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Goliath

Meaning: Great.

This was the name of two biblical men.

  1. A famous giant of Gath, who for forty days openly defied the armies of Israel, but was at length slain by David with a stone from a sling (1 Sam. 17:4). He was probably descended from the Rephaim who found refuge among the Philistines after they were dispersed by the Ammonites (Deut. 2:20-21). His height was “six cubits and a span,” which, taking the cubit at 21 inches [0.5334 meters], is equal to 10½ feet [3.2004 meters]. David cut off his head (1 Sam. 17:51) and brought it to Jerusalem, while he hung the armor which he took from him in his tent. His sword was preserved at Nob as a religious trophy (21:9). David’s victory over Goliath was the turning point in his life. He came into public notice now as the deliverer of Israel and the chief among Saul’s men of war (18:5), and the devoted friend of Jonathan.

  2. In 2 Sam. 21:19 there is another giant of the same name mentioned as slain by Elhanan. The staff of his spear “was like a weaver’s beam.” The Authorized Version interpolates the words “the brother of” from 1 Chr. 20:5, where this giant is called Lahmi.

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Author: Matthew G. Easton, with minor editing by Paul S. Taylor.