Saturday, March 28, 2009

David and Goliath, and Philistine Armor

David and GoliathDavid and Goliath is one of the better known Bible stories. Anyone who doubts the authenticity of the story should take a little time to look at the evidence. As is usually the case, the latest archeological discoveries add even more weight to the authenticity of the biblical account.

To some, the idea of one champion fighting on behalf of an entire army is fanciful, whereas this was the common practice of the Philistines in deciding the outcome of a battle. To the Philistines, a battle of champions represented the will of the gods! If their champion won, then the gods were on their side and they could expect victory over their enemy.
The 'Battle of Champions' was characteristic of Aegean peoples and this form of battle was known almost exclusively from the Greek Epic tradition. This form of battle however was unheard of among the Israelites which might explain their difficulty in selecting a champion of their own. The fact that this battle, in the minds of the Philistines, was a battle of the immortals would explain why the Philistines fled following Goliath's defeat!
Goliath was indeed a formidable and intimidating champion chosen no doubt for his size, (nine foot and three inches), which some attribute to the possibility that he was a descendant of the Anakim. When Joshua expelled the giant Anakim people from the land of Canaan a few found refuge in the city of Gath where Goliath originated from.

Some also try to discredit this biblical account by saying that, according to the Egyptian reliefs in the tomb of Ramesses III, (shown below), the Philistines wore no coats of mail or greaves and so the biblical narrative is incorrect! They forget that these ancient carvings are depicting the 'captured' Philistine army which had been deprived of all weaponry and armor as was the practice inflicted on a defeated enemy. The Israelites not only took Goliath's weapons and armor, they weighed them too!
Philistine Helmets
Nate Butler asked the question why do so many Bible artists illustrate Goliath's helmet incorrectly when there is so much archeological reference available that clearly displays it? That's a good question, and it's true, we do have a very good idea of what the Philistine helmets looked like from the ancient Egyptian reliefs at Medinet Habu. But, it's also true that Goliath was equipped like no other Philistine foot soldier, and it does appear, from the biblical text, that he used a sampling of weapons from different parts of the ancient Middle East. There is a very good reason for this which we will look at shortly.

Goliath's Helmet
The Egyptian reliefs found at Medinet Habu (see above) clearly show the distinctive feathered helmets which were unique to the Philistine army. The helmets appear to be secured under the chin by leather straps. Feathers were held in place by a decorative metal band. Interestingly, the Philistines are shown to be clean-shaven! When I tried illustrating Goliath above without a beard, it just wasn't Goliath! This is one of those occasions when, as Paul G says, we need to play to the expectations of others! Because we use the word 'Philistine' to describe someone who is uncultured, we tend to think of Philistines as bearded barbarians but, as we will see shortly, this might be far from the truth!

Philistine SwordGoliath's Shield and Sword
These reliefs also show the captured small circular shields used by the Philistine foot soldiers. Goliath's shield was no doubt larger than most, and was borne by a shield bearer who traditionally walked in front of the warrior up until the battle. Goliath's sword is interesting too. Experts claim that the sword described in the Bible, and worn on the back, was a curved blade Sickle sword and not the straight sword normally used by the Philistines. The sickle sword was first used by the Canaanites and, because of its brutal effectiveness, was later adopted by the Egyptians. So, why did Goliath own such a sword? It makes sense that a warrior like Goliath who had no doubt fought one to one battles on many occasions previous to this, would have collected trophies of these victories. Perhaps the sickle sword was one of these trophies.
By displaying an array of captured weaponry Goliath was also displaying his superiority over all opposing forces. They declared Goliath's invincibility! Perhaps this was a tactic intended to intimidate his enemies even before the battle began!

Goliath's Scale Armor and Greaves
Scale armor was important because it protected a soldier without restricting his movements. It was first used in the Aegean.
Each bronze scale was attached in rows to a leather apron. Each overlapping row was offset giving the appearance of fish scales.
The Bible clearly states that Goliath wore "greaves of brass upon his legs". Again some have criticised the biblical account here by claiming that the Philistines did not wear greaves. But, in a recent article in the 'Biblical Archeological Review' which discusses the recent find in Ashkelon of some greek-style pottery, Dr Stager said "Throwing caution to the wind, I am willing to state flatly that the Sea Peoples, including the Philistines, were Mycenaean Greeks." Dr Stager went on to say " because the Bible describes Goliath as going into the battle wearing bronze greaves on his legs. No Canaanite or Israelite soldier wore greaves, but Greek warriors did." So this would explain Goliath's bronze greaves. Maybe the Philistines were not a barbaric uncultured people after all. They may well have been descendants of the more elevated Greeks!

Goliath's Spear
Goliath's iron headed spear has been the subject of much speculation. Some believe that it was more likely to be a javelin than a spear. There are two theories that speculate why the Bible likens Goliath's spear to a weaver's beam. The popular opinion is that this statement refers to the spears size and weight. The second opinion states that the Aegean javelin had a cord wound around the shaft held by loops which gave the spear greater stability in flight. Apparently this winding cord and loop arrangement gave Goliath's spear the appearance of a weaver's heddle rod, characteristic of those used for hand loom weaving in Israel.
I look forward to your comments.


