Shmuel 1-Chapter 17:  David and Goliath

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Chapter 17:  David and Goliath

1. The Philistines gather for war:

  • The Philistines gathered their camp to wage war, and they gathered by the area of Socho which was in the territory of Judea. The encamped between Socho and Azeika, in [a place called[1]] Efes Damim.
  • The Jews gather for battle: Shaul and the Jewish people gathered and encamped by Emek Haeila, and they waged war against the Philistines.
  • The positions: The Philistines were standing by one mountain while the Jewish people were standing by an opposite mountain with a valley in between them.

2. Goliath:

  • His name and locality: A courageous man came from the camp of the Philistines [and stood between the armies[2]], his name being Goliath from the city of Gat.
  • His height: He had a height of 6 Amos and one Zeres [i.e. 3.08 meters, 20.3 feet].
  • His armor: He wore a copper helmet on his head, and wore a bulletproof metal vest. The vest was equivalent of the weight of 5000 copper coins. He had a shield of copper armor on his feet, and a copper shield over his shoulders [to protect his neck[3]]. The wooden handle of his sword was as thick as the sewing plank of a weaver, and the blade of his sword was equivalent to the weight of 600 iron Shekalim. The carrier of the shield would walk before him [to protect him from getting hit by a sword[4]].

3. Goliath instigates a fight with the Jewish people:

  • Goliath stood up and called to the armies of Israel saying: Why should [all of[5]] you go out in battle, I am [a regular] Philistine [and not an aristocrat or leader of soldiers, although I did kill Chafni and Pinchas and captured the Aron[6]], and you are slaves of Shaul [who has done nothing to save you[7]]. Pick from amongst yourselves a man and he should come down [and fight me]. If he is able to battle with me, then we will become your slaves, and if I am able to overcome him, and smite him, then you will become to us a slave and serve us.
  • The Philistine said that he has today shamed the armies of Israel [by challenging them[8]]. Give me a man and we will battle together.
  • Shaul and all the Jewish people heard the words of this Philistine and they were stricken with great fear and trepidation.

4. The sons of Yishaiy:

  • Dovid: Dovid was the son of an Epharite man, who lived in Beis Lechem Yehuda, whose name was Yishaiy, who had eight sons.
  • Yishaiy does not go to battle: Yishaiy, in the times of Shaul, was an old man [and hence could not join the battle[9]].
  • Three older sons go to battle: The three older sons of Yishaiy went after Shaul into battle. The name of the three sons who went to battle were Aliav the first born, Avinadav the second born, and Shamah the third born. Dovid was the youngest, and the three eldest went after Shaul.
  • Dovid the shepherd: Dovid would travel back and forth from Shaul to Beis Lechem to shepherd his father’s flock.

5. The taunts of Goliath:

  • The Philistine man would come forward in the morning and evening and taunt the Jewish people [in order to prevent them from saying Shema[10]]. He did so for 40 days.

6. Dovid is sent to his brothers with food:

  • Yishaiy told his son Dovid: Take for your brothers an Eipha of roasted wheat, and ten loaves of bread, and go run to the camp of your brothers. Bring these ten cheeses to the generals of the thousands [of which his brothers were included in[11], or Yehonoson the son of Shaul[12]]. Greet your brothers in peace and bring back their wellbeing [and a bill of divorce for them to give to their wives[13]].
  • The area of battle: Shaul and the entire Jewish people who were with him in the valley fighting against the Philistines.

7. Dovid goes to meet his brothers at the battlefield:

  • And David woke up in the morning and left the sheep with a guard and he carried the items [that his father told him to bring[14]] and traveled as [his father] Yishai had instructed him.
  • The circle of armies: He arrived at the circle of soldiers, as during war the soldiers would make a circle of protection and those who would leave it would become a fatality of the war [as if they left the circle to go towards the battlefield they would be killed by the enemy, and if they left to go back and dessert the battlefield they would be killed by their comrades[15]]. The Jewish people and the Philistines prepared their legions of armies across from each other.
  • David arrives: David removed the vessels that were on him and left them with the guard of the weapons and ran towards the circle of soldiers. When he arrived there, he asked as to the wellbeing of his brothers.

