David and Goliath: The LXX vs. The Hebrew


There’s actually two surviving versions of the David and Goliath story. One is represented by the Greek Septuagint (LXX); the other is represented by the Masoretic Text and the Vulgate. The version represented by the Greek is the shorter, smoother one. The longer Hebrew version, on the other hand, has a number of continuity errors that give it away as a possible combination of two different versions of the David-Goliath story; the MT has combined the LXX source and (at least) one other source, grafting the latter to the former, but not always smoothly.

In the shorter version:

David is under Saul’s service as his armor-bearer and harpist (16:15-23). During an Israelite-Philistine battle, Goliath - measuring an impressive, but not totally unusual “four cubits and a span” (six feet nine inches) - appears to challenge the Israelites in the hearing of Saul and David (17:1-11). David volunteers to fight Goliath, recounting how he used to kill lions and bears with his bare hands, back when he was a shepherd boy. He manages to kill Goliath using his slingshot (17:32-49). Beheading Goliath with a sword, David takes the head to Jerusalem - which would have still been under Jebusite domination then (17:51-54). Saul grows increasingly jealous of David when the people start praising David more than him (18:6-9), so he removes David from his direct service and appoints him “a commander of a thousand;” David’s increasing popularity frightens Saul even more (18:12-16). He then tries to offer David his daughter Michal in marriage in exchange for 100 Philistine foreskins (secretly hoping to get rid of David); David manages to complete the task - to Saul’s bewilderment - and wins Michal (18:20-28).

That’s how the shorter LXX version goes. The longer version (MT / Vulgate) combines this shorter story with extra material, not always totally harmonized smoothly with the short story. In addition, there are little alterations in the shorter version as well.

(17:4) Goliath is now clearly a giant, measuring “six cubits and a span” - i.e. over 9 feet tall.

(17:12-31) David is portrayed as still being an unknown, young shepherd boy rather than Saul’s armor-bearer. It is his three of his eight brothers, not him, who serve in Saul’s army. David’s presence in the battlefield is explained as being due to him delivering food for his brothers. David overhears the rewards promised to the one who can defeat Goliath (“The king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel”). The eldest of the eight brothers, Eliab, chides David for coming to the battle: “I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” David brushes off his rebuke - he was just asking (“Was it not but a word?”). David’s words were overheard and is then brought before Saul.

(17:43) David’s biting remark to Goliath’s taunt found in the Greek version (“Am I a dog, that you come to me with a stick and stones (Hebrew ‘sticks’)?” - “No, but worse than a dog” ;)) is omitted in the Hebrew.

(17:50) The Hebrew adds this phrase: “So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.” In the shorter version, it’s unclear whose sword it was that David used to kill Goliath; the natural reading would be to be infer that it was David’s own sword (“And David ran and stood over him and took his sword and put him to death and cut off his head”). But in the longer version, the sword is strongly implied to be Goliath’s ("There was no sword in the hand of David. And David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it.

(17:55-58) Saul clearly does not recognize David the young shepherd boy; he has to ask his commander Abner who he is. Goliath’s head is said to be still “in [David’s] hand.” (What happened to David’s sending it to Jerusalem?) David introduces himself to Saul as though the man and boy had never met.

(18:1-6a) The covenant between David and Jonathan (vv. 1-5a) is not in the Greek. In the short version Jonathan is only to be introduced later in chapters 19-20, where he (as in the longer version) is sympathetic to David against his father Saul. Saul in v. 5 is said to have “set [David] over the men of war” (contradicting ch. 16, where Saul had already appointed David a position in the army as his armor-bearer).

Whereas in the shorter version, the Israelite women come out to meet and praise David, clearly in the context of his victory over Goliath (18:6-9 immediately follows chapter 17), in the longer version, the women are said to come out to meet Saul, but their song does not so much praise him as David instead.

