How Tall Was the Giant Goliath?
In 1 Samuel 17:4 the Hebrew texts tell us that the height of Goliath was SIX cubits and a span, which would make him about 9 feet 6 inches tall. That indeed is a giant, and Goliath is referred to 4 times as "the giant" in 2 Samuel 21:15-21. However some copies of the so called Greek Septuagint (LXX) tell us that Goliath was a mere FOUR cubits and a span - "ὕψος αὐτοῦ τεσσάρων πήχεων καὶ σπιθαμῆς" - which would make him only 6 feet 6 inches tall, which would hardly be much among NBA players today.
King Saul himself was head and shoulders taller than the other Israelites, and yet he was afraid of this giant. If he were only 6 ft. 6 inches, this would not make much sense.
All Jewish translations, like the JPS (Jewish Publication Society) 1917 or the Complete Tanach of 2004, Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011 or Hebrew Names Bible 2014 follow the Hebrew texts and say "SIX cubits and a span".
Also reading "his height was SIX cubits and a span" are The Jewish Virtual Library Full Tanach 1994 -
This online Hebrew Interlinear Old Testament - https://studybible.info/IHOT/1%20Samuel%2017:4
The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 - "whose height was SIX cubits and a span"
The New Jewish Version 1985 - "and he was SIX cubits and a span tall" -
The Hebrew Transliteration Bible 2010 - "whose height was SIX cubits and a span" (about 10 feet)"
A cubit was about 18 inches and a span was the length of an open hand between the tip of the thumb and the tip of the little finger, or about 6 inches.
This means Goliath was around 10 feet tall. Not even the Message or the NIV 2011 follow the LXX reading here. They agree with the Hebrew text and the KJB as do even the liberal RSV, the NRSV, ESV 2001-2016, NASB 1995, Common English Bible 2011, Holman Standard 2003 - "HE WAS NINE FEET, NINE INCHES TALL", Names of God Bible 2011 - "He was TEN FEET tall.", The Voice 2012 - "He was OVER NINE FEET TALL.", and the NKJV.
The Modern Greek Bible has now followed the Hebrew reading of "six cubits and a span" instead of the corrupt LXX reading. The Modern Greek Bible says: υψους εξ πηχων και σπιθαμης· = "height SIX cubits and a span"
Likewise Lamsa's translation of the Syriac Peshitta says: "Goliath of Gath, whose height was SIX cubits and a span."
As do the Latin Vulgate 404 A.D. and the Clementine Vulgate - "nomine Goliath de Geth altitudinis SEX cubitorum et palmo." = six cubits and a span.
Dan Wallace's NET Version
However there are a few loonies out there like Daniel Wallace and gang's NET version that says: "His name was Goliath; he was from Gath. He was CLOSE TO SEVEN FEET TALL."
Then in Daniel Wallace and company's faith destroying footnotes they tell us: "Heb “his height was six cubits and a span” (cf. KJV, NASB, NRSV). A cubit was approximately eighteen inches, a span nine inches. So, according to the Hebrew tradition, Goliath was about nine feet, nine inches tall (cf. NIV, CEV, NLT “over nine feet”; NCV “nine feet, four inches”; TEV “nearly 3 metres”). However, SOME Greek witnesses, Josephus, and A manuscript of 1 Samuel from Qumran read “four cubits and a span” here, that is, about six feet, nine inches (cf. NAB “six and a half feet”). This seems more reasonable; it is likely that Goliath’s height was exaggerated as the story was retold."
Note to Dan Wallace. If you mess with the Book, God is gonna mess with your mind, and you have obviously been messing with the Book, Daniel.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
Actually, the so called 1 Samuel Qumran manuscript is more confusing that what Dan Wallace tells us. I have a copy of 'The Dead Sea Scroll Bible' translated and with commentary by Martin Abegg Jr., Peter Flint & Eugene Ulrich, 1999.
When dealing with the passage of 1 Samuel 17:4 on page 229 they show the first part of the number placed in [brackets], meaning that part of the number was lost and not in this text, but the whole number "four" is in italics. It looks like this, meaning that all the words between the brackets were NOT found in the manuscript. [Then] a cha[mpion named Goliath, who was from Gath, ca]me out [of the Philistine camp. His height was f]our cu]bits and a span." It is very confusing because the whole number "four" is in italics.
