1 Samuel 17:4
And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
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1 Samuel 17:4. Goliath of Gath — For to this city the Anakims fled when Joshua rooted them out of the land of Canaan, Joshua 11:22. And here they propagated a race of giants; that is, people of great strength and stature. Whose height was six cubits and a span — At least nine feet nine inches. And this is not strange; for besides the giants mentioned in Scripture, Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, and Pliny make mention of persons seven cubits high.

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.A champion - literally, "a man between the two camps:" i. e., one who did not fight in the ranks like an ordinary soldier, but came forth into the space between the hostile camps to challenge the mightiest man of his enemies to come and fight him.

Goliath of Gath - One of the places mentioned in Joshua 11:22 as still retaining a remnant of the sons of Anak; Gaza and Ashdod being the others. The race of giants (the Rephaim, from רפא râphâ' ) is mentioned again in the account of David's Philistine wars 2 Samuel 21:15-22; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8. It appears from these passages that Goliath had a brother Lahmi. Four are named as being "born to the giant in Gath." See Deuteronomy 2:10-11, Deuteronomy 2:20-21; Deuteronomy 3:11-13.

Six cubits ... - If the cubit, the length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, is about 1 12 feet; and the span, the distance from the thumb to the middle or little finger, when stretched apart to the full length, be half a cubit, six cubits and a span would equal about nine feet nine inches. The bed of Og king of Bashan was nine cubits long Deuteronomy 3:11.

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.

A champion, Heb. a man between two, either because he used to come forth, and stand between the two armies; or because he moved that the business should be decided between two, whereof he would be one.

Whose height was six cubits and a span; which is not strange, for besides the giants mentioned in Scripture, Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, and Pliny, and others, make mention of persons seven cubits high, which is near double to an ordinary man’s height.

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.

And there {a} went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.

(a) Between the two camps.

4–11. Goliath’s Challenge

4. a champion] Lit. “The (well-known) man of the interspaces,” or “interval between two camps” (Gr. μεταίχμιον: see Eur. Phoen. 1361, in the account of the combat between Eteocles and Polynices), in which single combats took place: so E. V. rightly “champion.”

Goliath of Gath] A survivor probably of the ancient race of Anakim, a remnant of which found refuge in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod, when they were exterminated by Joshua from the mountains of Judah (Joshua 11:21-22).

six cubits and a span] The cubit, or distance from the elbow to the extremity of the middle finger, is variously estimated at from eighteen to twenty-one inches: the span, or distance between the extremities of the thumb and little finger in the outstretched hand, is reckoned as half a cubit: so that Goliath’s height was between nine feet nine inches and eleven feet four inches. The most probable estimate is about ten feet three inches. Among parallel instances of gigantic stature may be quoted Pusio and Secundilla, who lived in the reign of Augustus, and are said by Pliny (Nat. Hist. VII. 16) to have been over ten feet high. Josephus says that a certain Eleazar the giant who was sent to the emperor Tiberius, was seven cubits high.

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. 1 Samuel 17:4And the (well-known) champion came out of the camps of the Philistines (הבּנים אישׁ, the middle-man, who decides a war between two armies by a single combat; Luther, "the giant," according to the ἀνὴρ δυνατὸς of the lxx, although in 1 Samuel 17:23 the Septuagint translators have rendered the word correctly ἀνὴρ ὁ ἀμεσσαῖος, which is probably only another form of ὁ μεσαῖος), named Goliath of Gath, one of the chief cities of the Philistines, where there were Anakim still left, according to Joshua 11:22. His height was six cubits and a span (6 1/4 cubits), i.e., according to the calculation made by Thenius, about nine feet two inches Parisian measure, - a great height no doubt, though not altogether unparalleled, and hardly greater than that of the great uncle of Iren, who came to Berlin in the year 1857 (see Pentateuch, p. 869, note).

(Note: According to Pliny (h. n. vii. 16), the giant Pusio and the giantess Secundilla, who lived in the time of Augustus, were ten feet three inches (Roman) in height; and a Jew is mentioned by Josephus (Ant. xviii. 4, 5), who was seven cubits in height, i.e., ten Parisian feet, or if the cubits are Roman, nine and a half.)

The armour of Goliath corresponded to his gigantic stature: "a helmet of brass upon his head, and clothes in scale armour, the weight of which was five thousand shekels of brass." The meaning scales is sustained by the words קשׂקשׂת in Leviticus 11:9-10, and Deuteronomy 14:9-10, and קשׂקשׂות in Ezekiel 29:4. קשׂקשּׂים שׁריון, therefore, is not θώραξ ἁλυσιδωτός (lxx), a coat of mail made of rings worked together like chains, such as were used in the army of the Seleucidae (1 Macc. 6:35), but according to Aquila's φολιδωτόν (scaled), a coat made of plates of brass lying one upon another like scales, such as we find upon the old Assyrian sculptures, where the warriors fighting in chariots, and in attendance upon the king, wear coats of scale armour, descending either to the knees or ankles, and consisting of scales of iron or brass, which were probably fastened to a shirt of felt or coarse linen (see Layard, Nineveh and its Remains, vol. ii. p. 335). The account of the weight, 5000 shekels, i.e., according to Thenius, 148 Dresden pounds, is hardly founded upon the actual weighing of the coat of mail, but probably rested upon a general estimate, which may have been somewhat too high, although we must bear in mind that the coat of mail not only covered the chest and back, but, as in the case of the Assyrian warriors, the lower part of the body also, and therefore must have been very large and very heavy.

(Note: According to Thenius, the cuirass of Augustus the Strong, which has been preserved in the historical museum at Dresden, weighted fifty-five pounds; and from that he infers, that the weight given as that of Goliath's coat of mail is by no means too great. Ewald, on the other hand, seems to have no idea of the nature of the Hebrew eights, or of the bodily strength of a man, since he gives 5000 lbs. of brass as the weight of Goliath's coat of mail (Gesch. iii. p. 90), and merely observes that the pounds were of course much smaller than ours. But the shekel did not even weight so much as our full ounce. With such statements as these you may easily turn the historical character of the scriptural narrative into incredible myths; but they cannot lay any claim to the name of science.)

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