Chapter 21

1Now Satan arose upon Israel, and he moved David to count Israel.   אוַיַּֽעֲמֹ֥ד שָׂטָ֖ן עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיָּ֙סֶת֙ אֶת־דָּוִ֔יד לִמְנ֖וֹת אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:
Now Satan arose upon Israel: Although this chapter is not complimentary to David, it was written here because it says at the end of the chapter that he built an altar and the Lord answered him from heaven. This is complimentary to David.  
2And David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, "Go count Israel from Beersheba until Dan, and bring me [word], so that I may know their number."   בוַיֹּ֨אמֶר דָּוִ֚יד אֶל־יוֹאָב֙ וְאֶל־שָׂרֵ֣י הָעָ֔ם לְכ֗וּ סִפְרוּ֙ אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מִבְּאֵ֥ר שֶׁ֖בַע וְעַד־דָּ֑ן וְהָבִ֣יאוּ אֵלָ֔י וְאֵֽדְעָ֖ה אֶת־מִסְפָּרָֽם:
3And Joab replied, "May the Lord add to His people a hundredfold of whatsoever they may be. My lord, the king, are they not all servants to my lord? Why does my lord request this? Why should this become guilt for Israel?"   גוַיֹּ֣אמֶר יוֹאָ֗ב יוֹסֵף֩ יְהֹוָ֨ה עַל־עַמּ֚וֹ| כָּהֵם֙ מֵאָ֣ה פְעָמִ֔ים הֲלֹא֙ אֲדֹנִ֣י הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ כֻּלָּ֥ם לַֽאדֹנִ֖י לַֽעֲבָדִ֑ים לָ֣מָּה יְבַקֵּ֥שׁ זֹאת֙ אֲדֹנִ֔י לָ֛מָּה יִֽהְיֶ֥ה לְאַשְׁמָ֖ה לְיִשְׂרָאֵֽל:
4But the king's word prevailed over Joab, and Joab went forth and walked throughout Israel, and came to Jerusalem.   דוּדְבַר־הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ חָזַ֣ק עַל־יוֹאָ֑ב וַיֵּצֵ֣א יוֹאָ֗ב וַיִּתְהַלֵּךְ֙ בְּכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיָּבֹ֖א יְרֽוּשָׁלִָֽם:
5And Joab gave the number of the census of the people to David, and all Israel were a thousand thousand and a hundred thousand men who draw the sword, and Judah was four hundred seventy thousand men who draw the sword.   הוַיִּתֵּ֥ן יוֹאָ֛ב אֶת־מִסְפַּ֥ר מִפְקַד־הָעָ֖ם אֶל־דָּוִ֑יד וַיְהִ֣י כָל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֡ל אֶ֣לֶף אֲלָפִים֩ וּמֵאָ֨ה אֶ֚לֶף אִישׁ֙ שֹׁ֣לֵ֥ף חֶ֔רֶב וִֽיהוּדָ֕ה אַרְבַּע֩ מֵא֨וֹת וְשִׁבְעִ֥ים אֶ֛לֶף אִ֖ישׁ שֹׁ֥לֵ֣ף חָֽרֶב:
the number of the census: lit., the number of the number. A similar expression is (Num. 14:29): “… and all your numbered ones at all your numberings.”  
and all Israel were a thousand thousand and a hundred thousand, etc. and Judah was four hundred seventy thousand: But in Samuel (II 24:9) it is written: “eight hundred thousand, etc., and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men,” which apparently means that there were not so many of Israel as are stated here. The truth is that because the anger of the Holy One, blessed be He, was upon David, Scripture did not write there the number of all of those whom he had counted. Neither did Joab count all the tribes, as it is written (verse 6): “… because the word of the king was repugnant to Joab.” But here, because of David’s honor, he does mention the number and the reckoning that he counted, because it is his honor that such a massive army was in his tribe. And the following is proof to what I explained: that even that small part of Israel that he counted, he did not write their entire number in Samuel, but here, [the Chronicler] did write the entire number that he counted, because it is written here: “and all Israel were,” whereas in Samuel it is not written: “all.” And it is explicitly proven here before us, as it is written: (below 27:24): “Joab the son of Zeruiah began to count but did not finish, and with this there was anger upon Israel, and the number did not reach the number of the chronicles of King David.”  
