“The Brother of” Goliath

Posted by on Dec 13, 2012 in Nuttings from the Front | 0 comments


In the September/October 2012 issue of Think & Believe, I wrote that Bible skeptics attack the Bible by citing 2 Sam 21:19, which states that Elhanan killed Goliath. “So who really killed Goliath, David or Elhanan,” taunts the skeptic. I answered the objection by citing the context of the above passage which clearly shows that it was at a later time and that Elhanan killed a brother or relative of the “famous” Goliath (perhaps with the same name). This also agrees with the report found in 1Ch 20:5, which shows that this was a “brother” of Goliath. Keep in mind that the word translated “brother” could also be translated as “relative.” This clears up the supposed “conflict” and fits well with the context and wording of the 2 Samuel verse.

Some readers wrote in to ask why I didn’t merely refer to the King James Version of the 2 Samuel passage in question. I failed to do so for good reason, which I didn’t have room to adequately cover in the article. The KJV version states that Elhanan killed “the brother of Goliath.”  So, yes, this would have cleared the conflict up immediately. However “the brother of” is in italics in the KJV. This means it was added by the translator for clarification but was not in the original text. Skeptics who care nothing about the KJV, or the Bible in general, would ask if the KJV translators were wrongfully adding to the Bible text to “cover up” a Bible contradiction. No, that is not the case as indicated by their correct way of notating the clarification.  The translators correctly paid attention to the CONTEXT.

Keep in mind that criticism against the Bible is frequently leveled at young people who have only read modern translations of the Bible, if they have even read it at all.  These do not contain the above mentioned italicized words as found in the KJV. The attack is also leveled at the many young people who do not have a good grasp of Scripture or who don’t bother thinking about the actual CONTEXT. Hence, they are easy prey for the skeptic’s challenge to the Bible. The CONTEXT of the verse is plenty clear in virtually any of the translations our young people use in order to answer the anti-Bible critic, even if they never see the KJV’s rendering of the verse which includes “the brother of” Goliath.


Dave Nutting

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