thy hand, I pray thee, be against me and against my father's house."
And Gad came that day to David, and said to him, "Go up, rear an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Arau'nah the Jeb'usite."
So David went up at Gad's word, as the LORD commanded.
And when Arau'nah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming on toward him; and Arau'nah went forth, and did obeisance to the king with his face to the ground.
And Arau'nah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?" David said, "To buy the threshing floor of you, in order to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be averted from the people."
Then Arau'nah said to David, "Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him; here are the oxen for the burnt offering, and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood.
All this, O king, Arau'nah gives to the king." And Arau'nah said to the king, "The LORD your God accept you."
But the king said to Arau'nah, "No, but I will buy it of you for a price; I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
And David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD heeded supplications for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Revised Standard Version - Holy Bible)