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1 Samuel 17:4-58

Context

17:4 Then a champion 1  came out from the camp of the Philistines. His name was Goliath; he was from Gath. He was close to seven feet tall. 2  17:5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and was wearing scale body armor. The weight of his bronze body armor was five thousand shekels. 3  17:6 He had bronze shin guards 4  on his legs, and a bronze javelin was slung over his shoulders. 17:7 The shaft 5  of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the iron point of his spear weighed six hundred shekels. 6  His shield bearer was walking before him.

17:8 Goliath 7  stood and called to Israel’s troops, 8  “Why do you come out to prepare for battle? Am I not the Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose 9  for yourselves a man so he may come down 10  to me! 17:9 If he is able to fight with me and strike me down, we will become your servants. But if I prevail against him and strike him down, you will become our servants and will serve us.” 17:10 Then the Philistine said, “I defy Israel’s troops this day! Give me a man so we can fight 11  each other!” 17:11 When Saul and all the Israelites 12  heard these words of the Philistine, they were upset and very afraid.

17:12 13 Now David was the son of this Ephrathite named Jesse from Bethlehem 14  in Judah. He had eight sons, and in Saul’s days he was old and well advanced in years. 15  17:13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to war. The names of the 16  three sons who went to war were Eliab, his firstborn, Abinadab, the second oldest, and Shammah, the third oldest. 17:14 Now David was the youngest. While the three oldest sons followed Saul, 17:15 David was going back and forth 17  from Saul in order to care for his father’s sheep in Bethlehem.

17:16 Meanwhile for forty days the Philistine approached every morning and evening and took his position. 17:17 Jesse said to his son David, “Take your brothers this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread; go quickly 18  to the camp to your brothers. 17:18 Also take these ten portions of cheese to their commanding officer. 19  Find out how your brothers are doing 20  and bring back their pledge that they received the goods. 21  17:19 They are with Saul and the whole Israelite army 22  in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.”

17:20 So David got up early in the morning and entrusted the flock to someone else who would watch over it. 23  After loading up, he went just as Jesse had instructed him. He arrived at the camp 24  as the army was going out to the battle lines shouting its battle cry. 17:21 Israel and the Philistines drew up their battle lines opposite one another. 17:22 After David had entrusted his cargo to the care of the supply officer, 25  he ran to the battlefront. When he arrived, he asked his brothers how they were doing. 17:23 As he was speaking with them, the champion named Goliath, the Philistine from Gath, was coming up from the battle lines of the Philistines. He spoke the way he usually did, 26  and David heard it. 17:24 When all the men of Israel saw this man, they retreated 27  from his presence and were very afraid.

17:25 The men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up? He does so 28  to defy Israel. But the king will make the man who can strike him down very wealthy! He will give him his daughter in marriage, and he will make his father’s house exempt from tax obligations in Israel.”

17:26 David asked the men who were standing near him, “What will be done for the man who strikes down this Philistine and frees Israel from this humiliation? 29  For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he defies the armies of the living God?” 17:27 The soldiers 30  told him what had been promised, saying, 31  “This is what will be done for the man who can strike him down.”

17:28 When David’s 32  oldest brother Eliab heard him speaking to the men, he became angry 33  with David and said, “Why have you come down here? To whom did you entrust those few sheep in the desert? I am familiar with your pride and deceit! 34  You have come down here to watch the battle!”

17:29 David replied, “What have I done now? Can’t I say anything?” 35  17:30 Then he turned from those who were nearby to someone else and asked the same question, 36  but they 37  gave him the same answer as before. 17:31 When David’s words were overheard and reported to Saul, he called for him. 38 

17:32 David said to Saul, “Don’t let anyone be discouraged. 39  Your servant will go and fight this Philistine!” 17:33 But Saul replied to David, “You aren’t able to go against this Philistine and fight him! You’re just a boy! He has been a warrior from his youth!”

17:34 David replied to Saul, “Your servant has been a shepherd for his father’s flock. Whenever a lion or bear would come and carry off a sheep from the flock, 17:35 I would go out after it, strike it down, and rescue the sheep from its mouth. If it rose up against me, I would grab it by its jaw, strike it, and kill it. 17:36 Your servant has struck down both the lion and the bear. This uncircumcised Philistine will be just like one of them. 40  For he has defied the armies of the living God!” 17:37 David went on to say, “The Lord who delivered me from the lion and the bear will also deliver me from the hand of this Philistine!” Then Saul said to David, “Go! The Lord will be with you.” 41 

17:38 Then Saul clothed David with his own fighting attire and put a bronze helmet on his head. He also put body armor on him. 17:39 David strapped on his sword over his fighting attire and tried to walk around, but he was not used to them. 42  David said to Saul, “I can’t walk in these things, for I’m not used to them.” So David removed them. 17:40 He took his staff in his hand, picked out five smooth stones from the stream, placed them in the pouch 43  of his shepherd’s bag, took his sling in hand, and approached the Philistine.

17:41 44 The Philistine kept coming closer to David, with his shield bearer walking in front of him. 17:42 When the Philistine looked carefully at David, he despised him, for he was only a ruddy and handsome boy. 17:43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you are coming after me with sticks?” 45  Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 17:44 The Philistine said to David, “Come here to me, so I can give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the field!” 46 

17:45 But David replied to the Philistine, “You are coming against me with sword and spear and javelin. But I am coming against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel’s armies, whom you have defied! 17:46 This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand! I will strike you down and cut off your head. This day I will give the corpses of the Philistine army to the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the land. Then all the land will realize that Israel has a God 17:47 and all this assembly will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves! For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will deliver you into our hand.”

