Category Archives: Difficult Bible Passages

Why Doesn’t the Author of 2 Kings Mention Manasseh’s Repentance?

In 2 Chronicles 33, the author records the capture of Manasseh by the Assyrians, his subsequent imprisonment, and then his repentance and return to Jerusalem. None of this material is recorded in the parallel account of Manasseh in 2 Kings 21. Why might this be the case and, secondly, is the account in 2 Chronicles historically plausible? Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe tackle the first question in When Critics Ask : A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties:

Apparently the author of 2 Kings did not record the repentance of Manasseh because of the lack of influence it had upon the steady decline of the nation. The Book of 2 Kings concentrates primarily upon the actions of the covenant people of God as a whole. The repentance and reforms of Manasseh did relatively little to turn the nation around from its path to judgment, while his sinful leadership early in his reign did much more damage to the nation. Even in the 2 Chronicles passage we find this statement: ‘Nevertheless the people still sacrificed on the high places, but only to the Lord their God’ (2 Chron. 33:17). Even though the people dedicated their sacrifices to the Lord, they were still committing sin, because sacrifices were to be made at the temple, not upon high places which were originally altars to false gods. Despite the efforts of Manasseh, the people would not totally dedicate themselves to the Lord.

Is the account of Manasseh being taken by the Assyrians plausible historically? J. A. Thompson, in vol. 9, 1, 2 Chronicles, The New American Commentary, attempts to answer this question for us.

A historical question has been raised in regard to Manasseh’s captivity in Babylon, taken there by Assyrian forces, since there is no extrabiblical documentation for these events. This fact is not, of course, a sufficient reason for rejecting their historicity. Assyrian records are by no means sufficiently comprehensive to allow any argument from silence to decide the issue. There is valuable circumstantial evidence which has persuaded a good number of scholars that historical events underlie the Chronicler’s narrative. The Assyrian records mention Manasseh. He is listed among twenty-two kings of Hatti, the seashore, and the islands, who were summoned to Nineveh by Esarhaddon (650–669 B.C.) to bring building materials for a new palace. Asshur- banipal (668–627 B.C.) mentions him among vassal kings who participated in a campaign against Egypt.

In these references Manasseh appears as submissive to the Assyrian king. The question is asked regarding what historical circumstances would have brought about his humiliation and punishment by Assyria. Various proposals have been made. Manasseh quite possibly may have been on the side of Shamash-shum-ukin, who revolted against his brother Asshur-banipal. The inscriptions of both Esarhaddon and Asshur-banipal abound in references to Egypt and the Palestinian states in the time of Manasseh, who reigned for fifty-five years.

One other important Assyrian source is the vassal-treaties of Esarhaddon dated in the year 672 B.C. The crown prince of Assyria, Asshur-banipal, was inducted at a special ceremony where representatives of all the lands under Assyrian control were present. These representatives were sworn not to arouse the anger of the gods and goddesses against him and to serve Ashur as their god. They were bound by fearful oaths to support the crown prince after the death of his father. These treaties are not entirely intact, and the name of Manasseh does not appear. But the interest and activity of both Esarhaddon and Asshur-banipal in the west may well have forced compliance with their demands on Judah. Naturally vassals took opportunity to deviate from the treaty obligations laid upon them and even to rebel. In fact, numerous rebellions are attested in the reigns of Esarhaddon and Asshur-banipal.

By all accounts, the Chronicler’s narrative is historically reliable, but it of course includes a theological wording.

Is the Story of Jonah Fictional?

Some Bible scholars believe that the Book of Jonah is a fictional tale written purely for teaching purposes by its original author. They argue that the original author never meant for the story to be taken as real history. While it may be impossible to know just based on the contents of the book itself, there is one important person who seems to have considered the events in Jonah to be historical: Jesus Christ.

Billy K. Smith and Franklin S. Page write, in Amos, Obadiah, Jonah: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary):

Finally, there is the witness of Jesus Christ, which apparently was the basis for the early church’s linking the historicity of Jonah’s experience with that of Jesus, especially his resurrection. Although it would be conceivable that Jesus might have been merely illustrating in Matt 12:40 when he associated his prophesied resurrection with Jonah’s experience in the fish, it is much more difficult to deny that Jesus was assuming the historicity of the conversion of the Ninevites when he continued in v. 41 (cf. Luke 11:32).