8. A bounty is offered for whoever kills Goliath:

  • Goliath taunts the Jewish people: While Dovid was speaking with them, the brave man from amongst them arrived and Goliath the Philistine was his name from the city of Gat, from the caves of the Philistines [i.e. the man who had resulted from the intercourse of 100 men with his mother[16]] and he spoke these words and David heard.
  • The Jews flee from Goliath: When the Jewish people saw this man, they all became filled with tremendous fear and ran away from him.
  • A bounty is offered: A certain Jewish man pronounced: Have you seen this man come up against us to blaspheme the Jewish people, whoever manages to kill him the King will give him much wealth and grant him his daughter in marriage and the house of his father will become free [from all the government edicts[17]] amongst the Jewish people.  

9. Dovid inquires about killing Goliath and is discouraged from doing so:

  • Dovid offers to kill Goliath: Dovid said to the people who were standing with him: What will be done with the man who kills the aforementioned Philistine, and who removes the shame from Israel. Who does this uncircumcised Philistine think he is to blaspheme the armies of the living G-d?
  • The nation replied that the following will be done with the man who smites him [as stated above].
  • Eliav, the brother of Dovid, reprimands him: Eliav, the older brother of Dovid heard him speaking to the men, and he became filled with wrath against Dovid, telling him that he had no business coming here and deserting the little bit of flock in his care in the desert. “I know your wrongful intent, and the evil of your heart, as you have come down to watch the war.”
  • Dovid replies to his brother, the nation and Shaul: What have I done now, is it not that I have just spoken words [why are you getting angry with me over nothing[18]]. Dovid turned around towards another person[19] and told him the same thing [asking him what will happen to the man who kills Goliath[20]], and the nation replied to him as they did originally [that the person will be given wealth and the daughter of Shaul as a wife etc]. The nation heard the words that Dovid spoke [in defiance of Goliath[21]], and they relayed it to Shaul who went ahead and called David. David replied to Shaul saying: Do not lose heart [and become filled with fear], as your servant will go and battle this Philistine.
  • Shaul discourages Dovid from fighting: However, Shaul replied to David: You cannot go to fight this Philistine, as you are a mere child [who is inexperienced in warfare], and he is a known warrior from a young age.

10. Dovid tells Shaul of his story of bravery against a lion and bear:

  • The story with the lion and bear families: Dovid replied to Shaul as follows: Your servant worked as a Shepherd of flock for his father and one time a lion and beer came and stole a sheep from the flock. I chased after the animals and smote them, thus saving the sheep from their mouths. They stood up against me and I grabbed at his beard and smote it and killed it. Your servant killed both the lion and beer [and their children, as the lion had two cubs, and the beer had two cubs[22]]. Now, this Philistine can be considered to me like one of them, as he has blasphemed the armies of the living G-d.
  • Dovid said: Hashem who has saved me from the hands of this lion and the hands of this beer, He will save me from the hands of this Philistine.
  • Shaul gives Dovid the go ahead: Shaul said to Dovid: Go, and G-d will be with you.

11. Dovid is prepared to battle Goliath:

  • Dovid puts on armor but takes off his sword: Shaul dressed Dovid with his armor [miraculously, as it fit the size of Dovid despite Shaul being taller than any other man[23]] and placed a copper helmet on his head, and a protective shield. Dovid wore his sword above his armor and hesitated to go to battle as he was inexperienced [with the use of a sword]. Dovid said to Shaul: I am unable to go to battle in these as I am inexperienced in using them. So Dovid removed them from him.
  • Dovid prepares a sling with stones: Dovid took a stick in his hands and chose five smooth stones from the water channel, and placed them in his shepherd vessel which he had with him, and in his bag. He took his sling shot with him, and approached the Philistine.

