So the LORD sent pestilence on Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel.—So Samuel. The rest of our verse is abridged. From Samuel we learn that the plague raged throughout the land from dawn to the time of the evening sacrifice.1 Chronicles 21:14. There fell of Israel — He was proud of the number of his people, but God took a course to make them fewer. Justly is that which we are proud of taken from us, or imbittered to us.1 Chronicles 21:16, on which the author is about to lay so much stress. So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. there fell of Israel] 2 Sam. adds, from Dan even to Beer-sheba. The pestilence was throughout the whole land.Verse 14. - So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel. This sentence is followed in the parallel place by "from the morning even to the time appointed." It has been suggested that "the time appointed" may mean the time of the evening sacrifice, and that God shortened thus the three days to a short one day. There seems nothing sufficient to support the suggestion, unless it might lie in the "repenting" of the Lord, and his "staying" of the angel's hand, in ver. 15. There fell of Israel seventy thousand men. The whole number of Israel, including women, must have reached near to five millions. On this assumption, the sacrifice of life for Israel would be something like 14 per cent., or fourteen in the thousand. 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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