(18:8-12) The longer version adds the incident about Saul being tormented by “a harmful spirit” and throwing a spear at David (a version of which is also found in 19:9-10). The shorter version has a more natural sequence of events: Saul is first envious (18:8-9), then suspicious (18:12), then frightened of David’s success (18:13-15). Saul wants David killed by the Philistines (18:21), then by his own sons and servants (19:1), and when all that fails, he tries to kill David himself (19:9-10). The longer version kinda ruins this flow by prematurely adding the story of Saul’s failed attempt to skewer David to the wall.

(18:17-19) The longer version adds Saul offering his eldest daughter Merab to David first (as per custom), which he turns down. At which Saul then offers Michal.

(18:27) The shorter version has David successfully collecting one hundred Philistine foreskins for Saul. The longer Hebrew version ups the ante by having David collect two hundred foreskins - twice that of Saul’s demand.


Do you know, is there a rendition of 2 Sam in the Dead Sea Scrolls? If so, does it more agree with the LXX or the MT?


Here’s the shorter, Old Greek version of the David-Goliath story. (From the New English Translation of the Septuagint)

(16:14) And a spirit of the Lord departed from Saoul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. (15) And Saoul’s servants said to him, “See now, an evil spirit from the Lord is tormenting you. (16) Let now your slaves speak before you, and let them seek for our lord a man who has learned how to play on a cinyra [Heb. *kinnor = lyre], and it will be, when an evil spirit is upon you, that he will play on his cinyra, and it will be good for you, and it will give you respite.”
(17) And Saoul said to his servants, “Do look out for me for a man who plays well, and bring him to me.”
(18) And one of his lads answered and said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Iessai a Bethleemite, and he knows how to play music, and the man is intelligent, and the man is a warrior and prudent with words, and a man good in appearance, and the Lord is with him.”
(19) And Saoul sent messengers to Iessai, saying, “Send me your son Dauid who is with your flock.” (20) And Iessai took a gomor = omer (2 l.) or homer (220 l.)] of bread and a skin of wine and one kid of the goats and sent them by the hand of his son Dauid to Saoul.
(21) And Dauid came in to Saoul and stood before him. And Saoul loved him greatly, and he became to him one that would bear his armor.
(22) And Saoul sent to Iessai, saying, “Do let Dauid stand before me, for he has found favor in my eyes.”
(23) And it happened, when an evil spirit came upon Saoul, that Dauid would take the cinyra and play it with his hand, and Saoul would be relieved, and it was good for him, and the evil spirit would depart from him.

(17:1) And the allophyles gathered their armies for battle, and they were gathered at Sokchoth of Judea, and they encamped between Sokchoth and between Azeka, in Ephermem. (2) And Saoul and the men of Israel were gathered and encamped in the valley; they formed ranks for battle opposite the allophyles. (3) And the allophyles stood on the mountain here, and Israel stood on the mountain there, and the valley was between them.
(4) And a mighty man came out from the ranks of the allophyles; Goliath was his name, from Geth; his height was four cubits and a span. (5) And he had a helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of chain mail, and the weight of his coat was five thousand shekels of bronze and iron. (6) And there were bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze shield between his shoulders. (7) And the shaft of his spear was like a beam of weavers, and his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron, and the one who carried his armor would go before him.
(8) And he stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, “Why do you come out to draw up for battle opposite us? Am I not an allophyle, and are you not Hebrews of Saoul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me, (9) and if he is able to fight against me and if he strike me, then we will be to you for slaves, but if I am able and kill him, then you shall be to us for slaves and be subject to us.”
(10) And the allophyle said, “Behold, today on this very day I have chided the ranks of Israel. Give me a man, and we both will fight in single combat.”
(11) And Saoul and all Israel heard these words of the allophyle, and they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

