How Tall was Goliath

Quick Answer comes from 1 Samuel 17:4 - "A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span." (NIV) - A cubit is the distance from a man's elbow to the tip of his middle finger. This can vary of course, but it is generally accepted to be an average of 18 inches. A cubit was equal to 6 palms or 2 spans. With a height of Six cubits and a span, Goliath's height can be calculated to have been 9 feet 9 inches.

David and Goliath

The height of over nine feet comes from the Masoretic text which is used in most modern translations of the Bible. The other most commonly used ancient text is the Septuagint which is Latin for seventy. This manuscript is much older than the Masoretic text. In the Septuagint text it lists Goliath's height at four cubits and a span. This translates into a height of approximately six feet nine inches.

The contents and accuracy of the Septuagint gets a boost from the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls, discovered in caves above the community of Qumran in 1946. The scrolls proved to be from approximately 200 to 300 B.C. making them by far the oldest known copies of the Books of the Old Testament. The book of 1 Samuel was included in the Dead Sea Scrolls and it lists the height of Goliath at 4 cubits and a span. In addition, first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus recorded the events of David and Goliath in his writings. 

"...for he was of four cubits and a span in tallness, and had about him weapons suitable to the largeness of his body."

While six feet nine inches is still a very large man even by today's standards, it is not as intimidating as nine feet nine inches. However, it must be remembered that the average male during that time period was five feet five inches tall so a six foot nine man would be well above average in height. It must also be remembered that Goliath was reportedly not just tall, but very muscular and an experienced warrior. All of these factors combined would make Goliath a very intimidating opponent in a one on one encounter. 

Robert Wadlow
How does the height of Goliath, if he were nine feet nine inches tall compare to other individuals throughout history? Goliath would be the tallest man ever to have lived, but not by as much as you might think. Throughout history there have been several individuals who had a confirmed height of over eight feet. The tallest person, confirmed, was Rabert Wadlow who when last measured was an amazing eight feet eleven inches tall. Perhaps even more amazing was the fact he was reportedly still growing at the time of his death. (Side note, his shoe size was 37AA.) 

Doctors explained that Wadlow's exceptional size was caused by hyperplasia of his pituitary gland. This rare condition is now treatable in most patients. Some experts point to the possibility that Goliath suffered from this same condition and since it would have gone untreated he could have attained a height of over nine feet. While it is certainly possible he could have reached a height on nine feet or more, this type of rapid and uncontrolled growth comes with other medical problems. Robert Wadlow had to wear braces on his feet and ankles as they could not support the size and weight of his body. He would eventually die as the result of a blister caused by a poorly fitted brace. The blister became badly infected and due to a lack of sensitivity in his feet, Wadlow was unaware of the condition until he fell ill. Doctors treated him and eventually amputated his leg, but it was all in vain, the infection had spread too far and too fast. Robert Wadlow was only twenty-two years old when he passed away. 

While such a medical condition could account for Goliath's abnormal height, the results of the condition would make him a very poor warrior. His ability to stand, much less fight would have been severely limited without the aide of braces or other assistance. These limitations make in unlikely Goliath's size, whatever it might have been, was the result of such a medical condition. 

Regardless which height is correct, the fact Goliath was at least a foot taller than the average man of his day and was apparently a very muscular warrior he would have been very intimidating. Against such an opponent, with so much at stake, it would have been very difficult for any Israeli soldier to step up and voluntarily enter into one on one combat with Goliath. This was the important element of the story and is confirmed in all historical accounts of the events.

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Turning Points in the Early Church

How did Christianity Spread so Rapidly

 [Excerpt from The Bible - Some Assembly Required

The early Christian church was no stranger to oppression and persecution. Jesus had been beaten and crucified, which the religious leaders of the time hoped would put a stop to this new cult. When Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning, He destroyed those hopes and plans. Unfortunately, the opponents of Jesus were not so easily silenced. Their violence continued as is evident by the deaths' of Stephen, James and also with the persecution of Christians by such people as Saul, who in a short time would become one of the new church's greatest leaders.

Throughout the early years and even centuries of the Christian church there were many who opposed it. Not only were they opposed it. Not only were they opposed and persecuted by the Jewish religious leaders, but also by the Roman government. Under rulers such as Nero and Diocletian, Christians were stripped of their property and legal rights. They were often imprisoned and many put to death. Because of this oppression the church operated mostly in secret, holding services in private homes, in the catacombs, and wherever the devoted followers could come together. While this made things difficult, as well as dangerous, the church continued to grow at an astonishing rate.

