01 July 2011

Who Killed Goliath?

I haven't been doing much writing lately, I wish I could say I have been doing a lot more reading instead but that wouldn't be true. Truth be told, I have glanced at a few pieces of writing here and there, and this particular set of articles has been most intriguing to me. Dr. Mariottini, a Professor of the Old Testament, runs a blog I follow and has done a few articles an apparent contradiction in the bible:

1 Samuel 17:49-50 affirms that David killed Goliath:
“David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. So 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” (1 Samuel 17:49-50 NRSV).

2 Samuel 21:19, affirms that Elhanan killed Goliath:
“Then there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam” (2 Samuel 21:19 NRSV).

Some translations have murdered the 2 Sam 21:19 text by adding, 'the brother of' before 'Goliath the Gittite' such as the KJV, if I am not mistaken, but this is a very misleading (if at all anything can be 'very'  misleading) insertion.

In his post, the Doctor offers four arguments that have been peddled to explain this apparent contradiction, namely:
  1. David got credit for Elhanan's defeat over Goliath, in other words, David didn't do it. Quite a radical point of view!
  2. David and Elhanan are the same person.
  3. Elhanan killed Goliath's brother which is derived from 1 Chronicles 20:5 in which the Chronicler actually said that Elhanan did not kill Goliath, but the brother of Goliath and this even in the original translation. The doctor proposes quite an interesting view in refuting this.
  4. And finally, a fourth which is the unfortunate alteration of the 2 Sam text by some translations.
Dr. Mariottini goes on to propose a fifth explanation in his final post which he derives from a clue given by an archeological discovery. He mentions that until more/other evidence is found, he holds on to his proposed view.

I encourage you to read the set of posts, they are most intriguing, the posts are linked below:

Feel free also to comment on his posts to ask any questions of clarification, he is quite friendly!