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1 Samuel 17:4-6 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Then a champion[a] came out from the camp of the Philistines. His name was Goliath; he was from Gath. He was close to seven feet tall.[b] He had a bronze helmet on his head and was wearing scale body armor. The weight of his bronze body armor was 5,000 shekels.[c] He had bronze shin guards[d] on his legs, and a bronze javelin was slung over his shoulders.


  1. 1 Samuel 17:4 tn Heb “the man of the space between the two [armies].” See v. 23.
  2. 1 Samuel 17:4 tc Heb “his height was six cubits and a span.” The LXX, a Qumran manuscript of 1 Samuel, and Josephus read “four cubits and a span.” A cubit was approximately 17.5 inches, a span half that. So the Masoretic text places Goliath at about 9½ feet tall (cf. NIV, CEV, NLT “over nine feet”; NCV “nine feet, four inches”; TEV “nearly 3 metres” while the other textual witnesses place him at about 6 feet, 7 inches (cf. NAB “six and a half feet”). Note, too, that the cubit was adjusted through history, also attested in Babylon (NIDOTTE 421-424 s.v. אַמָּה). If the cubits measuring Goliath were reckoned as the cubit of Moses, his height at 6 cubits and a span would be approximately 7 feet 9 inches tall. This is one of many places in Samuel where the LXX and Qumran evidence seems superior to the Masoretic text. It is possible that the scribe’s eye skipped briefly to the number 6 a few lines below in a similar environment of letters. The average Israelite male of the time was about 5 feet 3 inches, so a man 6 feet 7 inches would be a very impressive height. Saul, being head and shoulder above most Israelites, would have been nearly 6 feet tall. That is still shorter than Goliath, even at “four cubits and a span,” and makes a sharper contrast between David and Saul. There would have been a greater expectation that a 6 foot tall Saul would confront a 6 feet 7 inches Goliath, placing Saul in a bad light while still positioning David as a hero of faith, which is fitting to the context.
  3. 1 Samuel 17:5 sn Although the exact weight of Goliath’s defensive body armor is difficult to estimate in terms of modern equivalency, it was obviously quite heavy. Driver, following Kennedy, suggests a modern equivalent of about 220 pounds (100 kg); see S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel, 139. Klein, taking the shekel to be equal to .403 ounces, arrives at a somewhat smaller weight of about 126 pounds (57 kg); see R. W. Klein, 1 Samuel (WBC), 175. But by any estimate it is clear that Goliath presented himself as a formidable foe indeed.
  4. 1 Samuel 17:6 sn Or “greaves.” These were coverings (probably lined for comfort) that extended from about the knee to the ankle, affording protection for the shins of a warrior.
New English Translation (NET)

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