A third intervention of this “Exterminating Angel” is narrated in the second book of Samuel that, in Chapter 24, describes a census ordered by King David.
The census, however, was an act contrary to the Elohìm’s will, who therefore hits the people with the plague. The text says – with the same “journalistic” accuracy we have already noted elsewhere – that it was the time of the barley harvest (2Sam 24:15) and that 70,000 men died in the territory between Dan and Beersheba. Then the angel stretches out his hand toward Jerusalem to devastate it (24:16), but Yahweh feels pity for the people and orders the angel (malàkh) to stop.
The important fact is that up to this point we may think that the story is but a figurative representation of God’s will, a sort of “personification of his will”, but the verse 16 contains a surprising clarification.
And the messenger of Yahweh was at the yard of Araunàh the Jebusite.
Suddenly, then, a story that could be read as a symbolic representation becomes concrete, and precisely located in a common, unremarkable place, devoid of any value: the angel is in a barnyard!
We also know that this yard is located on Mount Moriah, overlooking the ancient Jebusites’ settlement, which would later develop and become the city of Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of David.
Indeed, the story continues saying that David “saw” the malàkh in the act of hitting the people and asked “god” to spare him, since it(HE) was not to blame for the census: he and his family, in fact, were the responsible ones.
Thus, the king of Israel receives the order to erect an altar right in that barnyard! And the historicity of the story goes on to describe David ascending Mount Moriah accompanied by courtiers; Araunàh, the land owner, “leans over” (24:20), sees and joins the parade. David buys the land and the animals for 50 silver shekels, and builds the altar as he had been ordered.
And the scourge ceases…
The story is also narrated in the first book of Chronicles, that even adds some details (1Chr 21:7 et seq.): The malàkh stood by the barnyard of Araunàh the Jebusite; David “looks up” and sees him standing “between earth and sky”; when David goes to Araunàh, he was “beating the wheat” and sees him and the malàkh; Araunàh’s children, terrified, hide while the farmer approaches David…
The last verse of Chapter 21 also affirms that after these events, David wanted to consult Yahweh in his home on the hill of Gabaon, but did not dare go there because he was still terrified by the sight of the malàkh!
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