The story of “David vs. Goliath” has become a popular parable anytime the “little guy” faces off against a giant. The people do love a good David vs. Goliath triumph. However, you may not be so enthusiastic if you get to know the rest of the story.
Let’s start with the famous incident. It’s about 1000 BC. The then homeless Isrealites under King Saul are facing off against the Phillistines. The two fought all the time. In this battle, there was this one big jerk, Goliath, that kept calling out for a one-on-one fight with an Isrealite champion. The fate of battles was thought to be pre-determined, so a single match could reveal the chosen winner allowing everybody to go home early. I think we all know how that turns out. (hint: scrawny little David wins)
Fun fact: the giant Goliath is said to be four cubits and a span in the earliest accounts. That’s about 6 and a half feet tall. Not so great by today’s standards, but if you’ve ever seen suits of armour in a museum it’s obvious that humans are taller than they used to be. In later writings, Goliath came to be 6 cubits, or nearly 10 feet.
David was a favourite of King Saul at this point. He was part of his personal guard, but with David’s new popularity, the King gets jealous. Skipping the details, Sauls sends David away, David teams up with the Phillistines, attacks the Isrealites, and King Saul is killed along with all but one of his sons. Due to his popularity, David is made to be the king of the Isrealites (switching sides again), except that the rightful heir, Saul’s last son, still lives. David simply has him killed to settle the matter. Long live King David!
His ambition is to establish the kingdom of Isreal, which obviously proved succesful, but was not without a few massacres as they traveled up to where the City of David (Jerusalem) was built. The Old Testament bible clearly tells what happened to one of the the tribes along the way:
And he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive. And so the Moabites became David’s servants, and brought gifts. (2 Samuel 8:2 – King James)
Yes indeed. Two thirds of a nation were randomly chosen and slaughtered. The same thing happened to the Edomites and Arameans.
Now, being a “fact” blog I feel compelled to point out that there is very little archeological evidence to support this story. Though it seems true that King David did exist, and many of the events did occur, the timeline and characters may be way off. All we have is stories that may have changed with re-tellings. For example, there is a story very reminiscent of David vs. Goliath in the Greek Illiad by Homer, who may have lived a century or two before David.
Generally, it’s best to take these stories as mythology with moral lessons, which brings me back to my point of telling you all this… The morality of David vs. Goliath isn’t so simple. Perhaps you’ll want to consider this next time you relate an under-dog hero to the infamous David.
- Source: After watching a History channel show that dramatized this whole thing, I went hunting for a less made-for-TV version of the story. I started with Goliath – Wikipedia and cobbled together this story from multiple pages there.