Earnest Graham said...

The composition and gestures truly tell the story in this picture of David and Goliath. David is poised and ready for action. You can feel the tension in his legs, and the straight line of the sling implies that he is patient in taking aim. Goliath, on the other hand, looks like a statue dedicated to his monumental hubris. You manage to portray the irony of this conflict through the contrast of the two characters. Goliath is large and covered in armor, David is small and has only a loin clothe, and yet, it is evident that Goliath is the one who is vulnerable in this story; indeed, it is his attitude that makes him vulnerable.

Bible artist said...

Yes, I hadn't thought about Goliath's attitude making him vulnerable. Pride comes before a fall, and a literal fall in Goliath's case!

I had to redo David as he looked about 13 on my original version. I think that most scholars put him at about 17 years old at this point in his life so I had to beef him up a little!

Thanks for the feedback Earnest.

nahum said...

Once again the depth of research which you perform to accurately portray biblical scenes is remarkable. I like the way you have Goliath positioned in front of David. The scripture goes into great detail about how heavy Goliath's armor was, even heavy for a man his size. This certainly contributed to offsetting his center of gravity which David undoubtedly deduced. The way you have Goliath positioned, one can imagine how a well thrust little projectile hitting his forehead would take advantage of his displaced center of gravity making him come tumbling down. Great work.

Bible artist said...

Thanks for that Nahum. Yes, I hadn't thought about Goliath being top heavy but it does make sense. Also, if Goliath was wearing a sickle sword on his back, he would have to have fallen face down for David to have drawn Goliath's sword out of its sheath.

I also wanted to mention that the Philistines entered the 'Iron age' before the Israelites and so they had far superior weaponry. The Bible mentions Goliath's iron headed spear.The Philistines maintained a monopoly on iron technology until around the time that David became king. This did not stop the Israelites from gaining victories however, as God was with them!

Christian said...

just a quick comment about the use of iron. Numbers 35:16, and Deuteronomy 27:5 indicate that the Israelites used iron on a regular basis. I am not saying that they used it for weapons but they were using and valueing it prior to entering the Promise Land and were familiar enough with it to recognize its use in war (Joshua 17:16 ff). I also note that iron was in use before the flood as well (Genesis 4:22)so Noah would have known and probably used iron in building the ark.


Bible artist said...

Hi Christian
Thanks for that. Yes, as I mentioned in the post, they had a certain amount of captured or purchased iron weaponry and tools but apparently they didn't have the technology to forge their own.
Yes, they knew all about iron as they were in awe of the iron chariots of the canaanites as you pointed out.
It is likely that either Noah or one of his sons had the technology to produce iron passed down from Tubal-cain, but this doesn't seem to have directly benefitted the Israelites later in their history. (Not if my sources are correct anyway!)
Remember also that the Israelites had just come from 400+ years in captivity and spent 40 years in the desert! A lot of technology that they had would have been lost.

deboraw said...

1Sa 13:19 Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears:

Apparently the ones who 'ruled' over them could also(and did at times) restrict the Israelites smiths and their access and capabilities etc. Deboraw

Bible artist said...

Thanks for that Deboraw. Yes, that was the reason why the Philistines wanted to keep the technology to themselves! It's interesting how this situation has reversed.
Today the enemies of Israel want the nuclear weapons technology that Israel has!

Unknown said...

Can anyone tell me how long Goliath's spear may have been and also the size of his shield. I am trying to show this to a group of children and would like to try to be as accurate as possible.

Bible artist said...

Hi Judy
I'm guessing here, but I would imagine that both Goliath's shield and spear are possibly the two items of his weaponry that were made to order!

The Bible does make a point of mentioning the sheer size of the spear, and the round shields of the Philistines were not excessively large anyway, so a standard issue shield would have offered little protection to Goliath. So, I'm guessing the the spear would have been at least the same height as Goliath, (9 foot), and if you scale up the standard issue shield to Goliath proportions it might have had a diameter of around 4 feet across!

Manny von Berninghausen said...

Dr. Stager stated that the Philistines were Mycenean Greeks, it tells me that the headgear of the Philistine warriors were not feathers but horsehair! The ancient Greeks revered the horse for its strength, fleetness of foot, courage, and its elegance. So their warriors out of sheer admiration tried to emulate the horse by attaching on their helmets a crest. The latter Roman soldiers carried on this great traditon until well into the beginning of the dark ages.

Bible artist said...

Yes Manny, there are differing opinions on this. Some say feathers, some say horsehair.

Unknown said...

Bible artist writes: "Pride comes before a fall, and a literal fall in Goliath's case!"

I believe that is not fair.
Goliat was of greek origin, and those who have read the Iliad, also knows that the greeks had certain rules for fight - man against man. David clearly ignores and violates these rules, and is in my point of view a man of no honour.

