1 Samuel 17


The Philistines gather together against Israel at Ephes-dammim,

and Saul and his men pitch their camp near the valley of Elah,


Goliath of Gath, a gigantic man, whose height was six cubits and

a span, defies the armies of Israel, and proposes to end all

contests by single combat; his armour is described, 4-11.

Saul and his host are greatly dismayed, 12.

David, having been sent by his father with provisions to his

brethren in the army, hears the challenge, inquires into the

circumstances, thinks it a reproach to Israel that no man can

be found to accept the challenge, is brought before Saul, and

proposes to undertake the combat, 13-32.

Saul objects to his youth and inexperience, 33.

David shows the grounds on which he undertakes it, 34-37.

Saul arms him with his own armour: but David, finding them an

encumbrance, puts them off, and takes his staff, his sling,

and five stones out of the brook, and goes to meet Goliath,


The Philistine draws near, despises, defies, and curses him,


David retorts his defiance, 45-47.

They draw near to each other, and David slings a stone, hits

Goliath in the forehead, slays him, and cuts off his head with

his own sword, 48-51.

The Philistines flee, and are pursued by the Israelites, 52, 53.

David brings the head of the Philistine to Jerusalem, 54.

Conversation between Saul and Abner concerning David, who is in

consequence brought before Saul, 55-58.


Verse 1. Now the Philistines gathered together] Calmet thinks

that this war happened eight years after the anointing of David,

and ten or twelve years after the war with the Amalekites. We have

already seen that there was war between Saul and the Philistines

all his days. See 1Sa 14:52.

Shochoh and Azekah] Places which lay to the south of Jerusalem

and to the west of Bethlehem; about five leagues from the former.

Ephes-dammim was somewhere in the vicinity, but it is not known

where. See Calmet.

Verse 2. The valley of Elah] Some translate this the turpentine

valley, or the valley of the terebinth trees; and others, the

valley of oaks. The situation of this valley is well known.

Verse 3. The Philistines stood on a mountain] These were two

eminences or hills, from which they could see and talk with each


Verse 4. There went out a champion] Our word champion comes from

campus, the field; Campio est enim ille qui pugnat in campo, hoc

est, in castris, "Champion is he, properly, who fights in the

field; i.e., in camps." A man well skilled in arms, strong,

brave, and patriotic.

But is this the meaning of the original ish

habbenayim, a middle man, the man between two; that is, as here,

the man who undertakes to settle the disputes between two armies

or nations. So our ancient champions settled disputes between

contending parties by what was termed camp fight, hence the

campio or champion. The versions know not well what to make of

this man. The Vulgate calls him sir spurius, "a bastard;" the

Septuagint, ανηρδυνατος, "a strong or powerful man;" the

Targum, gabra mibbeyneyhon, "a man from between

them;" the Arabic, [Arabic] rujil jibar, "a great or gigantic

man;" the Syriac is the same; and Josephus terms him ανηρ

παμμεγεθιστατος, "an immensely great man." The Vulgate has given

him the notation of spurius or bastard, because it considered the

original as expressing a son of two, i.e., a man whose parents are

unknown. Among all these I consider our word champion, as

explained above, the best and most appropriate to the original


Whose height was six cubits and a span.] The word cubit

signifies the length from cubitus, the elbow, to the top of the

middle finger, which is generally rated at one foot six inches.

The span is the distance from the top of the middle finger to the

end of the thumb, when extended as far as they can stretch on a

plain; this is ordinarily nine inches. Were we sure that these

were the measures, and their extent, which are intended in the

original words, we could easily ascertain the height of this

Philistine; it would then be nine feet nine inches, which is a

tremendous height for a man.

But the versions are not all agreed in his height. The

Septuagint read τεσσαρωνπηχεωνκαισπιθαμης, four cubits and a

span; and Josephus reads the same. It is necessary however to

observe that the Septuagint, in the Codex Alexandrinus, read with

the Hebrew text. But what was the length of the ancient cubit?

This has been variously computed; eighteen inches, twenty inches

and a half, and twenty-one inches. If we take the first

measurement, he was nine feet nine; if the second, and read palm

instead of span, with the Vulgate and others, he was ten feet

seven inches and a half; if we take the last, which is the

estimate of Graevius, with the span, he was eleven feet three

inches; or if we go to the exactest measurement, as laid down in

Bishop Cumberland's tables, where he computes the cubit at 21.888

inches, the span at 10.944 inches, and the palm at 3.684 inches,

then the six cubits and the span will make exactly 11 feet 10.272

inches. If we take the palm instead of the span, then the height

will be 11 feet 3.012 inches. But I still think that the nine feet

nine inches is the most reasonable.

