David & Goliath: Truth Or Legend?

ramonmercado

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David and Goliath: truth or legend?

A tiny artifact found at a Bar-Ilan University archaeology dig in Israel reportedly holds a clue as to the history of the biblical figure Goliath.

The small ceramic shard unearthed at Tell es-Safi -- the site of the biblical city "Gath of the Philistines" -- contains the earliest Philistine inscription ever discovered, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday. The inscription mentions two names that are remarkably similar to the name "Goliath."

The discovery is of particular interest since the Bible identifies Gath as Goliath's hometown.

Professor Aren Maeir, chairman of the university's Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, told the Post the odds of the inscription referring to the Goliath of the Bible are "small if non-existent."

Maeir said the find has been dated to some 50 years after the story of David and Goliath was to have taken place. Additionally, Maeir says Goliath was a very popular type of name of that era.

But the Post noted the archaeological find may be seen by some as the first clear extra-biblical evidence that the story of the battle between David and Goliath may be more than just legend.

http://www.physorg.com/news8084.html
 

gerardwilkie

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The problem with the Bible is that very few of the stories can be attested . Even biblical 'facts' can contradict each other . For instance using the Masoretic Text , in the story of Goliath , 1 Samuel 17:4 gives his height as six cubits and a span (9 ft 9) , whereas both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint say that he was four cubits and a span (6 ft 9) - a giant in both caes , but which do we go for ?

Another irregularity in the Bible implies that Goliath was not slain by David at all , but by Elhanan in a battle at Gob (2 Samuel 22:19) .
 

amester

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gerardwilkie said:
Another irregularity in the Bible implies that Goliath was not slain by David at all , but by Elhanan in a battle at Gob (2 Samuel 22:19) .
I guess Goliath was "gob-smacked," huh? :lol:
 

gerardwilkie

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amester said:
gerardwilkie said:
Another irregularity in the Bible implies that Goliath was not slain by David at all , but by Elhanan in a battle at Gob (2 Samuel 22:19) .
I guess Goliath was "gob-smacked," huh? :lol:
Yeah , suppose so.
 

gerardwilkie

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I've seen a copy of this fragment . It is in Proto-Canaanitic (similiar to the language of the Philistines and a precursor of Hebrew), and spells out two names ALWT and LWT (remember that alphabets of that area tend not to spell vowels) . This name could refer to the Philistine name Alyattes , but that is not certain . Personally , I feel that the link between this name and Goliath is very tenuous to say the least - in order to link it with the name more credibly I would expect to see a G somewhere in the script (written down I would expect Goliath to be spelt something like GLIT or GLIAT ).
 

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It's not evidence of anything to do with the Bible, just that the name Goliath (or rather the name that was transliterated into Goliath), was a name from the region it's supposed to be from.
 

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More discoveries at Gath.

Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century B.C., says Mississippi State University archaeologist James W. Hardin.

This could indicate that Biblical accounts of David and his son Solomon described real kings rather than the backwater chieftains considered more likely by some archaeologists, said Hardin, an associate professor in the department of anthropology and Middle Eastern cultures.

The six fragments of clay, once used to seal documents or expensive goods, are described in a brief article in the December issue of Near East Archaeology. "They're little bitty mud balls but they're really important because of what they suggest about what's going on," Hardin, the lead author, said in a telephone interview from the university in Starkville. After tying the scroll or other item, ancient officials would wrap part of the string with clay and stamp it with an official seal to show that it had not been opened. ...

http://phys.org/news/2014-12-ancient-clay-biblical-era.html
 

ramonmercado

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More discoveries at Gath.

Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century B.C., says Mississippi State University archaeologist James W. Hardin.

This could indicate that Biblical accounts of David and his son Solomon described real kings rather than the backwater chieftains considered more likely by some archaeologists, said Hardin, an associate professor in the department of anthropology and Middle Eastern cultures.

The six fragments of clay, once used to seal documents or expensive goods, are described in a brief article in the December issue of Near East Archaeology. "They're little bitty mud balls but they're really important because of what they suggest about what's going on," Hardin, the lead author, said in a telephone interview from the university in Starkville. After tying the scroll or other item, ancient officials would wrap part of the string with clay and stamp it with an official seal to show that it had not been opened. ...

http://phys.org/news/2014-12-ancient-clay-biblical-era.html
 

Schwadevivre

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Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century B.C., says Mississippi State University archaeologist James W. Hardin
Another link is this on Heritage Daily

As I noted in the comments
So what has been found? A set of bullae - and that's it. Is there any writing on these bullae? No
Are there any symbols that are explicitly amongst those used exclusively by the Judean tribes? No. Was there an organised military force in that area for which there is evidence? Yes. What was the make-up of that organised military? Canaanite. Is there any concrete evidence at all for Solomon? No. Is there any concrete evidence for a King David? No (a scratched Dwd on a potsherd does not count). Are the peoples who wrote about David and Solomon known for inventing heroes? Yes (Moses and Joshua are the most obvious). I know that archaeology is about story telling, but it should be based on more than the pious hopes of biased excavators.
 

