Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
1 Samuel 17:4
This post is different – something to stir your thoughts and hopefully wet your appetite for so much more. For the believer and for the skeptic comes this musing which came to me over the last couple of weeks…I hope you enjoy it and ponder all that may come to your thoughts as you read on…..
Do you know the story of David and Goliath? Maybe you remember the story from Sunday school as a child, or perhaps in a devotion on “facing your giants” you remember the analogy made when David conquers the giant (Goliath) who by all appearances should have been able to destroy David with one swing of his arm, but miraculously David takes him out with a single stone from his sling shot. (See scripture here recounting this story….)
No doubt this story is one of incredible bravery and courage, and importantly and example of God’s providence for a young man who overcomes all odds to be the man God is calling him to be. Have you also in this story considered Goliath the “giant?” He was a so-called “giant of Gath.” Perhaps you – like me – consider the “giant” mentioned in this story to simply be a very large and built man, relative to David who is described as young and perhaps thin or small. In fact scripture says Goliath was “six cubits and a span” tall…which is roughly about 9 feet tall. (Note here – the exact translation of a cubit has been debated, as well as the exact height of Goliath, and I will not try to get on either side of the debate for the purpose of this discussion…just suffice to say, Goliath was tall, likely much taller and bigger than most of his cohort or the population of the date here, and certainly much larger than David).
Image: The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments books collection published in 1885, Stuttgart-Germany. Drawings by Gustave Dore.
To consider the use of the word “giant” in Old Testament, I have noticed these people – these so called giants – mentioned several times in scripture and I have so conditioned myself to automatically categorize them as merely very large people. In fact I would argue many of us – i.e., those of us raised in a traditional western church culture, that is – tend to look back at some bible stories with the same view we credit to childhood fiction stories or fairy tales. “Giants” just do not exist, and could not have been real…they are just a part of the story added for emphasis somewhere along the way for the benefit of the storyteller. In fact the story of David and Goliath is one of the more popular children’s Sunday school stories and for good reason – how captivating for young children to hear a story about a small young man killing a giant with one slingshot! I mean it echoes Jack and the Beanstalk or Shrek successes!
And so our minds have adjusted this story to one of folklore, cataloging it away with other difficult to imagine biblical realities like Jonah and the whale or Eve talking to a serpent.
But have you considered the fact that Goliath was actually a real giant? Or that these “giants of Gath” may have actually existed? And what does this mean for us exactly, and who were these giants anyway? I guess I had always pictured the giants as really tall people that we know today. Consider for example the world record for the world’s tallest man. Currently the record is held by Robert Wadlow, who died in 1940, measuring in at a staggering 8 feet 11 inches tall. Or I have also pictured giants to be a group of men similar to a team of NBA basketball players: generously tall yes, but also built with large broad shoulders, big bones, hands and feet and with amazing strength and agility.
Thinking all of this really for the first time ever with any time or consideration, I recently started digging deeper in to the context of David’s story with Goliath, the idea of giants and even more so in reading 2 Samuel when David defeats four more giants from Gath.
In fact, scripture seems to so casually mention the giants of Gath that the reader can envision that these giants were a normal part of life in David’s life, 1000 years before the birth of Christ. Even the well known Jewish historian Flavius Josephus acknowledges their existence in his extensive account of ancient Jewish history – much of which he was a first account witness to before his death in AD 100.
Where does this leave us today in understanding such giant tales? What I found is mind-blowing.
Did you know that remains of giant human skeletons have been reported to be found throughout our modern day history? In fact these remains far exceed the current world-record holding 8’11” height of Mr. Wadlow. While some – or most – evidence of said remnants has been controversial, the innumerable reports found throughout the world over generations of archaeological discovery undoubtedly suggests their real presence in history. Skeletons in France, Italy, California and Indiana have been uncovered and date back to biblical era. Skulls twice the size of the average size human today, with frames over 10 feet tall – or even 12 feet tall in some cases – – I can hardly fathom such a human size. This of course can be argued by some as legend or myth, and internet photography may be unreliable in terms of authenticity. Although I cannot prove the existence here, I also cannot overlook the true possibility of remains found in modern day as evidence to the actual existence of giants time and again through archeological digging across the globe – turning up repeatedly in history as proof for us skeptics. (for more, read here and here and here…)
Why does this even matter? Simply this: if we view biblical history as a thought provoking book filled with stories of myths and legends, then these remains contradict such a simplistic view of scripture. But if we read scripture as God’s word for us, truth in history recorded so that we can understand and know the God of the universe who created us, then these remains are one discovery of proof that God’s history truly happened just as it was written. This appeals to our human need for tangible evidence to hold onto.
