Passage Analysis Essay: David takes a Census
The Biblical passage found in 2 Samuel 24 tells the story of king David taking a census of Israel and Judah and in result of this, receiving punishment from God.The two books of Samuel were previously one book but were divided in the Hebrew Bible in the fifteenth century. The two books, along with I and II Kings make up a four part history of the kings of Israel. Seeing as the books of I and II Samuel cover a large span of time in Israel's history, no one man could have lived through the entire history and written the books by himself. Because of this, many scholars believe that there are multiple authors of the books in addition to multiple outside sources having been used to create this completion (NBD “Samuel, the book of” 1056).
The main focus of this story is on the census that David took of Israel and Judah. A census in the ancient near east, during the reign of David was much different than the censuses which are taken today. Today, a census is a numbering of all citizens, male and female which includes details such as age, sex, and race. During reign of David, censuses were taken primarily for specific purposes, such as the distribution of rations, fiscal revenues, or military levies (ABD “Census”). Concerning the census taken by David in 2 Samuel 24, it is a count of the number of men of military age from the the border of Dan, which is located in the north of Israel, just below Mt. Hermon and Beer-sheeba, which is a town located in the south Judean desert (ABD “Dan” and “ Beer-sheba” 641, 12).
The story of David being punished by God for taking a census takes place in the nation of Israel during the four hundred-year dynasty of king David. During his reign, David transformed the lose coalition of the Israelite tribes into a national state (ABD “Israel” 560-561). Another main character within the story is Joab. Joab was the Son of David's sister, Zeruiah. As one of three of David's nephews, who all worked closely with David as military leaders, Joab was the commander and chief of David's armies. David was a great political and military leader, but 2 Samuel 24 gives a look at David's decision to take a census of Israel and Judah from a spiritual perspective. (ABD “Joab” 852)
I. The early years of David's reign (2 Samuel 1:1-8:18)
A. David's reaction to the News about Saul's death (1:1-27)
B. David and Ish-bosheth (2:1-4:12)
C. David defeats the Philistines (5:1-25)
D. David, the ark and the house of God (6:1-7:29)
E. Further victories (8:1-18)
II. King David and his court (9:1-20:26)
A. David and Mephibosheth (9:1-13)
B. Warfare with Ammon and its consequences (10:1-12:21)
C. David and his eldest sons (13:1-18:33)
D. David's return and Sheba's revolt (19:1-20:26)
III. Appendix (21:1-25)
A. Famine and warfare (21:1-22)
B. Two psalms of David (22:1-23:7)
C. His mighty men (23:8-39)
D. Census and plague...