We all know that David killed Goliath. 1 Chronicles 20:5 in all translations says Elhanan killed the brother of Goliath. The problem is with 2 Samuel 21:19. The KJV correctly says Elhanan killed the brother of Goliath, but many translations, such as the NASB, ESV and NIV 1984, say Elhanan killed Goliath:
Critics of the KJV rendering claim that the Hebrew text does not have the word for "the brother of" in 2 Samuel 21:19. These critics claim that the KJV has supplied words without any textual basis. This is not true.
The Hebrew in 2 Samuel 21:19 says:
ויך אלחנן בן־יערי ארגים בית הלחמי את גלית
The Hebrew in 1 Chronicles 20:5 says:
ויך אלחנן בן־יעיר את־לחמי אחי גלית
Compare the underlined portions:
את גלית (Second Samuel 21:19)
אחי גלית (First Chronicles 20:5)
The second word of the underlined portions in both verses is גלית (Galeyat), which is “Goliath.” The word preceding גלית (Galeyat) in 1 Chronicles 20:5 is אחי (achi), which is translated “the brother of.” The word preceding גלית (Galeyat) in 2 Samuel 21:19 is את (“et” with the Masoretic vowel markings). This word generally serves as the untranslatable particle which marks the accusative case (Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions). However, את could serve a dual purpose of pointing to the direct object as well as meaning "with" or "among" (Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions). Judges 1:16 is a good example verse that has two instances of "את" serving the dual role of pointing to the direct object as well as meaning "with" or "among":
Thus את גלית could be translated as "among Goliath", meaning a kinsman of Goliath. The KJV translators understood this "among Goliath" (kinsman) to refer to the brother of Goliath as this is consistent with 1 Chronicles 20:5. The KJV with Strong’s numbers indicates that the translators translated את as “the brother of.” As the rendering of " את" as "the brother of" is an interpretation, albeit the correct one, the KJV translators italicized those words. The KJV, NKJV, TNIV, NIV 2011 and a few other translations treat Samuel 21:19 properly by interpreting " את" as "the brother of". Other translations that do not have “the brother of” create a glaring contradiction with 1 Chronicles 20:5.
The reason the author of 2 Samuel did not explicitly write "the brother of" may be because the immediate readers of 2 Samuel would have been aware that Elhanan killed the brother of Goliath. 2 Samuel was written during the time of the events, so readers knew the exact details of the accounts from oral retellings. 1 Chronicles, however, was written much later, close to the time of Ezra the priest. The Chronicler had to be clear that Elhanan killed the brother of Goliath, not Goliath himself. That is why 1 Chronicles 20:5 no longer uses the elliptical language.
Those who defend the reading that Elhanan killed Goliath assert that the Goliath in 2 Samuel 21:19 is supposedly a son of the Goliath whom David slew. These critics say that Goliath (Sr.) had four sons: Ishbibenob, Saph, Goliath (Jr.), and a six-fingered man (2 Samuel 21:16-20). This idea is based on a misconception. Ishbibenob, Saph, and the six-fingured man are said to be “of the sons of the giant.” Many readers presumptuously think that this “giant” is that Goliath whom David slew, and assume that these men are the children of that Goliath. Since another Goliath appears together with these other men, many readers assume that this Goliath was also a son of the Goliath whom David slew. So these readers imagine a Goliath Sr. and a Goliath Jr. However, there is a problem with the idea that these men were the sons of the Goliath whom David slew.
The “giant” referred to through 2 Samuel 21:16-20 is רפה (raphah) or Rephaim. This is not a reference to a particular person of large stature but an ethnicity that is mentioned earlier in the Bible. In Genesis 15:20 we read of God promising to give to Abraham the lands of various ethnic groups, one of which is the Rephaim. The Rephaim were apparently a race of giants. Thus when 2 Samuel 21:16-20 says that Ishbibenob, Saph, and the six-fingured man were “of the sons of the giant,” it is saying that these men were of the race of the giant Rephaim. They seemed to have become assimilated by the Philistines. 2 Samuel 5:18 says “The Philistines also came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.” Thus Ishbibenob, Saph, Goliath (the one whom David slew), and the six-fingered man were Rephaimic-Philistines.
Thus there was no Goliath Sr. or Goliath Jr. This idea of a Sr. and Jr. Goliath is a far-fetched attempt to try to justify a glaring contradiction in some translations. Goliath was slain by David, and Goliath’s brother Lahmi was slain by Elhanan.
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