Problem: David kills Goliath twice
Verses: 1 Samuel 17:49-51; Status: Unsure

This one is weird. According to Samuel, David throws a stone at Goliath, killing him. He then takes Goliath's sword, and uses it to kill Goliath again. This is 1 Samuel 17:49-51:

And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. 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. 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. (ESV)

This is bizarre, and seems to indicate a conflation of two different accounts (which is the opinion of the Oxford Bible Commentary). I don't find the answers linked below convincing. For example, Tektonics says the contradiction is intentional.

I'm more likely to be convinced that our English translations are wrong. A reader informs me that the Hebrew has different words for "killed" in the passage, and that in the second instance it's in the past tense. If that's correct, the translation in the second case should say something like "he had [already] killed him" which would resolve the difficulty.

I still wonder why literal translations like the ESV and especially the NASB (a very literal translation) don't translate it this way. This is one of those irritating issues that you can't decide without being an expert in the ancient languages.

Updated: Summer 2008

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