(32) And Dauid said to Saoul, “On no account let the heart of my lord collapse upon him; your slave will go and will fight with this allophyle.”
(33) And Saoul said to Dauid, “You will definitely not be able to go against the allophyle to fight with him, for you are a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
(34) And Dauid said to Saoul, “Your slave was tending the flock for his father, and when the lion and the bear would come and take a sheep from the herd, (35) and I would go after it, then I struck it and pulled from its mouth, and if it turned against me, then I caught it by its throat and struck it down and put it to death. (36) And your slave would smite both the bear and the lion, and the uncircumcised allophyle shall be like one of these. Shall I not go and smite him and take away today a reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised one who reproached the ranks of the living God? (37) The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, he himself will rescue me from the hand of this uncircumcised allophyle.”
And Saoul said to Dauid, “Go, and the Lord will be with you!”
(38) And Saoul put a woolen cloak on Dauid, and a bronze helmet around his head, (39) and he girded Dauid with his sword over his woolen cloak, and he grew tired walking once and twice.
And Dauid said to Saoul, “I shall definitely not be able to go in these, for I am not experienced.” And they removed them from him.
(40) And he took his staff in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the wadi and put them in his shepherd’s bag, which he had with him for collecting, and his sling in his hand, and he advanced against the man, the allophyle.



(42) And Goliad saw Dauid, and he disdained him, for he was a boy, and he was ruddy with beauty of eyes. (43) And the allophyle said to Dauid, “Am I like a dog, that you come upon me with a rod and stones?”
And Dauid said, “No, but worse than a dog.”
And the allophyle cursed Dauid by his gods. (44) And the allophyle said to Dauid, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the animals of the earth.”
(45) And Dauid said to the allophyle, “You come to me with sword and with spear and with shield, and I am coming to you in the name of the Lord Sabaoth, the God of the ranks of Israel, which you have reproached today. (46) And today the Lord will shut you up into my hand, and I will kill you and remove your head from you, and I will give your limbs and the limbs of the camp of the allophyles on this day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, and all the earth will know that there is a God in Israel, (47) and all this assembly will know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear, for the battle is the Lord’s, and the Lord will give you into our hands.”

(48) And the allophyle arose and came to meet Dauid, (49) and Dauid stretched out his hand into the bag and took out from there one stone and slung it and struck the allophyle on his forehead, and the stone penetrated through the helmet into his forehead, and he fell on his face on the ground.
(51) And Dauid ran and stood over him and took his sword and put him to death and cut off his head. And the allophyles saw that their mighty one was dead, and they fled.
(52) And the men of Israel and Ioudas rose up and shouted and pursued after them, as far as the entrance to Geth and as far as the gate of Ascalon, and the wounded of the allophyles fell on the way of the gates, even as far as Geth and as far as Akkaron. (53) And the men of Israel came back from turning aside after the allophyles, and they trampled their camps.
(54) And Dauid took the head of the allophyle and brought it into Ierousalem, and he put his armor in his covert.

(18:6) And the dancers came to meet Dauid out of all the towns of Israel, with drums and with rejoicing and with cymbals. (7) And the women began and were saying,

[INDENT]“Saoul killed amongst his thousands,
and Dauid amongst his ten thousands.”

(8) And the matter appeared evil in the eyes of Saoul concerning this word, and he said, “They ascribed to Dauid the ten thousands, and to me they ascribed the thousands.” (9) And Saoul was eyeing Dauid with suspicion from that day and beyond.
(12) And Saoul was afraid from before Dauid, (13) and he removed him from him and made him an officer of a thousand for himself, and he was going out and coming in before the people. (14) And Dauid was prudent in all his ways, and the Lord was with him.
(15) And Saoul saw how he acted very prudently, and he was afraid from before him. (16) And all Israel and Ioudas loved Dauid, for he was going out and coming in from before the people.