Imagine that you arrange a fistfight with some one, and he does not feel comfortable with your size, and then pulls a handgun and shoot you in the head.
And after that he boast about his "great" victory.

That is a man of no honour, and that counts for David too.

He was a coward, breaking all rules of good conduct.

Graham Kennedy miss the point, because all christians are brainwashed to believe that philistines were "philistines" (boorish)

Jens Bay. Denmark

Anonymous said...

Wow! Where did that come from? Your very words show that you are unaware of your situation. Goliath ( a picture of the enemy ) would have the Israelites' hearts fill with fear and thus defeat them, but if you are not aware of the enemy you are an open battlefield. Barney

Bible artist said...

Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier!
I would like to go through the points that you make one by one if I may, starting with the Greeks code of honor when it comes to fighting. If, as you suggest, this code involves both chivalry and sportsmanship, wouldn't Goliath have refused to fight this 17 year old boy who had neither armor nor a suitable weapon to go against Goliath with? Goliath however fully intended to crush David where he stood as verses 43-44 reveal. You say that David was breaking all the rules of good conduct. How exactly was he doing that?

Secondly, you liken this battle to a fist fight in which David pulls out a gun! I'm trying to figure out where you are coming from with this! Are you suggesting that David had a weapon but Goliath didn't!! Maybe you are suggesting that David had a weapon that was effective at a distance but Goliath did not. This is also untrue as the javelin which the Bible describes in detail was meant to be thrown. Maybe you are suggesting that David took Goliath by surprise, but verses 43-44 clearly show that Goliath was ready and making the first move!
Maybe you are suggesting that David's sling was hidden from Goliath, but consider the time it takes to take out the sling, place in it a stone and then swing it around to get the momentum!
A sling isn't like a gun that can be pulled out and fired!

You liken David's sling to a gun. Can I suggest that you look at some historical books of weaponry from this period. If a sling was equivalent to a gun, then Goliath was sat in the equivalent of a chieftain tank! Seriously though, there isn't a sling in my weaponry reference books.

Where does it say in the Bible that David boasted about killing Goliath?
You say that I, along with all christians are brainwashed into thinking that all philistines were boorish, but if you had read the article above you would have read: "Because we use the word 'Philistine' to describe someone who is uncultured, we tend to think of Philistines as bearded barbarians but, as we will see shortly, this might be far from the truth!"
Then after quoting Dr Stager I write:
"Maybe the Philistines were not a barbaric uncultured people after all. They may well have been descendants of the more elevated Greeks!"
The question that springs to my mind though is who do you think is brainwashing christians into believing that philistines are boorish, and for what purpose? I'm trying to figure out who would benefit from this!

Unknown said...

Hej Bible Artist.
Thanks for your answer.
Polite and educated. Thanks for that.
You ask: Should this demand for chivalry count for Goliath too.
Should he refuse to fight the only 17 years old David
We dont know the age of neigther David or Goliath.
Maybe David is 25 and Goliath is 20. Who knows.
The Bible do not tell.
What we know is, that David is old enough to be appointed king of Israel.
And I would say: David do not give Goliath the time to refuse the fight.

Had David approached Goliath and said: Hej Goliath, I David, king of Israel accept your challenge. This sling will be my weapon,. Prepare yourself, and let us meet on the battlefield in ten minutes.
Then I would with no hessitation label David a hero.

But David do not act like this.
He hide his weapon, seems only to bear a stick, suited only to beat a dog.
He comes in, apparently unarmed, find his best position, finds his sling, he utters the death sentence over Goliath, 10 words or so, and he runs 3 meter and hit the unprepared Goliath with a longrange missile. All takes maybe 10 or 15 seconds.

Where was Goliath, when David takes his position.
Well, he had been there for 3 days, waiting for someone to accept the challenge.
Did he carry around with his sword, shield, javelins and spear for all 3 days, or did he stick the javelins and the spear in the ground, and hang his sword and shield on it to display.
And did he then sit down on a folding chair, waiting for some israelite hero to show-up.

We dont know, but we know, that both Goliath and his shieldbearer, who could have prevented the disaster from flying stones, had he been warned, both are taken by surprise.
So I would say, no, David did not give Goliath the chance to refuse the fight.
And even if David had said the words: I David King of Israel accept your challenge.
Then I would say, Goliath could not have refused the fight, it would not have been consideration for his (possible) young age, it would have been an insult to say: You are too young.
And Goliath would have been the laughingstock for both the philistine and the israelitic camps.
If the king, old or young, challenge you, you must accept the challenge.

Then I see, that I owe you (and all christians) an apology.
I wrote: Graham Kennedy miss the point, because all christians are brainwashed to believe that philistines were "philistines" (boorish)
This was certainly not what I meant to write.
This “all christians” is an insult, and this was not my intension.
But I hope you understand, when writing in a foreing language, some times the logic slips. The fingers cant follow the thoughts.
I should have choosen my words with greater care.