6But Levi and Benjamin he did not count among them because the word of the king was repugnant to Joab.   ווְלֵוִי֙ וּבִנְיָמִ֔ן לֹ֥א פָקַ֖ד בְּתוֹכָ֑ם כִּֽי־נִתְעַ֥ב דְּבַר־הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ אֶת־יוֹאָֽב:
But Levi and Benjamin he did not count among them, etc.: Joab knew that it would be considered a sin for the people, leading to a plague; Joab therefore said, “I can save these tribes from the census. Concerning Levi, if David says: ‘Why did you not count Levi?’ I shall answer him that they were not counted among the Children of Israel (Num. 2:33). And this is what I shall say about Benjamin: 'Weren’t they stricken in the episode of the concubine in Gibeah? If they are afflicted now, what will be left of them?’”  
7Now God was displeased because of this thing, and He smote Israel.   זוַיֵּ֙רַע֙ בְּעֵינֵ֣י הָֽאֱלֹהִ֔ים עַל־הַדָּבָ֖ר הַזֶּ֑ה וַיַּ֖ךְ אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:
8And David said to God, "I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing, and now, please put aside the iniquity of Your servant, for I was very foolish."   חוַיֹּ֚אמֶר דָּוִיד֙ אֶל־הָֽאֱלֹהִ֔ים חָטָ֣אתִי מְאֹ֔ד אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשִׂ֖יתִי אֶת־הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֑ה וְעַתָּ֗ה הַֽעֲבֶר־נָא֙ אֶת־עֲו֣וֹן עַבְדְּךָ֔ כִּ֥י נִסְכַּ֖לְתִּי מְאֹֽד:
and now, please put aside the iniquity of Your servant: Heb. עֲווֹן. This עֲווֹן is written with the plene spelling, with two “vavim,” i.e., please put aside the full iniquity that I committed. This word is written with the plene spelling in four places in Scripture, and this is one of them. The second is in Psalms (51:7): “Behold with iniquity (בְּעָווֹן) I was formed,” as it is explained in Leviticus Rabbah (14:5), in the section entitled: (Lev. 12:2): “If a woman conceives seed: Even if one be the most pious of the pious, it is impossible that he should have no streak of unintentional iniquity, because he intended only for his own pleasure.” The third is (Prov. 5:22): “His iniquities (עֲווֹנוֹתָיו) shall trap the wicked man,” meaning his many iniquities. The fourth is in II Kings (7:9): “… we will incur guilt (עָווֹן). Now let us go and come and relate this in the king’s palace.” They said, “If we do not go and tell this in the king’s palace, it will be a grave iniquity, because enemies will come upon them.”  
9And the Lord spoke to Gad, David's seer, saying:   טוַיְדַבֵּ֚ר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־גָּ֔ד חֹזֵ֥ה דָוִ֖יד לֵאמֹֽר:
10"Go and speak to David, saying: So said the Lord: Three things I offer you; choose one of them, and I shall do it to you."   ילֵךְ֩ וְדִבַּרְתָּ֨ אֶל־דָּוִ֜יד לֵאמֹ֗ר כֹּה אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֔ה שָׁל֕וֹשׁ אֲנִ֖י נֹטֶ֣ה עָלֶ֑יךָ בְּחַר־לְךָ֛ אַחַ֥ת מֵהֵ֖נָּה וְאֶֽעֱשֶׂה־לָּֽךְ:
11And Gad came to David, and said to him, "So said the Lord; Choose which you will.   יאוַיָּ֥בֹא גָ֖ד אֶל־דָּוִ֑יד וַיֹּ֥אמֶר ל֛וֹ כֹּֽה־אָמַ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה קַבֶּל־לָֽךְ:
12Either three years famine or three months in which you will be destroyed by your enemies, and the sword of your enemies will overtake you, or three days of the sword of the Lord and pestilence in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout the boundary of Israel; and now consider what I should reply to Him Who sent me."   יבאִם־שָׁל֨וֹשׁ שָׁנִ֜ים רָעָ֗ב וְאִם־שְׁלֹשָׁ֨ה חֳדָשִׁ֜ים נִסְפֶּ֥ה מִפְּנֵֽי־צָרֶיךָ֘ וְחֶ֣רֶב אֽוֹיְבֶ֣יךָ| לְמַשֶּׂגֶת֒ וְאִם־שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָ֠מִי֠ם חֶ֣רֶב יְהֹוָ֚ה| וְדֶ֙בֶר֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ וּמַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהֹוָ֔ה מַשְׁחִ֖ית בְּכָל־גְּב֣וּל יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְעַתָּ֣ה רְאֵ֔ה מָה־אָשִׁ֥יב אֶת־שֹֽׁלְחִ֖י דָּבָֽר:
13And David said to Gad, "I am greatly oppressed; let me fall now into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great, but into the hand of man let me not fall."   יגוַיֹּ֧אמֶר דָּוִ֛יד אֶל־גָּ֖ד צַר־לִ֣י מְאֹ֑ד אֶפְּלָה־נָּ֣א בְיַד־יְהֹוָ֗ה כִּֽי־רַבִּ֚ים רַֽחֲמָיו֙ מְאֹ֔ד וּבְיַד־אָדָ֖ם אַל־אֶפֹּֽל:
I am greatly oppressed: You tell me, “Choose the mildest of them. It is hard for me, and I am greatly oppressed about it.” This can be compared to a [sick] person, to whom people said, “Behold you are going to die. Now in which grave do you wish to be buried? Beside your father or beside your mother?” Woe to the ears that hear such a thing!  
