[b-hebrew] By Whose God did Goliath Curse

Ken Penner kpenner at stfx.ca
Thu Aug 1 09:59:35 EDT 2013

Relevant texts (in which אֱלֹהָיו is not preceded by the tetragrammaton; the subject or object is not from Israel) include:
Daniel 1:2 //Ezra 1:7
2 Kings 19:37//Isaiah 37:38//2 Chron 32:21
Isaiah 8:19
Jonah 1:5
2 Kings 17:29
Micah 4:5
Ezra 1:3

The pattern seems to be that the suffixed pronoun consistently refers to the subject of the verb.

“And the Lord gave Jehoiakim the king of Judah into his hand and some of the utensils of the temple of God, and he brought them to the land of Shinar to the temple of his gods, and he brought the utensils to the treasury of his gods.” (Daniel 1:2, LEB)
“And Cyrus the king brought out the objects of the house of Yahweh that Nebuchadnezzar had brought from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods.” (Ezra 1:7, LEB)
“It happened that he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, and Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him with the sword. Then they escaped into the land of Ararat, and Esarhaddon his son became king in his place.” (2 Kings 19:37, LEB)
“And this happened: he was bowing in worship in the house of Nisroch his god, and Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him with the sword. And they themselves escaped to the land of Ararat, and Esar-haddon his son reigned as king in his place.” (Isaiah 37:38, LEB)
“Then Yahweh sent an angel, and he destroyed every mighty warrior of strength, commander, and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria. And he returned with shamed face to his land and went into the house of his god. And some of the offspring of his loins fell upon him there with the sword.” (2 Chronicles 32:21, LEB)
“Now if they tell you, “Consult the ghosts and the spirits, those who chirp and those who mutter. Should not a people consult its gods, the dead on behalf of the living,” (Isaiah 8:19, LEB)
“And the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they threw the contents that were in the merchant ship into the sea to lighten it for them. And meanwhile Jonah went down into the hold of the vessel and lay down and fell asleep.” (Jonah 1:5, LEB)
“Yet every nation was making their gods, and they put them in the shrine of the high places that the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities in which they were living.” (2 Kings 17:29, LEB)
 “For all the nations walk, each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of Yahweh our God, forever and ever.” (Micah 4:5, LEB)
“Whoever among you who is from all of his people, may his God be with him and may he go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and may he build the house of Yahweh, the God of Israel. He is the God who is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:3, LEB)

Ken M. Penner, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Religious Studies
2329 Notre Dame Avenue, 409 Nicholson Tower
St. Francis Xavier University
Antigonish, NS  B2G 2W5
kpenner at stfx.ca

From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Yigal Levin
Sent: Thursday, August 01, 2013 10:24 AM
To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [b-hebrew] By Whose God did Goliath Curse and Where did David Take his Head?

Dear all,

Next week I will be presenting a paper at the IOSOT congress in Munich, which I called "By Whose God did Goliath Curse and Where did David Take his Head?". Before doing so, I'd like to present both questions to the members of our forum, and see if your reading of the text comes up with the same understanding as mine.

So here goes:

1. In 1 Sam. 17:43, Goliath, upon seeing David armed with a slingshot, says "Am I a dog, that you comest to me with staves?", and the text then adds: “וַיְקַלֵּל הַפְּלִשְׁתִּי אֶת-דָּוִד בֵּאלֹהָיו” – "and the Philistine cursed David by his …. So that's my question: Did Goliath curse David by his (Goliath's) gods, or by his (David's) God". The Hebrew אלהיו is plural in form, but the Bible often uses the plural form אלהים when referring to the one God of Israel. So the text could mean either. What do you think?

2. After killing Goliath, David cut off his head. Then, according to verse 54, "And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, and he put his vessels in his tent". Why in the world would David run to Jerusalem (which at the time was ruled by the Jebusites) with a bloody head? Especially if in verse 57 he is still on the battlefield, and still has the head! And by the way, whose tent?

So – what do y'all think?

Yigal Levin

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