Verse 5. He was armed with a coat of mail] The words in the

original, shiryon kaskassim, mean a coat of mail

formed of plates of brass overlapping each other, like the scales

of a fish, or tiles of a house. This is the true notion of the

original terms.

With thin plates of brass or iron, overlapping each other,

were the ancient coats of mail formed in different countries; many

formed in this way may be now seen in the tower of London.

The weight-five thousand shekels] Following Bishop Cumberland's

tables, and rating the shekel at two hundred and nineteen grains,

and the Roman ounce at four hundred and thirty-eight grains, we

find that Goliath's coat of mail, weighing five thousand shekels,

was exactly one hundred and fifty-six pounds four ounces

avoirdupois. A vast weight for a coat of mail, but not all out of

proportion to the man.

Verse 6. Greaves of brass upon his legs] This species of armour

may be seen on many ancient monuments. It was a plate of brass

(though perhaps sometimes formed of laminae or plates, like the

mail) which covered the shin or fore part of the leg, from the

knee down to the instep, and was buckled with straps behind the

leg. From ancient monuments we find that it was commonly worn only

on one leg. VEGETIUS, de Re Militari, says, Pedites Scutati etiam

ferreas ocreas in dextris cruribus copebantur accipere. "The foot

soldiers, called Scutati, from their particular species of shield,

were obliged to use iron greaves on their right legs." One of

these may be seen in the monument of the gladiator Buto, in

Montfaucon; and another in the Mosaic pavement at Bognor, in


A target of brass between his shoulders.] When not actually

engaged, soldiers threw their shields behind their back, so that

they appeared to rest or hang between the shoulders.

There are different opinions concerning this piece of armour,

called here kidon. Some think it was a covering for the

shoulders; others, that it was a javelin or dart; others, that

it was a lance; some, a club; and others, a sword. It is

certainly distinguished from the shield, 1Sa 17:41, and is

translated a spear, Jos 8:18.

Verse 7. The staff on his spear was like a weaver's beam] Either

like that on which the warp is rolled, or that on which the cloth

is rolled. We know not how thick this was, because there were

several sorts of looms, and the sizes of the beams very

dissimilar. Our woollen, linen, cotton, and silk looms are all

different in the size of their beams; and I have seen several that

I should not suppose too thick, though they might be too short,

for Goliath's spear.

His spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron] That is,

his spear's head was of iron, and it weighed six hundred shekels;

this, according to the former computation, would amount to

eighteen pounds twelve ounces.

And one bearing a shield] hatstsinnah, from tsan,

pointed or penetrating, if it do not mean some kind of a lance,

must mean a shield, with what is called the umbo, a sharp

protuberance, in the middle, with which they could as effectually

annoy their enemies as defend themselves. Many of the old Highland

targets were made with a projecting dagger in the centre. Taking

the proportions of things unknown to those known, the armour of

Goliath is supposed to have weighed not less than two hundred and

seventy-two pounds thirteen ounces! Plutarch informs us that the

ordinary weight of a soldier's panoply, or complete armour, was

one talent, or sixty pounds; and that one Alcimus, in the army of

Demetrius, was considered as a prodigy, because his panoply

weighed two talents, or one hundred and twenty pounds.

Verse 8. I a Philistine] The Targum adds much to this speech.

This is the substance: "I am Goliath the Philistine of Gath, who

killed the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas the priests; and

led into captivity the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, and placed

it in the temple of Dagon my god; and it remained in the cities of

the Philistines seven months. Also, in all our battles I have gone

at the head of the army, and we conquered and cut down men, and

laid them as low as the dust of the earth; and to this day the

Philistines have not granted me the honour of being chief of a

thousand men. And ye, men of Israel, what noble exploit has Saul,

the son of Kish, of Gibeah, done, that ye should have made him

king over you? If he be a hero, let him come down himself and

fight with me; but if he be a weak or cowardly man, then choose

you out a man that he may come down to me."

Verse 9. Then will we be your servants] Of this stipulation we

hear nothing farther.

Verse 10. I defy] ani cheraphti, "I strip and

make bare," the armies of Israel; for none dared to fight him.

From the Dhunoor Veda Shastra it appears that, among the Hindoos,

it was common, before the commencement of an engagement, to

challenge the enemy by throwing out some terms of abuse, similar

to those used by Goliath. We find this also in Homer: his heroes

scold each other heartily before they begin to fight. See on

1Sa 17:43.

