Who Killed Goliath, David or Elhanen?
2 Samuel 21:19…there was again a battle…with the Philistines, where Elhanen...son of Jaare-Oregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Gol- iath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.
1 Chronicles 20:5…there was war again with the Philistines; and Elhan- en the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, whose spear staff was like a weaver’s beam.
In modern versions, David kills Goliath in 1 Sam.17:50, but Elhanen kills him in 2 Sam.21:19, all in accord with the Hebrew. Copyist error is suggested; contradiction is also suggested, Elhanen, not David, killing Goliath; others suggest Elhanen is another name for David. Actually, uniqueness of the Hebrew text is involved.
In the KJV 2 Samuel, Elhanen kills the brother of Goliath; the brother of isn’t in the Hebrew here, but is in the Hebrew of 1 Chronicles, and is the true rendering. In 1 & 2 Samuel a symbolic Goliath applies to two different giants. Chronicles amplifies this, specifying the identity of El- hanen’s giant. Adding the brother of in 2 Samuel of the KJV correctly identifies Elhanen's giant to avoid confusionof readers. An extensive system of textual notes, called the Masorah, could identify Goliath as symbolic to Hebrews, and Chronicles would prevent confusion by later Gentile readers.
said Goliath is a Philistine proper name, but scripture
indicates text scribes didn’t know the proper names of the Philistines.
The giants are of one family (or tribe), and in 2 Sam.21:16,18 their
father is a generic the giant, indicating scribes didn't know
his name, so names of his sons were unknown. In 21:20 a mutant giant
is described by unique hands & feet, a way to identify one of
unknown name. 2 Sam.21 gives symbolic names to other giants, but 2
Samuel giant-killers have proper names,
*Omri became king of Israel well after king Jeroboam introduced idolatry there. In the latter 6 years of Omri’s reign, he began idolatry far worse than that of Jeroboam. This vile rebellion against God became identified with Omri's son Ahab, the most idolatrous leader in Israel’s history. Ahab ruled 22 years, and this spirit continued fully under his son Ahaziah (same name as Judah’s king) who ruled Israel 2 years. Ahaziah died without a son, being succeeded by his brother Joram. The latter had ruled Israel for 11 years at the time of the death of king Jehoram of Judah, and a total of 12 years at his own death (2 Kgs.3:1). Thus, when Ahaziah’s reign of Judah began at the death of his father Jehoram, the spirit of Ahab had reigned in Israel since the latter 6 years of Omri’s reign 41 years ago (6 + 22 + 2 +11, and in Judah it began with Ahaz- iah’s father). Ahaziah’s death in one more year would mark a total 42-year influence of this idolatry in the two kingdoms.
and are called sons of men with proper names (scribes would know the names of their own people). In Chronicles Hebrew names don't change, indicating ongoing use of proper names, but the names of certain giants change from symbolic ones to invented Hebrew ones. The contrast of names further proves proper names of the giants were unknown.
The only Hebrew-name change is Jaare-Oregim in Samuel, called Jair in Chronicles. It’s said Oregim was accidentally attached to Jaar, since weaver is present in the verse, but that’s incorrect. Oregim is a symbolic name * attached to Jaar (yielding Jaare – adding origem adds e), stress- ing the son’s valor in defeating an enemy so. huge his spear shaft res- embled a weaver’s beam. Symbolic Oregim isn’t in Chronicles where such names are removed, and Jair isn't a new name, just a variant of Jaar in the later Chronicles. Jair is a proper name spelled much like Jaar to retain the man’s identity, which is indicated in that Jair derives from a marginal note up-dating spelling of the name to a later slightly different form, and the description of his valor continues in the context of 1 Chronicles 20:5.
*Jaare-Oregim means forests of weavers that can’t be a man’s name. Oregim is a symbolic name tied to a proper one, and the compound name can’t be translated as one, as Ed the giant, a huge fellow, can’t be Ed Giant. Further, in Hebrew patrilineal society, men are identified by the fathers’ names (son of Jesse, son of Saul, etc), so recognizing a father for his son’s exploits is no surprise.
That Goliath symbolizes great size is indicated by assigning of names of this type to other giants, as in the case of a giant Saph (killed by Sibbechai - 2 Sam.21:18), the name of the head of an Arabic family in Palestine having sons of great strength & heighth (Jamieson/Fausset/Brown comm.). And a giant killed by Abishai (2 Sam.21:17) is Ishbi-benob, symbolic of great size (means my seat is on a high place). The most prominent meanings of Goliath are exile or conspicuous, and the latter applies in our context, Goliath being conspicuous by his great size & strength.