Offcause I had a point, but I cant recall exactly what I meant to write.
If we search google with the two words philistine and boorish, then we find this definition in the first appearing entry:
a. A smug, ignorant, especially middle-class person who is regarded as being indifferent or antagonistic to artistic and cultural values.
b. One who lacks knowledge in a specific area.

So I hope you accept my appology, and that you agree with me, that the Bible are not kind and fair to the philistines in the picture there painted of them.
And that we can agree on, that there still exists some biblical archaeologists out there, who digs with the spade in one hand and the bible in the other, with the one purpose, to prove the Bible right.

Dr. Lawrence E. Stager certainly do not belong to this group. I have read several of his articles, and his article on the Israel stela is among the best on the subject.

I have not read the Stager-article you quote from, and I would be very happy, if you could send me a digital copy, as it – to my best knowledge – is not accessible on the BAR site for free.
Please inform us with title and publishing date.

Unknown said...

Hej again Bible Artist

It is not alowed to post more than 4096 caracters in one post, so you will have two post from me today

I would like to raise another question, about Samson and Micah.
I quess you know the Yagil Yadin article from 1957 “And Dan why did he remain in ships”. The 1957 article was in hebrew, but it has been reprinted twice in english

Samson is a danite, and Yadin think, that danites belong to the sea peoples group, either Danuna from Adana in Cilicia or Danaoi from Greece. There is no consensus on the origin of the danites.
Samson appear – so to speak – only to associate with philistines, especially philistine women.
Tree of them, but I have the feeling, that these tree are one and the same, Dalila.
This Dalila is rewarded with 1100 seckels for betraying Samson to the philistines.
Or is it 5 times 1100 seckel, that is not quite clear.
In the next chapter, Judge 17, we see a woman, name not mentioned, mother of Micah, she has lost her 1100 seckel. She must be Dalila, as we hear of no other woman connected with 1100 seckel, and then Micah must be the son of Samson, as no other man is mentioned in connection with Dalila.
The suddenly grown up son of Samson.

This Micah, son af a philistine woman and son of a danite man, two groups from the sea peoples, builds an icon. And this icon is later stolen by passing danite warriors.
Why should danites steal an icon from a danite man.
Why should a sea people woman betray a sea people man, with whom she has a son to a sea people group, and why do the Bible retell this story as an Israelite legend?
Have you any idea what is the true story behind all this?
Any comment?

Bible artist said...

We don't know the age of Goliath but the scholars have a pretty good idea that David was 17. (It's all to do with the dates).
David became king when he was 30, about 13 years after this event!

Your angle on what happened is very interesting. Most of the problems that you are having however would be cleared up with a closer reading of the text. I could go through these points one by one but just try reading the story again. It will save me a lot of typing!

The dictionary definition of the word philistine does include 'uncultured' etc, but I wouldn't agree that the Bible is to blame for this. The Bible simply states that they were the enemy of God's chosen people.

No archaeologists are trying to bend archaeological evidence in an attempt to prove that the Bible is right. They don't have to! Both Jewish and Christian archaeologists will be pleased when they find things that tie into the biblical account, but why shouldn't they? It's only proving what they already knew.

Regarding your other problem with Samson there are a number of good apologetics sites on the internet that deal with questions like this. I am very limited for time and so I try to deal with questions that refer particularly to Bible illustration or a particular post.
Hope this is helpful.

Anonymous said...

I tend to disagree with sevral of the points you have made.
Davids age, true we don't have a an exact age. although knowing the the culture we can take some reasonable guesses. we know they call him a BOY not a man so he is under 13(the jewish age of man hood)the duties he had and the fact they also call him a youth that tends to suggest over ten(they would have use a diffrent word in the hebrew for younger). you infer that goliath may not have been ready for the fight. you mentioned the illiad if he was going by this(and he may not have as they MAY have been related to the greeks and even if they were they may no have gone by it. it was not law but a story)he should stand ready to to take on
challengers. not to mention the witty banter back and forth that makes it clear that Goliath is aware that David has hostile intent. also there is no reference to David hiding his sling. Nore that Goliath didn't see it. it is entirely possible that even if he saw it he would have considered it not to be a big threat seeing as it main use at the time was as a deturant and not as accurate as a bow or spear). -Fritz

Bible artist said...

Hi Fritz
after reading your comments I think that you're disagreeing with the comments made by jensbay - not the actual post itself. (Just wanted to clear that up).

Teri said...

Any possibility you could send me a larger version of this illustration? I need to make a Goliath costume for a youth group doing a 'human video' and this one looks as accurate as I can find on the internet. When the video is done I will link it to my blog and then link it to yours.

Bible artist said...

Send me your email address Teri.

JensBay said...

Yes I guess Fritz disagree with me.
Fritz thinks, that David was a boy under 13. You think, that a boy this age should be appointed Kings "amourbearer".
A little later Saul asked: Who is that young MAN. David was a man, young indeed, not a boy.
But does it matter. It was still a supprise attack, and murder without civalry.
Fritz writes: No reference, that David did hide his weapon. Oh yes. In the very text. Goliat said: Am I a dog, that you comest to kill me like a dog with staves. No sling visible.