Verse 11. Saul and all Israel-were dismayed] They saw no man

able to accept the challenge.

Verse 12. The 12th verse, to the 31st inclusive, are wanting in

the Septuagint; as also the 41st verse; and from the 54th to the

end; with the first five verses of 1Sa 18, and the 9th, 10th,

11th, 17th, 18th, and 19th of the same.

All these parts are found in the Codex Alexandrinus; but it

appears that the MS. from which the Codex Alexandrinus was copied,

had them not. See observations at the end of this chapter. Dr.

Kennicott has rendered it very probable that these portions are

not a genuine part of the text.

Notwithstanding what Bishop Warburton and others have done to

clear the chronology of the present printed Hebrew, it is

impossible to make a clear consistent sense of the history, unless

these verses are omitted. Let any one read the eleventh verse in

connection with the thirty-second, leave out the forty-first, and

connect the fifty-fourth with the sixth of 1Sa 18, and he will be

perfectly convinced that there is nothing wanting to make the

sense complete; to say nothing of the other omissions noted above.

If the above be taken in as genuine, the ingenuity of man has

hitherto failed to free the whole from apparent contradiction and

absurdity. I must confess that where every one else has failed, I

have no hope of succeeding: I must, therefore, leave all farther

attempts to justify the chronology; and refer to those who have

written for and against the genuineness of this part of the common

Hebrew text. At the end of the chapter I shall introduce some

extracts from Kennicott and Pilkington: and leave the whole with

the unprejudiced and discerning reader.

Verse 18. Carry these ten cheeses] Cheeses of milk, says the

margin. In the East they do not make what we call cheese: they

press the milk but slightly, and carry it in rush baskets. It is

highly salted, and little different from curds.

Verse 19. Fighting with the Philistines.] See at the end of the

chapter. See Clarke on 1Sa 17:58.

Verse 29. Is there not a cause?] halo dabar hu. I

believe the meaning is what several of the versions express: I

have spoken but a word. And should a man be made an offender for a


Verse 32. And David said] This properly connects with the

eleventh verse. 1Sa 17:11

Verse 33. Thou art but a youth] Supposed to be about twenty-two

or twenty-three years of age.

Verse 34. Thy servant kept his father's sheep] He found it

necessary to give Saul the reasons why he undertook this combat;

and why he expected to be victorious. 1. I have courage to

undertake it, and strength to perform it. 2. Both have been tried

in a very signal manner: (1.) A lion came upon my flock, and

seized a lamb; I ran after him, he attacked me, I seized hold of

him by his shaggy locks, smote and slew him, and delivered the

lamb. (2.) A bear came in the same way, and I attacked and slew

him. 3. This, with whom I am to fight, is a Philistine, an

uncircumcised man; one who is an enemy to God: God therefore

will not be on his side. On that ground I have nothing to fear. 4.

He has defied the armies of the Lord; and has in effect defied

Jehovah himself: therefore the battle is the Lord's, and he will

stand by me. 5. I have perfect confidence in his protection and

defense; for they that trust in him shall never be confounded. 6.

I conclude, therefore, that the Lord, who delivered me out of the

paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, will deliver me

out of the hand of the Philistine.

Verse 35. The slaying of the lion and the bear mentioned here,

must have taken place at two different times; perhaps the verse

should be read thus: I went out after him, (the lion.) and smote

him, &c. And when he (the bear) rose up against me, I caught him

by the beard and slew him.

Verse 37. Go, and the Lord be with thee.] Saul saw that these

were reasonable grounds of confidence, and therefore wished him


Verse 38. Saul armed David] He knew that although the battle was

the Lord's, yet prudent means should be used to secure success.

Verse 39. I cannot go with these] In ancient times it required

considerable exercise and training to make a man expert in the use

of such heavy armour; armour which in the present day scarcely a

man is to be found who is able to carry; and so it must have been

then, until that practice which arises from frequent use had

made the proprietor perfect. I have not proved them says David: I

am wholly unaccustomed to such armour and it would be an

encumbrance to me.

Verse 40. He took his staff] What we would call his crook.

Five smooth stones] 1. Had they been rough or angular, they

would not have passed easily through the air, and their asperities

would, in the course of their passage, have given them a false

direction. 2. Had they not been smooth, they could not have been

readily despatched from the sling.

A shepherd's bag] That in which he generally carried his

provisions while keeping the sheep in the open country.

