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.

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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
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 2:29

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.


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.


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)....


David did not kill Goliath twice!

49 And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and smote the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell upon his face to the earth. 50 David smote the Philistine, and slew him with a sling and a stone, but there was no sword in David’s hand. 51 Then David ran and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword and drew it out of the sheath, and slew him, cutting off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. (1 Samuel 17:49-51)

In verse 50 when it says that David slew the Philistine, it uses the Hebrew word ‘hiphil’ which means that he was ‘dealt a mortal blow.’ In verse 51 it uses the Hebrew word ‘poel’ which means to make death certain and immediate.

There is another story in the Bible that shows how these two words are used.

(Judges 9:50-56) Abimelech killed 70 of his brothers to become king over Shechem. And while Abimelech and his soldiers were fighting hard to reach the gate of a strong tower, to burn it with fire. A woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head and broke his skull. Then he called hastily to his young armor-bearer and said: “Draw thy sword and slay me that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through and he died.

You can see that the woman killed Abimelech, by 'dealing him a death blow when she crushed his skull open with a stone.' But the armor-bearer killed him quickly with a sword.

For more information about David and Goliath see: https://arkofthecovenant2.blogspot.com


Does it really say he took the Philistine’s sword?

I thought it said he took "his" sword!
David ran over and took his sword.....

So as it mentions Dave ran over - the next part must mean his own sword. I don't think you can assume he took anyone else sword from that passage.

But Dave didn't have a sword.

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    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 14:01

1 Samuel 17:23 AMP

As he (David) was talking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of GATH named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words again; and David heard him.

In verse 51, David cut his head.

2 Samuel 21:19 AMP

There was war with the Philistines AGAIN at Gob, and ELHANAN the son of Jaare-oregim, a Bethlehemite, killed Goliath the GITTITE, whose spear shaft was like a weaver’s beam.*

Take note of the bold and capitalised words. There were two Goliaths - David killed one, Goliath of Gath, and Elhanan, of David's tribe, killed the 2nd, Goliath the Gittite.


In this instance, instead to take into consideration factors as scribal mistakes, doubling of Goliath’s character (according Layo Sobo), or an improbable ‘dilution’ of the meaning of the Hebrew verb מות (‘to put to death’, in this context) in “to be knocked unconscious” (according Dottard), is more useful to consider a special Hebrew language characteristic.

Prof. Peter J. Gentry [How to Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets, 2017, Crossway, Wheaton, Ill., U.S.A., chapter 1 (Calling the People Back to the Covenant > Illustration from Isaiah 5 and 6 > Hebrew Literature)] illustrates this peculiar style often utilized in the Bible (bold is mine, Italics is author’s):

“[…] reading and studying the Bible may not be straight forward for readers with a modern and Western background in culture and language. […] the normal pattern of Hebrew literature is to consider topics in a recursive manner, which means that a topic is progressively repeated. Such an approach seems monotonous to those who do not know and understand how these texts communicate. Using the recursive approach, a Hebrew author begins a discourse on a particular topic, develops it from a particular perspective, and then concludes his conversation. Then he begins another conversation taking up the same topic again from a different point of view. When these two conversations or discourses on the same topic are heard in succession, they are like the left and right speakers of a stereo system. Do the speakers of a stereo system give the same music, or do they give different music? The answer is that the music they give is both different and the same. In one sense the music from the left speaker is identical to that of the right, yet in another way it is slightly different so that the effect is stereo[phonic] instead of just one-dimensional. Just so, in Hebrew literature the ideas presented can be experienced like 3-D Imax movies with Dolby surround sound – they are three-dimensional or full-orbed ideas.”

Understood this point, how we may apply this peculiar Hebrew literature’s style to the account at issue?

Before everything, as our frequent habit, now we get to quote 1 Sam 17:50-51 Hebrew text (I’ve boldened two terms which we speak about later.

ויחזק דוד מן־הפלשׁתי בקלע ובאבן ויך את־הפלשׁתי וימיתהו וחרב אין ביד־דוד

וירץ דוד ויעמד אל־הפלשׁתי ויקח את־חרבו וישׁלפה מתערה וימתתהו ויכרת־בה את־ראשׁו ויראו הפלשׁתים כי־מת גבורם וינסו

Another Hebrew language peculiarity is putting first into the sentence the term you wants to emphasize (the high flexibility of Hebrew synthax – compared to a lot of our Western languages - allowed this linguistic method). So now, if we pay attention to the first verb of each verses we can catch the idea that the writer wanted to enhance.

The first ‘conversation’ (using prof. Gentry terminology above) wants to enhance the fact that the young anointed king held firm [חזק] before Goliath, in spite of the unassailable advantages that the giant from Gath had over David (as regards Goliath’s body frame and war expertise, compare 1 Sam 17:33).

The second ‘conversation’, also if it seems repeating the same things, really wants to enhance another slightly different concept: indeed, the first term, a form of the verb רץ (‘to run’), emphasizes David’s will to make certain - to him – the death of Goliath, to clinch it once and for all.

As we saw from this brief research, the Bible has nothing to fear from this deepening approach. Indeed, this latter method reveals that a number of so-called (Bible) ‘discrepancies’ are only illusory.

As 2 Tim 3:16-17 states, we can maintain a full trust in Holy Scriptures, since they are result of divine inspiration, “All Scripture is inspired by God, and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in doing what is right, so that the man of God may be perfectly fit, thoroughly equipped for every good enterprise” (Williams)


What I perceive in these portions of Holy Scripture is that David mortally wounded Goliath in verse 50 and finished killing him in verse 51. Same scene is seeing in Judges 9:54.

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