The remains of giants are NOT the key to believing the truth of Biblical history, please do not misunderstand my discussion. This has been simply a thought provoking exercise which has now led me to this. Keep following me here, for the following is definite and factual.
The year is 1946 when the following unfolds. A young modern day shepherd in Israel is looking for his lost goat. He is a Bedouin – remnant of an ancient people group still living in the deep tradition kept alive in their culture in the hills of Israel. While looking for his goat in the desert hills along the dead sea, he came upon a cave (one of thousands, literally, located in the desert hills of the Dead Sea). Throwing a rock into the cave to drive out the lost goat, he heard a clay container shatter from the contact of his stone. With this came the staggering discovery of what are now known as the “Dead Sea Scrolls.” These are the scrolls written before AD 70 when Rome destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. These scrolls were written in the generation of Christ, by people who were surely witnesses to the life and teaching of Christ and the original church. The papers on which the scriptures were written were preserved in clay pots hidden away in the caves of along the shores of the Dead Sea, not to be seen or touched again until this unknowing Beduoin boy accidentally discovered them in 1946.
Did you know that the oldest scripture known to exist before 1946 were scrolls written in 935 AD? This the Masoretic text was the only remaining so-called original Hebrew text of the Old testament. Many have argued the authenticity of our Bible was corrupt because of the large – almost 1000 year – gap from the events of Old Testament to what we have written in the Masoretic text.
In other words, naysayers would argue no way could our Bible be accurate if it was written almost 1000 years after the death and resurrection of Christ.
That is until 1946.
The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls put that argument to rest when the scrolls were compared to the Masoretic text of AD 935 and the texts were found to be identical. Let that sink in – – they were the same.
Do you remember playing the rumor game in grade school? You know this game – when one person whispers something in the ear to the next person, then they tell the next, until the whisper makes the way around the whole circle and the last person then says what the whisper was? You know the odds of everyone getting it exactly right are very slim – hence the point of the game to prove human error is significant in a very short time span. Apply this experience to what we now know about the Dead Sea Scrolls. From AD 70 until around AD 935, scripture was perfectly preserved and accurate, time tested and true.
Doesn’t this make you wonder why God has taken such measures to preserve this book if not for something amazing for us to know today? Why would such a text survive thousands of years of war and destruction, persecution, storms and natural disasters, through centuries in a clay container in the side of a desert along the shores of the lowest place on the planet where no living creature can possibly survive in the waters of the dead sea?
Do you think maybe it is because God wants us to read it?!?
And is it possible that we today discover remains of ancient cultures, cities – even maybe giants – as proof of the historical accuracy of His word which has been promised as true for us today? Has He drawn you in yet? Are you captivated by the invitation to read more?
Oh and by the way…here is another interesting connection in all that I have read: these hills along the Dead Sea where this young Bedouin boy accidentally found the scrolls? These are the same hills where a young David famously escaped and hid from a jealous King Saul who felt threatened by his strength after he killed a giant Goliath with his sling shot. King David lived in these caves along the Dead Sea – the very place where the scrolls would be hidden for nearly 2000 years. This is the King David, whose family line would ultimately bring our savior Jesus Christ. This story gets so so good….you just have to read it for yourself…..!!
Note ~ If you are intrigued, whether you are a believer or not, regardless of your culture, background or prior study, this Bible is just too good – and too important – to overlook as anything other than the greatest Book ever written. I am not a Biblical scholar. I am simply a person who has been transformed by the gospel – saved by grace, and forever redeemed. I read this Bible and the excitement of this truth overflows onto the pages I write to share with you. If you are interested but do not know where to begin your reading, I can give you direction! Just email me and we can connect….
With blessings and eternal love for His word, His truth, Heather