And his sling] The sling, both among the Greeks and Hebrews, has

been a powerful offensive weapon. See what has been said on

Jud 20:16. It is composed of

two strings and a leathern strap; the strap is in the middle,

and is the place where the stone or bullet lies. The string on the

right end of the strap is firmly fastened to the hand; that on the

left is held between the thumb and middle joint of the fore

finger. It is then whirled two or three times round the head; and

when discharged, the finger and thumb let go their hold of the

left end string. The velocity and force of the sling are in

proportion to the distance of the strap, where the bullet lies,

from the shoulder joint. Hence the ancient Baleares, or

inhabitants of Majorca and Minorca, are said to have had three

slings of different lengths, the longest they used when the enemy

was at the greatest distance; the middle one, on their nearer

approach; and the shortest, when they came into the ordinary

fighting distance in the field. The shortest is the most certain,

though not the most powerful. The Balearians are said to have had

one of their slings constantly bound about their head, to have

used the second as a girdle, and to have carried the third

always in their hand. See DIOD. Sic. lib. v., c. 18, p. 286, edit.


In the use of the sling it requires much practice to hit the

mark; but when once this dexterity is acquired, the sling is

nearly as fatal as the musket or bow; see on 1Sa 17:49. David was

evidently an expert marksman; and his sling gave him greatly the

advantage over Goliath; an advantage of which the giant does not

seem to have been aware. He could hit him within any speaking

distance, if he missed once, he had as many chances as he had

stones; and after all, being unencumbered with armour, young,

and athletic, he could have saved his life by flight. Against him

the Philistine could do but little, except in close fight; it is

true he appears to have had a javelin or missile spear, (see on

1Sa 17:6,) but David took care to prevent the use of all such

weapons, by giving him the first blow.

Verse 41. The man that bare the shield] See on 1Sa 17:7.

Verse 42. He disdained him] He held him in contempt; he saw that

he was young, and from his ruddy complexion supposed him to be


Verse 43. Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?] It is

very likely that Goliath did not perceive the sling, which David

might have kept coiled up within his hand.

Cursed David by his gods.] Prayed his gods to curse him. This

long parley between David and Goliath is quite in the style of

those times. A Hindoo sometimes in a fit of anger says to his

enemy, The goddess Kalee shall devour thee! May Doorga destroy

thee! Homer's heroes have generally an altercation before they

engage; and sometimes enter into geographical and genealogical

discussions, and vaunt and scold most contemptibly.

Verse 44. Come to me, and I will give thy flesh] He intended, as

soon as he could lay hold on him, to pull him to pieces.

Verse 45. Thou comest to me with a sword] I come to thee with

the name ( beshem) of Jehovah of hosts; the God of the

armies of Israel. What Goliath expected from his arms, David

expected from the ineffable name.

Verse 46. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand]

This was a direct and circumstantial prophecy of what did take


Verse 47. For the battle is the Lord's] It is the Lord's war:

you are fighting against him and his religion, as the champion of

your party; I am fighting for God, as the champion of his cause.

Verse 48. The Philistine arose] This was an end of the parley;

the Philistine came forward to meet David, and David on his part

ran forward to meet the Philistine.

Verse 49. Smote the Philistine in his forehead] Except his face,

Goliath was everywhere covered over with strong armour. Either he

had no beaver to his helmet, or it was lifted up so as to expose

his forehead; but it does not appear that the ancient helmets had

any covering for the face. The Septuagint however supposes that

the stone passed through the helmet, and sank into his forehead:


"and the stone passed through his helmet, and sank into his

skull." To some this has appeared perfectly improbable; but we are

assured by ancient writers that scarcely any thing could resist

the force of the sling.

Diodorus Siculus, lib. v., c. 18, p. 287, edit. Bipont, says

"The Baleares, in time of war, sling greater stones than any other

people, and with such force, that they seem as if projected from a

catapult. διοκαικαταταςτειχομαχιαςενταιςπροςβολαις





προκειμενουσκοπου. Therefore, in assaults made on fortified

towns, they grievously wound the besieged; and in battle they

break in pieces the shields, helmets, and every species of

armour by which the body is defended. And they are such exact

marksmen that they scarcely ever miss that at which they aim."

The historian accounts for their great accuracy and power in the

use of the sling, from this circumstance: αιτιαιδετουτωνκτ

λ "They attain to this perfection by frequent exercise from their

childhood; for while they are young and under their mother's care,

they are obliged to learn to sling; for they fasten bread for a

mark at the top of the pole; and till the child hit the bread he

must remain fasting; and when he has hit it, the mother gives it

to him to eat."-Ibid.

