Biblical Figure
First Appearance: First Book of Samuel
Creator: Unknown
Nationality: Philistines
Religion: Polytheism, devoted to Dagon
Date of Birth: 11th century BC
Date of Death: c. 1020 BC
Cause of Death: Blow to the head in a duel
Occupation: Soldier, Nobleman
Cause of Death: Blow to the head in a duel
Turtledove Appearances:
"Occupation Duty"
POD: c. 1000 BCE
Type of Appearance: Posthumous references
Date of Death: Unrevealed

Goliath of Gath was a Philistine warrior, famous for his combat with young David, the future king of Israel. The battle between them is described in the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) in 1 Samuel, chapter 17 and, more briefly, in the Koran of Islam.

Saul and the Israelites are facing the Philistines at the Valley of Elah. Twice a day for forty days, Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, comes out between the lines and challenges the Israelites to send out a champion of their own to decide the outcome in single combat. However, Saul and all the other Israelites are afraid of him. By chance, David is present, having brought food for his elder brothers. Told that Saul has promised to reward any man who defeats Goliath, David accepts the challenge. Saul reluctantly agrees and offers his armor, which David declines, taking only his sling and five stones chosen in a brook.

David and Goliath confront each other, Goliath with his armor and shield, David with his staff and sling, “and the Philistine cursed David by his gods.” David replies: “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that God saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is God’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

David strikes Goliath in the head with a stone from his sling, and the Philistine falls on his face to the ground. David takes Goliath’s sword and cuts off Goliath’s head. The shocked Philistines flee and are pursued by the Israelites “as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron.” David puts the armor of Goliath in his own tent, and takes the head to Saul's court at Hebron. Saul sends Abner to bring David to him. The king asks whose son he is. David answers, "I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite. ”

Literary comment[]

The story of David and Goliath is often used as a metaphor for the triumph of an underdog. It is briefly invoked in this context by characters in numerous Harry Turtledove timelines.

Goliath in "Occupation Duty"[]

In ancient times, Lord Goliath slew the Evraioi champion Tabitas in single combat and went on to capture Hierosolyma, leading to the Philistine conquest of the Moabites. Three thousand years later, the people of Philistinia were thankful for Goliath's accomplishments.[1]


  1. See e.g.: Atlantis and Other Places, pg. 239, 241, HC.