Questions and Answers



We are all familiar with the story of 1 Sam. 17 of how David killed Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span (1 Sam. 17:4). Yet, the American Standard version has in 2 Sam. 21:19 that Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim the Bethlehemite slew Goliath the Gittite (2 Sam. 21:19). Some would say we have a clear contradiction in the text.
            One scholar said, a copyist mistook the sign of the direct object for a “beth” and misread the word brother as the sign of the direct object making Goliath the object of killed. Then the scribe misplaced the word for weavers and put it right after Elhanan. Thus he got a mistranslation. What? That all sounded way too confusing for me.
            If we want to know the truth, we do not have to be alerted to all the problems found in this passage. Instead one is able to check the various translations. For example: the ASV, HCSB, NAS, NIV, NRS, NWT and the RSV has Goliath killed by Elhanan, the son of Jaareoregim, the Bethlehemite. However, the KJV (italics), NET, NLT, NKJV has Elhanan killing the brother of Goliath.
            So which one killed who? When we read a parallel passage found in 1 Chron. 20:5, it states, “And there was war again with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, whose spear staff was like a weaver's beam.” Interestingly, all versions show here that Elhanan killed Goliath’s brother, not Goliath. So, there is no contradiction, only a scribal error which when we read further in God’s Word, shows you the solution.

Robert Notgrass

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