The challange had been up for 40 days, you think that Goliat should be on the allert for all forty days?
If a worrior, dressed as a worrior with an open accept of the challenge came up, then maybe. But up came a boy (as you say), with his weapon hidden!!

Yes I happen to believe, that when the myceanean greeks disapeared, and left their castles empty, they went to Egypt as the Seapeoples, and later settled in Palestine as the biblical Philistines.
So I think that the moral code of the Philistines might be very much the same as greek warrior moral code in the Illiad.
Where do you think that the Philistines came from?

How come, that the way some defend the moral retard David, reminds me of the way muslims defend Mohammad bin Abdulla.
Mohammad was an oathbreaker, a massmurderer, a slavetrader and a pedophile, and still muslims call him the best example to all mankind.
And this cause the world and innocent people a lot of trouble. JensBay

Bible artist said...

One question for you jensbay: If Goliath had seen David's sling, do you think that Goliath would have ran away screaming? Wouldn't he have just said "You come against me with a staff and a sling?"

As I've already mentioned - Goliath had plenty of time to see David loading the sling and him swinging it around his head to know what was happening. Slings were in common use - they weren't a secret weapon!

JensBay said...

An answer for Biblical Artist: No Goliat would not have run away, but he may have been prepared for the stone. He could have put on his helmet, (like the one you yourself wear on the photo) or he could have put his shield in between. Then some small stone would do him no harm. But after 40 days of israelitic cowardness, he had put his helmet and shield aside and sat down on a chair to wait for some israelitic to accept his challenge.
Then suddenly - with no warning - David arrives on the scene, takes his position, and then, only then, David draws his long distance weapon in a secure distance to Goliat, only armed with his sword, and not carrying shield or helmet, and David shoot the defenceless man down like a sniper.

You say: Goliat had plenty of time to see David loading the sling. How long time will it tage to load a sling, 1 second - 2 seconds, and how long time will it take to understand the situation, when you see the loaded sling, raise from your chair, pick up first helmet and put it on and then shield.

Had David shown Goliat the courtesy to accept the challenge in the open, and had he said: Prepare yourself, and let us meet in this place in five or ten minutes, and my weapon will be a sling, then I would have no reason to criticise David. But this did not happen.

Remember who did retell the story. Have we had a philistine version, it might be very different.

Bible artist said...

You'll have to write the Philistine version Jensbay! ;0)

I can't find the verse that says that Goliath was sat down without his helmet on when David got his sling out, (you'll have to help me there). But, I can find the verses, (1 Samuel 17:43-48), which state that Goliath made the first call to battle "Come here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!" and also the first moves toward battle (v48).
So it's clear from the text that Goliath was not taken by surprise, but rather he was fully ready for battle.

You mentioned that David didn't have the courtesy to accept Goliath's challenge - I would say that when David said "This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel", it would have given Goliath a pretty good idea that David accepted his challenge.

JensBay DK said...

I wrote: "and had he said: Prepare yourself, and let us meet in this place in five or ten minutes".
He did not, he utters a curse, an insult, to unveil his murderous intents, when he was in a secure position, so Goliat had to move, but he was not first.
No, David did the first move, when he moved into a secure position, where he could strike and hit with his (until then hidden) weapon, and Goliat not with his.
Conserning how quick a sling can be loaded, David did it, after he spew his curse, while running against Goliat.
So Goliat had to move, but he was not nessesarily prepared, and dressed for battle.
No verse said that Goliat sat down to rest, but as I recall the Illiad, this was the usual thing to do when you have out an open challenge, so use your reason: Nobody can be ready and on the allert, and fully dressed for battle in all forty days,
from early morning til late evening in that devastating heat they have in Israel.
And you missed to explain, where was the helmet and shield of Goliat, that could have protected him against a flying stone, harmless when it hits a shield?

It surprises me that you, son of Arthurian England have so little understanding of how to accept a challenge in a decent manner.

Should I write the Philistine version? I think that Goliat was a very brave man, to put out an open challenge this way, he had no idea who he would meet, and he was a very patient man, to let the challenge stand open for whole forty days.
And he was a wise man, as only one of two have to die with this arangement, after the duel the two parties can sit down and negotiate.
yes the israelies betrayed the idea, when they assasinated a whole bunch of philistine.
And David later showed his true nature, when he fornicated with Abigail, and had Urias betrayed and killed.
David had three wifes, but that was not enough for this righteous man of God.
I think, that the Philistines were a highly cultered and civilised people. They mainly lived in five cities, the had an alphabet, and their handcraft was of very sophisticated quality. That counts for their boats, their weapons, their pottery and their international connections.
In opposition to the israelis, who at that time had no alphabet, only crude pottery and they were mostly selfsufficient farmers and goatshepherds living in hamlets.
I think a modern parallel would be Waziristan and New York, and what happened there? Religeous fanatisme had the first strike.
Indeed Israel have develloped since then.

Bible artist said...

