For Young Archaeologists David & Gooliath -- By: Lisette Brody

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 18:2 (Spring 2005)
Article: For Young Archaeologists David & Gooliath
Author: Lisette Brody


For Young Archaeologists
David & Gooliath

Lisette Brody

The story of David and Goliath in First Samuel, chapter 17, is one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. Even so, many people don’t think this is a true story, but I will show you how archaeology has uncovered evidence that explains to us how the account of David and Goliath is completely possible.

Let’s start with a little background. David was born in Bethlehem, Israel. He was the son of a man named Jesse and he was the youngest of eight brothers. David was a very good boy. He loved God very much and completely trusted in God for everything. David’s job was to watch over and protect the family’s sheep. He often had to fight off lions and bears and he was an excellent slinger. A slinger was someone who used a sling and a stone to fight off or even kill attacking animals. This is where the story of David and Goliath gets misunderstood.

You see, Israel was at war with their longtime enemies, the Philistines, and David’s brothers were at the front lines. One day, David’s father sent him to the Valley of Elah to go see how his brother’s were doing. While David was there he heard a Philistine named Goliath yelling insults at Israel’s army. Everyone was afraid of Goliath because he was a very tall, strong, military man.

The Bible says Goliath was “6 cubits and a span” tall. A cubit is a measurement of length equal to the distance between your elbow and your middle finger (approximately 17 to 22 inches). The length of a span is half of the cubit. That means that Goliath was somewhere between 9’2” tall and 11 ‘11” tall. Wow! I guess we can say that Goliath was a giant! But David trusted in God so much that he was the only one willing to face and fight Goliath.

Scripture tells us that David collected five smooth stones from the stream and with one shot of his sling and stone he killed Goliath. “Impossible,” people say. “How can a stone kill a strong, fighting, military giant like Goliath?” Well, here’s where archaeology answers that question.

Archaeologists have uncovered piles and piles of sling stones all over Israel. These stones are not the small pebbles we usually think of when we hear the story of David and Goliath. The stones are actually the size of tennis balls and they were widely used during the time period of about 2000 to 500 BC, as military weapons. Slingers were highly skilled and they could sling a stone more than 400 yards. That’s four football fields! Also, when the stones were released from the sling the release speed was often faster than 60 miles per hour. These weapons were not only capable of breaking bones; they caused internal injuries as well.

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