We read in 1 Samuel 17: "David killed Goliath"

And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them. 1 Samuel 17:23 ASV


Then David ran, and stood over the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 1 Samuel 17:51 ASV

But we read in 2 Samuel 21: "Elhanan killed the giant Goliath"

And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim the Beth-lehemite slew Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 2 Samuel 21:19 ASV

So, who killed Goliath?

  • 1
    The duplicate was poorly titled. I updated it to be clearer.
    – Narnian
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 16:02
  • 2
    Personally, I'd rather close the other one as a duplicate of this. I think this wording with far more clear and concise. Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 18:37

1 Answer 1


According to this article the discrepancy is most likely a simple copyist error of a single letter causing confusion. David killed Goliath, and Elhannan killed Goliath's brother. 1 Chronicles 20:5 (which repeats this verse) says:

5 And there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam.

There are no serious biblical inerrantists (and I do not consider myself an inerrantist at all) that say that there are no copy errors in the bible. Inerrancy is only ascribed to the original manuscripts. A quick reading of a good apparatus will reveal this to be a common (and minor) copy error, as understood even by an inerrantist.

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