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1 Samuel 17:1-4

Context
David Kills Goliath

17:1 1 The Philistines gathered their troops 2  for battle. They assembled at Socoh in Judah. They camped in Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Azekah. 17:2 Saul and the Israelite army 3  assembled and camped in the valley of Elah, where they arranged their battle lines to fight against 4  the Philistines. 17:3 The Philistines were standing on one hill, and the Israelites 5  on another hill, with the valley between them.

17:4 Then a champion 6  came out from the camp of the Philistines. His name was Goliath; he was from Gath. He was close to seven feet tall. 7 

1 tc The content of 1 Sam 17–18, which includes the David and Goliath story, differs considerably in the LXX as compared to the MT, suggesting that this story circulated in ancient times in more than one form. The LXX for chs. 17–18 is much shorter than the MT, lacking almost half of the material (39 of a total of 88 verses). Many scholars (e.g., McCarter, Klein) think that the shorter text of the LXX is preferable to the MT, which in their view has been expanded by incorporation of later material. Other scholars (e.g., Wellhausen, Driver) conclude that the shorter Greek text (or the Hebrew text that underlies it) reflects an attempt to harmonize certain alleged inconsistencies that appear in the longer version of the story. Given the translation characteristics of the LXX elsewhere in this section, it does not seem likely that these differences are due to deliberate omission of these verses on the part of the translator. It seems more likely that the Greek translator has faithfully rendered here a Hebrew text that itself was much shorter than the MT in these chapters. Whether or not the shorter text represented by the LXX is to be preferred over the MT in 1 Sam 17–18 is a matter over which textual scholars are divided. For a helpful discussion of the major textual issues in this unit see D. Barthélemy, D. W. Gooding, J. Lust, and E. Tov, The Story of David and Goliath (OBO). Overall it seems preferable to stay with the MT, at least for the most part. However, the major textual differences between the LXX and the MT will be mentioned in the notes that accompany the translation so that the reader may be alert to the major problem passages.

2 tn Heb “camps.”

3 tn Heb “the men of Israel” (so KJV, NASB); NAB, NIV, NRSV “the Israelites.”

4 tn Heb “to meet.”

5 tn Heb “Israel.”

6 tn Heb “the man of the space between the two [armies].” See v. 23.

7 tc Heb “his height was six cubits and a span” (cf. KJV, NASB, NRSV). A cubit was approximately eighteen inches, a span nine inches. So, according to the Hebrew tradition, Goliath was about nine feet, nine inches tall (cf. NIV, CEV, NLT “over nine feet”; NCV “nine feet, four inches”; TEV “nearly 3 metres”). However, some Greek witnesses, Josephus, and a manuscript of 1 Samuel from Qumran read “four cubits and a span” here, that is, about six feet, nine inches (cf. NAB “six and a half feet”). This seems more reasonable; it is likely that Goliath’s height was exaggerated as the story was retold. See P. K. McCarter, I Samuel (AB), 286, 291.



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