‘The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.’

This is confirmed in the following verse (cf. Luke 11:33) when Jesus parallels the ‘men of Nineveh’ with the ‘Queen of the South,’ whose visit to Jerusalem is recounted in 1 Kings.

‘The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.’

Clearly Jesus did not see Jonah as a parable or an allegory. As J. W. McGarvey stated long ago, ‘It is really a question as to whether Jesus is to be received as a competent witness respecting historical and literary matters of the ages which preceded His own.’

Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, in When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties, add:

[T]he most devastating argument against the denial of the historical accuracy of Jonah is found in Matthew 12:40. In this passage Jesus predicts His own burial and resurrection, and provides the doubting scribes and Pharisees the sign that they demanded. The sign is the experience of Jonah. Jesus says, ‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ If the tale of Jonah’s experience in the belly of the great fish was only fiction, then this provided no prophetic support for Jesus’ claim. The point of making reference to Jonah is that if they did not believe the story of Jonah being in the belly of the fish, then they would not believe the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. As far as Jesus was concerned, the historical fact of His own death, burial, and resurrection was on the same historical ground as Jonah in the belly of the fish. To reject one was to cast doubt on the other (cf. John 3:12). Likewise, if they believed one, they should believe the other. . . .

Jesus went on to mention the significant historical detail. His own death, burial, and resurrection was the supreme sign that verified His claims. When Jonah preached to the unbelieving Gentiles, they repented. But, here was Jesus in the presence of His own people, the very people of God, and yet they refused to believe. Therefore, the men of Nineveh would stand up in judgment against them, ‘because they [the men of Nineveh] repented at the preaching of Jonah’ (Matt. 12:41). If the events of the Book of Jonah were merely parable or fiction, and not literal history, then the men of Nineveh did not really repent, and any judgment upon the unrepentant Pharisees would be unjust and unfair. Because of the testimony of Jesus, we can be sure that Jonah records literal history.

Why Did Elisha Curse a Group of Young Men?

In 2 Kings 2:23-24, the prophet Elisha curses a group of young men, seemingly just for calling him names. Even worse, some translations indicate that these were small boys. What is going on here?

First, Hebrew scholars tell us that the words used to describe the boys can indicate an age anywhere from 12-30 years old. It is highly likely, given the context, that these were adolescent young men, at a minimum, and maybe even older than that.

Second, they weren’t simply calling him names. What they said was, “Go on up, you baldhead!” This was a direct reference to Elijah’s going up to heaven, and thus an insult to Elijah and Elisha’s ministry. The term baldhead could be a reference to the hair style worn by prophets of the day, but scholars aren’t sure. It could also refer to lepers who would shave their heads, indicating Elisha was an outcast just as lepers are outcasts.

In the end, God decided that the threat to Elisha and his ministry were serious enough to warrant an attack on the young men, causing 42 of them to be seriously injured and possibly even fatally wounded by two bears.

Norman Geisler and Tom Howe, in When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties, add these thoughts about the passage:

First of all, this was no minor offense, for these young men held God’s prophet in contempt. Since the prophet was God’s mouthpiece to His people, God Himself was being most wickedly insulted in the person of His prophet.

Second, these were not small, innocent children. They were wicked young men, comparable to a modern street gang. Hence, the life of the prophet was endangered by their number, the nature of their sin, and their obvious disrespect for authority.

Third, Elisha’s action was designed to strike fear in the hearts of any other such gang members. If these young gang members were not afraid to mock a venerable man of God such as Elisha, then they would have been a threat to the lives of all God’s people.

Fourth, some commentators note that their statements were designed to challenge Elisha’s claim to be a prophet. They were essentially saying, ‘If you are a man of God, why don’t you go on up to heaven like Elijah did?’ . . .