You put a very interesting spin on the story jensbay,

JensBay DK said...

Thank you for the kind words Graham
1. Sam. 17 tells us that Goliat is a tall man, very tall indeed.
6 cubit and a span.
One egyptian cubit is 0.4527 meter and a span is 0.228 meter, so Goliat was very close to 3 meter high. We both know this is impossible, had Goliat been that tall, he had not been a great worrior, but an invalid, and had probably died very young. Todays worldrecord - a chinese - is 2.67 meter, and he cannot walk, almost cant bear himself, and his heart cant take the presure.
So you see, sometimes it is nessesary to make a spin, or let us say, a counterspin to find what is behind the story.
If one take the story at facevalue, one risk to lose ones way. Right.

A second thing. It would improve your site, if you could show not only time, but also date, month and year, when a comment is posted.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me how some can just run around like a dog chasing their tail Bottom line is either one believes the bible or not. There are a number of verses in the bible that say there were giants in the land in those days, even other civilizations had a few exceptions that with tall warriors or rulers. If the writers of these accounts go thru the trouble of mentioning the weight and comparative size of Goliath's weaponry, why the argument of how tall he was? Every persons DNA is different and what if this dude and his brothers didn't have brain defects but were descendants of Nephillin (if that school of thought is possible)? God killed Goliath with his vessel David. If he were here today he would probably say the same thing. :)

sarita said...

Very true Anonymous.Why waste time with a silly argument?For me God reigns supreme in the David and Goliath story.The battle belongs to the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Do you possibly have the sources on Goliath's sword?

JensBay DK said...

You can find information on Mycenaean and sea people/philistine swords here:

Especially the The Naue II sword is interesting.

Jens Bay DK said...

Anonymous said at 12.07AM: "Do you possibly have the sources on Goliath's sword?" I gave an answer, but maybe the questioned person is BiblicalArtist, and not me. If so, I apologise.

There is absolutely reason to ask BiblicalArtist about his source of information on the sword of Goliat.

I usualy read the danish translation of the Bible, and here Samuel 1.17.6-7 clearly states, that Goliat wear a sickle-sword of bronze on his back. (in danish of cause, translated to your benefit)

But now I read the english translation, The King James version. Here I read (Sam.1.17.6) "...and a target of brass between his shoulters."

Target and sicklesword of bronze are two very different words to me, so I would like to repeat the question: "Do you possibly have the sources on Goliath's sword?"
Or is there some problems with the interpretation of this piece of text?

Furthermore brass and bronze are two very different metal-alloys.
You can imagine, that in the bronzeage they used bronze, so the english text apear even more enigmatic to me. Can you explain?

Should I mention, that the sicklesword is first in use in Sumer, later in Assyria, The canaanite sicklesword is called a khopesh, "The khopesh went out of use around 1300 BCE."

It is very peculiar that Goliat should have a sicklesword, outdated by 150 years and completely foreign to his etnic group.

The seapeoples prefered the bronze "cut-and-trust-sword".

Bible artist said...

Sorry Anonymous, I only keep my references for a few months in case I get questions like this shortly after posting.

There are a number of scholarly articles on this subject online so keep searching! I probably should add a list of references after each post of this type listing all my sources - I'll try to do that in future!

Anonymous said...

A few things we are forgetting that I saw mentioned in earlier comments...David was not king at the time of this event. Goliath was not a Philistine, he was from Gath. I would venture to say he was a Philistine champion of a gladiator...possibly a soldier of fortune.

misha said...

thanks for this information i needed it for my BIBLE homwork

Bible artist said...

Glad to be of help Misha!

Ld Wilhelm Da Kaalavo said...

The english word target, IN THIS CASE, also means the shortened version, a targ. Which USUALLY means a smaller, usually round, (hince the word) shield. For an average man, used to retangular shields, This targ could be anywhere from 1 to 3ft round, but sometimes in different configurations. I fought in the Society of Creative Anachronism for 25yrs, teaching the fighting for 10. I fought with 2 shields. One called a war board, was 3ft by 4ft. The other, I called a cavelry shield, was also called a snow shoe shield, as it looked in shape to be of that size and distinction.
If I were fighting in a shield wall, I used the war board. If I were fighting in the open, depending on the fluidity of the battle as I expected it to be, AND the experience of those I were fighting, if I knew it, AND this is talking of a melee type battle. I would use the snow shoe shield. IF I wanted to go on the offensive entirely, BUT might have to go defensive, I would fight with 2 swords only. Right hand up L hand down. The left became my shield, and tho it was thin, It also had the physilogical advantage of being an offensive weapon, and hince had to be considered as such by an opponet. Fighting this way, called Florientine) one must be standing on the toes of their opponit, and try to do damage with both swords. The L sword hilt even comes into play when fighting like this.

I have used great swords, that were 6ft long. IF one is experienced with them, they are graceful, to an extent to use. They are also intimidateing. We do not know the length of Goloiths sword. But Im guessing that, since it was cast iron, that it couldnt have been as long as a scottish great sword ala Braveheart. But, with added thickness, he might have gotten it to 5ft which would have seemed long to a people whose swords were absolutly , in my mind no longer than the roman sword, IF that long.

