Question:

Nearly everyone is familiar with the account in I Samuel 17 and how David killed Goliath. The King James Version in II Samuel 21:19 says Elhanan killed Goliath's brother, but the Hebrew text saysit was Goliath who was slain. How did the translators deduce this was Goliath's brother, or is there a better explanation of this text?

Thanks in advance for your reply.


Answer:

"Again there was war at Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam" (II Samuel 21:19).

The phrase "the brother of" was supplied by the translators of the New King James Version based on "Again there was war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam" (I Chronicles 20:5). Thus Elhanan killed Lahmi who was Goliath's brother.

A more literal translation of II Samuel 21:19 is found in the New American Standard Bible, "There was war with the Philistines again at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam." It is thought that either:

  • The relationship was accidentally dropped out of the text in II Samuel 21:19
  • The Jews sometimes left relationships implied in texts (Examples: wife left out of Matthew 1:6 and John 19:25; mother left out of Mark 15:40,47; 16:1; and Luke 24:10).
  • Some suggest that in II Samuel the emphasis is on the fact that Lahmi (who is not named) was like Goliath the Gittite or a part of a clan of giants.