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David forces Joab
to Number the People. Zobah, Bani the Gadite, (37) Zelek the 1 Satan. $ee 1 the anger of the LORD was kindled Ammonite, Nahari the Beerothite, ar
against Israel, and he moved David mourbearer to Joab the son of Zeruiah,
against them to say, Go, number Israel (38) Iraan Ithrite, Gareb an Ithrite,
and Judah. (2) For the king said to (39) Uriah the Hittite : thirty and seven |
Joab the captain of the host, which was in all.
with him, "Go now through all the
tribes of Israel, from Dan even to BeerCHAPTER XXIV.-- (1) And again
sheba, and number ye the people, that
2 Or, Compass.
son of Ahinathan. If this be accepted, the only differ (verse 1) and in the punishment inflicted (verses 15, 16), ence would be in the form of a name, Nathan or is recognised by David himself (verses 10, 17), and even Ahinathan.
forcibly impressed itself upon a person so little scrupu. Bani the Gadite.-In Chronicles Mibhar the son of lous as Joab (verse 3). It must, then, plainly be sought Haggeri. Entirely unlike as these readings appear, they in the motive of David. The whole connection shows are not so very different in the original. Mibhar is for that it was a military census, and it was made, not Zobah of the previons clause, a word at present missing through the priests and Levites, but through Joab and in Chronicles; the son of (Ben) is for Bani; and the “ the captains of the host.” It would appear that Gadite (with the article) differs from Haggeri only by prosperity and power, the natural generators of pride, the change of the often confused letters d and r. The had momentarily affected even David's humble de. text here is the true one.
pendence upon God, and led him to wish to organise his (37) The Ammonite.-A foreigner, like "Igal of kingdom more perfectly as a worldly power among the Zobah” (a Syrian), and " Ittai the Gittite," and "Uriah nations of the earth. Å first step in this direction must the Hittite," who rose to distinction in David's service, of course be the placing of his military forces upon a and all of whom were probably proselytes.
systematic footing. This same desire to turn aside Armourbearer.-It appears from chap. xviii. 15 Israel from being a simple theocracy, to become a great that Joab had ten armourbearers. This one was prob. earthly power, was the constant sin of the nation. It ably their chief.
had led at the first to the request for a king, and Solo(39) Thirty and seven in all.-Only thirty-six mon was so thoroughly possessed with it, and so ordered names have been given, but either the third unnamed all his policy in view of it, as to draw down, at his person in the second triad of heroes is counted, or else death, the judgment of the breaking up of the unity of in verse 34 the names of the two given in Chronicles the nation; and it is not surprising that, after all his should be substituted for the one in the text here.
conquests, David, in a moment of weakness, should In 1 Chron. xi. 41-47 sixteen more names are given, have given way to something of the same spirit. It was either of men who took the place of these heroes as thus an act most absolutely at variance with that they died, or simply of other heroes thought worthy of general character which made him “a man after God's record, though hardly reckoned with this especial body. own heart." XXIV.
(1) Kindled against Israel.–This was not in conThis chapter contains the account of David's sin in sequence of the numbering of the people, but in numbering the people, and the punishment in con. consequence of that which ultimately led to that act. sequence. The same narrative is found in 1 Chron. xxi., We are not told why the anger of the Lord was but with such considerable variations as to show that kindled, but doubtless because He saw both in king neither can have been taken from the other, but both and people that rising spirit of earthly pride and must have been drawn from the original documents, reliance on earthly strength which led to the sin. which were probably very full, quite independently of He moved. The pronoun here stands for “the each other.
Lord,” yet in 1 Chron. xxi. 1, the temptation is attri. No definite note of time is given. The word again buted to Satan, and Satan is clearly meant of the devil, in verse 1 clearly refers to chap. xxi., and so places this and not simply of "an adversary." This is a striking after the three years' famine for the Gibeonites. The instance of attributing directly to God whatever comes fact that Joab was engaged in the work nearly ten about under His permission. And yet it is more than months (verse 8) shows that it must have been a time that. God has established immutable spiritual as well of profound peace. The story in Chronicles is imme as material laws, or rather those laws themselves are diately followed by the account of David's final pre but the expression of His unchanging will. Whatever parations for the building of the Temple. All these comes about under the operation of those laws is said to considerations concur in placing it near the close of his be His doing. Now David's numbering the people was reign.