I have given these passages at large, because they contain

several curious facts, and sufficiently account for the force and

accuracy with which David slung his stone at Goliath. We find

also in the μηαμαρτανειν, not miss the mark, of the historian,

the true notion of αμαρτανειν, to sin, which I have contended for

elsewhere. He who sins, though he aims thereby at his

gratification and profit, misses the mark of present and eternal


Verse 51. When the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they

fled.] They were panic-struck; and not being willing to fulfil the

condition which was stipulated by Goliath, they precipitately left

the field. The Israelites took a proper advantage of these

circumstances, and totally routed their enemies.

Verse 54. David took the head of the Philistine] It has been

already remarked that this, with the following verses, and the

five first verses of the eighteenth chapter, are omitted by the

Septuagint. See the observations at the end. See Clarke on 1Sa 17:58.

Verse 58. Whose son art thou, thou young man?] That Saul

should not know David with whom he had treated a little before,

and even armed him for the combat, and that he should not know who

his father was, though he had sent to his father for permission to

David to reside constantly with him, (1Sa 16:22,) is exceedingly

strange! I fear all Bishop Warburton's attempts to rectify the

chronology by assumed anticipations, will not account for this. I

must honestly confess they do not satisfy me; and I must refer the

reader to what immediately follows on the authenticity of the

verses which concern this subject.

ON the subject of that large omission in the Septuagint of which

I have spoken on 1Sa 17:12, I here subjoin the reasons of Mr.

Pilkington and Dr. Kennicott for supposing it to be an

interpolation of some rabbinical writer, added at a very early

period to the Hebrew text.

"Had every version of the Hebrew text," says Mr. Pilkington,

"agreed to give a translation of this passage, as we now find, the

attempts of clearing it from its embarrassments would have been

attended with very great difficulties; but, as in several other

cases before mentioned, so here, the providence of God seems to

have so far secured the credit of those who were appointed to be

the penmen of the oracles of truth, that the defence of their

original records may be undertaken upon good grounds, and

supported by sufficient evidence. For we are now happily in

possession of an ancient version of these two chapters, which

appears to have been made from a Hebrew copy, which had none of

the thirty-nine verses which are here supposed to have been

interpolated, nor was similar to what we have at present in those

places which are here supposed to have been altered. This version

is found in the Vatican copy of the Seventy, which whoever reads

and considers, will find the accounts there given regular,

consistent, and probable. It will be proper, therefore, to examine

the several parts where such alterations are supposed to have been

made in the Hebrew text, in order to produce such other external

or internal evidence, as shall be necessary to support the charge

of interpolation, which ought not to be laid merely upon the

authority of any single version.

"The first passage, which is not translated in the Vatican copy

of the Greek version, is from the 11th to the 32d verse of the

17th chapter wherein we have an account: 1. Of David's being sent

to the camp to visit his brethren. 2. Of his conversation with the

men of Israel, relating to Goliath's challenge; and their

informing him of the premium Saul had offered to any one that

should accept it, and come off victorious. 3. Of Eliab's

remarkable behaviour to his brother David, upon his making this

inquiry. And, 4. Of Saul's being made acquainted with what David

had said upon this occasion.

"It is obvious to remark upon this passage:-

"1. That, after David had been of so much service to the king,

in causing the evil spirit to depart from him; after its being

recorded how greatly Saul loved him, and that he had made him his

armour-bearer; after the king had sent to Jesse to signify his

intention of keeping his son with him; all of which are

particularly mentioned in the latter part of the preceding

chapter; the account of his keeping his father's sheep afterwards,

and being sent to his brethren upon this occasion, must appear to

be somewhat improbable. 2. That what is here said of the premium

that Saul had offered to him who should conquer the Philistine, is

not well consistent with the accounts afterwards given, of which

we shall have occasion to take particular notice. 3. That Eliab's

behaviour, as here represented, is not only remarkable but

unaccountable and absurd. And, 4. That the inquiries of a young

man, who is not said to have declared any intentions of accepting

the challenge of the Philistine, would scarcely have been related

to the king. But now, if this passage be supposed to have been

interpolated, we must see how the connection stands upon its being


"Verse 11. 'When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the

Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.'

"Verse 32. 'Then David said unto Saul, Let no man's heart fail

because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this


"No connection can be more proper, and in this view David is

represented as being at that time an attendant upon the king; and

when we had been told just before, (1Sa 16:21,) that

Saul had made him his armour-bearer, we might justly expect to

find him with him when the battle was set in array; 1Sa 17:2. In

this connection David is also represented as fully answering the

character before given of him: 'A mighty valiant man, and a man of

war,' 1Sa 16:18, and ready to fight with the

giant upon the first proposal, (for the account of the

Philistine presenting himself forty days is in this passage here

supposed to have been interpolated, 1Sa 17:16.) I shall leave it

to the critical Hebrew reader to make what particular remarks he

may think proper in respect to the style and manner of expression

in these twenty verses, and let Jesse go for an old man amongst

men in the days of Saul, &c."-PILKINGTON'S Remarks upon several

Passages of Scripture, p. 62.