Fifth, it was not Elijah who took their lives, but God who alone could have providentially directed the bears to attack them. It is evident that by mocking this man of God, these young men were revealing their true attitudes toward God Himself. Such contempt for the Lord was punishable by death. The Scriptures do not say that Elisha prayed for this kind of punishment. It was clearly an act of God in judgment upon this impious gang.

Should We Execute Non-Christians?

During King Asa’s reformation in Judah, he convenes a covenant ceremony during the Feast of Pentecost where all of Judah is called to seek after the God of Israel, the one true God who rescued them from Egyptian slavery centuries before. During this ceremony, they are also reminded that “all who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.”

Two questions immediately arise: Where did this command originate and does it apply to us today?

To answer the first question, we must go back to the Torah, or the first five books of the Old Testament. The book of Exodus teaches Israel to not worship other gods in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.” Chapter 22 then spells out the punishment for worship of other gods: “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction.”

In the book of Leviticus, chapter 20 prescribes capital punishment for particular religious violations. Any person who gives their child to Molech, a pagan god, was to be executed. Likewise, any person who was a medium or spiritist was to be put to death.

Finally, the book of Deuteronomy reiterates the teachings of Exodus and Leviticus in chapters 13 and 17. False prophets were to be put to death and anyone in the community who was participating in or promoting worship of pagan gods was also to be executed. Therefore, there is clear precedent for the command in 2 Chron 15:13.

Does the command to execute anyone who is worshiping false gods still apply today? No. These commands were only applicable to ancient Israel who was in a unique covenant relationship with God. As Christians living today, we live under a different covenant with God.

The NT clearly states in several places that the Law (embodying the covenant with ancient Israel) was fulfilled by Jesus and no longer applies to Christians. Here are a few passages proving the point:

“By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one [the Law] obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” (Heb 8:13)

“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” (Gal 2:15-16)

“Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed.  So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.  Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian [the Law].” (Gal 3:23-25)

“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code [the Law].” (Rom 7:6)

These verses and others clearly state that Christians are not under any obligation to follow the divine commands given to the Israelites as they left Egyptian slavery and journeyed toward the Promised Land. As my seminary professor used to tell us, the Old Testament was written for us, but not to us. It was written to ancient Israel.

Who Is Responsible for the Division of Israel?

In 1 Kings 12, Rehoboam foolishly decides to threaten the northern tribes rather than agree to lighten their tax burden. This leads to the division of united Israel into the northern kingdom, called Israel, and the southern kingdom, called Judah.

In verse 24, the prophet Shemaiah tells Rehoboam that the division of the kingdom is God’s doing, so don’t we have a contradiction here? Whose fault is the division? Rehoboam, who spoke foolish words, or God?

The truth is that both God and Rehoboam are responsible for the division.  There is absolutely nothing contradictory about an infinite God being in control of every little electron in the universe, but creating creatures in that same universe who have a special power of free will.  God can accomplish everything he wants to accomplish in human affairs through human free will.

While He commands volcanoes to erupt and water to flow as inanimate objects, He commands humans as free creatures.  He works in coordination with human freedom, not without it or against it.

Philosophers refer to this as primary and secondary causation.  God is the primary cause of all activity in the universe, but He uses the secondary cause of free will to accomplish his purposes with human beings.

Some say that this concept of human free will takes away from the glory of God, but claiming that God cannot create free creatures and still bring his plans to fruition is really the position that takes away from God’s glory.

How Do We Interpret the Proverbs?

Some readers of the Book of Proverbs have raised objections to its contents. First, some proverbs seem to command a certain behavior, but then others command a different, incompatible behavior. Second, some proverbs appear to make promises that other parts of the Bible seem to contradict. Third, some proverbs make what appear to be comprehensive statements that seem to be contradicted by the realities of life.

Edward Curtis, in the Apologetics Study Bible, offers the following guidance on how to read and interpret the Book of Proverbs in light of the objections above.

The types of sayings found in Proverbs reflect a way of thinking and teaching that has been largely abandoned in modern Western culture. Proverbs are general statements of truth rather than invariable promises or laws, and an individual proverb normally captures a tiny cross-section of truth rather than making a comprehensive statement about a topic.