the natural consequence of the condition of worldliness The question of the nature of David's sin in this act and pride into which he had allowed himself to fall. has been much discussed. The mere taking of a census God then moved him, because He had from the first so in itself could not have been wrong, since it was pro. ordered the laws of the spirit that such a sinful act vided for in the Law (Exod. xxx. 12) and had been re. should be the natural outcome of such a sinful state. peatedly carried out by Moses (Numb. i., xxvi.). Nor is Of other interpretations : that which makes the verb it likely that it was for the reason given by Josephus, impersonal-"one moved”-is hardly tenable gramthat David neglected to secure for the sanctuary, as matically; and that which makes the nominative a required, a half shekel from each one numbered (Exod. sort of compound word—“ the wrath of the Lord” (as xxx. 13), since there is no mention of this, and David in some of the ancient versions)-leads to substantially was at this very time concentrating the whole wealth of the same explanation as that given above. the kingdom for the future sanctuary. Yet the sinful. The word“ number" in this verse is a different one ness of the act is distinctly set forth in the narrative | from that used in the rest of the chapter, and means
The Number of
II. SAMUEL, XXIV.
the Fighting Men.
1 Or, valley.
I may know the number of the people.
of Tahtim-hodshi; and they came to (3) And Joab said unto the king, Now
Dan-jaan, and about to Zidon, (7) and the LORD thy God add unto the people,
came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to how many soever they be, an hundred
all the cities of the Hivites, and of the fold, and that the eyes of my lord the
Canaanites: and they went out to the king may see it: but why doth my lord
south of Judah, even to Beer-sheba. the king delight in this thing ? (1) Not
(8) So when they had gone through all withstanding the king's word prevailed
the land, they came to Jerusalem at the against Joab, and against the captains
end of nine months and twenty days. of the host.
(9) And Joab gave up the sum of the And Joab and the captains of the
number of the people unto the king : host went out from the presence of the
and there were in Israel eight hundred king, to number the people of Israel. 2 nori neither items thousand valiant men that drew the (5) And they passed over Jordan, and
sword; and the men of Judah were five pitched in Aroer, on the right side of
hundred thousand men. the city that lieth in the midst of the
(10) And David's heart smote him after river of Gad, and toward Jazer : (6) then
that he had numbered the people. And they came to Gilead, and to the aland
David said unto the LORD, I have
2 Or, nether land
simply to count, while the other conveys the idea of actually entered them to enumerate the Israelites living a military muster.
in them. (3) Why doth my lord P-Even in the eyes of (7) of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites.the unscrupulous Joab David's act was abominable. The remnants of the original inhabitants appear still Joab never gives evidence of being influenced by reli to have occupied distinct towns by themselves. The gious motives, but his natural shrewdness sufficed to “Hivites” were chiefly in the northern part of the land, show him that David's act was at variance with the fun. though Gibeon and its towns had belonged to them. damental principle of the national existence. Chronicles "The Canaanites” is a general name for the remnants adds to Joab's words, “ Why will he be a cause of tres of all the other races. pass to Israel?” The strong objection of Joab shows (9) In Israel eight hundred thousand. The that there was something obviously wrong in the action numbers here differ greatly from those given in 1 Chron. of David.
xxi. 5, 6; but there is no reason to suppose any corAnd against the captains.— Joab's objections ruption of the text in either case. Joab undertook the were sustained by his subordinate officers, and David work unwillingly, and performed it imperfectly. Accarried through his sinful act by sheer force of self-will. cording to 1 Chron. xxi. 6 he refused altogether to
(5) Pitched in Aroer.-The census began on the number Levi and Benjamin; and according to 1 Chron. east of Jordan, at the extreme south, thence passed xxvii. 24 “he finished not,” and no official record northwards through the eastern tribes, and crossing the was made of the result; “neither was the number Jordan, passed southwards through the western tribes. put in the account of the chronicles of king David." Aroer is the city described in Deut. ii. 36; Josh, xiii. The numbers were, therefore, in part mere estimates. 16 as on the river Arnon, at the extreme southern border Here Israel is said to be 800,000, in Chronicles 1,100,000; of the trans-Jordanic territory.
but the latter probably includes an estimate of the of Gad.-This follows the Masoretic reading. It omitted tribes of Benjámin and Levi, and perhaps of is better to put a period after the word river, and for portions of other tribes. On the other hand, Judah is “ of Gad” to read * towards Gad.” Perhaps the words here 500,000 (a round number like all the rest), and in " and they came” (towards Gad) may have been lost from Chronicles 470,000. The difference is due perhaps the text.
to an estimate of the officiating priests and Lerites Jazer.-A boundary city of Gad (Josh. xiii. 25). reckoned to Judah. Another supposition is that the Thence they went to Gilead.
