How Tall Was Goliath In The Bible

Goliath of Gath

Goliath was a giant Philistine warrior mentioned in the biblical narrative of the young shepherd boy David and Goliath. Described in First Samuel 17:4 as “four cubits and a span” tall (approximately nine feet), Goliath was the champion of the Philistines, leading their armies into battle against the Israelites.

Goliath was a formidable enemy, armed from head to toe with armour including a bronze helmet and a breastplate of scales. He crept across enemy lines armed with a spear, javelin and shield, a weapon combination that could have easily shown an inferior army half its size that it was no match for the giant Philistine.

In the Bible, Goliath was twin brother to Gath’s Philistine champion Lahmi and a descendant of the Rephaim, a race of giants mentioned in the Old Testament. According to the Bible, the Rephaim were descended from the Nephilim, a mysterious race of giant people that are said to have left their mark on the early history of the Middle East.

Radiocarbon dating of a human finger bone found in Gath, the city of Goliath’s birthplace, places the burial at around 3,200BCE. This suggests that Goliath was likely around 9 feet tall, despite some scholars’ theories of him being significantly shorter.

Goliath’s enormous stature must have been a shock to the Israelites, who were used to the mythical presentation of much smaller “giants” in the Bible. The exact height of Goliath has been a topic of debate for thousands of years, but the size of his stature is overshadowed by his reputation as a great warrior.

Throughout history, Goliath has been respected, feared, and admired as a symbol of strength, courage and perseverance in the face of impossible odds. He has become a popular figure in literature, art, and even modern day sports, where teams and individuals draw inspiration from the giant Philistine’s story.

Today, we know Goliath as a giant slain by a mere shepherd, and we can take comfort in the knowledge that even the most immense of obstacles can be overcome.

Authenticity Of Goliath’s Height

The exact authenticity of Goliath’s height has been largely debated by scholars over the centuries. It is believed that the figure mentioned in the Bible is an exaggerated measure of his actual size and stature. Scholars dispute the accuracy and precision of the biblical account of Goliath’s height, given that the measurements were actually given in cubits, which were a unit of measure in the ancient near east that was made of an arm’s length.

It is possible, given the amount of mythological blending of humans and supernatural characters in the Bible, that Goliath was actually much shorter than nine feet tall. Further evidence of this can be found in the vocal taunting of Goliath, which implies that Goliath was not that much taller than the Israelites.

Moreover, recent archaeological evidence suggests that the average height of men in the ancient Middle East was approximately 5ft 5inches. Even if Goliath did loom over the other warriors of his time, it is thought that at best, Goliath was not much taller than seven and a half feet.

In addition to this, recent scholars have argued that Goliath’s size was more of a symbolic metaphor for the unbeatable insurmountable challenge he represented to the Israelites than a literal measure of his stature.The description of him as ‘four cubits and a span’ has been considered a biblical formula meaning ‘a great big one’ rather than a precise numerical measure.

Physical Challenges Of Being Nine Feet Tall

Although the exact size of Goliath remains contested, being nine feet tall is considered to be an abnormally high height. Any person suffering from gigantism would face a variety of physical challenges that could potentially limit their daily life.

Firstly, nine feet is a significant obstacle in itself, with everyday activities such as driving and catching public transport becoming troublesome. Further issues such as mortality rates, joint pain, reduced mobility and cardiac problems have been linked to extreme heights.

Gigantism is an endocrine disorder that is caused by the overproduction of growth hormone during childhood. Very few humans have achieved such heights naturally, which means that Goliath’s size may well have been caused by an underlying medical condition. People suffering with such a disorder may have lower quality of life than normal-sized people.

Giants In Ancient Mythology

Goliath is not the first giant to appear in ancient mythology. In myth, giants are often depicted as superhuman beings capable of feats beyond the natural strength of normal man.

In Greek mythology, the Cyclopes were a race of giants, one-eyed monsters that terrorised the ancient world. One of the most iconic giants in mythology is the ancient Sumerian Gilgamesh, a superhuman who was said to be two-thirds god and one-third human, and was famed for his strength and courage.

In Indian mythology, the giant demon Ravana is depicted as having countless arms that could wield numerous weapons. He was a powerful and formidable opponent to the gods, and is often seen as a symbol of strength and power.

In all cases, the idea of a giant brings with it a sense of awe and dread, as these mythological figures are often portrayed as being so powerful as to be practically invincible.

Goliath’s Reputation In the Modern World

Since the story of David and Goliath first appeared in the Bible, the giant warrior has become an iconic figure, whose story has been adapted and re-told countless times in different cultures with varying interpretations.

The character of Goliath has often been used as a representation of strength and bravery, as well as a cautionary tale of how even the strongest of adversaries can be overcome by courage and perseverance.

The story of David and Goliath is a popular children’s book, but the giant’s reputation has also been used to inspire a variety of athletes and teams throughout the ages. The likes of the 1998 Dallas Cowboys, the 2010 New England Patriots and the 2014 San Antonio Spurs have all credited their success to drawing inspiration from Goliath’s story.

Goliath’s tale of courage and hope has shown us that nothing is impossible, and has served as motivation for people from all walks of life to never give up when faced with an impossible challenge.

Significance Of Goliath’s Height Today

Whilst the exact size of Goliath remains uncertain, his height has nevertheless had a lasting effect on our modern day understanding of the world. His towering stature has inspired generations of people with stories of courage and hope in the face of insurmountable obstacles.

The story of David and Goliath has taught us that even the most daunting adversary can be overcome with dedication and belief in the self, a lesson that is still relevant today. Moreover, the debate surrounding Goliath’s height has not only allowed us to consider the authenticity of an ancient scripture, but has also made us more aware of the physical and psychological challenges that accompany an abnormally tall stature.

The Impact Of Goliath On Later Bible Characters

Goliath is an important figure in the Bible, both for the historical context of his time and for his role in inspiring later characters. He is mentioned in several other books of the Bible, including Samuel II 9:43, Chronicles 20:5 and Chronicles II 20:1-23.

The character of Goliath might have served as a model of courage and persistence in the face of adversity for individuals such as Ehud, a brave Benjamite who single-handedly assassinated the oppressive King Eglon. Similarly, one of the most iconic items in the Bible, the shield of Saul (associated with Saul’s bravery in battle), had an eagle emblem on it, a design that might have been inspired by the giant Goliath.

The giants featured in the Bible have been venerated and feared throughout history, and Goliath’s towering stature still serves as an inspiration for people facing seemingly impossible challenges. Whether or not we accept his actual size, Goliath’s story has allowed us to confront our fears and take on great challenges.

Goliath’s Reception in Popular Culture

Goliath’s reputation has been further strengthened by his reception in popular culture. His story has been adapted to the small and big screens in every medium from television to films and literature, exposing the giant’s story to a much wider audience.

In recent years, Goliath has made his way into the comic book realm, inspiring superheroes such as Hulk, complete with an iconic big green body that has become so recognizable it has been the leading image in various films, animation and other media.

His image has been emblazoned on t-shirts and plastered across album covers in a variety of contemporary music genres. Even in the workplace, Goliath has become a symbol of bravery and determination, inspiring individuals to push past their boundaries and reach lofty goals.


Whilst Goliath’s exact height remains unclear, his legacy as a symbol of strength, courage and hope in the face of seemingly impossible odds is alive and well. His story has inspired generations of individuals and has served as a reminder of the power of belief in the self. Whether or not we accept the Bible’s measurements of the giant’s actual size, Goliath’s reputation as a remarkable figure in history is undeniable.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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