"The authorities," says Dr. Kennicott, "here brought to prove

this great interpolation are the internal evidence arising from

the context, and the external arising from the Vatican copy of the

Greek version. But how then reads the Alexandrian MS.? The remarks

acknowledge that this MS. agrees here with the corrupted Hebrew;

and therefore was probably translated, in this part, from some

late Hebrew copy which had thus been interpolated; see pages 72,

75. Now that these two MSS. do contain different readings in some

places, I observed in pages 398-404, and 414. And in this 17th

chapter of Samuel, 1Sa 17:4, the

Alexandrian MS. says, agreeably to the present Hebrew, that the

height of Goliath was six cubits and a span, i.e., above eleven

feet; but the Vatican MS., agreeably to Josephus, that it was four

cubits and a span, i.e., near eight feet. And in 1Sa 17:43, what

the Vatican renders he cursed David by his gods, the Alexandrian

renders by his idols. But though the Hebrew text might be

consulted and a few words differently rendered by the transcriber

of one of these MSS., or by the transcribers of the MSS. from

which these MSS. were taken; yet, as these MSS. do contain, in

this chapter, such Greek as is almost universally the same, (in

verb, noun, and particle,) I presume that they contain here the

same translation with the designed alteration of a few words, and

with the difference of the interpolated verses found in the

Alexandrian MS.

"But, after all, what if the Alexandrian MS., which now has

these verses should itself prove them interpolated? What if the

very words of this very MS. demonstrate that these verses were

not in some former Greek MS.? Certainly if the Alexandrian MS.

should be thus found, at last, not to contradict, but to confirm

the Vatican in its omission of these twenty verses, the

concurrence of these authorities will render the argument much

more forcible and convincing.

"Let us then state the present question; which is, Whether the

twenty verses between ver. 11 and 32, which are now in the Hebrew

text, are interpolated? The Vatican MS. goes on immediately from

the end of the 11th verse (καιεφοβηθησανσφοδρα) to ver. 32,

which begins καιειπεδαυιδ: whereas the 12th verse in the Hebrew

begins, not with a speech, but with David's birth and parentage.

If then the Alexandrian MS. begins its present 12th verse as the

32d verse begins, and as the 12th verse could not begin properly,

I appeal to any man of judgment whether the transcriber was not

certainly copying from a MS. in which the 32d verse succeeded the

11th verse; and if so, then from a MS. which had not these

intermediate verses? Now that this is the fact, the case will at

once appear upon examining the Alexandrian copy, where the 12th

verse begins with καιειπεδαυιδ; as the 32d verse begins, and as

the 12th verse could not begin properly.

"The case seems clearly to be, that the transcriber, having

wrote what is now in the 11th verse, was beginning what is now the

32d verse; when, after writing καιειπεδαυιδ, he perceived that

either the Hebrew, or some other Greek copy, or the margin of his

own copy, had several intermediate verses: upon which, without

blotting out the significant word ειπε, he goes on to write the

addition: thus fortunately leaving a decisive proof of his own

great interpolation. if this addition was in the margin of that

MS. from which the Alexandrian was transcribed, it might be

inserted by that transcriber; but if it was inserted either from

the Hebrew, or from any other Greek copy, the transcriber of this

MS. seems to have had too little learning for such a proceeding.

If it was done by the writer of that former MS., then the

interpolation may be a hundred or a hundred and fifty years older

than the Alexandrian MS. Perhaps the earliest Christian writer who

enlarges upon the strong circumstance of David's coming from the

sheep to the army, is Chrysostom, in his homily upon David and

Saul; so that it had then been long in some copies of the Greek

version. The truth seems to be, that the addition of these twenty

verses took its first rise from what Josephus had inserted in his

variation and embellishment of this history; but that many

circumstances were afterwards added to his additions.

