1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
2 Samuel 24:1  KJV

1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
1 Chronicles 21:1  KJV

SAB Contradiction 445

Biblical chaos?

It is an ancient riddle: how it is possible that God brought David to sin by numbering the people of Israel? Isn’t God the Good shepherd of his people who protects his children from evil? Why than did he bring this evil on David? And to make the “Biblical chaos” complete, a parallel passage says that it was not God but the devil who caused David to sin. What now?

2 Samuel 24:1

One character of the Bible is its self explanatory quality. When we read this verse carefully in the KJV translation we get the feeling that something is quite wrong: The anger of the Lord is the subject; this anger is against the people of Israel. Why? No answer. This anger (or God) is further touching David. Why? No answer. This anger (or God) says something as “Go, number Israel and Judah.” How did it/He say? No answer. Does it make sense? To my humble opinion, I can only say: No, I don’t understand this. Where is the self explanatory faculty of the Bible? How often theologians firmly state the four qualities of the Bible according to the Reformation? Its necessity, transparency, sufficiency and perfection.

Better translation

When we are in this phase of the discussion it is time to consider. Is this translation correct? According to strict grammatical rules, it is possible to say: Yes. Is there a better translation possible? Also according to grammatical rules, we may say: Yes, there is.

“And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and one moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” It is possible to translate the 3rd personal pronoun “he”, “it” with the indefinite pronoun “one”.

Fever of overestimation

With this translation we see the transparency of the story in a twinkling of an eye. The temptation of David is caused by the people: one said, or many people said: “Let’s count the people … There have been so many victories for Israel … It’s time to know how strong we really are … So let’s count the soldiers to know our military power.” That’s the atmosphere in which David gave the order to number the people. He also got the fever of overestimating oneself.

As the temptation was caused by the people, it was they that were so severely punished with illness. All men who had been numbered had accepted the project without argument. They seemed to have forgotten that in Israel each man who could draw the sword had to come up for defence in case of war. That was the spiritual duty. The king could not plan wars of aggression. In that case, many Israelites could remain home without being blamed. This was the divine rule concerning conduct of war.    


We let some examples follow to show how common the translation is “one”, instead of “he” or “it”.

“And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood; …”  1 Kings 22:38  KJV
“… yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.”  Isaiah 46:7  KJV
“Shall horses run upon the rock? Will one plow there with oxen?”  Amos 6:12  KJV


One may ask: Why don’t many Bible translations have this simple grammatically acceptable translation? Several answers may be given. Bible scholars often don’t dare deviating from accepted traditions, or too often they seem to have accepted difficult passages in the Bible, which they themselves don’t understand.

Who tempted?

The better translation shows convincingly that not God, but Satan is the tempter, using the people of Israel.

No Bible Contradiction