let me fall now into the hand of the Lord: with the pestilence, in which all are equal, both rich and poor.  
for His mercies are great: Perhaps He will have compassion, but our enemies will not have compassion on us.  
14So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel, and there fell from Israel seventy thousand men.   ידוַיִּתֵּ֧ן יְהֹוָ֛ה דֶּ֖בֶר בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיִּפֹּל֙ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵ֔ל שִׁבְעִ֥ים אֶ֖לֶף אִֽישׁ:
15And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, and as he destroyed, the Lord saw and regretted the evil, and He said to the destroying angel, "It is enough; now stay your hand," and the angel of the Lord was standing by the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite.   טווַיִּשְׁלַח֩ הָֽאֱלֹהִ֨ים| מַלְאָ֥ךְ| לִירֽוּשָׁלִַם֘ לְהַשְׁחִיתָהּ֒ וּכְהַשְׁחִ֗ית רָאָ֚ה יְהֹוָה֙ וַיִּנָּ֣חֶם עַל־הָֽרָעָ֔ה וַיֹּ֨אמֶר לַמַּלְאָ֚ךְ הַמַּשְׁחִית֙ רַ֔ב עַתָּ֖ה הֶ֣רֶף יָדֶ֑ךָ וּמַלְאַ֚ךְ יְהֹוָה֙ עֹמֵ֔ד עִם־גֹּ֖רֶן אָרְנָ֥ן הַיְבוּסִֽי:
16And David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between the earth and the sky, with a drawn sword in his hand, extended over Jerusalem, and David and the elders, covered with sackcloth, fell upon their faces.   טזוַיִּשָּׂ֨א דָוִ֜יד אֶת־עֵינָ֗יו וַיַּ֞רְא אֶת־מַלְאַ֚ךְ יְהֹוָה֙ עֹמֵ֔ד בֵּ֚ין הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ וּבֵ֣ין הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וְחַרְבּ֚וֹ שְׁלוּפָה֙ בְּיָד֔וֹ נְטוּיָ֖ה עַל־יְרֽוּשָׁלִָ֑ם וַיִּפֹּ֨ל דָּוִ֧יד וְהַזְּקֵנִ֛ים מְכֻסִּ֥ים בַּשַּׂקִּ֖ים עַל־פְּנֵיהֶֽם:
extended over Jerusalem: In Joshua (5:13), it says: “… and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, etc. ’Are you for us or for our adversaries?” Joshua was standing with his back opposite his adversaries, and the angel came opposite him; therefore, he wondered and asked him, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” [Have you come] to help us since you are standing opposite me, or to help our enemies, because you are standing also opposite them? But here, since he saw the sword of the angel, which was extended over Jerusalem, he knew by himself that he had come to strike the enemies of Israel.  
