Q. At Church last night a man confronted me saying that a professor had proven that it was not David that killed Goliath, but Jonathan. In studying the section in 2 Sam 21, I use NKJV but the people at my church use an Afrikaans bible (One of the languages in South Africa) and as it turns out the translators were not accurate. How can I explain this?
A. In 1 Chron. 20:5 the same event is described showing that Elhanan killed Goliath’s brother Lahmi, not Goliath. And 1 Samuel 17:50 makes it clear that David killed Goliath. Since both versions can’t be true, most scholars speculate that somewhere along the way a copyist made an error in copying 2 Sam. 21:19 which made it appear that Elhanan killed Goliath. Later translators corrected the error using 1 Sam. 17:50 and 1 Chron. 20:5 as their authority.
Jonathan killed still another giant, this one unnamed, in a battle at Gath, which had been Goliath’s home town. We know this giant was not Goliath because Goliath was already dead and the place where he had been killed by David was called Ephes Dammim in the valley of Elah (1 Sam 17:1-2), not in Gath.
Altogether five giants were killed by the Israelites in various battles with the Philistines, all of them descendants of Rapha of Gath. First was Goliath, killed by David (1 Sam 17:50). Some time later Ishbi-benob was killed by Abishai (2 Sam 21:16-17). Then Saph was killed by Sibbecai (2 Sam 21:18), Lahmi was killed by Elhanan (2 Sam 21:19) and finally the unnamed giant killed by Jonathan (2 Sam 21:20-21). Some say the five were brothers and that’s why David had picked up five stones (1 Sam 17:40). He was prepared for all of them.