Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of Sulpitius Severus.: Chapter XXXVIII.
At this time, he knew in a guilty way Bersabe, a woman of remarkable beauty. She is said to have been the wife of a certain man called Uriah, who was then in the camp. David caused him to be slain by exposing him to the enemy at a dangerous place in the battle. In this way, he added to the number of his wives the woman who was now free from the bond of marriage, but who was already pregnant through adultery. Then David, after being severely reproved by Nathan the prophet, although he confessed his sin, did not escape the punishment of God. For he lost in a few days the son who was born from the clandestine connection, and many terrible things happened in respect to his house and family. At last his son Absalom lifted impious arms against his father, with the desire of driving him from the throne. Joab encountered him in the field of battle, and the king entreated him to spare the young man when conquered; but he, disregarding this command, avenged with the sword his parricidal attempts. That victory is said to have been a mournful one to the king: so great was his natural affection that he wished even his parricidal son to be forgiven. This war seemed hardly finished when another arose, under a certain general called Sabæa, who had stirred up all the wicked to arms. But the whole commotion was speedily checked by the death of the leader. David then engaged in several battles against the Philistines with favorable results; and all being subdued by war, both foreign and home disturbances having been brought to accord, he possessed in peace a most flourishing kingdom. Then a sudden desire seized him of numbering the people, in order to ascertain the strength of his empire; and accordingly they were numbered by Joab, the master of the host, and were found to amount to one million three hundred thousand 311 citizens. David soon regretted and repented of this proceeding, and implored pardon of God for having lifted up his thoughts to this, that he should reckon the power of his kingdom rather by the multitude of his subjects than by the divine favor. Accordingly, an angel was sent to him to reveal to him a threefold punishment, and to give him the power of choosing either one or another. Well, when a famine for three years was set before him, and flight before his enemies for three months, and a pestilence for three days, shunning both flight and famine, he made choice of pestilence, and, almost in a moment of time, seventy thousand men perished. Then David, beholding the angel by whose right hand the people were overthrown, implored pardon, and offered himself singly to punishment instead of all, saying that he deserved destruction inasmuch as it was he who had sinned. Thus, the punishment of the people was turned aside; and David built an altar to God on the spot where he had beheld the angel. After this, having become infirm through years and illness, he appointed Solomon, who had been born to him by Bersabe, the wife of Uriah, his successor in the kingdom. He, having been anointed with the royal oil by p. 90 Sadoc the priest, received the title of king, while his father was still alive. David died, after he had reigned forty years.
As is often the case with respect to numbers, there are discrepancies in the various accounts given of this census.
Next: Chapter XXXIX.
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