1 Samuel 17:54 New International Version

David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.

Was the young David trying to threaten the Jebusites in Jerusalem at this early stage of his life? Had he desired to set Jerusalem as the capital of his kingdom at this early stage of the game? What was so special about Jerusalem at this time of history? Or was there some more practical and natural reason for this act?

  • For the same reason Caesar paraded Vercingetorix through Rome, after capturing him. Jerusalem was the important long before David's time, even before Joshua.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 14:42
  • Expand it into an answer. I'll upvote it.
    – user35953
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 14:44

5 Answers 5


Why did David take Goliath's head to Jerusalem? And what does the Story of David and Goliath have to do with Jesus Dying on the Cross?

Everyone knows the story of David and Goliath. But many are not aware of what happened after David killed the Giant.

1 Samuel 17:53-54

And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.

Now the battle between David and Goliath took place in the Valley of Kayla, which was almost 20 miles from Jerusalem. Why would David carry Goliath’s head all the way to Jerusalem, and what did he do with it when he got there?

It was a common practice for a king to decapitate the head of his enemy, and then stick it on a pole high on a hill, where many people could see it. The fact that David brought Goliath’s head to Jerusalem was quite an astonishing fulfillment of ancient prophecy. But to where in Jerusalem did David bring Goliath’s head?

One clue is the connection between the name “Goliath of Gath,” and Golgotha. The name of Goliath of Gath is a name derived from the two words “Gola Gatha.” One can say fairly confidently, that David took the head of Goliath (the head of the serpent) and after displaying it on a highest hill in Jerusalem for all to see, buried it in a place called Golgotha, still known today as "the place of the skull."

When David took Goliath’s head back to Jerusalem it would have been considered unclean and against Jewish law to bring a stinking rotting head into the city. The head had to be buried somewhere outside of the city, as gentiles (non-Jews) were considered unclean. The head of Goliath was a trophy of war and would have been displayed on the highest hill in the area. Golgotha was the highest point on Mount Moriah just outside of the city gates, overlooking Jerusalem, so that God’s people could look up and see God’s enemy has been destroyed.

David was a type of Christ, and Goliath was a type of the devil, (the serpent). Goliath was a descendent of the giants which were born as a result of the fallen angels having sex (fornication) with the earthly women. Goliath, who was of the Lineage of Cain, was ⅔’s angel and 1/3rd human and was a genetic mutation of God’s perfect creation of man, whom God had made in the image and likeness of himself.

Goliath represented pure evil, the “seed (children) of the serpent.” He was one of the super-soldiers that the devil and his fallen angels had created (sired), with the aim of totally destroying God’s lineage (righteous seed) from off the face of the earth. So that the promised Messiah could never come, and the earth and all its people would remain under the devil, his demons, and his fallen angels' control.

This giant super-soldier would come out in the field and mock God every day; and had a helmet of brass, and a coat of mail (small brass rings) made of five thousand shekels of brass. And he had shields of brass upon his legs and a breastplate of brass between his shoulders. (1 Samuel 17:5,6).

The word for bronze, nehoshet, sounds similar to the word for serpent, nehesh. Brass looks like gold when it's shiny, but when it starts to weather and gets tarnished, it starts to show its true color, a slimy green, like the scales of a snake or fish. When David cut the head off this giant slimy serpent, it was a prophetic picture of Jesus crushing the head of the serpent at the foot of the cross.

Thus fulfilling the prophecy that Jesus was the lamb slain before God laid the foundations of the earth. He is the Messiah, the promised seed of the woman, that was pierced in the heel, while crushing the head of the Serpent. Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; It shall break thy head and thou shalt break his heel.”

Mount Moriah, is the Holy Place where Solomon built the Temple, where Abraham offered up Isaac, where Jesus died on the cross, where Jacob dreamed of a staircase that reached up into heaven. and where David like Moses raised the serpent's head high on a pole for all to see, and as many as were bitten by the serpent and believed in Jesus, lived!

David's action of bringing Goliath's head to Golgotha the highest hill on Mount Moriah where Solomon would build God's Temple is similar to what the Philistines did when they brought King Saul's head to the temple of their god Dagon, and fastened it to the wall. See: (I Chronicles 10:10 and 2 Samuel 31:8-10)

The fact that the Ark of the Covenant was recently found in a cave 20 feet below where Jesus was crucified on Golgotha, is all evidence pointing to the fact that this is where God's Temple and His Holy of Holies now dwell here on earth, and not in the city of Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. For more information on this topic see: https://arkofthecovenant2.blogspot.com

  • Hi Kevin, welcome to BH-Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Please be sure to take the site tour and read our code of conduct. Thanks! Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 7:48
  • Hi Kevin, welcome! Interesting answer on Goliath. It looks like your interest in more current archaeological discoveries will inform your perspective on hermeneutics. Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 23:13
  • David like Moses, put the head of the serpent on a pole and raised it up high in the air for all to see; And as many as have sinned, (been bitten by the deadly serpent); The penalty for sin is death. But if we repent of our sins, and ask God for forgiveness, and believe in what Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and the sprinkling of His blood on the mercy seat has done for us, we shall be saved. For more information see:arkofthecovenant2.blogspot.com Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 20:39
  • Interesting premise. But, Mt Moriah was reportedly the site where the temple was built, and the foundation stone laid for the Holy of Holies. Jesus would not have been crucified in the temple sanctuary, but outside the city gates. See: jewishvirtuallibrary.org/mount-moriah Others are making a case for Christ's crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane where He was arrested, on the Mt of Olives facing the temple. c4israel.com.au/articles/…
    – Gina
    Commented Dec 6, 2022 at 7:06

To enact prophecy. But why Jerusalem ? - Because of his God. All the gods/God had/have a mountain. And God resides on Mt Zion.