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Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century B.C., says Mississippi State University archaeologist James W. Hardin
Another link is this on Heritage Daily

As I noted in the comments
So what has been found? A set of bullae - and that's it. Is there any writing on these bullae? No
Are there any symbols that are explicitly amongst those used exclusively by the Judean tribes? No. Was there an organised military force in that area for which there is evidence? Yes. What was the make-up of that organised military? Canaanite. Is there any concrete evidence at all for Solomon? No. Is there any concrete evidence for a King David? No (a scratched Dwd on a potsherd does not count). Are the peoples who wrote about David and Solomon known for inventing heroes? Yes (Moses and Joshua are the most obvious). I know that archaeology is about story telling, but it should be based on more than the pious hopes of biased excavators.
 

GNC

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It wasn't unknown for a little guy to best a taller guy in combat, it still isn't, a swift kick in the bollocks would do it, so the David and Goliath legend is perhaps more an archetype based in common knowledge, and the satisfying thought a big bully can be bested. George and the Dragon could be a variation, maybe?
 

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If Goliath suffered from a similar pituitary disorder to Robert Wadlow, who was a fraction under 9 feet tall and still growing at the time of his death, then a height in excess of 9 feet is clearly not impossible. Furthermore, although Goliath would have certainly looked very intimidating in bronze and leather armour, in all likelihood, his condition would have made him quite slow-moving and clumsy, so a normal sized but agile person could quite conceivably best him in combat.
 

Mythopoeika

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Someone of 9 feet in height would actually not be that effective as a warrior.
They'd probably just wheel him out for rare confrontations where intimidation would be more effective than actual mayhem.
I think the David vs Goliath fight scenario is not completely unbelievable.
 
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I'd like to think that It's representative of localities, one triumphing over the other, the fact that the underdog is David (the tribe of Kings), could be an allegory of the right of the tribe of David to rule over others (because Ywh (sic) is on their side).
 

skinny

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Surf for 'Og of Bashan' and 'Gilgal Rephaim'.
 
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Thanks Skinny, that og of Bashan reminded me of Gog and Magog. Allegorical, again?
 

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Is it allegory? It depends on your method of exegesis. The council of Nicea may not have retained the structuring or the context of the original oral rendering of the tale. It's certainly a related curiosity. I find the Gilgal circle and crypt fascinating because it seems like material evidence for at least one very large specimen. The tribal myth could have been prompted by eyewitness accounts of oversized warriors, but most of the references to rephaim are fanciful internet sensationalism.
 

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History channel doco on giants:

David and Goliath addressed from the 8th minute.
 
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skinny

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I like the giants depicted in Game of Thrones - and the concept of the white walkers may be drawn from the "frost giants" defeated by Thor (from early Norse lore) which is mentioned in the above doco.
 

JimELUCIER

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When I first heard of the Giants theory, I looked online to see them for myself. Whether or not these pictures of giants are real or not, I felt a strong shiver go up my spine. It was like I remembered something important about them.
 

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Has the "giant of Castelnau" ever been debunked?

Those leg bones look to be double the size of a normal human.
 

FrKadash

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Someone of 9 feet in height would actually not be that effective as a warrior.
They'd probably just wheel him out for rare confrontations where intimidation would be more effective than actual mayhem.
I think the David vs Goliath fight scenario is not completely unbelievable.
I didn't realise we had this thread, it's a really interesting subject and I've often wondered about his true height; the problem is it's not just the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls that describe Goliath as 6ft but the usually reliable Josephus (Antiquities 8.3.5.) also gives his height as ''...four cubits and a span...'', but Josephus also gives 24 fingers to the cubit.

According to some scholars a good estimate for the cubit is 19.7 inches (see Marvin A. Powell, 1992. “Weights and Measures,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 6:897-908), so 19.7 x 4 = 78.8, and converted that's 6.5ft.

Despite these calculations and opinions I'm personally more intuitively and instinctively inclined to the trust the Hebrew Scriptures with the taller estimate of approximately 9.85ft.

''Then a champion came out from the camps of the Philistines; his name was Goliath, from Gath, and his height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a helmet of copper on his head, and he was wearing a coat of mail of overlapping scales. The weight of the copper coat of mail was 5,000 shekels''.

I can't imagine a 6.5ft soldier wearing a 5,000 shekel coat of mail in battle, that equals 56.7 kg or 8.929 stone! It seems more plausible that this man was simply a very unique and strong 9.85ft.
 
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tastyintestines

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Doesn't seem to far fetched to wear that much weight. The average soldier today carries well over 120 pounds.
 