17:48 The Philistine drew steadily closer to David to attack him, while David quickly ran toward the battle line to attack the Philistine. 47  17:49 David reached his hand into the bag and took out a stone. He slung it, striking the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank deeply into his forehead, and he fell down with his face to the ground.

17:50 48 David prevailed over the Philistine with just the sling and the stone. He struck down the Philistine and killed him. David did not even have a sword in his hand. 49  17:51 David ran and stood over the Philistine. He grabbed Goliath’s 50  sword, drew it from its sheath, 51  killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they ran away.

17:52 Then the men of Israel and Judah charged forward, shouting a battle cry. 52  They chased the Philistines to the valley 53  and to the very gates of Ekron. The Philistine corpses lay fallen along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 17:53 When the Israelites returned from their hot pursuit of the Philistines, they looted their camp. 17:54 David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, 54  and he put Goliath’s 55  weapons in his tent.

17:55 56 Now as Saul watched David going out to fight the Philistine, he asked Abner, the general in command of the army, “Whose son is this young man, Abner?” Abner replied, “As surely as you live, O king, I don’t know.” 17:56 The king said, “Find out whose son this boy is!”

17:57 So when David returned from striking down the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul. He still had the head of the Philistine in his hand. 17:58 Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” David replied, “I am the son of your servant Jesse in Bethlehem.” 57 

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

2 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.

3 sn Although the exact weight of Goliath’s defensive body armor is difficult to estimate in terms of modern equivalency, it was obviously quite heavy. Driver, following Kennedy, suggests a modern equivalent of about 220 pounds (100 kg); see S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel, 139. Klein, taking the shekel to be equal to .403 ounces, arrives at a somewhat smaller weight of about 126 pounds (57 kg); see R. W. Klein, 1 Samuel (WBC), 175. But by any estimate it is clear that Goliath presented himself as a formidable foe indeed.

4 sn Or “greaves.” These were coverings (probably lined for comfort) that extended from about the knee to the ankle, affording protection for the shins of a warrior.

5 tn The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading “wood,” rather than the “arrow” (the reading of the Kethib).

6 sn That is, about fifteen or sixteen pounds.

7 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Goliath) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

8 tn The Hebrew text adds “and said to them.”

9 tc The translation follows the ancient versions in reading “choose,” (from the root בחר, bkhr), rather than the MT. The verb in MT (ברה, brh) elsewhere means “to eat food”; the sense of “to choose,” required here by the context, is not attested for this root. The MT apparently reflects an early scribal error.

10 tn Following the imperative, the prefixed verbal form (either an imperfect or jussive) with the prefixed conjunction indicates purpose/result here.

11 tn Following the imperative, the cohortative verbal form indicates purpose/result here.

12 tn Heb “all Israel.”

13 tc Some mss of the LXX lack vv. 12-31.

14 map For location see Map5 B1; Map7 E2; Map8 E2; Map10 B4.

15 tc The translation follows the Lucianic recension of the LXX and the Syriac Peshitta in reading “in years,” rather than MT “among men.”

16 tn Heb “his.”

17 tn Heb “was going and returning.”

18 tn Heb “run.”

19 tn Heb “officer of the thousand.”

20 tn Heb “and your brothers, observe with respect to welfare.”

21 tn Heb “and their pledge take.” This probably refers to some type of confirmation that the goods arrived safely. See R. W. Klein, 1 Samuel (WBC), 177. Cf. NIV “bring back some assurance”; NCV “some proof to show me they are all right”; NLT “bring me back a letter from them.”

22 tn Heb “all the men of Israel.”

23 tn Heb “to a guard”; KJV, NASB, NRSV “with a keeper”; NIV “with a shepherd.” Since in contemporary English “guard” sounds like someone at a military installation or a prison, the present translation uses “to someone else who would watch over it.”

24 tn Or “entrenchment.”

25 tn Heb “the guard of the equipment.”

26 tn Heb “according to these words.”

27 tn Or “fled.”

28 tn Heb “he is coming up.”

29 tn Heb “and turns aside humiliation from upon Israel.”

30 tn Heb “people.”

31 tn Heb “according to this word, saying.”

32 tn Heb “his”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

33 tn Heb “the anger of Eliab became hot.”

34 tn Heb “the wickedness of your heart.”

35 tn Heb “Is it not [just] a word?”

36 tn Heb “and spoke according to this word.”

37 tn Heb “the people.”

38 tn Heb “he took him.”

39 tn Heb “Let not the heart of a man fall upon him.” The LXX reads “my lord,” instead of “a man.”

40 tc The LXX includes here the following words not found in the MT: “Should I not go and smite him, and remove today reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised one?”

41 tn Or “Go, and may the Lord be with you” (so NASB, NCV, NRSV).

42 tn Heb “he had not tested.”

43 tn This Hebrew word occurs only here and its exact meaning is not entirely clear. It refers to a receptacle of some sort and apparently was a common part of a shepherd’s equipment. Here it serves as a depository for the stones that David will use in his sling.

44 tc Most LXX mss lack v. 41.

45 sn Sticks is a pejorative reference to David’s staff (v. 40); the same Hebrew word (מַקֵּל, maqqel) is used for both.

46 tc Many medieval Hebrew mss have “the earth” here, instead of the MT’s “the field.”

47 tc Most LXX mss lack the second half of v. 48.

48 tc Most LXX mss lack v. 50.

49 tn Verse 50 is a summary statement; v. 51 gives a more detailed account of how David killed the Philistine.

50 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Goliath) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

51 tc Most LXX mss lack the words “drew it from its sheath.”

52 tn Heb “arose and cried out.”

53 tc Most of the LXX ms tradition has here “Gath.”

54 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

55 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Goliath) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

56 tc Most LXX mss lack 17:5518:5.

57 map For location see Map5 B1; Map7 E2; Map8 E2; Map10 B4.



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