David had begun one of his divine assignments, to finish the ‘clean up’ that Joshua started when he entered the promised land. His (Davids) ‘mighty men’ cleaned up Goliaths brothers. The remnants of the giant tribes. Those ‘giants’, the attempt to genetically corrupt human ‘seed’ that Satan meant to thwart the birth of Messiah.

David buried the ‘head’ on a small mountain next to the city, Golgotha - the place of the skull. Whose “‘skull’? And, which prophecy?

GENESIS 3:15 [snip] He shall bruise your head,

The cross on that hill!! Crushed Satan’s head!

Hebraic (Bible) prophecy is not a one off ‘prediction’. It is always pattern. There can be multiple partial or even ‘whole’ fulfillments. What David did (knowingly or unknowingly [by inspiration?]) was set up to allow for a future ‘picture’ at the cross of what would happen in the times of the end.

  • Fascinating stuff. Are you saying that the place where David put the head became known as Golgotha? If so, can you share a source?
    – Robert
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 21:30
  • @Robert The Bible tells us David took it to Jerusalem. Jerusalem at this time was inhabited by David’s enemies, the Jebusites. Rabbinical tradition tell us it was buried by the main road that goes all the way to Damascus, that crosses through Jerusalem. That's where he was crucified. And that's where calvary is today, Golgotha. In 2019 archaeologists claimed they had found a skull at this location - and argued it was a giants size.
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 21:57
  • That is awesome. Can you point me to a reference for the rabbinical tradition? I am not trying to argue with you, but if you have a reference I would appreciate it.
    – Robert
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 22:12
  • @Robert Sorry, I can’t at this time pinpoint the exact reference - Its somewhere, but not in memory. Understanding this response might benefit by better understanding the (Hebraic) worldview of that time. This is now well presented by some recent scholarly publications. This would help background what David did. You’ll end up using a very different ‘lens’ to the traditional one - and ‘see’ the ‘position’ that Jerusalem would have held in their thinking even though it was in enemy hands! ... and why David had to do what he did.
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 0:14

Not so fast. The remark found in 1 Sam 17:54 is clearly a parenthetical statement (inserted by the author) of what happened MUCH later. It is clearly not chronological for the following reasons:

  • the remaining part of 1 17:55-58 is what happened on the battlefield
  • David did not become king for another (perhaps) 12 years after this (assuming he was about 18 or less at the time)
  • The city of the Jebusites, Jerusalem, was capture by David after he became king in 2 Sam 5.
  • 1 Sam 17:54 says that David put Goliath's sword in his own tent - but at the time he did not have his own tent because he was still living at his father's (Jesse's) home.

Still later we learn that the sword of Goliath was in the Sanctuary (1 Sam 22:10). It was after this incident that David presumably took Goliath's sword home and still later when Goliath's head was taken to Jerusalem.

Taking war "trophies" was (an unfortunately remains) a practice of combatants both ancient and modern, despite, in modern times, it being illegal for most armies.


David was a shepherd. Shepherds do not sleep out in the open at night, they sleep in tents, especially when it's raining. When David’s father sent him to take food to his brothers, and to see how they were doing, he would have taken his tent with him!


The Bible is clearly not chronological history as we would define that term, including when it is giving us detailed history. As in any example of storytelling, there are asides, parentheticals, and flashbacks used to remind and inform and impress the memory of the hearer/reader. There is no particular reason to read this note (1 Sam 15:53-54) as immediately taking place right after David's victory over Goliath.

In answer to this question, I want to propose a somewhat unorthodox theory. Timing aside, we know that David took the head to Jerusalem. We have no record of him residing in Jerusalem prior to conquering the Jebusites (1 Chron. 11), which happened many years later.

It is thus reasonable to understand that David kept Goliath's head as a trophy or reminder and eventually took it to his new capital where he planned to built a permanent house for YHVH. If this is correct, we can infer that it held great importance to David.

Now, recall the story of David escaping from Saul's assassins by Michal's deception of placing the teraphim into David's bed. (1 Sam. 19) Teraphim are referenced only a handful of times in the Bible and never described very well. Some, at least, were small (small enough for Rachel to hide away in her saddle/cushion after leaving her father Laban's home/country). Translators appear to have leaned on tradition to render teraphim as "household idols". Some scholars have posited that the teraphim of 1 Sam. 19 was a man-sized wood carving that could have passed for David beneath the goat-hair blanket. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, among others, tells us that at least some teraphim were preserved human heads used in a form of necromancy. Now, we never have any indication of David himself being involved with idols and prior to his sins of later life he is recorded as so extremely faithful and zealous for YHVH that it is difficult to conceive of him tolerating idol worship in his home. Finally, I note that plastered preserved human skulls from the ANE have been found by archaeologists, e.g. Kathleen Kenyon in Jericho in the 1950s.

Considering the overlap of this body of evidence suggests to me the possibility that David kept Goliath's head in his private possession, perhaps as a trophy or as a reminder of when when YHVH used David's victory over Goliath to show himself mighty in front of the armies of Israel and Philistia. Further, I believe it is a reasonable hypothesis that although David did not use Goliath's head as an object of worship or as a talisman, the word "teraphim" was used in 1 Sam. 19:13 because it fit - the preserved head would have been similar to household-idol type teraphim mentioned elsewhere in the Biblical text. Goliath's preserved head thus might have been large enough and convincing enough to be used by Michal to fool Saul's assassins sent to kill David.

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