In 1 Samuel 17:50, it says David prevailed by striking down Goliath with a sling and stone and killing him. In the next sentence, it says David grabbed Goliath’s sword and killed him.


I Sam 17:50, 51 says:

Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He grabbed the Philistine’s sword and pulled it from its sheath and killed him; and he cut off his head with the sword.

Note what the text does NOT say: It does not say that when Goliath was hit with the stone from a sling that he was killed. It simply says that he was overcome or prevailed over. The killing of Goliath occurred when he was beheaded.

Therefore, the simplest way to understand this passage is to suggest that when he was struck by the stone, Goliath was knocked unconscious and fell (V49). David then took Goliath's sword and beheaded him, thus killing him.

However, the text is capable of meaning that the stone from the sling actually killed Goliath and that the beheading was to ensure that the giant was dead. Either way, the giant did not die twice. (I prefer the first interpretation but that is a matter of taste since no physician was there to monitor and document his health.)

  • Good answer. It bears mentioning that this kind of "back-and-forth" is common in Hebrew; hence while we automatically read the first "killed him" to be connected to "without a sword," it is quite likely that the intention of the author with the "David ran [...] with the sowrd" clause was to elaborate on the first "killed him."
    – anonymous2
    Apr 16 '20 at 2:29

It appears that while David did prevail over him with the sling, he did not kill him with the sling, but rather Goliath's own sword. Prevailing over does not necessarily have to mean "killing" while it probably means here a gain in the upper hand, due to the fact that Goliath is likely unconscious.

Another possibility is that Goliath is dead once being hit with the stone, yet the text simply grants the time of death to be when David beheads him.


So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him. [1 Samuel 17:50, KJV]

David 'smote' the giant with a stone.

Then 'slew' him with the giant's own sword.


Verses from ISA-2 Interlinear from scripture4all.org. [Some unwarranted -ing endings changed to present tense by me.]

1Sam. 17:49 – And-he-puts-(forth) David ath(-) hand-of-him to(-) the wallet and-he-takes-from-there stone and-he-slings and-he-smites [ik] ath(-) the-Philistine to(-) forehead-of-him and-she-sinks the-stone in-forehead-of-him and-he-falls on(-) faces-of-him earth-ward.

1Sam. 17:50 – And-he-holds-fast David from(-) the-Philistine in-sling and-in-stone and-he-smites [ik] ath(-) the-Philistine and-he-puts-to-death-him [u-imith-eu] and-sword (there)-is-no in-hand-of(-) David.

1Sam. 17:51 – And-he-runs David and-he-stands to(-) the-Philistine and-he-is-takes ath(-) sword-of-him and-he-draws-her from-scabbard-of-her and-he-puts-to-death-him [i-mthth-eu] and-he-cuts-(off)(-) in-her ath(-) head-of-him and-they-see the-Philistines that(-) he-(is)-dead [mth] masterful-(man)-of-them and-they-are-fleeing.


How Many Times Did David Kill Goliath? Date: May 3, 2012 Author: Louis

A common “difficulty” or contradiction cited in the Bible is the fact that the text tells us David “killed” Goliath twice. The passage is 1 Samuel 17:50-51. Here’s how it reads in the ESV.

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

In my reading of Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? Old Testament scholar Robert Chisholm offers the following explanation:

“The alleged ‘double killing’ of the Philistine in 17:50-51 can be explained reasonably when one takes a closer look at the Hebrew text.

In verse 50 a hiphil form of מוּת, ‘die,’ is collocated with ‘he struck down,’ while in verse 51 a polel form of מוּת is used to describe how David killed the Philistine with the sword. The collocation of verbs in verse 50 has the nuance ‘dealt a mortal blow.’

The polel of מוּת (v. 51) is used in eight other passages in the Old Testament. In three poetic texts, it appears to mean, simply, ‘kill, put to death’ (Pss. 34:21; 109:16; Jer. 20:17). But in narrative (all in Judges-Samuel) it appears to have a specialized shade of meaning, referring to finishing off someone who is already mortally wounded (Judg. 9:54; 1 Sam. 14:13; 2 Sam. 1:9-10, 16).

Abimelech’s statement (Judg. 9:54) is particularly instructive—he asked the armor bearer to kill him (polel) because otherwise people would say that a woman killed him (the verb is הָרַג, ‘kill’). So who killed Abimelech? Two answers are possible and both are correct—the woman (she delivered a mortal blow that made death certain) and the armor bearer (he delivered the death blow in the technical sense = polel).

How did David kill the Philistine? Again two answers are possible and both are correct—with a sling stone (David delivered a mortal blow with the sling that made death certain) and with the Philistine’s sword, which he used to deliver the deathblow in a technical sense (= polel).” (p. 195)....

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