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ARAUNAH (a-rô'na, Heb. ‘ărawnâh). The Jebusite who owned the threshing floor on Mount Moriah that David purchased in order to erect an altar. Because of David’s sin in numbering the people, the land was stricken with a plague. When the plague was stayed, David presented a costly offering to the Lord (2Sam.24.15-2Sam.24.25). Araunah is called Ornan in 1Chr.21.18-1Chr.21.28 (kjv). The difference between 2Sam.24.24 and 1Chr.21.25 may be explained if we consider that in 2 Samuel we are told of an immediate transaction covering what David purchased then and there, while 1 Chronicles records a subsequent purchase of the whole site. In 2Sam.24.16 the Hebrew text has “the Araunah” and in 2Sam.24.23 “Araunah the king.” Was Araunah, then, the last Jebusite king of Jerusalem, permitted to live on in his city after David captured it? This is no more than an interesting conjecture.

The name of the owner of the threshing floor is most certainly of Hurrian origin. The interchange of the letter r and w reflects the Hurrian spelling of irwi from Nuzu and the Ugaritic spelling of iwri. The appearance of the definite article in 2 Samuel 24:16 and the appositional phrase “the King” (24:23) are evidences that the Heb. writer understood both the meaning and the significance of this Jebusite with whom David was dealing. The suffix -nah, reflects the Aram. -ni, the definite article; thus the Heb. text actually has a double definite article if this understanding of the text is correct. Also cf. H. B. Rosen’s suggestion that it is of Hitt. derivation from a-raw-wan-ni or a-ra-u-wan-ni, libre, aristocrate. The LXX Orna and Chronicles Ornan appear to be true Heb. formations derived secondarily from the original foreign name.

This site was purchased by David when the prophet Gad was sent to the penitent David with the instruction that David should purchase the threshing floor from this Jebusite.

Although the Jebusite, father of four sons, offers to give it to David without charge, David insists on paying the price given in 2 Samuel 24:24 as fifty shekels of silver for both the threshing floor and the oxen, while 1 Chronicles 21:25 lists 600 shekels of gold weighed out “for the site.” The explanation for these differences is to be found in either: (1) a copyist’s mistake; (2) two prices for two items, (a) 50 shekels of silver for the oxen in Samuel—“so David bought the threshing floor, and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver”—and (b) 600 shekels of gold “for the site”; or (3) two purchases of land were made by David—an original plot of ground on which to erect an altar and afterward the whole hill of Moriah for the larger price.

The theology of the sin is prob. explained in 1 Chronicles 27:23, 24 saying David was not to number Israel “because the Lord had promised to make Israel as many as the stars of the heavens.”

The Temple was later located on this spot (2 Chron 3:1).


J. Montgomery JAOS, LV (1935), 94; H. B. Rosen V.T. v (1955), 318-320; C. H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook (1965), 19, 116.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A Jebusite from whom David at the request of the prophet Gad bought a threshing-floor located upon Mt. Moriah, as a site for an altar of the Lord at the time of the great plague (2Sa 24:15 ff; 1Ch 21:15 ff), upon which Solomon later erected the temple (2Ch 3:1).

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