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2 Samuel 21:18-22

Context

21:18 Later there was another battle with the Philistines, this time in Gob. On that occasion Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the descendants of Rapha. 21:19 Yet another battle occurred with the Philistines in Gob. On that occasion Elhanan the son of Jair 1  the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, 2  the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 21:20 Yet another battle occurred in Gath. On that occasion there was a large man 3  who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all! He too was a descendant of Rapha. 21:21 When he taunted Israel, Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, killed him. 21:22 These four were the descendants of Rapha who lived in Gath; they were killed 4  by David and his soldiers. 5 

1 tn Heb “Jaare-Oregim,” but the second word, which means “weavers,” is probably accidentally included. It appears at the end of the verse. The term is omitted in the parallel account in 1 Chr 20:5, which has simply “Jair.”

2 sn The Hebrew text as it stands reads, “Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite.” Who killed Goliath the Gittite? According to 1 Sam 17:4-58 it was David who killed Goliath, but according to the MT of 2 Sam 21:19 it was Elhanan who killed him. Many scholars believe that the two passages are hopelessly at variance with one another. Others have proposed various solutions to the difficulty, such as identifying David with Elhanan or positing the existence of two Goliaths. But in all likelihood the problem is the result of difficulties in the textual transmission of the Samuel passage; in fact, from a text-critical point of view the books of Samuel are the most poorly preserved of all the books of the Hebrew Bible. The parallel passage in 1 Chr 20:5 reads, “Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath.” Both versions are textually corrupt. The Chronicles text has misread “Bethlehemite” (בֵּית הַלַּחְמִי, bet hallakhmi) as the accusative sign followed by a proper name אֶת לַחְמִי (’et lakhmi). (See the note at 1 Chr 20:5.) The Samuel text misread the word for “brother” (אַח, ’akh) as the accusative sign (אֵת, ’et), thereby giving the impression that Elhanan, not David, killed Goliath. Thus in all probability the original text read, “Elhanan son of Jair the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath.”

3 tn Heb “a man of stature.”

4 tn Heb “they fell.”

5 tn Heb “his servants.”



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