1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Goliath
GOLIATH, the name of the giant by slaying whom David achieved renown (1 Sam. xvii.). The Philistines had come up to make war against Saul and, as the rival camps lay opposite each other, this warrior came forth day by day to challenge to single combat. Only David ventured to respond, and armed with a sling and pebbles he overcame Goliath. The Philistines, seeing their champion killed, lost heart and were easily put to flight. The giant’s arms were placed in the sanctuary, and it was his famous sword which David took with him in his flight from Saul (1 Sam. xxi. 1-9). From another passage we learn that Goliath of Gath, “the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam,” was slain by a certain Elhanan of Bethlehem in one of David’s conflicts with the Philistines (2 Sam. xxi. 18-22)—the parallel 1 Chron. xx. 5, avoids the contradiction by reading the “brother of Goliath.” But this old popular story has probably preserved the more original tradition, and if Elhanan is the son of Dodo in the list of David’s mighty men (2 Sam. xxiii. 9, 24), the resemblance between the two names may have led to the transference. The narratives of David’s early life point to some exploit by means of which he gained the favour of Saul, Jonathan and Israel, but the absence of all reference to his achievement in the subsequent chapters (1 Sam. xxi. 11, xxix. 5) is evidence of the relatively late origin of a tradition which in course of time became one of the best-known incidents in David’s life (Ps. cxliv., LXX. title, the apocryphal Ps. cli., Ecclus. xlvii. 4).
See David; Samuel (Books) and especially Cheyne, Aids and Devout Study of Criticism, pp. 80 sqq., 125 sqq. In the old Egyptian romance of Sinuhit (ascribed to about 2000 B.C.), the story of the slaying of the Bedouin hero has several points of resemblance with that of David and Goliath. See L. B. Paton, Hist. of Syr. and Pal., p. 60; A. Jeremias, Das A. T. im Lichte d. alten Orients, 2nd ed. pp. 299, 491; A. R. S. Kennedy, Century Bible: Samuel, p. 122, argues that David’s Philistine adversary was originally nameless, in 1 Sam. xvii. he is named only in v. 4.