17And David said to God, "Did I not say to count the people? Then I am the one who has sinned, and I have committed evil, but these sheep, what have they done? O Lord, my God, I beg that Your hand be against me and against my father's house, but not against Your people for a plague."   יזוַיֹּ֣אמֶר דָּוִ֣יד אֶל־הָֽאֱלֹהִ֡ים הֲלֹא֩ אֲנִ֨י אָמַ֜רְתִּי לִמְנ֣וֹת בָּעָ֗ם וַֽאֲנִי־ה֚וּא אֲשֶׁר־חָטָ֙אתִי֙ וְהָרֵ֣עַ הֲרֵע֔וֹתִי וְאֵ֥לֶּה הַצֹּ֖אן מֶ֣ה עָשׂ֑וּ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהַ֗י תְּהִ֨י נָ֚א יָֽדְךָ֙ בִּי וּבְבֵ֣ית אָבִ֔י וּבְעַמְּךָ֖ לֹ֥א לְמַגֵּפָֽה:
but these sheep, what have they done: for they are like sheep brought to the slaughter, who cannot be saved from slaughter because they are destined for it.  
18And the angel of the Lord said to Gad to say to David that David should go up to erect an altar to the Lord in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite.   יחוּמַלְאַ֧ךְ יְהֹוָ֛ה אָמַ֥ר אֶל־גָּ֖ד לֵאמֹ֣ר לְדָוִ֑יד כִּ֣י| יַֽעֲלֶ֣ה דָוִ֗יד לְהָקִ֚ים מִזְבֵּ֙חַ֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֔ה בְּגֹ֖רֶן אָרְנָ֥ן הַיְבֻסִֽי:
19And David went up according to the word of Gad that he spoke in the name of the Lord.   יטוַיַּ֚עַל דָּוִיד֙ בִּדְבַר־גָּ֔ד אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבֶּ֖ר בְּשֵׁ֥ם יְהֹוָֽה:
20And Ornan returned and saw the angel, and his four sons who were with him hid themselves, and Ornan was threshing wheat.   כוַיָּ֣שָׁב אָרְנָ֗ן וַיַּרְא֙ אֶת־הַמַּלְאָ֔ךְ וְאַרְבַּ֧עַת בָּנָ֛יו עִמּ֖וֹ מִתְחַבְּאִ֑ים וְאָרְנָ֖ן דָּ֥שׁ חִטִּֽים:
hid: from the angel, to fulfill the verse (Isa. 26:20): “Go, My people, come into your chambers and close your door about you; hide for but a moment, until the wrath passes.” And Scripture also says (Exod. 12:22): “… as for you, none of you shall go out of his house until morning.”  
and Ornan was threshing wheat: since Scripture states further (verse 23): “and the wheat for a meal offering,” lest you wonder how wheat was there.  
21And David came up to Ornan, and Ornan looked and saw David, and he went forth from the threshing-floor, and he bowed down to David with his face to the ground.   כאוַיָּבֹ֥א דָוִ֖יד עַד־אָרְנָ֑ן וַיַּבֵּ֚ט אָרְנָן֙ וַיַּ֣רְא אֶת־דָוִ֔יד וַיֵּצֵא֙ מִן־הַגֹּ֔רֶן וַיִּשְׁתַּ֧חוּ לְדָוִ֛יד אַפַּ֖יִם אָֽרְצָה:
22And David said to Ornan, "Give me the place of the threshing-floor, so that I may build thereon an altar to the Lord; give it to me for the full price, so that the plague be stayed from the people."   כבוַיֹּ֨אמֶר דָּוִ֜יד אֶל־אָרְנָ֗ן תְּנָה־לִּי֙ מְק֣וֹם הַגֹּ֔רֶן וְאֶבְנֶה־בּ֥וֹ מִזְבֵּ֖חַ לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה בְּכֶ֚סֶף מָלֵא֙ תְּנֵ֣הוּ לִ֔י וְתֵֽעָצַ֥ר הַמַּגֵּפָ֖ה מֵעַ֥ל הָעָֽם:
23And Ornan said to David, "Take for yourself, and may my lord the king do what seems good in his eyes. See, I have given the cattle for burnt offerings, and the threshing tools for [fire] wood, and the wheat for a meal offering; I have given everything."   כגוַיֹּ֨אמֶר אָרְנָ֚ן אֶל־דָּוִיד֙ קַח־לָ֔ךְ וְיַ֛עַשׂ אֲדֹנִ֥י הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ הַטּ֣וֹב בְּעֵינָ֑יו רְאֵה֩ נָתַ֨תִּי הַבָּקָ֜ר לָֽעֹל֗וֹת וְהַמּֽוֹרִגִ֧ים לָֽעֵצִ֛ים וְהַֽחִטִּ֥ים לַמִּנְחָ֖ה הַכֹּ֥ל נָתָֽתִּי:
and the threshing tools for [fire] wood: [These are] boards with which they thresh the grain, as we learned in Avodah Zarah (24b): “A goat with hooks,” [which is the] name of a threshing-sledge, similar to (Isa. 41:15): “a new grooved threshing sledge (מוֹרַג חָרוּץ).”  
