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The Story of Goliath

Updated on January 28, 2010

Goliath, in the Bible, was a Philistine hero of gigantic size, said to have been slain by David. The most popular account is told in I Samuel 17 and describes Goliath as having been "six cubits and a span" (about 9 feet or 2.7 meters) tall and one of the four sons of the giant of Gath. Goliath challenged the Hebrews under King Saul to a single combat to determine the supremacy of their respective nations. For 40 days no one took up the challenge, until the boy David obtained permission from Saul to fight the Philistine. He felled the giant with a single stone from his slingshot and cut off his head with Goliath's own sword. The frightened Philistines were thus routed. An alternate account in II Samuel 21:19 attributes the slaying of Goliath to one of David's men, Elhanan the Bethlehemite.

The religious character of the combat is indicated by the mutual imprecations of the two heroes (I Samuel 17:43, 45-47) and by David's offering of Goliath's sword to the sanctuary at Nob.


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