(20) And Saoul’s daughter Melchol loved Dauid, and Saoul was told, and it was right in his eyes. (21) And Saoul said, “I will give her to him, and she will be a snare to him.”
And the hand of the allophyles was against Saoul, (22) and Saoul commanded his servants, saying, “Speak to Dauid secretly, saying, ‘Behold, the king wants you, and all his servants love you, and as for you, become the king’s son-in-law.’” (23) And Saoul’s servants spoke these words in the hearing of Dauid.
And Dauid said, “Does it seem light in your eyes to become the king’s son-in-law? And as for me, I am a humble man and of no repute.” (24) And the servants of Saoul reported to him according to these things that Dauid said.
(25) And Saoul said, “This is what you shall say to Dauid, ‘The king does not desire to avenge for the king’s enemies with a present, ex- cept with a hundred foreskins of the allophyles.’” And Saoul counted on casting him into the hands of the allophyles.
(26) And the servants of Saoul told Dauid these words, and the matter was right in the eyes of Dauid to be the king’s son-in-law.
(27) And Dauid rose and went, he and his men, and smote one hundred men among the allophyles and brought their foreskins to the king, and he became the king’s son-in-law, and he gave him his daughter Melchol for him as a wife. (28) And Saoul saw that the Lord was with Dauid and that all Israel loved him, (29) and he continued to be afraid of Dauid even more.[/INDENT]


There were fragments of four manuscripts of Samuel among the DSS (one from Cave 1, three from Cave 4), containing text from almost every chapter of 1-2 Samuel (save for six: 1 Sam. 13, 22, 29; 2 Sam. 1, 9, 17); one of these (4QSam[sup]b[/sup], mid-3rd century BC), is actually one of, if not the oldest biblical manuscript from the caves. Two of the four scrolls (1QSam, 4QSam[sup]b[/sup]) are close to the MT; [/sup]a (mid-1st c. BC) contains many agreements with the LXX as well as several independent readings; it also shows several agreements with 1-2 Chronicles to boot.

Not much of chapter 17-18 is represented in the Samuel scrolls, although both 4QSam[sup]a[/sup] (17:40-41; 18:4-5) and 1QSam (ten letters from 18:17-18) apparently contained the longer version found in the MT. That being said, 4QSam[sup]a[/sup] does agree with the LXX (and Josephus*) in giving Goliath’s height as “four cubits and a span” rather than the MT’s “six cubits and a span.”

  • Speaking of Josephus (who was apparently working from a text of Samuel similar to 4QSam[sup][size=]a[/sup], he knows the longer version and draws from it in his retelling (Antiquities 6.175-178).[/size]


Thank you. I know that some of the texts discovered at Qumran helped shed some light on questions about the differences in the older LXX and the Masoretic text, which I understand are from a much later period.


When the MT is said to be ‘later’, you really have to qualify it. Strictly speaking, the ‘Masoretic text’ refers to the Hebrew text which has vowel markings or niqqud (remember that Hebrew was originally - and still is, to an extent - is an abjad, a writing system that only represented consonants) and concise marginal notes, added to the text. These ‘additions’, which was fixed from the 6th to the 10th centuries, are collectively known as masorah (the “transmission” of a tradition), and the Rabbis who developed these are known as the Masoretes.

The MT is ‘late’ in the sense that the masorah are only added by the early Middle Ages, but the underlying consonantal text - i.e. the letters only, without the vowels or the marginalia - is ancient (the proto-Masoretic / proto-Rabbinic text).

In fact, the majority of the biblical texts found in Qumran and other places in the Judaean desert are proto-MT texts. There are a few texts from Qumran that show similarity with either the LXX or the Samaritan version of the Torah or are ‘non-aligned’ (i.e. don’t exhibit particular agreement with a single version). All this shows that all three texts - Masoretic, Septuagint and Samaritan - have ancestors of nearly-equal antiquity, that there was not always the scrupulous uniformity of text that was so stressed in later centuries, and that even within textual families there could be variation.

In fact, one would notice that while there is a plurality and variation in the earlier biblical manuscripts from the Judaean desert, the later biblical manuscripts (1st/2nd century AD) are almost all proto-Masoretic ones. Which shows that just around about AD 100, all the biblical texts had unified into the proto-Masoretic Text or proto-Rabbinic text-type - chosen as the ‘standard’ text out of the other ones - and the textual variation was limited to orthographical differences.