In these first centuries three key events took place which would change and shape the early church. The fist of these events took place approximately fifteen years after the Resurrection of Jesus. In 48 A.D. The Council of Jerusalem took place. This is also sometimes called The Apostolic Council. It was the first such meeting of the church we know of and it would decide church policy and doctrine. It is also the only council recorded in the Bible. The concerns addressed by the council and their decisions can be found in Chapter 15 of the Book of Acts.

The primary area of concern was the act of circumcision. This was a stumbling block for many new believers. The concerns went further however, into dietary restrictions, fasting and other elements of the Law as given by Moses. The council, which was held in Jerusalem, included all of the early church leaders, including both Paul and Barnabus. Peter addressed the council stating he did not feel these burdens should be placed on the new converts. James, who it would seem led the council, then spoke to the group. He quoted the Book of Amos and then agreed with Peter and Paul that the new converts would not be required to follow the strict law of Moses. They, like other believers, had been saved through their faith in Jesus, not by abiding to the Law. The church leaders then prepared a letter which they sent to the church in Antioch to confirm their decision and to welcome them into the community of believers.

The Apostles and elders, your brothers,

To the Gentile Believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia;


We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul - men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.


This council confirmed that new believers were not bound by Jewish laws and traditions. This removed a major stumbling block for many and opened the new church to many new believers. Because of a vision by the Apostle Peter, many of the dietary rules concerning clean and unclean foods had already been done away with. While the decisions reached at this first council opened up the church to many new members, the persecution was just beginning.

The persecutions and executions continued for another 250+ years. Despite these hardships the church continued to grow. While there were many events during these centuries that were crucial to church development, the next event for our purposes took place in the year 311 A.D.

In the year 303 A.D. Roman Emperor Diocletian issued an edict to persecute the Christians. This edict authorized;

  • Destroying Churches
  • Burning Holy Scriptures
  • Confiscation of church property
  • Banning Christians from collective legal action
  • Loss of privileges of high ranking Christians who would not recant their faith.
  • Arresting some officials.
In 305 A.D. Diocletian abdicated and Galerius took his place. The persecution continued under Galerius until 311 A.D. when The Edict of Serdica was issued. This new edict, sometimes known as The Edict of Toleration by Galerius, was the first to legalize Christianity. In the Edict Galerius confirms the persecution of the Christians with the statement...

"Finally when our law had been promulgated to the effect that they should conform to the institutes of antiquity, many were subdued by the fear of danger, many even suffered death."

It goes on to instruct that Christians would be allowed to conduct their service without opposition.

"...grant our most prompt indulgence also to these, so that they may again be Christians and may hold their conventicles, provided they do nothing contrary to good order."

It is important to note this proclamation was only in effect in the Eastern Roman Empire. The Western Roman Empire was also in a state of change during this time. This change began when Constantine I came to power in 306 A.D. Constantine I instituted reform in finance, social areas, government and the military. He began to favor Christianity in 312 A.D. and was eventually converted, although how devoted he was to his faith is a subject of some debate.

Constantine I

Regardless of his devotion, Constantine I played a major role in church history beginning in 313 A.D. Constantine I from the Western Empire met with Licinius from the Eastern Empire. The tow leaders met in Milan and come to an agreement which would become The Edict of Milan. This edict permanently established religious tolerance for Christianity. While The Edict of Serdica had legalized Christianity in the East, the new Edict legalized and recognized Christianity throughout the Entire Roman Empire. The era of persecution and fear had come to an end. 

Another important fact was that while The Edict of Serdica had legalized Christianity and made it illegal to take property or interfere with services, it did not return the possessions and properties which had been previously confiscated. in 313 A.D. the properties were ordered returned to their original owners.

"...the same shall be restored to the Christians without payment or any claim of recompense and without any kind of fraud or deception."

This was seen as an end to what was called the 'age of the martyrs' and ushered in a new era for the church. Rather than being second class citizens, subject to persecution and imprisonment, Christians were now a part of an officially recognized religion which was given the same recognition as other religions of the empire. As an official religion the church was now free to grow without restraints and the a vast number of people converted to Christianity not only in the Roman Empire, but the entire known world.

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The Miracles of Jesus

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