By Whose God did Goliath Curse and Where did David Take his Head?

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The story of the duel between David and Goliath is one of the best loved narratives in the Bible. The tale of the young shepherd-boy, armed only with a stick and a sling, taking on the fully armed and armored Philistine professional warrior has inspired countless individuals, societies and even whole nations over the ages. The story has been analyzed from literary, historical and even military/strategic points of view. The fact that the Philistine is a heathen, while the young Israelite goes to battle »in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel« (verse 45) adds significance to the story: faith in God is more powerful than any weapon or armor. This paper is meant to discuss two issues: 1. In verse 43, Goliath is said to have cursed David »be'elohaw«. The usual translation of this term is »by his gods«, referring to the Philistines' gods. However, we wish to show that in many cases both within the Bible and in Ancient Near Eastern literature, it is quite common for a person who wished to either curse or to bless someone from another nation to evoke that nations deity. So in this case, we see this as »cursed David by his God«. 2. According to verse 54, after dispatching Goliath, »And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, and he put his weapons in his tent«. Mention of Jerusalem is obviously out of place, and is usually considered either a late anachronism or »forward looking«. However a simple emendation of the text shows that David brought both the head and the weapons to Saul. 3. If time permits, I would also discuss my proposal to identify the »ma'agal«, Saul's camp mentioned in verse 20, is to be identified with the recently excavated site of Khirbet Qeiyafa
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2013
EventInternational Organization for the Study of the Old Testament (IOSOT) 21st Congress - Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany
Duration: 4 Aug 20139 Aug 2013 (Website)


ConferenceInternational Organization for the Study of the Old Testament (IOSOT) 21st Congress
CityLudwig-Maximilians-University, Munich
Internet address


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