I have seen slingers. I would say, that IF Golith and David reacted to each other at the same instant, than Golith should have been able to withdraw his sword with the same speed David loaded and swung his sling. Warrors of old could draw there swords in the sameway that old west gunslingers could draw their pistols. FAST. What im trying to say. If you, whoever you reading this are, were to strap on a sword, having never had on one before, And you and Golith drew yours both at the same time. He would beat you all day long.
Was Golith setting in a chair. I dont know. I could see that tho. BUT I can tell you this. I dont know how long he stayed out in front of his army morning and night, BUT< I DO KNOW< that without a doubt, he removed it when he went behind his lines, to sit out the day under a tent with plenty of cool drink. With the help of his armourer, He could be totally rearmed in ONE MINUTE. Ive done it in that time myself with my armour. There would be absolutly no reason to remain in armour all day long.
As to his spear being a javlin. I have to doubt it. A javlin is a one shot wonder. U wonder if it will hit a target without deflecting from the armour of that target enough to penetrate and kill some one. AND, if it does, Thats it. Youve possibly lugged a javlin a hundred miles to kill one person, maybe. I much more likely imagine it as being a spear. The thickness is valuable more so for defenseive fighting, than for offensive throwing. IF it was thick enough, He could have held it in both hands, and blocked a vikings ax (so long as they met shaft to shaft). He could deflect lighter spears, tho they would be faster in motion. IF he threw it out at a target, holding it with one hand, and somewhat twisting his body in the direction of the hand he held it in, me not knowing if he was R oe L handed. A spear, that heavy and long, would have broke a shield of an opponet IF it didnt keep on going and break its owner.

Anonymous said...

Actually early biblical texts say Goliath was 4 and a half stones tall not 6 and a half which would have made him 6 foot 8. someone who was 9 foot 9 would have looked like a demon not a giant. also modern bibles state that David threw the stone at his forehead and it dug into it and he fell forward(this would be scientifically impossible) the forward momentum of the stone would have been to great and would have forced him backward not forward, in reality the Hebrew word for forehead is similar to a Hebrew word for a part on the leg. so in other words its more likely he threw it at the part of the leg between armor and that he fell forward because he lost balance

Colin said...

I am speaking about David tomorrow, and his encounter with Goliath so I really enjoyed reading your blog. If you get this in time, is there any chance you could send me that picture of Goliah and David to

I was wondering, your other pictures on the OT do not seem available yet on the Foundations Matters website. In fact, that site has not been updated for what seems a couple of years. Which seems a shame! As someone who has, off and on, used those pictures as a rescource, the lack of an update is disappointing. I would be using more of your pictures if they were there/available.

Anyway, thank you for your writing. And I noted one author said something about the sling being less accurate than a spear or bow and arrow. Well, this seems to fly in the face of the evidence of Judges, where some Benjamites could (left handedly) hit a hair. And other resources that speak of Baeleric and other slingers (who trained from youth) who could not only hit a man's face at a distance, but also hit a specific part of that face.

So I understand that David trained from his youth with the sling, and hitting Goliath in the forehead was a skill he had developed and was exceptional good at. But, without the Lord's help, and confidence in him, none of this would have happened. Nevertheless, the human skill of David was a part of the victory - the person God used to bring honour to His name and to demolish this insulting, violent enemy.

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

I always thought that David used what would be called a "Staff Sling". I think the mechanics of a staff sling are more like a trebuchet or a catapult than the normal sling that has to be spun, which would account for Goliath just standing there and then suddenly taken down as David could have placed a rock into it and lobbed it into Goliath's forehead before he really had a chance to react. He thought David was coming to fight him with a staff and wound up attacked from the distance. Slings have existed for a very long time and have been used in virtually every engagement of the ancient world. I think Goliath would have been familiar with the sling and if David had tried to stand there and wind up to throw a stone/bullet, Goliath would have thrown his javelin at him or he would have tried to move out of the way if David was too far away.

Second the Khopesh sword and coat of mail. I believe this event probably happened after the Sea People had been defeated and Goliath and his men would have been the survivors who surrendered to the Egyptians and then were conscripted into the Egyptian army then eventually resettled in Canaan. In this light , the weapons and armor make total sense. They would have been issued to Goliath when he was brought into the Egyptian army.

Chris said...

I stumbled across this site while researching for a figure or costume for Goliath for a friend's Sunday School next month. Thank you for such a well- researched illustration, and the chance to discuss it!

