Goliath: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

David and Goliath: 13th century Jewish illustration from France.

Goliath (Hebrew: גָּלְיָת, Modern Golyat Tiberian Golyāṯ ; Arabic: جالوت , Jalut (Qur'anic term), جليات Julyat (Christian term)), known also as Goliath of Gath (one of five city states of the Philistines), is a warrior, famous for his battle with the young David, the future king of Israel, described in the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) and, more briefly, in the Quran.

Post-Classical Jewish traditions stressed Goliath's status as the representative of paganism, in contrast to David, the champion of the God of Israel; Christian tradition gave him a distinctively Christian twist, seeing in David's battle with Goliath the Church's battle with Satan.[1]


Summary: 1 Samuel 17

David hoists the severed head of Goliath.

The account of the battle between David and Goliath is given in 1 Samuel, chapter 17:[2]

Saul and the Israelites are facing the Philistines at the Valley of Elah. Twice a day for forty days Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, comes out between the lines and challenges the Israelites to send out a champion of their own to decide the outcome in single combat, but Saul and all the Israelites are afraid. David is present, bringing food for his elder brothers. When told that Saul has promised to reward any man who will defeat the Philistine champion, David declares he is not afraid. Saul reluctantly agrees and offers his armour, which David declines in favour of his sling and five stones taken from a brook.

David and Goliath confront each other, Goliath with his armour and shield-bearer, David with his staff and sling, "and the Philistine cursed David by his gods." But David replies: "This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that God saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is God's, and he will give you into our hand." [3]

David then strikes Goliath in the head with a stone from his sling; the Philistine falls on his face to the ground. David takes Goliath's sword and cuts off Goliath's head. The shocked Philistines flee and are pursued by the Israelites "as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron". David puts the armour of Goliath in his own tent, and takes the head to Jerusalem. Saul sends Abner to bring David. The king asks whose son he is, and David answers, 'I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite'."

Textual considerations

Goliath's height

There are significant differences between the Masoretic (Hebrew), Septuagint (Greek), and Dead Sea Scrolls versions of 1 Samuel 17.[4] One of the most interesting of these relates to Goliath's height: 4QSam(a), the Dead Sea Scrolls text of Samuel, gives the height of Goliath as "four cubits and a span" (approximately 200 centimeters or about 6.5 feet), and this is what the 1st century AD historian Josephus and the 4th century AD Septuagint manuscripts also record. Later Septuagint manuscripts and the oldest Masoretic texts (Aleppo Codex, 10th century AD) increase his height to "six cubits and a span", which would make him about 290 cm or nine and a half feet tall.[5] The discrepancy of height may be due to confusion of two Hebrew letters, dalet and waw. The Hebrew language uses letters to denote numbers, and the numerical value of dalet is 4 and waw 6. It may be possible that the dalet and waw have become confused in some time during the copying process.

David's age

Early Septuagint-based manuscripts such as the 4th century AD Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209 do not contain the verses describing David coming each day with food for his brothers, nor 1 Samuel 17:55-58 in which Saul seems unaware of David's identity, referring to him as "this youth" and asking Abner to find out the name of his father. The narrative therefore reads that Goliath is challenging the Israelites to combat, the Israelites are afraid, and David, already with Saul, accepts the challenge.[6] This shorter version removes a number of ambiguities which have puzzled commentators: it removes 1 Samuel 17:55-58 in which Saul seems not to know David, despite having taken him as his shield-bearer and harpist; it removes 1 Samuel 17:50, the presence of which makes it seem as if David kills Goliath twice, once with his sling and then again with a sword;[7] and it gives David a clear reason, as Saul's personal shield-bearer, for accepting Goliath's challenge. Scholars drawing on studies of oral transmission and folklore have concluded that the non-Septuagint material "is a folktale grafted onto the initial text of ... 1 Samuel."[8]

