2 Samuel 24:1 v.s. 1 Chronicles 21:1

Both describe the same situation, but one verse talks about the anger of HaShem to be kindled against Israel, while the other one talks about 'satan'. When comparing both verses one seems to add to the other; so my question is if the verse of 2 Samuel 24:1 could be explained as follow: Because the anger of HaShem was kindled against Israël, it moved (triggered; yarat) David to act opposing (as a adversary; Satan) to G'ds will and take a census. Later he regrets this choice of listening to this inner voice that said: "Go, take a census of Yisrael and Yehudah". Or should it be understand that the anger of HaShem caused the people to trigger David to count?

Are there any commentaries on these two verses which shows a comparable view or different view how to understand both verses together?

1 Answer 1


Your second suggestion is more similar to what the commentaries understand. The Metzudas David, Rada"k, Mahar"i Kra and Malbi"m on the verse in 2 Sam. all explain it as meaning that the Satan was the one that encouraged David to count. As the Metzudas David says:

And he provoked David: Meaning to say, the one whose way it is to provoke. And so it says in 1 Chron. 21:1 that the Satan provoked him and G-d put him (David) in his hands.

This is similar to what the Malbi"m says:

That Satan stood up and encouraged people who cause conflict to turn David's heart to this. Because G-d didn't provoke him, only adversarial men did. Just that G-d did not turn his heart to not believe them.

  • Not all Jewish sources agree that G-d directly or indirectly led David to sin by the census, but rather attribute David's act to his own inclinations to do what is evil in G-d's eyes. The Ralbag, in his commentary to the verse, refuses to accept the possibility that G-d moved David to sin, because, among other reasons, this would negate the justification for punishing David for the sin, and so he raises two possibilities to explain the language of the verse.
    – Levi
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 20:17
  • Either this is a general statement that G-d rules the entire world, and so whatever happens in this world conforms with His will, or else the verse is defective, and it means: "And [David's heart] moved David," so that G-d was not at all involved in the sin.
    – Levi
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 20:17
  • Adding your comment to it @iKay i think this could be a combination of different things that led David to this cencus.
    – Levi
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 20:19
  • I understand that the term "Satan" includes one's own evil inclination per Bava Basra 15a "He is Satan, he is the evil inclination". So I don't see the Ralba"g as necessarily disagreeing with the general idea put forth by the other commentators. Although the specifics the commentaries mention do seem to make a combination like you say, of Satan working through David, through others and G-d not keeping David from going with the idea.
    – iKay
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 20:33
  • Besides the word שטן there is the word שטנה and both seem to be related to each other, could the verse 1 Chronicles/Divrei Hayamim 21:1 based on this relationship, the meanings of these words, and based on 2 Samuel 24:1 be rendered something like: There arose opposition for, regarding or because of Israel... ?
    – Levi
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 20:24

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