The True Height of Goliath: Discovering the Identity of the Bible's Mightiest Giant
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The True Height of Goliath: Discovering the Identity of the Bible’s Mightiest Giant

Throughout history, the story of David and Goliath has resonated with people from all walks of life, symbolizing the triumph of the underdog against seemingly insurmountable odds. At the heart of this story lies the figure of Goliath, a warrior of epic proportions, whose true height has been a subject of debate and speculation among scholars and enthusiasts alike. In this article, we dive deep into the biblical narrative to uncover the true height of Goliath and explore the implications of this revelation on our understanding of the ancient world and our faith.

Was Goliath truly the nine-foot giant depicted in popular culture, or was his stature the result of exaggeration and myth-making over time? As we analyze the clues and context provided by the Bible, we discover not only his height but also his fearsome reputation as a warrior and a symbol of human pride and arrogance.

Key Takeaways

  1. Importance of measuring Goliath’s true height
  2. Navigating differing records on Goliath’s height
  3. How Goliath’s height signifies his formidable character
  4. Goliath as a representation of human pride and arrogance
  5. Goliath’s defeat as a powerful symbol of faith in God

The Height According to Scripture

The Bible records Goliath’s height as being “six cubits and a span” (1 Samuel 17:4, NKJV), which has various interpretations depending on the particular standard of measurement being used. The standard ancient Egyptian cubit was approximately 20.6 inches, while the Royal Cubit measured 21.88 inches. The Hebrew long cubit was roughly 20 inches, and the regular cubit was about 18 inches. A span, as defined in the Bible, is the width of a human hand, approximated at around 9 inches.

Taking these lengths into account, Goliath’s height according to Scripture could range anywhere from 9.5 feet to well over 11 feet. However, most scholars agree that the commonly accepted height of Goliath is around 9 feet 9 inches, based on the measurement of a Hebrew long cubit and a span.

Discrepancies in Ancient Texts

There are discrepancies in ancient texts that have sown confusion about Goliath’s height. The Septuagint, an early Greek translation of the Old Testament, as well as a Dead Sea Scroll fragment referred to as the 4QSam(a) manuscript, both record Goliath’s height as “four cubits and a span,” which would place his stature at a more modest 6 feet 9 inches. It is unclear whether the discrepancy between these texts is due to intentional exaggeration or copying errors over time. Despite the variations, most scholars agree that Goliath was indeed an exceptionally tall and powerful warrior.

The Significance of Goliath’s Height

Regardless of the precise measurement, it is clear that Goliath’s height signified his formidable character and fearsome reputation. As a champion of the Philistines, his enormous stature struck fear into the hearts of the Israelites and allowed him to dominate the battlefield. In contrast, David, his eventual conqueror, was “ruddy and bright-eyed, and good-looking” (1 Samuel 16:12, NKJV) – hardly the image of a battle-hardened warrior. The difference in their appearances underscores the immense challenge faced by David in defeating Goliath and further highlights God’s power and sovereignty in granting David victory over his adversary.

Goliath as the Embodiment of Human Pride and Arrogance

Goliath’s physical stature also serves as a powerful metaphor for human pride and arrogance. In taunting the Israelite army, Goliath declared, “Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us” (1 Samuel 17:8-9, NKJV). Goliath’s boastful challenge illustrates the dangers of relying on one’s human strength and abilities rather than trusting in God.

The Defeat of Goliath: A Symbol of Faith and Trust in God

Goliath’s defeat at the hands of David, a shepherd boy, remains one of the Bible’s most enduring symbols of faith and trust in God. Against all odds, David refused to be intimidated by Goliath’s towering presence, choosing instead to place his faith in the God of Israel.

Armed with a sling and five smooth stones, David declared, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45, NKJV). In slaying Goliath, David demonstrated the power of faith and the ultimate triumph of God’s will over human might.


In conclusion, although the precise height of Goliath remains a matter of debate, what is clear is that he was an unusually tall and fearsome warrior, the epitome of human pride and arrogance. His legendary height, whether rooted in fact or exaggeration, has become a symbol of the seemingly insurmountable challenges faced by those who trust in God. Goliath’s defeat at the hands of David, a young shepherd boy, serves as a reminder that even the mightiest of human adversaries pales in comparison to the power and sovereignty of the Almighty.

Through the story of David and Goliath, we are reminded that our faith and trust in God, rather than our own strength and abilities, are what truly enable us to overcome the odds and emerge victorious in the face of adversity. Let us, therefore, emulate David’s unwavering faith and trust in God as we confront the “giants” in our own lives – be they physical, emotional, or spiritual – knowing that He who is greater than any obstacle will lead us to triumph.

Doubtless, Goliath’s impressive height and reputation have remained indelibly etched in the annals of history, serving as a powerful testament to the timeless appeal of the underdog story and the importance of faith in the face of overwhelming odds. But as we ponder the true height of Goliath, let us not forget the key lesson of the story: That it is not the size of our adversaries, but the greatness of our God and the depth of our faith, that determines our ultimate triumph.

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.