1 Chronicles 21:20
And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) And Ornan turned back (returned), and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves (were hiding). There can be little doubt that this is corrupt, and that the text of Samuel is right, “And Araunah looked up, and saw the king and his servants passing by him.” The LXX. here has “Ornan turned, and saw the king;” the Vulg., “when Ornan had looked up” The Hebrew words for “returned” and “looked up,” “angel” and “king,” are similar enough to be easily confused in an ill-written or failed MS.

Now Ornan was threshing wheat.—This clause does not harmonise with the preceding statement, but its genuineness is made probable by the fact that Ornan was in his threshingfloor at the time. Moreover, the LXX. adds to 2Samuel 24:15, “And David chose for himself the death; and it was the days of wheat harvest.”

1 Chronicles 21:20. His four sons with him hid themselves — Because of the glory and majesty in which the angel appeared, which men’s weak natures are not able to bear; and from the fear of God’s vengeance, which now seemed to be coming to their family.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.It has been observed that it is only in books of a late period that Angels are brought forward as intermediaries between God and the prophets. This, no doubt, is true; and it is certainly unlikely that the records, from which the author of Chronicles drew, spoke of Gad as receiving his knowledge of God's will from an angel. The touch may be regarded as coming from the writer of Chronicles himself, who expresses the fact related by his authorities in the language of his own day (see Zechariah 1:9, Zechariah 1:14, Zechariah 1:19; Zechariah 2:3; Zechariah 4:1; Zechariah 5:5; etc.); language, however, which we are not to regard as rhetorical, but as strictly in accordance with truth, since Angels were doubtless employed as media between God and the prophet as much in the time of David as in that of Zechariah. 20, 21. Ornan was threshing wheat—If the census was entered upon in autumn, the beginning of the civil year, the nine and a half months it occupied would end at wheat harvest. The common way of threshing corn is by spreading it out on a high level area, and driving backwards and forwards upon it two oxen harnessed to a clumsy sledge with three rollers and some sharp spikes. The driver sits on his knees on the box, while another person is employed in drawing back the straw and separating it from the grain underneath. By this operation the chaff is very much chopped, and the grain threshed out. Or,

And Ornan turned back, ( i.e. turned his face from the angel,) for, or when, (for the Hebrew vau is frequently used both those ways,)

he saw the angel and (so did) his four sons with him hiding themselves; partly because of the glory and majesty in which the angel appeared, which men’s weak and sinful natures are not able to bear; and partly from the fear of God’s vengeance, which was at this time riding circuit in the land, and now seemed to be coming to their family. See Chapter Introduction And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him {i} hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.

(i) If man hides himself at the sight of an angel who is a creature, how much more as a sinner able to appear before the face of God?

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 20. - This verse is not found in the parallel place. The Septuagint reading of "king" in this verse, in place of "angel," is no doubt an error. The drift of this and the following verse is plain and continuous. Ornan and his sons had hidden themselves on the apparition of the angel, but came out on the advent of David, to welcome him. The 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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