1 Samuel 17:40 – Five Stones


1 Samuel 17:40


After rejecting Saul’s armor and weapons, David picks up five smooth stones. Why?


Reading intertextually, David may not have been preparing five stones with his sling in case he missed Goliath four times. Instead, David may have been preparing to essentially kill all of the last of the giants who allied themselves with the Philistines. Second Samuel 21:15-22 (and a parallel text in 1 Chron 20) tells of David and his men killing four more sons of Raphah [a proper name, but frequently translated as “the giant”]. The children of Raphah, including the giant Og (Deuteronomy 3:11; Joshua 12:4, 13:12) were interrelated with other groups of giants in the Hebrew Bible (Deuteronomy 2:10-11, 20-21). During the conquest narratives, Joshua sought to destroy the Anakim (a related group of giants, according to Deuteronomy 2:10-11), leaving their descendants only in Gaza, Ashdod, and Gath – the home of Goliath and his brothers. 

The intertextual speculation can be fun, or fertile ground for conspiracies and “ancient-aliens” theorists. It is important to raise here to discuss continuity of biblical issues. Genesis 6 introduces the progenitors of the giants (the Septuagint renders “gibborim”/heroes as “gigantes”/giants). Numbers 6 and 13, and Deuteronomy 2 and 3 discuss the giants as threats in the land. The conquest narratives of Joshua 11; 14-15 tell the story of forcing the giants out of Canaan into Philistine towns. And then 1 Samuel 17 and 2 Samuel 21 tell the stories of David and his men killing the last of the giants. While much important work in biblical studies focuses on differing authors/sources and contexts of sections of Scripture, consistent treatment of reoccurring issues across books/authors is also important to note.