"For (and it is extremely remarkable) though Josephus has some,

he has not half the improbabilities which are found at present in

the sacred history: as for instance: Nothing of the armies being

fighting in the valley, or fighting at all, when David was sent by

his father, as in 1Sa 17:19. Nothing of

the host going forth, and shouting for the battle, at the time

of David's arrival, as in 1Sa 17:20. Nothing of

all the men of Israel fleeing from Goliath, as in 1Sa 17:24; on

the contrary, the two armies, (it should seem,) continued upon

their two mountains. Nothing of David's long conversation with the

soldiers, 1Sa 17:25-27, in seasons so very improper, as, whilst

they were shouting for the battle, or whilst they were fleeing

from Goliath; and fleeing from a man after they had seen him and

heard him twice in every day for forty days together, 1Sa 17:16,

the two armies, all this long while, leaning upon their arms, and

looking very peaceably at one another. Nothing of Goliath's

repeating his challenge every morning and every evening, as in

1Sa 17:16. David, (it is said, 1Sa 17:23,) happened to hear

one of these challenges; but if he heard the evening challenge, it

would have been then too late for the several transactions before,

and the long pursuit after, Goliath's death; and David could not

well hear the morning challenge, because he could scarce have

arrived so early, after travelling from Beth-lehem to the army,

(about fifteen miles,) and bringing with him an ephah of parched

corn, and ten loaves, and ten cheeses, as in 1Sa 17:17, 18.

Nothing of encouraging any man to fight Goliath, by an offer of

the kinds daughter, 1Sa 17:25; which, as it seems from the

subsequent history, had never been thought of; and which, had it

been offered, would probably have been accepted by some man or

other out of the whole army. Nothing of Eliab's reprimanding David

for coming to see the battle, as in 1Sa 17:28; but for a very

different reason; and, indeed, it is highly improbable that Eliab

should treat him at all with contempt and scurrility, after having

seen Samuel anoint him for the future king of Israel, see

1Sa 16:1-13. Nothing of a

second conversation between David and the soldiers, as in

1Sa 17:30, 31. Nothing of

Saul and Abner's not knowing who was David's father, at the time

of his going forth against the Philistine, as in 1Sa 17:55.

Nothing of David's being introduced to the king by Abner, in form,

after killing the Philistine, 1Sa 17:57, at a time when the king

and the captain of the host had no leisure for complemental

ceremony; but were set out, 1Sa 17:57, in

immediate and full pursuit of the Philistines. Nor, lastly, is

any notice taken here by Josephus of what now begins the 18th

chapter, Jonathan's friendship for David, which is related

elsewhere, and in a different manner; on the contrary, as soon as

Josephus has mentioned Goliath's death, and told us that Saul

and all Israel shouted, and fell at once upon the Philistines, and

that, when the pursuit was ended, the head of Goliath was carried

by David into his own tent, (and he could have then no tent of

his own if he had not been then an officer in the army:) I say, as

soon as Josephus has recorded these circumstances, he goes on to

Saul's envy and hatred of David, arising from the women's songs

of congratulation; exactly as these capital parts of the history

are connected in the VATICAN MS. And with this circumstance I

shall conclude these remarks; earnestly recommending the whole to

the learned reader's attentive examination.

"It must not however be forgot, that the learned F. Houbigant

has, in his Bible, placed these twenty verses (from the 11th to

the 32d) between hooks, as containing a passage which comes in

very improperly.

"If it be inquired as to this interpolation in Samuel, when it

could possibly be introduced into the text? It may be observed

that, about the time of Josephus, the Jews seem to have been fond

of enlarging and, as they vainly thought, embellishing the sacred

history, by inventing speeches, and prayers, and hymns, and also

new articles of history, and these of considerable length; witness

the several additions to the book of Esther; witness the long

story concerning wine, women, and truth, inserted amidst parts of

the genuine history of Ezra and Nehemiah, and worked up into what

is now called the First Book of Esdras; witness the hymn of the

three children in the fiery furnace, added to Daniel; and witness

also the many additions in Josephus. Certainly, then, some few

remarks might be noted by the Jews, and some few of their

historical additions might be inserted in the margin of their

Hebrew copies; which might afterwards be taken into the text

itself by injudicious transcribers.

"The history of David's conquest of the mighty and insulting

Philistine is certainly very engaging; and it gives a most amiable

description of a brave young man, relying with firm confidence

upon the aid of the GOD of battle against the blaspheming enemy.

It is not therefore very strange that some fanciful rabbin should

be particularly struck with the strange circumstances of the

Philistines daring to challenge all Israel; and David's cutting

off the giant's head with the giant's own sword. And then, finding

that Josephus had said that David came from the sheep to the camp,

and happened to hear the challenge, the rabbin might think it very

natural that David should be indignant against the giant, and talk

valorously to the soldiers, and that the soldiers should mightily

encourage David; and then, to be sure, this was the most lucky

season to introduce the celebrated friendship of Jonathan for

David; particularly when, according to these additions, Jonathan

had seen Abner leading David in triumph to the king's presence;

every one admiring the young hero, as he proudly advanced with the

grim head of the Philistine in his hand. So that this multiform

addition and fanciful embellishment of the rabbin reminds one of

the motley absurdity described by the poet in the famous lines:-

Humano capiti cervicem pictor equinam

Jungere si velit, et varias inducere plasmas, &c.

