Elhanan, son of Jair

Elhanan son of Jair-Oregim the Bethlehemite (Hebrew: אֶלְחָנָן בֶּן־יַעְרֵי אֹרְגִים בֵּית הַלַּחְמִי’Elḥānān ben-Ya‘rê ’Ōrəḡîm Bêṯhallaḥmî) appears in 2 Samuel 21:19, where he is credited with killing Goliath.

The original traditions had it that the death of Goliath was brought about by Elhanan; but when David became the central figure of heroic adventures it was attributed to him instead, and to Elhanan was credited the death of Lahmi, Goliath's brother.[1]

As this contradicts the better-known story in 1 Samuel 17 in which it is the famous David who kills Goliath, the 4th century BC Book of Chronicles explains the second Goliath by saying (20:5) that Elhanan "slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath", possibly constructing the name Lahmi from the last portion of the word "Bethlehemite" ("beit-ha’lahmi").[2] The King James Bible 2 Samuel 21:18–19 Elhanan had slain Goliath's brother: "And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare–oregim, a Beth–lehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam", although the Hebrew text at this point makes no mention of the word "brother"; the medieval Jewish authors of the Targum Jonathan solved the problem by explaining Elhanan as an alternative name for David.[3] However, this makes it difficult to explain why David is called Elhanan in verse 19 but consistently David in the verses that surround it (15, 16, 17, 21, 22). The most widely accepted explanation is that the storytellers have displaced the deed from the obscure Elhanan to the more famous character, David, and that the event took place long after David's death.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hirsch, Emil G. and Levi, Gerson B., "ELHANAN ('God is gracious')", Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ Ralph W. Klein, Narrative Texts: Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, see section "Representative Changes in Chronicles of Texts Taken from Samuel-Kings". Compare 1 Samuel 16:1, "I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite (beit-ha’lahmi), for I have found among his sons a king for me."
  3. ^ Miqraoth G'doloth Samuel at Hebrewbooks.org - Page 414 (in Hebrew)
  4. ^ Azzan Yadin, "Goliath's Armor and the Israelite Collective Memory". Vetus Testamentum 54:373–95 (2004). See also Israel Finkelstein, "The Philistines in the Bible: A Late Monarchic Perspective", Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 27:131:67.