So what they have actually written in this manuscript scrap is: "a cha me out bits and a span." Pretty conclusive, huh?! Then on top of all this, they footnote telling us that the number 'four' is from the 4QSam mss. and some LXX copies, but that other LXX copies read "FIVE" and other LXX copies read "SIX" along with the Hebrew Masoretic text! So they now know of THREE different readings taken from three different "LXX" manuscripts - some say 4 others 5 and others still read 6!!!
Also to be noted is that there was very little of 1 Samuel chapter 17 that was found remaining in the Dead Sea Scrolls. There are no verses 1 and 2. Then they have fragmentary readings for verses 3-6 and nothing from verses 7 to 58.
Yet on the basis of this flimsy, contradictory "evidence" renowned scholars like Dan Wallace and the people behind the ISV critical text version and some Catholic versions would change the Hebrew reading and would make the giant Goliath to be no taller than king Saul was himself, who was deathly afraid of this giant before him who challenged his entire army.
There are also a few other perverted bible versions besides Wallace's NET version like the new ISV (International Standard Version) that says: "A champion named Goliath from Gath came out from the Philistine camp. HE WAS SIX AND A HALF FEET TALL."
The Catholic Connection
Among the Catholic versions the Douay-Rheims 1610, the Douay 1950, and the newer New Jerusalem bible of 1985 say he was "SIX cubits and a span", but the previous St. Joseph New American bible of 1970 had "HE WAS SIX AND A HALF FEET TALL" thus following the corrupt Greek Septuagint reading and rejecting the Hebrew text.
We also can see the newest Catholic version called The Catholic Public Domain Bible of 2009 and it also has gone back to the Hebrew reading and says: "whose height was six cubits and a palm."
We should ask ourselves about the total inconsistency of people like Dan Wallace and company's NET version and the ISV. Why would they follow the corrupt reading of "FOUR cubits and a span" from ONE copy of the so called Greek Septuagint here in 1 Samuel 17:4 (remember, another copy says "five" and another one says "six"), and yet in the book of Jonah 3:4 where the Hebrew texts all have Jonah preaching: "Yet FORTY DAYS, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." the so called Greek Septuagint actually says: "Yet THREE DAYS, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." = "ἔτι τρεῖς ἡμέραι καὶ νινευη καταστραφήσεται"
Do either Dan Wallace or the ISV follow the Septuagint reading here and have THREE DAYS instead of FORTY DAYS? Nope. Not even a footnote. They both say: "At the end of FORTY DAYS, Nineveh will be overthrown." and so do the ESV, NIV, NASB and the Modern Greek Bible - "Ετι τεσσαρακοντα ημεραι και η Νινευη θελει καταστραφη." Such is the true nature of their so called "science" of textual criticism.
The "Greek LXX" and 1 Samuel chapter 17
While here in 1 Samuel 17 let me point out another characteristic of this so called Greek Septuagint that is repeated scores of times over. Right here in this and the next chapter the LXX omits all of 1 Samuel 17:12 through verse 31; then it picks up verses 32 to 54 but then omits verses 55 through 58 and the first 6 verses of chapter 18:1-5. It then picks up verses 6, 7 and 8 but then omits verses 9, 10 and 11; then it shows verses 12 through 16 but omits verses 17, 18 and 19; it picks up the text again from verse 20 to verse 29 but then omits the last verse 30. So, just in these two chapters of First Samuel 17 and 18 the LXX version omits 37 entire verses that are found in the Hebrew texts; and that's just in two chapters!
Then in other parts the LXX adds literally hundreds of words that are not found in any Hebrew text at all. If this thing is the best we can hope for in a good Greek translation of the Old Testament, then we are in a world of hurt.
Get yourself a King James Holy Bible and stick to it. Nobody seriously believes that any other Bible in any language is the complete, inspired and inerrant words of the living God and The Standard of Absolute Written Truth.
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