Goli'ath (Heb. Golyath', גָּליִת; Sept. Γολιάθ, Josephus Γολίαθος), a famous giant of Gath, who "morning and evening for forty days" defied the armies of Israel; but was eventually slain by David, in the remarkable encounter, with a sling <91701> (1 Samuel 17). B.C. 1063. Although repeatedly called a Philistine, he was possibly descended from the old Rephaim, of whom a scattered remnant took refuge with the Philistines after their dispersion by the Ammonites (De 2:20-21; 2Sa 21:22). Some trace of this condition may be preserved in the giant's name, if it be connected with גּוֹלֶה, an exile, as thought by Gesenius (Thes. Heb. page 285). Simonis, however, derives it from an Arabic word meaning stout (Onom. s.v.); while Fürst merely indicates it as of Philistian etymology (Heb, Lex. s.v.). Hitzig (Gesch. u. Mythol. der Philist. page 76) regards it as merely= Γαυλεύτης, i.e., sorcerer. His height was "six cubits and a span," which, taking the cubit at 21 inches, would make him 10 1/2 feet high. But the Sept. (at 1Sa 17:4) and Josephus (Ant. 6:9,1) read "four cubits and a span." 'This will make him about the same- size as the royal champion slain by Anetimenidas, brother of Alceus (ἀπολείποντα μίαν μόνον παχέων ἀπὸ πἐμπων ap. Strabo, 13, page 617, with Müller's emendation). Even on this computation Goliath would be, as Josephus calls him, ἀνὴρ παμμεγεθἐστατος - a truly enormous man. (See Wichmannshausen, De armatura Gol. Viteb. 1711.) After the victory David cut off Goliath's head (1Sa 17:51; compare Herod. 4:6; Xenoph. Anab. 5:4, 17; Niebuhr mentions a similar custom among the Arabs, Beschr. page 304), which he brought (1 Samel 17:54) to Jerusalem (probably after his accession to the throne, Ewald, Gesch. 3:94), while he hung the armor in his tent. SEE FIGHT. His sword was afterwards received by David in a great emergency from the hands of Ahimelech at Nob, where it had been preserved as a religious trophy. (1Sa 21:9). SEE GIANT.
The scene of this famous combat (see Trendelenburg, De pugna Dav. cum. Goliatho, Gedan. 1792) was the Valley of the Terebinth, between Shochoh and Azekah, probably among the western passes of Benjamin, although a confused modern tradition has given, the name of Ain-Jahlad (spring of Goliath)to the spring of Harod, or "trembling" (Stanley, Palest. page 342; see Jg 7:1). SEE ELAH, VALLEY OF. This modern name, however, may rather be (=the spring of Gilead) a reminiscence of Gideon's exploit (Jg 7:3). SEE GILEAD. The circumstances of the combat (q.v.) are in all respects. Homeric, free from any of the puerile legends which Oriental imagination subseqtuently introduced into it; as, for instance, that the stones used by David called out to him from the brook, "By our means you shall slay the giant," etc. (Hottinger, Hist. Orient. 1:3, page 111 sq.). The fancies of the Rabbis are yet more extraordinary. By the Mohammedans Saul and Goliath are called Taluth and Kaluth (Jalut in Koran, 2:131 sq.), perhaps for the sake of the homoioteleuton, of which they are so fond (Hottinger, Hist. Orient. 1:3, page 28). Abulfeda mentions a Canaanite king of the name Jalut (Hist. Anteislam, page 176); and, according to Ahmed al-Fassi, Gialout was a dynastic name of the old giant- chiefs of the Philistines (D'Herbelot, Bibl. Or. s.v. Gialout). In the title of the psalm added to the psalter in the Sept. we find τῷ Δαυϊvδ πρὸς τὸν Γολιάδ; and although the allusions are vagne, it is thought by some that this psalm may have been written after the victory. This psalm is given at length under DAVID, page 687 (see Hilscher, Psa. centes. quinquages. prim. illustr., acced. vita Goliathi, Bautzen, 1716). It is strange that we find no more definite. allusions to this combat in Hebrew poetry; but it is the opinion of some that the song now attributed to Hannah (1Sa 2:1-10) was originally written really in commemoration of David's triumph on this occasion (Thenius, Die Bücher Sam, page 8; comp. Bertholdt, Einl, 3:915; Ewald, Poet. Bücher des A.B. 1:111). SEE PSALMS.
In 2Sa 21:19, we find that another Goliath of Gath, of whom it is also said that "the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam," was slain by Elhanan, also a Bethlehemite. St. Jerome (Quaest. Heb ad loc.) makes the unlikely conjecture that Elhanan was another name of David. The A.V. here interpolates the words "the brother of," from 1Ch 20:5, where this giant is called "Lahmi." See Stiebritz, Die Davidische Erlegung des Goliath's (Halle, 1742). SEE ELHANAN.