12. The battle:

  • Goliath approaches Dovid and belittles him: The Philistine began approaching Dovid, and the man who was holding the armor walked in front of him. The Philistine looked and saw Dovid and began blaspheming him, as he was a mere child, and a redhead with a pleasant appearance. The Philistine said to Dovid: Am I a dog that you come to fight me with sticks? And the Philistine began cursing Dovid with his G-d. The Philistine said to Dovid: Come to me and I will feed your flesh to the birds of the heavens and the animals of the field.
  • Dovid replies taunting Goliath: Dovid replied to the Philistine: You come against me with a sword and spear and armor, and I come against you with the name of the G-d of the legions of Israel which you have blasphemed. Today, G-d will hand you into my hands, and I will smite you and remove your head from you. I will leave your corpse in the camp of the Philistines today for the birds of the heavens and the animals of the earth to consume, and the entire land will know that there is a G-d amongst Israel. All this congregation will know that not with a sword and a spear did G-d save us, as to G-d is the war and he has handed you into our hands.
  • They approach each other for the battle: It was when the Philistine got up and went in approximation to greet Dovid that Dovid ran towards the battle, towards the Philistine.
  • Dovid hits Goliath with a slingshot and kills him: Dovid placed his hand into his vessel and took out a rock which he entered into his slingshot and fired and hit the Philistine on his forehead. The rock entered into his forehead, and he fell on his face onto the ground. Dovid overcame the Philistine with his slingshot and stone, and he smote him and killed him.
  • Dovid beheads Goliath: Dovid however did not have a sword with him. Dovid ran and stood over the Philistine, and took his sword, removed it from its sheath, and killed him and chopped off his head. When the Philistines saw that their warrior was killed, they fled.

13. The Jewish people kill the Philistines:

  • The people of Israel and Judah shouted and chased after the Philistines until they arrived to Guy and the gates of Akron. The corpses of the Philistines fell until the area of Derech Sharayim, and until Gat and Akron.
  • The Jewish people returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they rampaged their camp.
  • Dovid carries Goliaths head to Jerusalem: Dovid took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem [to publicize his death[24]], and his vessels he placed in his tent.

14. Shaul inquires about Dovid:

  • When Shaul saw Dovid going forward to fight the Philistine he said to Avner, his general: Avner, whose son is this lad [i.e. from which side of the family does he come from, Peretz or Zarach[25]]? Avner replied that he swears by his life that he does not know. The king then replied: Please inquire as to whose son this child is.
  • Dovid is brought to Shaul: When Dovid returned after smiting the Philistine, Avner took him and brought him in front of Shaul, with the head of the Philistine in his hands [prior to him bringing it to Jerusalem[26]]. Shaul asked him: Whose son are you my lad? Dovid replied: I am the son of your servant Yishaiy from Beis Lechem.


[1] Rashi 17:1

[2] Rashi 17:4

[3] Rashi 17:6

[4] Metzudos David 17:7

[5] Rashi 17:8

[6] Rashi 17:8

[7] Rashi ibid

[8] Metzudos David 17:9

[9] Metzudos David 17:12; Radak ibid

[10] Rashi 17:15

[11] See Rashi and Metzudos David 17:18; Ralbag ibid

[12] See Rashi 17:18

[13] Rashi 17:18

[14] Metzudos David 17:20

[15] Rashi 17:20

[16] Rashi 17:23; Sotah 42b

[17] Rashi 17:25

[18] Metzudos David 17:29

[19] See Radak 17:30

[20] Metzudos David 17:30

[21] Metzudos David 17:31

[22] Rashi 17:36

[23] Rashi 17:38

[24] Metzudos David 17:54

[25] Rashi 17:55; See also Mahariy Karo ibid; Ralbag ibid

[26] Radak 17:54

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