In the shorter version, David’s early career runs as follows:

David, “a man of valor, a man of war,” was drafted into Saul’s service as a harpist (a sort of minstrel, if you will) and then as the royal armor-bearer. So David is naturally present when the Israelites and the Philistines battle each other. When the six-footer Goliath appears to challenge the Israelites, David volunteers to fight him.

David refuses to don the heavy armor Saul gives him and instead comes to Goliath armed with a slingshot (a slingshot was considered to be a real weapon, and a very effective one too; ancient armies included both specialist slingers and regular soldiers equipped with slings) and a stick (used to rake the ground to find stones). Goliath taunts David for his light equipment, but David proves to have the last laugh when one stone, slung by David, hits Goliath’s head, knocking him down cold. David beheads Goliath with a sword, the Israelite army pursues the fleeing Philistines and loots their camp.

(David exhibits a rather nice strategy here: he relies on mobility and long-range attack to confront his heavily-armed opponent. Goliath’s equipment - heavy armor, spear - makes him suitable for close-range, hand-to-hand combat, but the sling and the lack of armor allows David to conceal his weapon, elude Goliath indefinitely and then to attack him from a distance.)

After the battle, the people come out to praise David, which sparks off Saul’s fear and jealousy towards him. Saul makes David “a commander of a thousand” ostensibly as a sort of promotion, but in reality out of fear and as an attempt to get rid of David (as a commander out in the field David might be killed in battle, thus solving Saul’s problems). The plan backfires however when David proves to be a capable, popular commander.

Saul then gives his daughter Michal to David for his wife (again with a sinister motive), but David laments that he is poor and so would not have no way to afford the bride price for the king’s daughter. Saul then tries to have David killed by the Philistines again by ‘only’ requiring a hundred Philistine foreskins as his bride price; the plan backfires again when David successfully obtains the foreskins.

In other words, the short version presents David as already being a military man in Saul’s service when he fights Goliath: it’s just natural that he answers Goliath’s challenge, because he is apparently the only one in the Israelite army not to be terrified of Goliath.

But in the version of the story grafted to the longer text, David is still an unknown shepherd boy who just happened to be on the battlefield because he was bringing provisions for his brothers (who are here the ones in Saul’s army). It makes his challenge and victory over Goliath all the more remarkable since in this version, he is clearly not a soldier. In fact, it is his remarkable defeat of Goliath that sparks off his service under Saul.


Okay, to continue. This is the additional sections found in the longer Hebrew version. Let’s call it Version 2, while we’ll call the shorter account Version 1. But before that:

(17:4) And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.

As mentioned before, in the Septuagint, Josephus and in the Qumran manuscript of Samuel (4QSam[sup]a[/sup]) Goliath has a tall, but not extraordinary, height of “four cubits and a span,” in other words, six feet and a half. In other words, in this version Goliath is only about as tall than your average NBA player. (He’d only be slightly taller than Michael Jordan (6 ft 6 in); seven-footer Yao Ming would be even taller than Goliath would have been.) But in the Masoretic Text and the Vulgate (translated from a proto-Masoretic Hebrew text), Goliath is a six-cubiter, in other words a nine-footer. Clearly a literal giant.

(12) Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years. (13) The three eldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle; the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. (14) David was the youngest; the three eldest followed Saul, (15) but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. (16) For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.

(17) Jesse said to his son David, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers; (18) also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See how your brothers fare, and bring some token from them.”

Jesse and David seem to be introduced for the first time in this passage, although they are already known to the reader from chapter 16. As mentioned, rather than David himself, in this version of the story it is David’s three brothers who serve in Saul’s army.

(A little aside. Verse 12 in Hebrew is a little ungrammatical: “David was the son of an Ephrathite, this one (’îš ’efərāṯî hazzeh), from Bethlehem.” The presence of the demonstrative particle hazzeh is a little awkward here; naturally you would expect a construction like “this Ephrathite man” (hā-’îš hā-’efərāṯî hazzeh). It thus seems likely that hazzeh was added by whoever interpolated this passage in order to conceal the redundancy of this introduction, although he inserted it in a rather awkward way.

