• Old Testament

    A War, a Witch, and a Weak King

    One of the most undervalued aspects of biblical narrative is geography. Just like any story, biblical narratives involve an important geographical component that either overtly or subtly gives additional insight into what is happening. Whenever I’m in Israel, I am reminded that geography can often reveal aspects of a story in a way nothing else can. One of my favorite illustrations of this is the story of Saul’s last stand against the Philistines. This story is found in 1 Samuel 28, and through the careful narration and attention to geographical detail, we are given special insight into the character of Saul. The story starts by describing a time when the Philistines had gathered to fight against Israel. At the time, David was living with the Philistines, and originally was instructed to go to war against Israel (1 Sam 28:2). However, due to the providence of God, David was forbidden by…

  • Old Testament

    Was Goliath a Native Philistine?

    Goliath was the most impressive warrior in the Philistine army. However, was Goliath a native Philistine? The evidence suggests that he probably was not. In Numbers 13, Israel sends out spies to spy out the land of Canaan. Upon their return, all but Joshua and Caleb were shaking in their boots. Their chief complaint was that the people “are of great height” and that the Nephilim (the sons of Anak) were there (Num 13:32-33). The phrase Nephilim is not used often, but in the context of Numbers 13, it is obviously used to refer to someone of great height. This is confirmed by the LXX and Latin translations of “giants.” Even in Genesis 6:4, the narrator tells us that Nephilim (giants) were on the earth in those days, and also after. What that means is that after God wiped out the earth with the flood, giants began to populate the earth…