Elhanan and Goliath

Goliath makes another appearance in Samuel at 2 Samuel 21:19,[9] which tells how Goliath was killed by "Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite." The 4th century BC 1 Chronicles 20[10] explains the second Goliath by saying that Elhanan "slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath," there was a copyist error in 2 Samuel 21:19. The sign of the direct object, which in Chronicles comes just before "Lahmi," was '-t; the copyist mistook it for b-t or b-y-t ("Beth") and thus got Bet hal-Lahmi ("the Bethlehemite") out of it. He misread the word for "brother" ('-h) as the sign of the direct object ('-t) right before g-l-y-t ("Goliath"). Thus he made "Goliath" the object of "killed" (wayyak), instead of the "brother" of Goliath (as the Chronicles passage does). The copyist misplaced the word for "weavers" ('-r-g-ym) so as to put it right after "Elhanan" as his patronymic (ben Y-'-r-y'-r--g-ym, or ben ya 'arey 'ore -gim -- "the son of the forests of weavers" -- a most unlikely name for anyone's father!). In Chronicles the 'ore grim ("weavers") comes right after menor ("a beam of ") -- thus making perfectly good sense [11]

Goliath and the Philistines

Potsherd inscribed with the two names "alwt" and "wlt", etymologically related to the name Goliath

Tell es-Safi, the biblical Gath and traditional home of Goliath, has been the subject of extensive excavations by Israel's Bar-Ilan University. The archaeologists have established that this was one of the largest of the Philistine cities until destroyed in the 9th century BC, an event from which it never recovered. A potsherd discovered at the site, and reliably dated to the 10th to mid 9th centuries BC, is inscribed with the two names "alwt" and "wlt". While the names are not directly connected with the biblical Goliath, they are etymologically related and demonstrate that the name fits with the context of late-10th/early-9th century BC Philistine culture. The name "Goliath" itself is non-Semitic and has been linked with the Lydian name "Alyattes", which also fits the Philistine context of the biblical Goliath story.[12] Aren Maeir, director of the excavation, comments: "Here we have very nice evidence [that] the name Goliath appearing in the Bible in the context of the story of David and Goliath ... is not some later literary creation."[13]

Goliath and the Greeks

In 2004 Azzan Yadin suggested that the armour described in 1 Samuel 17 is typical of Greek armour of the 6th century BC rather than of Philistine armour of the 10th century, and that narrative formulae such as the settlement of battle by single combat between champions is characteristic of the Homeric epics (the Iliad) but not of the ancient Near East. Yadin also suggested that the designation of Goliath as a איש הביניים, “man of the in-between” (a longstanding difficulty in translating 1 Samuel 17) appears to be a borrowing from Greek "man of the metaikhmion (μεταίχμιον)."[14]

Martin Litchfield West has pointed out that a story very similar to that of David and Goliath appears in the Iliad, where the young Nestor fights and conquers the giant Ereuthalion.[15] Each giant wields a distinctive weapon – an iron club in Ereuthalion's case, a massive bronze spear in Goliath's; each giant, clad in armour, comes out of the enemy's massed array to challenge all the warriors in the opposing army; in each case the seasoned warriors are afraid, and the challenge is taken up by a stripling, the youngest in his family (Nestor is the twelfth son of Neleus, David the seventh or eighth son of Jesse). In each case an older and more experienced father figure (Nestor's own father, David's patron Saul) tells the boy that he is too young and inexperienced, but in each case the gods (or in David's case, God) comes to the young hero's aid and the giant is left sprawling on the ground. Nestor, fighting on foot, then takes the chariot of his enemy, while David, on foot, takes the sword of Goliath. The enemy army then flees, the victors pursue and slaughter them and return with their booty, and the boy-hero is acclaimed by the people.[16]

Later traditions


According to the Babylonian Talmud (Sotah 42b) he was a son of Orpah, the sister-in-law of Ruth, David's own grandmother. Ruth Rabbah, a haggadic and homiletic interpretation of the Book of Ruth, makes the blood-relationship even closer, considering Orpah and Ruth to have been full sisters. Orpah was said to have made a pretense of accompanying Ruth but after forty paces left her. Thereafter she led a dissolute life. According to the Jerusalem Talmud Goliath was born by polyspermy, and had about one hundred fathers.[17]