Verse 15 could also be an addition by the interpolator, added in order to harmonize Version 2’s still-a-shepherd David who brings his brothers in the army food with Version 1’s David who quit shepherding to become Saul’s minstrel and armor-bearer: the two conflicting portraits are harmonized by portraying David as alternating his time between tending the sheep and going to Saul’s camp.)

(19) Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. (20) David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry. (21) Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. (22) David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers. (23) As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.

(24) All the Israelites, when they saw the man, fled from him and were very much afraid. 25 The Israelites said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. The king will greatly enrich the man who kills him, and will give him his daughter and make his family free in Israel.” (26) David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (27) The people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.”

(28) His eldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. He said, “Why have you come down? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart; for you have come down just to see the battle.” (29) David said, “What have I done now? It was only a question.” (30) He turned away from him toward another and spoke in the same way; and the people answered him again as before.

(31) When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul; and he sent for him.

Verses 23-24 is pretty much a duplicate of verses 4-11 and 32: Goliath issues a challenge, the Israelites fear him except for David. (Note the again-redundant introduction of Goliath by name. This is the only other verse aside from verse 4 where Goliath is named: elsewhere in the narrative he is only called “the Philistine.”)

In Version 2, Saul issues a vast reward for anyone who can kill Goliath. This promise of a reward perks David’s ears and is implied to be what motivates him to step up to the challenge. This is a literal rags-to-riches story here: David an obscure shepherd boy and the youngest of eight brothers (and thus unlikely to inherit much, if at all) finding a chance to rise up to fame.


We really needed to get the height question sorted out before we can agree on terms for any NBA contract with Goliath. :smiley:

Thanks for all the info. Six feet nine inches does sound more like NBA and less Lord of the Rings.



Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

Technically, this is not from Version 2. But I’d like to just highlight this.

This translation is from the NRSV. Notice here that David is mentioned as taking “his staff in his hand” - most likely his shepherd’s staff. (The KJV, the NIV, the RSV, and the NAB also translate this in this way.) Now in the Hebrew, the word used here is maqəl. While it could mean ‘staff’, it could also mean ‘stick’. (So the NASB; cf. Goliath’s taunt: “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?”) In the original shorter account (Version 1), this maqəl seems to be not so much a shepherd’s rod, but a short stick or twig David may have used to rake the ground to find stones to sling: “Then he took his stick in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch.” But when Version 2’s shepherd David was added into the account, the maqəl became understood as a shepherd’s staff. Same word, different connotation.

We continue:

(41) And the Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. …] (48b) David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. …] (50) [And] David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, striking down the Philistine and killing him; there was no sword in David’s hand.

Unlike Version 1, where David and Goliath exchange some lengthy insults before fighting, Version 2’s account is more terse and to the point.

Have you noticed the difference here? In Version 2, Goliath is killed by the stone to his forehead, whereas in Version 1, Goliath was apparently only struck down (incapacitated or unconscious?); he was killed when David decapitated him (v. 49-50). More emphasis is laid on Version 2 with David’s killing Goliath with only a sling (“there was no sword in David’s hand”).


(55) When Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?” And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I cannot tell.” (56) And the king said, “Inquire whose son the stripling is.” (57) And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. (58) And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

This is the probably most obvious continuity error. Saul doesn’t seem to know David yet, although David had already come under his service in chapter 16. So in Version 1, David is already in Saul’s retinue when he fights Goliath, but here in Version 2, it is David’s slaying of Goliath that marks the beginning of his service to Saul.

In Version 1, David brings Goliath’s head to Jerusalem. (Some people think that this is an anachronism, since Jerusalem was still under Jebusite control back then. But it is also argued that maybe that was the exact reason why David brings Goliath’s head there: as a warning to the Jebusites.) But here in Version 2, it is still in his hand, proof to Saul that he had killed the Philistine.


Granted, even a six-footer would have looked gigantic to people in those days. Just imagine if a team of basketball players appeared before the Israelites. :smiley:


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