24And King David said to Ornan, "No, for I will buy [it] for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, and offer up burnt offerings for nothing."   כדוַיֹּ֨אמֶר הַמֶּ֚לֶךְ דָּוִיד֙ לְאָרְנָ֔ן לֹ֕א כִּֽי־קָנֹ֥ה אֶקְנֶ֖ה בְּכֶ֣סֶף מָלֵ֑א כִּ֠י לֹֽא־אֶשָּׂ֚א אֲשֶׁר־לְךָ֙ לַיהֹוָ֔ה וְהַֽעֲל֥וֹת עוֹלָ֖ה חִנָּֽם:
25And David gave to Ornan for the place shekels of gold weighing six hundred.   כהוַיִּתֵּ֥ן דָּוִ֛יד לְאָרְנָ֖ן בַּמָּק֑וֹם שִׁקְלֵ֣י זָהָ֔ב מִשְׁקַ֖ל שֵׁ֥שׁ מֵאֽוֹת:
shekels of gold, weighing six hundred: but at the end of Samuel (II 24:24), it is written: “for fifty shekels of silver.” How is this possible? He took fifty shekels from each tribe, totaling six hundred shekels, so that all Israel should have a share in the altar.  
26And David built an altar there to the Lord, and he offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, and he called out to the Lord, and He answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of the burnt offerings.   כווַיִּבֶן֩ שָׁ֨ם דָּוִ֚יד מִזְבֵּ֙חַ֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֔ה וַיַּ֥עַל עֹל֖וֹת וּשְׁלָמִ֑ים וַיִּקְרָא֙ אֶל־יְהֹוָ֔ה וַיַּֽעֲנֵ֚הוּ בָאֵשׁ֙ מִן־הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם עַ֖ל מִזְבַּ֥ח הָֽעֹלָֽה:
27And the Lord commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath.   כזוַיֹּ֚אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ לַמַּלְאָ֔ךְ וַיָּ֥שֶׁב חַרְבּ֖וֹ אֶל־נְדָנָֽהּ:
And the Lord commanded the angel: to return his sword, and the sword was returned to its sheath. Similar to this is (Jonah 2: 11): “And the Lord said to the fish, and it spewed Jonah, etc.”  
28At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he sacrificed there.   כחבָּעֵ֣ת הַהִ֔יא בִּרְא֚וֹת דָּוִיד֙ כִּֽי־עָנָ֣הוּ יְהֹוָ֔ה בְּגֹ֖רֶן אָרְנָ֣ן הַיְבוּסִ֑י וַיִּזְבַּ֖ח שָֽׁם:
At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him: This section was not written in II Samuel, but because of David’s honor, it was written here that he made an altar, and all the verses of this section are connected to one another, as if they were all one verse.  
29And the Tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses made in the desert, and the altar of the burnt offerings at that time were in the high place in Gibeon.   כטוּמִשְׁכַּ֣ן יְ֠הֹוָה אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֨ה מֹשֶׁ֧ה בַמִּדְבָּ֛ר וּמִזְבַּ֥ח הָֽעוֹלָ֖ה בָּעֵ֣ת הַהִ֑יא בַּבָּמָ֖ה בְּגִבְעֽוֹן:
and the altar of the burnt offerings: of Moses was still at that time in the high place, which was in Gibeon.  
30But David could not go before it to inquire of God, because he was frightened by the sword of the angel of the Lord.   לוְלֹֽא־יָכֹ֥ל דָּוִ֛יד לָלֶ֥כֶת לְפָנָ֖יו לִדְרֹ֣שׁ אֱלֹהִ֑ים כִּ֣י נִבְעַ֔ת מִפְּנֵ֕י חֶ֖רֶב מַלְאַ֥ךְ יְהֹוָֽה:
But David could not: Then, when that incident occurred that the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded him to offer up a sacrifice, David could not go before it to inquire of God, i.e., before the altar that was in Gibeon.  
because he was frightened by the sword of the angel of the Lord: and David went according to the words of the Lord and built an altar, and the Lord answered him.