The Talmud stresses Goliath's ungodliness: his taunts before the Israelites included the boast that it was he who had captured the Ark of the Covenant and brought it to the temple of Dagon; and his challenges to combat were made at morning and evening in order to disturb the Israelites in their prayers. His armour weighed 60 tons, according to rabbi Hanina; 120, according to rabbi Abba bar Kahana; and his sword, which became the sword of David, had marvellous powers. On his death it was found that his heart carried the image of Dagon, who thereby also came to a shameful downfall.[18]

In Pseudo-Philo, believed to have been composed between 135 BCE and 70 CE, David picks up seven stones and writes on them the names of his fathers, his own name, and the name of God, one name per stone; then, speaking to Goliath, he says: "Hear this word before you die: were not the two woman from whom you and I were born, sisters? And your mother was Orpah and my mother Ruth..." After David strikes Goliath with the magick stone he runs to Goliath before he dies and Goliath says, "Hurry and kill me and rejoice," and David replies, "Before you die, open your eyes and see your slayer;" Goliath sees an angel and tells David that it is not he who has killed him but the angel. Pseudo-Philo then goes on to say that the angel of the Lord changes David's appearance so that no one recognizes him, and thus Saul asks who he is.[19]


The early Christian church found a rich lode of metaphors in the stories of David: David's marriage of Bathsheba was seen as a model of the church's wooing of the community of believers away from the discredited Jewish faith, his speech to followers during the flight from Absalom was a prefiguring of Jesus's farewell speech to his disciples, and the battle with Goliath symbolised the church's eternal but victorious battle with Satan.[20]

Goliath in films

The Italians used Goliath as an action superhero in a series of Biblical adventure films (peplums) in the early 1960s. He was possessed of amazing strength, and the films were similar in theme to their Hercules and Maciste movies. After the classic Hercules (1957) became a blockbuster sensation in the film industry, a 1959 Steve Reeves film, Terror of the Barbarians, was retitled Goliath and the Barbarians in 1960 in the USA. The film was so successful at the box office it inspired Italian filmmakers to do a series of four films featuring a hero named Goliath. (The 1960 Italian film David and Goliath, starring Orson Welles, was not part of this series, as it was a straightforward adaptation of the original Biblical story).

The titles in the Italian "Goliath" peplum series were as follows:

  • Goliath Against the Giants (1960) starring Brad Harris as Goliath the Giant.
  • Goliath and the Rebel Slave (aka The Tyrant of Lydia vs. The Son of Hercules, 1963) starring Gordon Scott as Goliath (Note: this film was sold directly to American TV in a syndication package known as Sons of Hercules, in this case referring to Goliath as a Son of Hercules, simply for marketing reasons).
  • Goliath and the Masked Rider (aka Hercules and the Masked Rider, 1964) starring Alan Steel as Goliath. (This film was marketed on USA television as a Hercules movie)
  • Goliath at the Conquest of Baghdad (aka Goliath at the Conquest of Damascus, 1964) starring Peter Lupus as Goliath.

The name Goliath was also used in the film titles of a few other Italian movies that were retitled for distribution in the USA in an attempt to cash in on the Goliath craze, but these films were not originally Goliath movies in Italy. Both Goliath and the Vampires (1961) and Goliath and the Sins of Babylon (1963) featured the famed superhero Maciste in the original Italian versions, but American distributors didn't feel the name Maciste would have any meaning to American audiences. Goliath and the Dragon (1960) was originally an Italian Hercules movie called The Revenge of Hercules, and it is a mystery to this day why U.S. distributors didn't market the film under that title, since Hercules films always tended to do much better at the box office than Goliath movies.

The 1986 film Hoosiers involves a final scene which a small-town high school basketball team takes on a big-city team for the Indiana state championship. In the final moments before the small-town team from "Hickory" takes the court, the passage describing how, "David took a stone from the bag and slung it... knocking the Philistine to the ground" is read to inspire the team.

Italian stunt actor Giorgio Francesco Palombi portrayed this nine feet giant in TNT's 1997 live-action telefilm.