"The passage supposed to be interpolated here, was in the Hebrew

text before the time of Aquila; because there are preserved a few

of the differences in those translations of it which were made by

Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus. These verses, being thus

acknowledged at that time, would doubtless be found in such copies

as the Jews then declared to be genuine, and which they delivered

afterwards to Origen as such. And that Origen did refer to the

Jews for such copies as they held genuine, he allows in his

epistle to Africanus; for there he speaks of soothing the Jews, in

order to get pure copies from them."-KENNICOTT'S Second

Dissertation on the Hebrew Text, p. 419.

In the general dissertation which Dr. Kennicott has prefixed to

his edition of the Hebrew Bible, he gives additional evidence that

the verses in question were not found originally in the

Septuagint, and consequently not in the Hebrew copy used for

that version. Several MSS. in the royal library at Paris either

omit these verses or have them with asterisks or notes of

dubiousness. And the collation by Dr. Holmes and his

continuators has brought farther proof of the fact. From the

whole, there is considerable evidence that these verses were not

in the Septuagint in the time of Origen; and if they were not in

the MSS. used by Origen, it is very probable they were not in that

version at first; and if they were not in the Septuagint at first,

it is very probable that they were not in the Hebrew text one

hundred and fifty years before Christ; and if not then in the

Hebrew text, it is very probable they were not in that text

originally. See Dissertation on Gen., p. 9; and Remarks on

Select Passages, p. 104.

I have only to remark here, that the historical books of the Old

Testament have suffered more by the carelessness or infidelity of

transcribers than any other parts of the sacred volume; and of

this the two books of Samuel, the two books of Kings, and the two

books of Chronicles, give the most decided and unequivocal proofs.

Of this also the reader has already had considerable evidence; and

he will find this greatly increased as he proceeds.

It seems to me that the Jewish copyists had not the same opinion

of the Divine inspiration of those books as they had of those of

the law and the prophets; and have therefore made no scruple to

insert some of their own traditions, or the glosses of their

doctors, in different parts; for as the whole must evidently

appear to them as a compilation from their public records, they

thought it no harm to make different alterations and additions

from popular statements of the same facts, which they found in

general circulation. This is notoriously the case in Josephus;

this will account, and it does to me very satisfactorily, for many

of the various readings now found in the Hebrew text of the

historical books. They were held in less reverence, and they

were copied with less care, and emended with less critical skill,

than the pentateuch and the prophets; and on them the hands of

careless, ignorant, and temerarious scribes, have too frequently

been laid. To deny this, only betrays a portion of the same

ignorance which was the parent of those disorders; and attempts to

blink the question, though they may with some be an argument of

zeal, yet with all the sincere and truly enlightened friends of

Divine revelation, will be considered to be as dangerous as they

are absurd.

Where the rash or ignorant hand of man has fixed a blot on the

Divine records, let them who in the providence of God are

qualified for the task wipe it off; and while they have the thanks

of all honest men, God will have the glory.

There have been many who have affected to deny the existence of

giants. There is no doubt that the accounts given of several are

either fabulous or greatly exaggerated. But men of an

extraordinary size are not uncommon even in our own day: I knew

two brothers of the name of Knight, who were born in the same

township with myself, who were seven feet six inches high; and

another, in the same place, Charles Burns who was eight feet six!

These men were well and proportionately made. I have known others

of this height, whose limbs were out of all proportion; their

knees bent in, and joints rickety.

Ireland, properly speaking, is the only nation on the earth that

produces GIANTS; and let me tell the poor, that this is the only

nation in the world that may be said to live on potatoes; with

little bread, and less flesh-meat.

I have seen and entertained in my house the famous Polish dwarf,

the Count Boruwlaski, who was about thirty-six inches high, every

part of whose person was formed with the most perfect and delicate

symmetry. The prodigious height and bulk of Charles Burns, and the

astonishing diminutiveness of Count Boruwlaski, could not be

properly estimated but by comparing both together. Each was a

perfect man; and yet, in quantum, how disproportionate! Man is the

only creature in whom the extremes of minuteness and magnitude are

so apparent, and yet the proportion of the parts in each strictly


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