Historical Events  Religion
David and Goliath

How tall was Goliath?

MMDE: 9 feet 6 inches

Current: 6 feet 9 inches

We all know the story of David and Goliath, where the famous Biblical tale describes the Philistines epic battle with the Israelites coming to a head with each sending a single man to fight each other. The Philistines sent Goliath, said to be a huge giant, whereas the Israelites sent David, unarmoured except to a sling and 5 rocks, after David put his faith in God. The outcome is legendary - David defeated Goliath with a rock to his head. That's pretty impressive for such a big giant ... but wait a moment, just how tall was he?

Many people are surprised when they hear the translation into a modern description of his height, recorded as "Six cubits and a span". That's because it's 6 feet and 9 inches - the same height as the heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury, for example.

Changed story

There is more controversy regarding this story. Today, it's reported the killer of Goliath was David, yet scholars now believe this has been changed, and the original killer was Elhanan, son of Jair. The reason the story was changed was to give more prominence to David, who was fairly well-known at the time. The reason for the fight in any case was as a proxy for Saul  as it was seen as a test whether Saul was fit to rule or not.

Whoever it was, the way Goliath was defeated is not in question - a rock from a slingshot which hit him square in the forehead and killed him instantly. The legend has become so profound it is now in regular use whenever an underdog faces overwhelming odds, as in "a David and Goliath battle".

Six cubits and a span

Some have recorded the height as 9 feet and 6 inches, rather than 6 feet 9 inches. This transposition seems to be a mere mathematical error.