In 2005, Lightstone Studios released a direct-to-dvd movie musical titled "One Smooth Stone," which was later changed to "David and Goliath." It is part of the Liken the Scriptures (now just Liken) series of movie musicals on DVD based on scripture stories. Thurl Bailey, a former NBA basketball player who after his retirement went into the entertainment industry among other things, including recording an album and some acting roles, was cast to play the part of Goliath in this film.

The television show Kings portrayed Goliath as a tank in the military of the modern version of Gath, and is seen destroyed by a young David.

See also


  1. ^ The metaphorical interpretations of David and other Jewish scriptures are to be found scattered through the early Christian writers such as Augustine; for an overview of the David story in Western literature going well beyond both Goliath and the early Patrisitic period, see Raymond-Jean Frontain and Jan Wojcik (eds.), "The David Myth in Western Literature (1979). The book is somewhat rare: for an on-line review, see JSTOR (registration required).
  2. ^ 1sam 17.
  3. ^ English translations give "The Lord" at this point for the Hebrew YHWH, which is not normally written in full. After a while David the son of Jesse Killed him.
  4. ^ Outline of then textual history of Samuel.
  5. ^ Variants of Bible Manuscripts.
  6. ^ Compare texts of short and long versions of 1 Samuel 17.
  7. ^ 1 Samuel 17:49 describes how David "took out a stone, and slung it, and struck (נכה) the Philistine on his forehead ... and he fell on his face to the ground;" 17:50 describes how "David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine, and killed him;" 1 Samuel 17:51 describes how David "took [Goliath's] sword and drew it out of its sheath, and killed (מות) him, and cut off his head with it."
  8. ^ See end of section, "The Effects of Oral Tradition"
  9. ^ 2 Samuel 21
  10. ^ 1 Chronicles 20
  11. ^ Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, see page 179.
  12. ^ Tell es-Safi/Gath weblog. and Bar-Ilan University.; For the editio princeps and an in-depth discussion of the inscription, see now: Maeir, A.M., Wimmer, S.J., Zukerman, A., and Demsky, A. 2008 (In press). An Iron Age I/IIA Archaic Alphabetic Inscription from Tell es-Safi/Gath: Paleography, Dating, and Historical-Cultural Significance. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research.
  13. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/news/science/tall-tale-of-a-philistine-researchers-unearth-a-goliath-cerealbowl/2005/11/14/1131951099130.html?oneclick=true
  14. ^ Azzan Yadin's 'Goliath's Armor and the Israelite Collective Memory,' appeared in Vetus Testamentum 54:373-95 (2004). See also Israel Finkelstein, "The Philistines in the Bible: A Late Monarchic Perspective", Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 27:131:67. For a brief online overview, see Higgaion, a blog by Christopher Heard, Associate Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University.
  15. ^ Homer, Iliad Book 7 ll.132-160
  16. ^ M.L.West, The East Face of Helicon. West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1997 pp.370,376
  17. ^ Jerusalem Talmud Yebamoth, 24b
  18. ^ For a brief overview of Talmudic traditions on Goliath, see Jewish Encyclopedia, "Goliath"
  19. ^ Charlesworth, James H. 1983. The Old Testament pseudepigrapha vol 2. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.ISBN 0-385-18813-7 Page 374.
  20. ^ The metaphorical interpretations of David and other Jewish scriptures are to be found scattered through the early Christian writers such as Augustine; for an overview of the David story in Western literature going well beyond both Goliath and the early Patrisitic period, see Raymond-Jean Frontain and Jan Wojcik (eds.), "The David Myth in Western Literature (1979). The book is somewhat rare: for an on-line review, see JSTOR (registration required).

