Elha'nan (Hebrews Elchanan', אֶלחָנָן, whom God has graciously bestowed [compare Hananeel, Hanananiah, Johanan, Phoen. Hannibal; also Baal- hanan, etc.]; Sept. Ε᾿λεανάν; Vulg. Adeodatus, but Chanan, Elchanan, in Chron.), a distinguished warrior in the time of king David, who performed a memorable exploit against the Philistines, though in what that exploit exactly consisted, and who the hero himself was, it is not easy to determine. B.C. cir. 1020.
1. 1Sa 21:15, says that he was the "son of Jaare Oregim the Bethlehemite," and that he "slew Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam." Here, in the A.V., the words "the brother of" are inserted, to bring the passage into agreement with,
2. 1Ch 20:5, which states that "Elhanan, son of Jair (or Jaor), slew Lahmi, the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear," etc.
Of these two statements the latter is probably the more correct, the differences between them being much smaller in the original than in English (see Kennicott, Dissertation, page 78). SEE LAHMI.
(a.) The word Oregim (q.v.) exists twice in the verse in Samuel, first as a proper name, and again at the end — "weavers." The former has probably been taken in by an early transcriber from the latter, i.e., from the next line of the MS. To the end of the verse it certainly belongs, since it is found in the parallel passage of Chronicles, and also forms part of what seems to have been a proverbial description of Goliath (compare 1Sa 17:7).
(b.) The statement in Samuel is in contradiction to the narrative of 1 Samuel 17, according to which Goliath the Gittite was killed by David. True, Ewald (Gesch. 3:91 sq.) — from the fact that David's antagonist is, with only three exceptions (one of them in the doubtful verses, 17:12-32), called "the Philistine," and for other linguistic reasons has suggested that Elhanan was the real victor of Goliath, and that after David became king the name of Goliath was attached to the nameless champion whom he killed in his youth. But against this is the fact that Goliath is named thrice in 1Sa 17; 1Sa 21 — thrice only though it be; and also that Elhanan's exploit, from its position both in Samuel and in Chronicles, and from other indications, took place late in David's reign, and when he had been so long king, and so long renowned, that all the brilliant feats of his youth must have been brought to light, and well known to his people. It is recorded as the last but one in the series of encounters of what seems to have been the closing struggle with the Philistines. It was so late that David had acquired among his warriors the fond title of "the light of Israel" (2Sa 21:17), and that his nephew Jonathan was old enough to perform a feat rivaling that of his illustrious uncle years before. It was certainly after David was made king, for he goes down to the fight, not with his "young men," as when he was leading his band during Saul's life, but with his " servants," literally his "slaves," a term almost strictly reserved for the subjects of a king. The vow of his guard, on one of these occasions, that it should be his last appearance in the field, shows that it must have been after the great Ammonitish war, in which David himself had led the host to the storming of Rabbah (2Sa 12:29). It may have been between this last event and the battle with Absalom beyond Jordan, though there are other obvious reasons why David staid within the walls of Mahanaim on that occasion. SEE DAVID.
Jerome, in his Quaest. Hebr. on both passages — he does not state whether from ancient tradition or not translates Elhanan into A 'do-datus, and adds filius saltus Polymitarius Bethlehemites — the son of a wood, a weaver, a Bethlehemite." Adeodatus, he says, is David, which he argues not only by considerations drawn from the meaning of each of the above words, but also from the statement in the concluding verse of the record that all these giants "fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants," and as Elhanan slew Goliath, Elhanan must be David.
3. Elhanan is elsewhere called the son of Dodo of Bethlehem, one of "the thirty" of David's guard, and named first on the list (2Sa 23:24; 1Ch 11:26). See Kennicott's Dissertation, page 179. Perhaps his father had both names. SEE JAIR.