[b-hebrew] Where did David Take his Head?

Ken Penner kpenner at stfx.ca
Thu Aug 1 10:23:56 EDT 2013

Keil and Delitzsch try to resolve these issues:
“But David took the head of Goliath and brought it to Jerusalem, and put his armour in his tent. אֹהֶל is an antiquated term for a dwelling-place, as in 1 Sam. 4:10; 13:2, etc. The reference is to David’s house at Bethlehem, to which he returned with the booty after the defeat of Goliath, and that by the road which ran past Jerusalem, where he left the head of Goliath. There is no anachronism in these statements; for the assertion made by some, that Jerusalem was not yet in the possession of the Israelites, rests upon a confusion between the citadel of Jebus upon Zion, which was still in the hands of the Jebusites, and the city of Jerusalem, in which Israelites had dwelt for a long time (see at Josh. 15:63, and Judg. 1:8). Nor is there any contradiction between this statement and 1 Sam. 21:9, where Goliath’s sword is said to have been preserved in the tabernacle at Nob: for it is not affirmed that David kept Goliath’s armour in his own home, but only that he took it thither; and the supposition that Goliath’s sword was afterwards deposited by him in the sanctuary in honour of the Lord, is easily reconcilable with this. Again, the statement in 1 Sam. 18:2, to the effect that, after David’s victory over Goliath, Saul did not allow him to return to his father’s house any more, is by no means at variance with this explanation of the verse before us. For the statement in question must be understood in accordance with 1 Sam. 17:15, viz., as signifying that from that time forward Saul did not allow David to return to his father’s house to keep the sheep as he had done before, and by no means precludes his paying brief visits to Bethlehem.”

Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), 487–488.

If the wayyiqtol form וַיִּקַּח is semantically consecutive, we might have more of a problem. But Joosten’s (2012) position is that the wayyiqtol is semantically preterite only, not necessarily consecutive.
In any case, in verse 55 we have a narrative disjunction, rewinding time and beginning a new sequence, so we don’t have to imagine the head reappeared in David’s hand after a quick trip to Jerusalem.

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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