For example, ‘A gentle answer turns away anger’ (15: 1) constitutes one component of the broader topics of using words wisely and dealing with angry people. This single principle is one small piece of a much larger mosaic, and the task of the student is not only to put together the broader mosaic piece by piece but also to learn to apply these principles skillfully to the complexities that one encounters in life.

The goal of the wisdom in Proverbs is to develop skill in living according to the order that is embedded in God’s creation. Most proverbs state a single general truth with little attempt to note exceptions and qualifications. Such an approach effectively emphasizes the principle taught by avoiding the distraction of qualifications.

The authors of proverbs also emphasized the points they wanted to make through the use of idealized examples and hyperbole. While the sluggard, for example, is a real character, he is described in exaggerated terms that set his basic characteristics in clear relief. One would probably never find someone who perfectly fits the descriptions of a sluggard, because the person whose picture emerges from putting together the various pieces of the sluggard mosaic in the book is a stereotypical character. The same is also true for the excellent woman in Proverbs 31 and for the wise man and for the fool described throughout the book.

When a pair of proverbs seems conflicting or even contradictory, the first proverb moves the reader in a certain direction, then the contrasting proverb provides a balancing principle to point the reader toward another dimension of the skill of living in a complex world.

For example, Proverbs 26: 4 says, ‘Don’t answer a fool according to his foolishness or you’ll be like him yourself,’ while the next verse says, ‘Answer a fool according to his foolishness, or he’ll become wise in his own eyes.’ The student of wisdom recognizes that encounters with a fool require responses appropriate to that particular situation. The student also recognizes that a variety of other approaches between those extremes may be the wise response, and the student’s goal is to become the kind of wisdom craftsman who can frame the appropriate response no matter the situation he faces.

Likewise, the ambiguity that often characterizes proverbs reflects the same pedagogy and goals. The student of wisdom is challenged by the ambiguity to explore the possibilities for understanding the proverb along with the variety of situations in which the principle appropriately applies. The ambiguity also promotes ongoing reflection as to the legitimate limits for applying the principle.

While the book addresses a wide variety of issues, it gives considerable attention to matters such as the contrast between the wise person and the fool, the importance of virtues such as diligence and self-control, the importance of using words wisely, warnings about sexual immorality, the responsible use of money, priorities, and advice about proper behavior in a variety of social settings. Most proverbs deal with the general and the typical, but their goal is to equip people with the skills to apply wisdom to the particular experiences of life.

#9 Post of 2015 – Why Did Moses Separate the Virgins and Non-Virgins of Midian?

In Numbers 31:18, Moses commands the officers of the army to kill all the women who have had sex and only keep alive the girls who are virgins. What is going here? Why would Moses give this command?

In order to understand this verse, we first have to understand the background. The Midianites, under the counsel of Balaam, devised a plan to cause Yahweh, the God of Israel, to turn against his people. The plan, which was executed in chapter 25 of Numbers, was to seduce Israelite men into fornication (single men) and adultery (married men), and then formal worship of the Midianite gods, especially Baal of Peor.

According to Glenn Miller (Christian Thinktank website), the number of Midianite women involved in this conspiracy would have been 6 to 12,000. Yes, you read that correctly. It would also appear that the Midianite kings and husbands of these women were complicit in the conspiracy. They were willing to send their women into the Israelite camp as prostitutes, essentially, to cause the downfall of Israel.

God does indeed turn against his people, given the sexual and religious crimes they have committed. A plague kills some 24,000 children of Israel. The only reason the plague ends is Phinehas’s quick action to put an end to the sordid affair.

With this background in place, God orders the Israelites to subjugate the Midianites, taking vengeance for their moral atrocities. The Israelites easily win the battle and the army returns with thousands of women captives. At this point, Moses commands the officers to “kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

It should be clear now that the females who the army has brought back are a mix of women who participated in the conspiracy and young girls who did not. Moses understandably considers the non-virgin women to be directly culpable for the deaths of thousands of Israelites. Setting this aside, they have shown already that they will turn the men of Israel away from Yahweh and toward Baal, causing further death and suffering in the future. These women simply cannot be allowed to survive.