regular army of 288,000 (twelve divisions of 24,000 (6) Land of Tahtim-hodshi.—This unknown and each) is included in Israel in one case and excluded in strange name, of which the ancient versions make the other, and that in the same way in regard to Judah nothing, is generally considered as a corruption. The " the thirty" may have had command of a special most probable conjecture is that for “ Tahtim” we body of 30,000. Possibly in one case the descendants should read “ Hittites” (a change of only a single letter), of the old Canaanites were reckoned (since it appears and that “ Hodshi” is the remnant of an expression from 2 Chron. ii. 17 that David “had numbered designating the month of their arrival there.
them "), and in the other were excluded. There is no Dan-jaan.-This is the only place in which the name reason to donbt the general reliability of the numbers, “Dan” occurs with this addition. It seems certain which would give a probable total population of five that the same Dan must be meant as in verses 2, 15; or six millions, or from 415 to 500 to a geographical and so the reading of the LXX. (Alex.) and Vulg. may square mile-à number not at all impossible in su be correct : “ Dan-jaar=Dan in the forest."
fertile a country. (Robinson's estimate of the area of Zidon.---This mother city of the Phænicians was in the country is about 12,000 geographical square miles the tribe of Asher nominally, but was never actually (10) David's heart smote him.-This time David's possessed by the Israelites. The same also is true of own conscience was awakened, without the necessity Tyre. Either the census-takers merely came to the of being roused, as in the case of Uriah, by the visit confines of these cities, or, being on friendly terms, l of a prophet. He confesses his sin, and prays for
The Three Days'
II. SAMUEL, XXIV.
sinned greatly in that I have done :
(15) So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the
time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beer-sheba seventy thousand men. (16) And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, « the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing-place of Araunah the Jebusite. (17) And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house.
(18) And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite. (19) And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded. (20) And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him :
pardon. Still it must be remembered that ten months When the angel.-The abruptness of the mention had passed (verse 8) before David saw his sin.
of “the angel ” here is removed in 1 Chron. xxi. 15, (11) For when David.-Read, and when. There · And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it; is no suggestion in the original, as seems to be implied and as he was destroying it, the Lord beheld, and he rein the English, that David's repentance was in conse pented,” &c. quence of the visit of Gad; on the contrary, it was in Threshing-place.- Better, threshing-floor, as the consequence of his repentanee and confession that the same word is translated in verses 18, 21, 24. prophet was sent to him.
Araunah the Jebusite.—The name is variously The prophet Gad.-- This prophet has not been spelled, “ Avarnah ” (text)," Aranyah ” (verse 18, text), mentioned since his warning to David to return from and “ Aravnah” (margin); in Chronicles it is uniformly the land of Moab (1 Sam. xxii. 5); but he had probably Ornan.” The latter is thought to be the Hebrew, and been all along one of David's counsellors. From the former the Jebusite name, slightly varied in ex1 Chron. xxix. 29 it is not unlikely that this account pression in Hebrew. He was a Jebusite, i.e., descended was written by Gad.
from the former possessors of Jerusalem; but we are (13) Seven years.
-In Chronicles “three years,' not told whether he was now a proselyte. and so the LXX. reads here also. This would be more When he saw the angel. --More fully (1 Chron. in accordance with the “three months and “three xxi. 16), “ And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the days.
angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the (14) Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord. heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out Here the spirit of David in his earlier years reappears ;
over Jerusalem.” he chooses that form of punishment which seems to These sheep.-David seeks to take all blame to him most directly and immediately dependent upon God himself, and prays that punishment may fall only upon Himself. He places himself in His hands rather than him and his father's house. But, without mooting the suffer those other punishments in which the will of question as to how far the people actively shared in man seemed to have a greater share. And it may be David's sin, his prayer was impossible to be granted. noticed also that he chooses that form of punishment Such was the divinely ordained federal relation between from which his own royal position would afford him the ruler and his people that they were necessarily inno immunity.
volved in the guilt of their head. (15) The time appointed - Much difficulty has (18) Gad came.-As appears from 1 Chron. xxi. been found with this expression; but, if the Hebrew 18, by direction of the angel.
Daniel was still in Jeru. can bear this meaning, it may be understood well enough salem proper, i.e., the hill of Zion, and it was looking of the time (somewhat less than three days, verse 16), out from thence that he had seen the angel “ by the which God in His good pleasure determined. The threshing-floor of Araunah," i.e., on the lower hill of Hebrew, however, probably means time of assembly," Mount Moriah, which afterwards became the site of which is generally understood to signify the time of the the Temple, and was included within the city. It was evening sacrifice; so the Chaldee understand it, and so doubtless this event that determined the Temple-site. also St. Jerome. This would reduce the time of the (20) Saw the king.-Not the angel, as in Chroni. pestilence to a single day.
| cles, the words in Hebrew being much alike.