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GOLIATH, the name of the giant by slaying whom David achieved renown (I Sam. xvii.). The Philistines had come up to make war against Saul and, as the rival camps lay opposite each other, this warrior came forth day by day to challenge to single combat. Only David ventured to respond, and armed with a sling and pebbles he overcame Goliath. The Philistines, seeing their champion killed, lost heart and were easily put to flight. The giant's arms were placed in the sanctuary, and it was his famous sword which David took with him in his flight from Saul (I Sam. xxi. 1-9). From another passage we learn that Goliath of Gath, "the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam," was slain by a certain Elhanan of Bethlehem in one of David's conflicts with the Philistines (2 Sam. xxi. 18-22) - the parallel 1 Chron. xx. 5, avoids the contradiction by reading the "brother of Goliath." But this old popular story has probably preserved the more original tradition, and if Elhanan is the son of Dodo in the list of David's mighty men (2 Sam. xxiii. 9, 24), the resemblance between the two names may have led to the transference. The narratives of David's early life point to some exploit by means of which he gained the favour of Saul, Jonathan and Israel, but the absence of all reference to his achievement in the subsequent chapters (I Sam. xxi. II, xxix. 5) is evidence of the relatively late origin of a tradition which in course of time became one of the best-known incidents in David's life (Ps. cxliv., LXX. title, the apocryphal Ps. cli., Ecclus. xlvii. 4).

See David; Samuel (BooKs) and especially Cheyne, Aids and Devout Study of Criticism, pp. 80 sqq., 125 sqq. In the old Egyptian romance of Sinuhit (ascribed to about 2000 B.C.), the story of the slaying of the Bedouin hero has several points of resemblance with that of David and Goliath. See L. B. Paton, Hist. of Syr. and Pal. p. 60; A. Jeremias, Das A.T. im Lichte d. alien Orients, 2nd ed. pp. 2 99, 491 A. R. S. Kennedy, Century Bible: Samuel, p. 122, argues that David's Philistine adversary was originally nameless, in I Sam. xvii. he is named only in v. 4.

<< Goliard

Boris Aleksyeevich Golitsuin >>


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun




  1. (Biblical) A giant famous for his battle with David.
  2. (metaphorical) Any large person or thing; someone or something that is abnormally large or powerful
    That Goliath is so big and strong, the little man will never stand a chance against him if he on his wrong side.


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Meaning: great.

  1. A famous giant of Gath, who for forty days openly defied the armies of Israel, but was at length slain by David with a stone from a sling (1Sam 17:4). He was probably descended from the Rephaim who found refuge among the Philistines after they were dispersed by the Ammonites (Deut 2:20f). His height was "six cubits and a span," which, taking the cubit at 21 inches, is equal to 10 1/2 feet. David cut off his head (1Sam 17:51) and brought it to Jerusalem, while he hung the armour which he took from him in his tent. His sword was preserved at Nob as a religious trophy (1Sam 21:9). David's victory over Goliath was the turning point in his life. He came into public notice now as the deliverer of Israel and the chief among Saul's men of war (1Sam 18:5), and the devoted friend of Jonathan.
  2. In 2 Sam 21:19 there is another giant of the same name mentioned as slain by Elhanan. The staff of his apear "was like a weaver's beam." The Authorized Version interpolates the words "the brother of" from 1Chr 20:5, where this giant is called Lahmi.
This article needs to be merged with GOLIATH (Jewish Encyclopedia).
This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

Facts about GoliathRDF feed

Simple English

Goliath (גָּלְיָת,) in Hebrew language was a Philistine warrior in the Old Testament. He was the champion of the warriors of town of Gath. The name refers to Greek name Alyattes.

Goliath was unusually large. His height was said to be "six cubits and a span" - some 290 cm - and he fought as armoured charioteer. The Bible describes how he challenged the Israelite warriors for single-handed duel, but nobody dared to fight with him.

David, who was fourteen years old at this time, finally answered to challenge. He was skilled on use of sling, and he found out a way how he could win him. He accurately slung a stone on Goliath's forehead, just below his helmet. The stone knocked Goliath out. David then ran to unconscious Goliath, pulled his sword off the scabbard, and cut his head off. Seeing a fourteen-year-old boy killing their champion, the Philistine army demoralized.

The Dead Sea Scrolls say Goliaths height was a more credible "four cubits and a span", in modern measurements 202 cm. At the era when man's average height was some 160 cm, he would still have looked like a giant.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address