Given Moses’ command, how could the Israelites tell the women apart? Glenn Miller explains that there were simple visual tests that could be applied:

“1) Was the female pre-pubescent? 2) Was the female wearing any attire, jewelry, or adornments required for/associated with virginity for that culture? 3) Was the female wearing any attire, jewelry, or adornments required for/associated with non-virginity for that culture (e.g., veil indicating married status)?”

He continues:

Because virginity was generally associated with legal proof for blood-inheritance issues in ancient cultures (e.g., land, property, kinship, relationships), virginity itself was often marked by some type of clothing (e.g., the robe of Tamar in 2 Sam 13) or by cosmetic means (cf. the Hindu ‘pre-marriage dot’); as was more typically non-virginal married status (e.g., veils, headwear, jewelry, or certain hairstyles).  Of course, non-virginal unmarried status (e.g., temple prostitutes and secular prostitutes) were also indicated by special markings or adornments (e.g. jewelry, dress—cf. Proverbs 7.10; Hos 2.4-5).

The young girls who were virgins would be taken in and cared for by Israelite families, partially to help replace the population of 24,000 who had died by the plague. The young girls would, like all other Israelite women, be married when they matured.

Why Is the Son of Saul’s Name Different in 2 Samuel Versus 1 Chronicles?

The astute Bible reader will notice that the son of Saul who ruled Israel after Saul was killed is called Ish-Bosheth in 2 Samuel, but in 1 Chronicles is called Esh-Baal. What is going on? Both of these accounts are referring to the same person, so why can’t they get his name straight?

Walter Kaiser Jr. and Duane Garrett, in the NIV Archaeological Study Bible, offer some interesting thoughts on why there are name differences:

Some changes in the Biblical text, including euphemistic expressions (intended, e.g., to express something less starkly), are not explicitly marked. One such example occurs with respect to the proper names that contain the element ‘Baal.’ The noun Baal, which originally meant simply ‘Lord,’ came later to signify almost exclusively the proper name of the Canaanite god. Later readers were apt to be offended by the appearance of this name in the Scripture, especially when associated with an Israelite.

Thus, names that included ‘Baal’ were sometimes changed in order to refrain from speaking even indirectly of false gods. For example, in 1 Chronicles the son of Jonathan is identified as Merib-Baal (1Ch 8: 34; 9: 40), whereas in 2 Samuel he is called Mephibosheth (2Sa 4: 4).

So what about Esh-Baal/Ish-Bosheth? They continue:

Similarly, a son of Saul is called Esh-Baal in 1 Chronicles 8: 33 and 9: 39 but Ish-Bosheth in 2 Samuel 2: 8. In both cases the name Baal has been substituted with ‘bosheth,’ the Hebrew noun for ‘shame.’ The change does not appear to reflect a negative judgment on the individual in question, but rather was a way of condemning the name of Baal.

The cumulative evidence of the Hebrew Bible shows that such emendations were not carried out systematically. It is also important to emphasize that most early scribal emendations are explicitly identified as such by marginal notations that preserve the text of the original reading. Viewed in this light, such changes provide insight into the religious sensibilities of various readers of the Bible rather than reflecting an attempt to alter the actual wording of the sacred text.

How Did Tiny David Defeat Giant Goliath? Part 2

As David faces Goliath, what is his plan? How will he defeat Goliath? Malcolm Gladwell, in his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, argues that David had no plans to fight Goliath in hand-to-hand combat, as this wouldn’t play to his strength. David is a projectile warrior, not an infantryman. Gladwell writes:

He runs toward Goliath, because without armor he has speed and maneuverability. He puts a rock into his sling, and whips it around and around, faster and faster at six or seven revolutions per second, aiming his projectile at Goliath’s forehead— the giant’s only point of vulnerability.

Eitan Hirsch, a ballistics expert with the Israeli Defense Forces, recently did a series of calculations showing that a typical-size stone hurled by an expert slinger at a distance of thirty-five meters would have hit Goliath’s head with a velocity of thirty-four meters per second— more than enough to penetrate his skull and render him unconscious or dead.