A mutual Goliath and Bethlehem-origin link Elhanen to David. God called David to subdue giants, and he killed a first Goliath as all Israel feared this huge enemy. Thus, when another Hebrew killed a giant, there would be a desire to recognize David whose faith & courage set the example for others. This recognition occurs when a member of David's family kills a giant, recognizing David by the family relationship. This is the case as Jonathan kills a giant, and is said in 2 Sam.21:21 to be the son of David's brother (this giant needs no name, his mutant features identifying him); this is also the case with Abishai, who kills Ishbi- benob, and is said to be a son of Zeruiah, David's sister. In the case of Elhanen, the common Bethlehemite origin is the only relationship to David, but applying Goliath also recognizes David; this latter approach can't continue since there would be unidentified Goliaths in the text.
In 2 Sam.21:15-17 Abishai is a son of Zeruiah,; evidently he wasn’t a Bethlehemite. He wasn't in Jesse’s line of descent, for his mother was David’s sister (1 Chron.2:15,16) by marriage of David’s mother to Na- hash (2 Sam.17:25) before Jesse; Nahash is an Ammonite name (1 Sam. 11:1), and Zeruiah’s sister Abigail married an Ishmaelite (1 Chro.2:17), so the Nahash family wasn't basically Israelite. And Goliath wouldn’t refer to the giant of Sibbechai, a Hushathite unrelated to David David.
Goliath for two different giants wouldn’t confuse Hebrews, but Chron- icles, ordained ~500 years after Samuel, would prevent any confusion in churches. Chronicles specifies Elhanen’s giant as a brother of David’s Goliath (in a family known by reputation). To end symbolic names as a likely cause of confusion, Chronicles assigns to giants invented Hebrew proper names based on names of the Hebrews who killed them, the only way other than use of symbolic names that Israel had to differentiate giants. e.g. Saph killed by Sibbechai is Sippai in Chronicles, reflecting salient parts of Sibbechai to indicate a Hebrew invented proper name (Si is in both, and the dual pp reflects bb – Hebrew for p & b are phonetic- ally-related labials emphasizing use of the lips, and ai is a very common Hebrew-name suffix (e.g. Haggai, Abishai, etc.) Lahmi (my bread) is an invented Hebrew proper name based upon Elhanen’s Beth-lehemi-te identity (lehem is bread). Here i in lehemi signifies my, changing vocal- ization to Lahmi.
Goliath eventually became a Hebrew proper name for David's giant, and Lahmi for Elhanen's giant, to differentiate them and continue the mutual Bethlehemite association. Further, Lahmi as my bread recognizes the heroism of David by his faith in God causing the giants to be bread nourishing the reputations of Hebrews as able to destroy all enemies. Before David set the example, the Hebrews feared the first Goliath, and only after his example did the giants become bread for the Hebrews.
As noted, Lahmi isn’t a Philistine proper name, the text indicating that scribes didn’t know these names; Lahmi is a Hebrew proper name in- vented for Chronicles, and didn’t exist when 2 Samuel was written ~500 years earlier, only symbolic Goliath (& oregim) existing then, and use of Bethlehemite & Goliath is contextually consistent with recognition of David when Elhanen killed his giant. Italicized KJV words preserve unique Hebrew-text history. All of this is overlooked by scholars who say the text originally read Lahmi, brother of, a scribe misreading it as Bethlehemite.*
*Lahmi derives from Bethlehemite, so it’s said the latter is a corruption of an original Lahmi, brother of (Archer, G.L.1982. Encyclopedia of Bible Diffic-ulties. Zond). As noted, the text shows that Hebrew scribes didn’t know the proper names, inventing Lahmi long after Samuel was written. Further, to incur the error, a scribe had to read ’-h Lahmi as '-t Bét hal-Lahmi, and to mistake the text word for brother ’-h for the sign of the definite direct object ’-t. This is too great an error for a very meticulous Hebrew scribe, especially since He wouldn’t mistake a grammar term for a text word, any more than we would mistake English punctuation for letters of words. Far from being a corruption, Bethlehemite shows why Goliath is used for the giants of both David & Elhanen.