Firstly, I am surprised that the term 'chivalry' has even come up-- not at the knightly anachronism, but that we must judge 2500- or- so- years- ago events as if they were played by our Marquess of Queensbury rules! From what I can remember of the text, here went the day: David, teenager, arrives with a care package for his older brothers, and finds a demoralized (and sadly shrunken?) Israelite army who have forgotten that they have God on their side. David wanders around the camp asking uncomfortable questions; his brother reproves him in big- brother language, but rumors get to Saul, who calls for the youngster. Meanwhile, I note that the camp waits for Goliath to deliver his daily challenge; I've always understood this to mean that he dresses and arms cap- a- pie, and parades around a bit all polished and grand and shouts at the Israelites awhile, and then goes back to his side and waits for someone to take up the challenge, though they should have come out at the time.

So, we know David refuses Saul's arms and armor-- it all takes training to use that David never had. He readies what he's used to, his staff and sling.

It has always seemed to me that David follows the same protocol that Goliath does-- an exchange of insults to set the mood and make sure of the intention to fight (or lose by default if, having thrown defiance, one runs off?) I don't see that David has any particularly superior position mentioned, although I think he might stop to use the sling, while Goliath continues to charge across the no- man's- land, ready to stab with or cast the spear. BTW, Goliath surely couldn't have been knocked back by a shot to the forehead if he was advancing; he'd have to collapse forward with the mass of himself plus all that armor in motion, no matter what normally happens when standing still. See Newton.

Whether Goliath recognizes the sling as a danger is a separate question, because people with gigantism apparently have poor eyesight as a result; but Goliath certainly didn't feel himself at a a disadvantage or decline to meet a silly peasant boy with peasant weapons that the Israelites had let out to insult him-- he had his armor, iron and bronze and all. (Elizabethan English a la KJV doesn't always use 'brass' as precisely as we do now.)

Anyway. That's long. Sorry. There's probably more to say (i.e., that swords 'most always come out second in battle, only after the more versatile and cheaper spear) but it's late.

Kyrt Ryder said...

Goliath was nearly twice the height of the average man of that day, whether or not the Philistines wore greaves they were a practical necessity for him, lest he have his legs cut out from under him in the middle of battle.

It occurs to me though... Goliath would have been a HORRIBLE line soldier. Excellent in Champion Battles used to prevent mass combat, but in the middle of mass combat he'd have a gigantic target on his back.

Bible artist said...

Good points! Thanks for that Kurt!

Anonymous said...

Where did the shield bearer go?

Unknown said...

I've heard people preach that Goliath was defeated because he had a chink in his armor. That is absurd; there was no chink in Goliath's armor; David had enough time to study Goliath and he exploited his weaknesses. Goliath was arrogant and boastful, full of pride, and he trusted too much in his armor. Goliath also underestimated David's skill with a sling.

Judges 20:16, Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth , and not miss.

This account from the book of judges speaks about a level of precision comparable to that of a sniper from long range. A hair breadth is the thickness of one strand of hair. These men were experts at hitting their targets and would not miss. Goliath on the other hand was armored from his head to his feet.

1 Samuel 17:5-6; And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.

Think about this; how could David hit Goliath in the forehead with a stone if the helmet was designed to protect the whole head? Have you ever thought about that? Goliaths armor was designed to protect him from a frontal attack. David knew that he didn't stand a chance in a hand to hand fight with Goliath. David was not counting on his strength; he was waiting for Goliath to make a mistake and expose his weakness!
1 Samuel 17:43-44; And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.

David was setting Goliath up! He approached Goliath with a stick to make Goliath think that the fight was going to be hand to hand combat. David had a secret weapon and he waited until the right moment to spring his trap. Goliath was waiting for David to make the first move but as Goliath was getting up David ran towards him.

1 Samuel 17:48-49; And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it , and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

So how was David able to hit Goliath on the forehead if his helmet would have covered the forehead? The answer is very simple; as David approached Goliath with a stick in his hand Goliath expected to fight David with his hands. David's taunting infuriated Goliath so that when Goliath arose he either took his helmet off or forgot to put it on! This was not a surprise attack; David was counting on Goliath to be disoriented and befoe Goliath could settle himself David pulled out his secret weapon. That's when David took out his sling and hit Goliath on his weak spot once it was exposed. The enemy is not relying on his or your strengths, he's relying on your weaknesses! Prepare yourself!

Are we learning yet?

Laura said...

Studying up on this story for VBS and looking for a more correct picture of Goliath and his weapons. Talking about the spear, and "the shaft like a weavers beam..." Not knowing much about spears and weapons, envisioned the shaft looking like it was braided or woven, as in decorative. Just a thought...

Laura said...

Studying up on this story for VBS and looking for a more correct picture of Goliath and his weapons. Talking about the spear, and "the shaft like a weavers beam..." Not knowing much about spears and weapons, envisioned the shaft looking like it was braided or woven, as in decorative. Just a thought...

Bible artist said...

Thanks for that Laura. I hadn't really thought about that! I always presumed that it was speaking about the size and weight when comparing the shaft to a weavers beam, in which case, I probably should have drawn it a little larger than I have.

To answer your question properly we would need to know if weavers beams were generally carved with decorative patterns? I can't think of a reason why they would be but it's an interesting thought.

I think if the shaft was elaborately carved it might mention in the description that it was 'adorned' like a weavers beam.