In terms of stopping power, that is equivalent to a fair-size modern handgun. ‘We find,’ Hirsch writes, ‘that David could have slung and hit Goliath in little more than one second— a time so brief that Goliath would not have been able to protect himself and during which he would be stationary for all practical purposes.’ . . .

Twice David mentions Goliath’s sword and spear, as if to emphasize how profoundly different his intentions are. Then he reaches into his shepherd’s bag for a stone, and at that point no one watching from the ridges on either side of the valley would have considered David’s victory improbable. David was a slinger, and slingers beat infantry, hands down. ‘Goliath had as much chance against David,’ the historian Robert Dohrenwend writes, ‘as any Bronze Age warrior with a sword would have had against an [opponent] armed with a .45 automatic pistol.’

After taking a closer look at David’s victory, we can see that it isn’t far-fetched at all. The true puzzle is why nobody else in Israel’s army realized what David realized! The text indicates that David’s faith in God and his devotion to God’s commands are what gave him his courage and his willingness to face the giant, when the rest of the army cowered in fear.

How Did Tiny David Defeat Giant Goliath? Part 1

Some critics have questioned how 5 feet tall David could have defeated 7 (or 10) feet tall Goliath. Isn’t this story a little far-fetched? A stone from a sling killing a giant of a man in a single blow? How can this be true?

The text of 1 Samuel 17 indicates that God is with David, but it does not indicate that God supernaturally intervened to perform a “slingshot miracle” to kill Goliath. Although David credits God with his victory, God’s assistance seems more providential than miraculous. God places the right man with the right heart with the right skills at the right place and the right time to do his bidding.

If there is no indication of a miracle, then we are left with the puzzle of how David was able to kill Goliath so easily. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, takes a close look at this famous battle and discovers that David’s victory was not at all a fluke, but something that could have been predicted. Gladwell explains:

Ancient armies had three kinds of warriors. The first was cavalry— armed men on horseback or in chariots. The second was infantry— foot soldiers wearing armor and carrying swords and shields. The third were projectile warriors, or what today would be called artillery: archers and, most important, slingers.

Slingers had a leather pouch attached on two sides by a long strand of rope. They would put a rock or a lead ball into the pouch, swing it around in increasingly wider and faster circles, and then release one end of the rope, hurling the rock forward. Slinging took an extraordinary amount of skill and practice. But in experienced hands, the sling was a devastating weapon.

Paintings from medieval times show slingers hitting birds in midflight. Irish slingers were said to be able to hit a coin from as far away as they could see it, and in the Old Testament Book of Judges, slingers are described as being accurate within a ‘hair’s breadth.’ An experienced slinger could kill or seriously injure a target at a distance of up to two hundred yards.  The Romans even had a special set of tongs made just to remove stones that had been embedded in some poor soldier’s body by a sling. Imagine standing in front of a Major League Baseball pitcher as he aims a baseball at your head. That’s what facing a slinger was like— only what was being thrown was not a ball of cork and leather but a solid rock.

Gladwell continues:

The historian Baruch Halpern argues that the sling was of such importance in ancient warfare that the three kinds of warriors balanced one another, like each gesture in the game of rock, paper, scissors. With their long pikes and armor, infantry could stand up to cavalry. Cavalry could, in turn, defeat projectile warriors, because the horses moved too quickly for artillery to take proper aim. And projectile warriors were deadly against infantry, because a big lumbering soldier, weighed down with armor, was a sitting duck for a slinger who was launching projectiles from a hundred yards away. . . .

Goliath is heavy infantry. He thinks that he is going to be engaged in a duel with another heavy-infantryman . . .  When he says, ‘Come to me, that I may give your flesh to the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field,’ the key phrase is ‘come to me.’ He means come right up to me so that we can fight at close quarters. When Saul tries to dress David in armor and give him a sword, he is operating under the same assumption. He assumes David is going to fight Goliath hand to hand.

In part 2, we’ll continue with Gladwell’s analysis of this famous Bible narrative.