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Despite these calculations and opinions I'm personally more intuitively and instinctively inclined to the trust the Hebrew Scriptures with the taller estimate of approximately 9.85ft.
Problem with this - it is unlikely that any human could achieve this height and still walk. Unacceptable stress on ankles, knees, hips, pelvis and spine cripple most of the tallest humans before they reach 9 feet. Due to pressure on the soles of the feet necrosis of the feet is common; the human circulatory system is not designed to accommodate the extremes of blood pressure causing edema and cellulitis as well as increasing the probability of stroke, pulmonary thrombosis and aneurysm.

Doesn't seem to far fetched to wear that much weight. The average soldier today carries well over 120 pounds
You are confusing the weight carried by commandos when yomping in the Falklands with the real loads carried by modern soldiers into combat. According to the magazine Global Security loads carried by infantry are 101 lbs in winter and 88 lbs in summer and in both cases these soldiers are considered to be overloaded. If you spend any time talking to troops you will find that, under fire, much of their load is dumped as soon as possible to be recovered after the present threat has gone.

Historically loads carried by foot soldiers have been pretty light compared to modern troops. The Roman Legionary (Marius's famous mule) was expected to carry about 50 lbs in kit including food, water, armour, weapons and shield. Mediaeval plate armour weighed only 30 - 55 lbs and would, in the main, have been used without a shield and with weapons weighing a maximum of 15 lbs. I actually have experience of wearing a chain hauberk, coif, nasaled spangenhelm, kite shield sword and Dane axe and the all-up weight was about 40 lbs which was probably more than a Saxon would have worn as round section wire was used for the mail rather than the flat or semicircular section used by period armourers.
 
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Mythopoeika

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Problem with this - it is unlikely that any human could achieve this height and still walk. Unacceptable stress on ankles, knees, hips, pelvis and spine cripple most of the tallest humans before they reach 9 feet. Due to pressure on the soles of the feet necrosis of the feet is common; the human circulatory system is not designed to accommodate the extremes of blood pressure causing edema and cellulitis as well as increasing the probability of stroke, pulmonary thrombosis and aneurysm.
Yes - that's exactly why I think if Goliath really was over 9 feet tall, he would have been used just for show, for intimidation purposes only. They would have literally had to wheel him out on the back of a carriage.
However, perhaps the more realistic height would have been 7 feet tall - a man of that height would still be capable of moving and fighting.
I think the Bible used a bit of exaggeration in its account. Artistic licence, if you will - a bit like the rest of the book. :D
 

blessmycottonsocks

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Many basketball players in recent decades have been well in excess of 7 ft tall and are extremely fit and agile.
 
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kamalktk

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Many basketball players in recent decades have been well in excess of 7 ft tall and are extremely fit and agile.
But few have been much in excess of 7 feet tall, even allowing for basketball clubs that add some extra inches height to listed heights for various reasons (marketing, intimidating the other team, and such). The tallest current player is Hasheem Thabeet at 7 feet 3 inches. Most of the really tall NBA players wind up having foot problems, something schwdevivre alluded to.

The tallest NBA player ever was 7 feet 7 inches according to wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_players_in_National_Basketball_Association_history

My guess is Goliath was indeed very tall for that time, and was made 9 + feet tall for marketing/story reasons.
 

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Monumental Iron Age remains from the ancient Philistine city of Gath, once the home of the legendary biblical giant Goliath, surfaced this summer during excavations by a Bar-Ilan University-led team of archaeologists.

Gath, one of the five cities of the ancient foes of the Israelites, was one of the largest cities in the region in the 10th and 9th centuries BCE. The Old Testament describes Gath as the home of Goliath, the enormous warrior killed with a slingshot by the young Israelite David who would go on to found a dynasty of kings.

“We knew that Philistine Gath in the tenth to ninth century (BCE) was a large city, perhaps the largest in the land at that time,” excavation leader Professor Aren Maeir told Live Science. “These monumental fortifications stress how large and mighty this city was.”

According to Maeir, the monumental gate is among the largest ever found in Israel and confirms that Gath was one of the most influential cities in the region at the time.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/archae...metown/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
 

Jim

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Quoting 1st Samuel: “And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath from Gath whose height was six cubits and a span.” “He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was 5000 shekels of bronze.” This would be a height of > 9’. The coat of mail would have weighted > 78 pounds. This is not a backpack, but what he was wearing while fighting. To me this hardly sounds like some weak giant struck with acromegley.
Remember modern giants like Wilt Chamberlin and Charles Barkley were extremely strong and athletic. I believe it to be real and why not we have modern giants well in excess of 7’ that are strong and healthy.
 

Mythopoeika

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Angus MacAskill was the most famous historical example of a healthy man over 7 feet tall (he was 7 ft 9 inches).
But, there aren't that many other examples.
Generally, the majority of healthy giants are around the 7 foot mark.
Someone of 9 feet tall and still able to move well would have been really exceptional.
BTW, Charles Barkley is only 6 ft 6 in.
 
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