II. SAMUEL, XXIV.
and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground. (21) And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant ? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the Lord, that the plague may
be stayed from the people. (27And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be óxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood. (23) All these things did Araunah, as a
king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee.
(24) And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.
So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. (25) And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.
(22) And Araunah said.- Araunah, having heard sistent with the text in both places. In one of them David's erra
rrand, has not a moment's hesitation. That the statement of price must have been altered in tran. his threshing-floor is to be turned into the place of an scription. In the entire uncertainty as to the extent of altar, he at once considers as settled; but he would have the purchase of Araunah (the whole hill of Moriah, or preferred to make it a gift.
only a part), and of the value of land in the locality (23) All these things did Araunah. This and at the time, it is impossible to decide between the clause should be rendered as a part of Araunah's two. address to David: “ The whole, O king, does Araunah (25) Built there an altar.–The parallel place in give unto the king.” (Comp. 1 Chron. xxi. 23.) Then, Chronicles states that the tabernacle "and the altar of after a moment's pause, he added, “ The LORD thy God burnt offering were at that season in the high place at accept thee.” The first word king, however, is omitted Gibeon,” and that David was afraid to go before it in some MSS., and in the LXX., Vulg., and Syr. " because of the sword of the angel,” i.e., the pestilence. The word "give,” of course, means only offer. David It also mentions that when David offered burnt actually bought the threshing-floor and other things offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the required.
LORD, “He answered him from heaven by fire upon (24) of that which cost me nothing. - The the altar of burnt offering.” David then fixed upon principle on which David acted is that which essentially this as “the house of the LORD God, and this is the underlies all trne sacrifice and all real giving to God. altar of the burnt offering for Israel (1 Chron. For fifty shekels of silver.-This sum is ex
xxii. 1). pressly said to cover the cost both of the ground and of Thus, with David's repentance and reconciliation to the oxen, and seems very small. In 1 Chron. xxi. 25, God after his second great sin closes this narrative and it reads “six hundred shekels of gold by weight.” One this book. David's reign and life were now substanof the most ingenious propositions for the reconciliation tially ended—a witness to all time of the power of of the two statements is that our text speaks of fifty Divine Grace over human infirmity and sin, of God's shekels, not of silver but of money, and that Chronicles faithfulness and mercy to those that trust in Him, and means that these were of gold, in value equal to 600 of the triumph of an earnest and humble faith notwithshekels of silver. But the explanation is quite incon. standing some very great and grievous falls.
SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE ON THE TEXT OF II. SAMUEL.
It has been necessary from time to time to speak of errors of the scribes in copying the text, and of probable emendations suggested by the reading of the parallel passages in Chronicles. Such errors must necessarily arise in the often repeated copying of manuscripts during a succession of many centuries, unless it were prevented by a special and perpetual miracle. But we have not only no Scriptural or other reasonable ground for expecting such a miracle; we have positive proof against such a supposition. In the parallel case of the New Testament, where we have a large number of MSS., some of them very ancient, as well as versions made within a century of the original documents, and copious quotations in ancient writers, it is found that no single MS. contains a perfectly accurate text, and that the actual language of the ori. ginal can only be determined in cases of doubt by a careful collation and weighing of all the evidence bearing upon the point. There is no ground to suppose that the text of the Old Testament has fared differently ; but there do not exist the same means of testing and authenticating its readings. There are no MSS. of the Old Testament as ancient as several which have been preserved of the New; there are no translations at all as near the date of the original writings, and there are, of course, no quotations, outside of the sacred books
themselves, for a long period after their publication. Yet a comparison of parallel accounts, such as have been occasionally noted above, and such as Ezra ii. with Neh. vii., shows conclusively that errors have been introduced into the text, especially in regard to numbers. Most of these appear to have been very ancient, before the oldest existing versions were made, and before the necessity was felt for such scrupulous care on the part of the scribes as was exercised in later times. For the correction of such errors we are necessarily compelled to rely mainly upon conjecture; but while conjecture is usually an uncertain gnide, in the case of parallel accounts it often becomes possible to determine, by comparison, the original reading with a high degree of probability; and then, from the analogy of these cor. rections to determine slight changes in other passages also, where the text has apparently undergone alteration.
It is to be remembered, however, that all these errors and corrections are only in minutiæ, in proper names, in the bare statement of numbers, and such like matters. When all have been made that any sober criticism can suggest, the substance of the narrative remains unaffected, and the result of the most searching investigation is to place on an ever firmer basis the substantial accuracy of the copies of the Scriptures which have come down to us.