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name of an individual, or that the book so styled was all written in the same age by the same man. The transactions of the times were regularly entered in a public register, by a person denominated the Recorder, or Historiographer, a stated officer to the Jewish kings". And the book of Jasher was the standard authentic book, in which they were so entered by authority, and from which extracts were made, as occasion required".

Page 29. Some difficulties are started relative to the history of David numbering the people.

In our translation we read, 2 Sam. xxiv. that "the Lord moved David to number Israel;" and, 1 Chron. xxi. that "Satan moved him to do it."

Nothing is more common with the sacred writers, than to represent God as doing that which, in the course of his providence, and for the purposes either of mercy or judgement, he permits to be done by the instrumentality of second causes, animate or inanimate, corporeal or spiritual. In the case of Ahab, 1 Kings, xxii. he is represented, after the manner of men, and in condescension to our capacities, as a king keeping his court, with spirits of all kinds in waiting before him, prepared to execute his will upon earth. One of these spirits is commissioned to in

in See 2 Sam. viii. 16. 1 Kings, iv. 3. 2 Kings, xviii. 18. 2 Chron. xxxiv. 8.

"Le Clerc seems to have imagined that this record was kept in verse: "Crediderim Librum Recti fuisse collectionem hymnorum "aut carminum de rebus gestis Hebræorum, forte non uno tem"pore factum." Cler. in Josh. x. 13. We read, indeed, of psalms and proverbs, which the men of Judah copied out.

fluence the false prophets, and they persuade Ahab, who will not listen to the true prophet of God. Taking the matter, therefore, as it stands in our English translation, the import of both passages laid together, according to a fair explanation, would evidently be, that, for good and sufficient reasons known to himself, God permitted Satan to tempt, and David to yield to the temptation, in this instance.


But if we consult the original, we shall find there is no necessity to suppose that David was excited either by God or by Satan. The word Satan, though often denoting that person who is emphatically styled THE Adversary, signifies only, in general, AN Adversary; and therefore the passage 1 Chron. xxi. may very properly be rendered," An adversary stood up against Israel, and excited "David. This adversary might be some counsellor, or &c. The other passage, 2 Sam. xxiv. may as properly be translated, "The anger of the "Lord was kindled against Israel, and one excited "David," or " David was excited by some one" (the person mentioned in Chronicles), saying, "Go, num"ber Israel."

Of the different kinds of punishment offered to David for his choice, upon this occasion, one is that of a famine for seven years, according to 2 Sam. xxiv. but for three years only, according to 1 Chron. xxi.

It has been observed by some learned men, that the year in which this happened was the fourth year since a famine had commenced on another occasion, mentioned 2 Sam. xxi. 1. This circumstance considered, the question, as it is worded in one place→→


"Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy "land?" is tantamount to saying, "Wilt thou choose "three additional years of famine," &c. which removes the apparent contradiction.

It may be urged, that "the prophet delivered the message no more than once, and therefore must "have said either seven or three: he could not have "said both."

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True; but the sacred, like other historians, often relate the same conversation in different terms; that is, they give the sense and substance of what passed, varying the phraseology. Instances frequently occur in both Testaments.

If no other satisfactory solution of the difficulty could be assigned, candour and common sense surely would suppose, that the word seven, in 2 Sam. xxiv. was originally three, especially as three is the word in the Greek version of the Seventy°.

But-" If David only sinned, why should the punishment fall upon the people?”

Such is the union between king and people, like that between the head and the body, that this happens continually in the natural order of things; and therefore, why not judicially? What greater misfortune can befall a king, or a father, than the loss of his subjects, or his children? It is possible, however, that such might not be altogether the case, in the present instance; though David, like a true patriot king and most affectionate father, intercedes for his people, and desires to receive in his own person


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and family the stroke that was ready to descend on thein: "I have sinned, and done wickedly: these sheep, what have they done? Let thine hand, I pray thee, be upon me, and upon my father's "house." Notwithstanding all this, I say, it should seem, that the people were by no means without fault. For the history opens thus: "The anger of "the Lord was kindled against Israel, and"-as a consequence of it-" David was excited to number "Israel."

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But of what nature, then, after all, was this act of numbering the people, and why should it have been followed by a plague?

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I am persuaded that we are much in the dark upon this point. If any light can be thrown upon it, that light must proceed from a passage in the book of Exodus, ch. xxx. 12. where God says to Moses, "When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel "after their number, then shall they give every man


a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when thou "numberest them; that there be no plague among "them, when thou numberest them." To number the people, then, was not, as it should seem, merely to count them out of curiosity or vain glory. It was a religious rite, it was a muster, a review, a visitation, an inquisition into their conduct, into the religious and moral state in which they at that time stood before their God. For upon such inquisition something came out, or appeared against them, which required an offering, by way of atonement or ransom for their souls: "They shall give a ransom, that "there be no plague amongst them, when thou num

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"berest them." A very observable expression; for when David numbered them, this was the very thing that happened; there was a plague among them, in consequence of their being numbered. They might be in such a state, that God would not accept them, or their offerings. It is not improbable that they should be in such a state, if we consider what corruptions must needs creep in under Saul's wicked reign and David's long wars, during most of which time the country had been overrun by the Philistines, &c. who would propagate their idolatry, with its flagitious concomitants. In short, Israel had provoked God; for otherwise, his anger would not have been kindled against them, as we are informed that it was; their offences called for punishment, and, on the numbering of the people, an opportunity was taken to inflict it. Joab appears to have been aware of the consequence, as a known case. Why," says he, "will my lord the king be a cause of punish"ment, trespass, or forfeiture", to Israel?" as if he knew that, upon a visitation, they must be punished who should be found guilty; and was unwilling that the number of the king's subjects should be lessened. But David might think it necessary, and his zeal prevailed. Otherwise, it is extraordinary that such a man as Joab should see what David either could not or would not see.


This account of the transaction was offered to the public, many years ago, by a learned writer, well skilled in biblical knowledge and criticism. That it

nows 1. Chron. xxi. 3.

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