In Shmuel 2:24:14 it says:

"David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for His compassion is great; and let me not fall into the hands of men.”"

King David chooses here his punishment to be the three days of pestilence befalling Am Yisrael. However, when the options were presented to David by Gad in the previous verse, they were all presented in singular:

Gad came to David and told him; he asked, “Shall a seven-year famine come upon you in the land, or shall you be in flight from your adversaries for three months while they pursue you, or shall there be three days of pestilence in your land? Now consider carefully what reply I shall take back to Him who sent me.”

(In English "you" may be plural as well, but the original Hebrew is לך, צריך, etc which is singular).

Why does David switch mid-sentence from plural to singular?

(Note: I thought this might be an instance of "the royal 'we'" but couldn't find any basis for this).

1 Answer 1


See Rashi ad loc (citing Yalkut Shimoni):

אמר רבי אלכסנדרי: אמר דוד, אם אני בורר לי החרב עכשיו, ישראל אומרים הוא בוטח בגבוריו, שהוא לא ימות והאחרים ימותו, ואם אני בורר הרעב, יאמרו בוטח הוא בעושרו, אברר לי דבר שהכל שוין בו

Rabbi Alexandri says that David said: If I choose the sword now, the Jewish people will say that "he is relying on his warriors, such that he won't die while others will." If I choose famine, they'll say "he is relying on his wealth." So I'll choose something to which everyone is equally susceptible.

Possibly, then, this is alluded to by his choice of words: "let us fall into the hands of Hashem" (something from which both I and they might suffer equally), "and let me not fall into the hands of men" (something which I will experience differently than they would).

  • 1
    That's a nice pshat!
    – N.T.
    Oct 18, 2020 at 19:01

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