|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:1-11 Men so entirely depend upon God in all things, that when he withdraws his help, the most valiant and resolute cannot find their hearts or hands, as daily experience shows.
Verses 4-7. - A champion. Literally, "a man of the two middles," i.e. one who enters the space between the two armies in order to decide the contest by a single combat. Of Gath. In Joshua 11:21 this town is mentioned, together with Gaza and Ashdod, as still having among its inhabitants men of the race of Anak. Whose height was six cubits and a span. In our measure his height was eight feet five and one-third inches; for the cubit is sixteen inches, and the span (really the hand-breadth) is five and one-third inches. A span, sit, is eight inches, but the word used here is zereth. See on these measures, Conder, 'Handbook,' p. 79. This height, though very great, has been attained to in modern times. Armed with a coat of mail. Literally, "clothed in a shirt of scales," i.e. a corselet made of metal scales sewn on cloth so as to overlap one another. It was flexible, and protected the back and sides as well as the kent. Five thousand shekels of brass. Really copper, as brass was then unknown. Conder gives the shekel as equal to two-thirds of an ounce. This would make the corselet weigh at least two hundred weight, an enormous load to carry even for a short time. Goliath's other equipments correspond in heaviness, and largely exceed the weight of medieval suits of armour. Greaves of brass upon his legs. The thighs were protected by the corselet, so that only the legs required defensive armour. This would account for the weight of the corselet, as it was much longer than the cuirass, as worn by the Greeks and Romans. A target. Really, "a javelin." It was carried at the back, ready to be taken in the hand and thrown at the enemy when required. The versions have a different reading - magan, shield, for chidon, javelin. The shield was carried before him by an armour bearer. The staff. The written text has a word which usually signifies shaft, arrow, for which the Kri substitutes wood, the noun actually found in 2 Samuel 21:19; 1 Chronicles 20:5; but most probably the word used here is an archaic name for the handle or staff of a spear. Six hundred shekels. The weight of the iron head of the spear would be about twenty-five pounds. However tall and strong Goliath may have been, yet with all this vast weight of metal his movements must have been slow and unready. He was got up, in bet, more to tell upon the imagination than for real fighting, and though, like a castle, he might have been invincible if attacked with sword and spear, he was much too encumbered with defensive armour to be capable of assuming the offensive against a light armed enemy. To David belongs the credit of seeing that the Philistine champion was a huge imposition.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines,.... Or a "middle person", or a man "between two" (y); meaning either one that went and stood between the two armies of Israel and the Philistines, as the Jewish writers generally interpret it: or a "dueller" (z), as others, with which our version agrees; one that proposed to fight a duel, and have the war decided by two persons, of which he would be one:
named Goliath of Gath; which was one of the places where the Anakims or giants were driven, and left, in the times of Joshua, and from whom this man descended, Joshua 11:22.
whose height was six cubits and a span; and taking a cubit after the calculation of Bishop Cumberland (a) to be twenty one inches, and more, and a span to be half a cubit, the height of this man was eleven feet four inches, and somewhat more; which need not seem incredible, since the coffin of Orestea, the son of Agamemnon, is said (b) to be seven cubits long; and Eleazar, a Jew, who because of his size was called the giant, and was presented by Artabanus, king of the Parthians, to Tiberius Caesar, is said by Josephus (c) to be seven cubits high; and one Gabbara of Arabia, in the times of Claudius Caesar, measured nine feet nine inches, as Pliny (d) relates, and who elsewhere (e) speaks of a people in Ethiopia, called Syrbotae, who were eight cubits high; the Septuagint version makes Goliath to be only four cubits and a span high, and so Josephus (f); that is, about eight feet.
(y) "vir intermedius", Montanus; "inter duo", Vatablus; "vir medietatum", Noldius, p. 194. No. 283. (z) "Quidam duellator", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (a) Of Scripture Weights and Measures, c. 2. p. 57. (b) Herodot. Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 68. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 7. c. 16. (c) Antiqu. l. 18. c. 5. sect. 5. (d) Nat. Hist. ib. (e) Ibid. l. 6. 30. (f) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 9. sect. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1Sa 17:4-11. Goliath Challenges a Combat.
4-11. a champion—Hebrew, a "man between two"; that is, a person who, on the part of his own people, undertook to determine the national quarrel by engaging in single combat with a chosen warrior in the hostile army.
1 Samuel 17:4 Parallel Commentaries
1 Samuel 17:4 NIV
1 Samuel 17:4 NLT
1 Samuel 17:4 ESV
1 Samuel 17:4 NASB
1 Samuel 17:4 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible