1 Chronicles 21:12
Either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.
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(12) Three years’ famine.—This appears correct, as harmonising with the three months and three days of the other visitations. Samuel has the reading “seven,” which perhaps originated in some scribe’s memory of the famine described in Genesis 41:30, sqq.

To be destroyed.—Samuel has, “thy flying,” and so LXX. and Vulg. here. This is doubtless right, as the word in our Hebrew text might easily be a corrupt form of that in Samuel.

While that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee.—Literally, and the sword of thy foes at overtaking. The word “overtaking” (massègeth) only occurs besides in Leviticus 14:21. Samuel has simply, “and he pursuing thee.” Perhaps the right text is, and he pursue thee to overtaking. (Comp. the Syriac here: “Three months thou shalt be subdued before thy enemy, and he shall be pursuing thee, and he shall be mastering thee.”)

Or else three days the sword of the Lord . . . coasts of Israel.—Samuel has the brief, “Or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land.” Our text appears to be an exegetical expansion of the older statement. Others suppose it to be the original, of which Samuel is an epitome, alleging that otherwise “the angel” is introduced in 2Samuel 24:16 quite suddenly and abruptly. But we must remember that in the thought of those times pestilence and “the sword,” or angel of the Lord,” would be suggestive of each other. (Comp. 2Kings 19:35; and for the three judgments, Ezekiel 5:17; Ezekiel 14:13-19; Ezekiel 14:21; Leviticus 26:25-26.)

Throughout all the coasts.—In every border.

Now therefore advise thyself.And now see. Samuel, “Now know and see.”

1 Chronicles 21:12-13. Either three years of famine — In 2 Samuel 24:13, it is said the prophet propounded to David seven years of famine, concerning which see the note there. Let me fall now into the hand of the Lord — The pestilence is more properly called the hand, or sword of the Lord, than other common calamities. For they have visible causes, but none know whence this sudden destruction comes, unless immediately from the hand or stroke of God.

21:1-30 David's numbering the people. - No mention is made in this book of David's sin in the matter of Uriah, neither of the troubles that followed it: they had no needful connexion with the subjects here noted. But David's sin, in numbering the people, is related: in the atonement made for that sin, there was notice of the place on which the temple should be built. The command to David to build an altar, was a blessed token of reconciliation. God testified his acceptance of David's offerings on this altar. Thus Christ was made sin, and a curse for us; it pleased the Lord to bruise him, that through him, God might be to us, not a consuming Fire, but a reconciled God. It is good to continue attendance on those ordinances in which we have experienced the tokens of God's presence, and have found that he is with us of a truth. Here God graciously met me, therefore I will still expect to meet him.And the angel of the Lord destroying ... - These words are not in Samuel, which puts the third alternative briefly. They prepare the way for the angelic appearance 1 Chronicles 21:16, on which the author is about to lay so much stress. 11, 12. Choose thee, &c.—To the three evils these correspond in beautiful agreement: three years, three months, three days [Bertheau]. (See on [396]2Sa 24:13). No text from Poole on this verse.

See Chapter Introduction Either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.
12. three years’ famine] 2 Sam., seven years of famine (LXX. however three, as Chron.).

three months to be destroyed] R.V. three months to be consumed (Heb. nispeh). Some scholars would correct the text of Chron. into agreement with 2 Samuel 24:13, or wilt thou flee three months?

the angel of the Lord] Cp. 2 Kings 19:35; Acts 12:23.

throughout all the coasts] Render, in every border, i.e. through the whole extent.

advise thyself] R.V. consider.

Verse 12. - Three years' famine. The parallel place has, in our Hebrew text, "seven" instead of "three." But the Septuagint indicates this to be but a corruption of a later text; for it reads" three," as here. The parallel place shows no mention of the destroying angel here spoken cf. The three inflictions of famine, sword, pestilence, are found not unfrequently elsewhere in Scripture (see Deuteronomy 28:21-25; Ezekiel 14:21; Revelation 6:4-8). Now ... advise thyself. The simple text is" Now see," in place of "Now know and see" of the parallel passage. 1 Chronicles 21:12The naming of the העם שׂרי along with Joab is in accordance with the circumstances, for we learn from 2 Samuel 24:4 that Joab did not carry out the numbering of the people alone, but was assisted by the captains of the host. The object of אלי והביאוּ, which is not expressed, the result of the numbering, may be supplied from the context. No objection need be taken to the simple כּהם of 1 Chronicles 21:3, instead of the double וכהם כּהם in Samuel. The repetition of the same word, "there are so and so many of them," is a peculiarity of the author of the book of Samuel (cf. 2 Samuel 12:8), while the expression in the Chronicle corresponds to that in Deuteronomy 1:11. With the words וגו אדני הלא, "Are they not, my lord king, all my lord's servants," i.e., subject to him? Joab allays the suspicion that he grudged the king the joy of reigning over a very numerous people. In 2 Samuel 24:3 the thought takes another turn; and the last clause, "Why should it (the thing or the numbering) become a trespass for Israel?" is wanting. אשׁמה denotes here a trespass which must be atoned for, not one which one commits. The meaning is therefore, Why should Israel expiate thy sin, in seeking thy glory in the power and greatness of thy kingdom? On the numbers, 1 Chronicles 21:5, see on 2 Samuel 24:9. In commenting on 1 Chronicles 21:6, which is not to be found in Samuel, Berth. defends the statement that Joab did not make any muster of the tribes Levi and Benjamin, against the objections of de Wette and Gramberg, as it is done in my apologet. Versuche, Sa. 349ff., by showing that the tribe of Levi was by law (cf. Numbers 1:47-54) exempted from the censuses of the people taken for political purposes; and the tribe of Benjamin was not numbered, because David, having become conscious of his sin, stopped the numbering before it was completed (cf. also the remarks on 2 Samuel 24:9). The reason given, "for the king's word was an abomination unto Joab," is certainly the subjective opinion of the historian, but is shown to be well founded by the circumstances, for Joab disapproved of the king's design from the beginning; (cf. 2 Samuel 24:3 and 1 Chronicles 21:3). - In 1 Chronicles 21:7, the author of the Chronicle, instead of ascribing the confession of sin on David's part which follows to the purely subjective motive stated in the words, "and David's heart smote him," i.e., his conscience (2 Samuel 24:10), has ascribed the turn matters took to objective causes: the thing displeased God; and anticipating the course of events, he remarks straightway, "and He (God) smote Israel." This, however, is no reason for thinking, with Berth., that the words have arisen out of a misinterpretation or alteration of 2 Samuel 24:10; for such anticipatory remarks, embracing the contents of the succeeding verses, not unfrequently occur in the historical books (cf. e.g., 1 Kings 6:14; 1 Kings 7:2). - In reference to 1 Chronicles 21:8-10, see on 2 Samuel 24:10-16. - In 1 Chronicles 21:12, נספּה has not come into the text by mistake or by misreading נסך (2 Samuel 24:13), but is original, the author of the Chronicle describing the two latter evils more at length than Samuel does. The word is not a participle, but a noun formed from the participle, with the signification "perishing" (the being snatched away). The second parallel clause, "the sword of thine enemies to attaining" (so that it reach thee), serves to intensify. So also in reference to the third evil, the יהוה חרב which precedes בּארץ דּבר, and the parallel clause added to both: "and the angel of the Lord destroying in the whole domain of Israel."
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