2 Samuel 24:18–25: David Builds an Altar
In the last passage the LORD had been angry with Israel, so David took a census (in a sinful way) and the LORD sent an angel with a plague, in punishment. The plague stopped at the threshing floor of a man named Araunah the Jebusite. (The Jebusites were the people who were living in Jerusalem before the Israelites conquered it and took it over, so obviously some Jebusites are still there.)
Gad (David’s prophet) now comes to David and instructs him to build an altar to the LORD on that threshing floor. David goes to Araunah to buy it, but Araunah tells David no, the king doesn’t need to buy it, Araunah will just give David the land—along with everything David needs to make the sacrifice—but David says no, he can’t make a sacrifice to the LORD that cost him nothing, so he buys it.
He then builds an altar and sacrifices burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and we’re told that the LORD answers his prayer and the plague on Israel is stopped.
And this is where the book of Samuel ends.
One thing I find confusing in the text is when the plague stopped; in the previous passage it says that the LORD tells His angel, “Enough! Withdraw your hand” (verse 16) when the angel is at the threshing floor, and in this passage it says that when David makes his sacrifices the LORD answers his prayer and the plague stops. Perhaps it means that the plague stops spreading in verse 16, and stops altogether in verse 25?
As mentioned, Araunah was a Jebusite, not an Israelite, but I don’t think that’s overly important to the passage. If anything, Araunah seems just as interested as David in making the sacrifices. It’s possible this is another instance of a negotiating tactic that doesn’t translate well to modern readers, in which Araunah is trying to get a better price for his land; it’s not a sense I got from the passage, but it’s a possibility.
The Threshing Floor of Araunah
Probably the main thing to understand about this little piece of land is that it would eventually become the site where Solomon builds the temple. (In the parallel account in 1 Chronicles 21:18–22:1 David makes this explicit, and says that the temple will be built on this spot.)
So the book of 1/2 Samuel, which was focused on the life of King David, ends with David purchasing the land where the temple to the LORD will be built.
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