If I am ever persuaded to have children, it will be contingent that if we have a boy his name will be Goliath. After randomly browsing a list of all the names contained in the Bible it was observed that, although some were obscure, there are many still common today. However one name on the list stood out as very well known but seldom used: Goliath. This begs the questions of why.
Based on the non-scientific, anecdotal research of asking friends and family, the initial response was universal acknowledgement the name does sound cool; but almost everyone mentioned the scarce use of the name is likely because Goliath was a “bad guy”. This explanation should be rejected outright. A reading of the text reveals Goliath is actually an unsung hero!
If, for the sake of argument, all the stories from the Bible are granted as being true, Goliath was far from an evil man. He just happened to be born in the “wrong” tribe. His prowess on the battlefield was so renowned that his mere presence caused the entire Israelite army to flee in terror.1 However, this only proves he was a master in his profession as a soldier. Continued reading reveals he was far from a savage. The first quote attributed to Goliath in the Bible is a proposal to avoid thousands of needless deaths by settling a large war with a one-on-one winner-take-all duel.2 Quite a noble idea! The worst offense he is guilty of committing is simply saying “This day I defy the armies of Israel!”. If that caliber of conduct is enough to eliminate a name from being a viable option in modern society, then almost every name from the Bible must also be discarded. Case in point: David.
The most fitting character to compare Goliath to is David. Not only is this one of the most popular Biblical names, but, if the Bible is to be believed, he famously faced Goliath in combat and ***SPOILER ALERT*** beat him in one of the biggest upsets in all time! What many people don’t know is that after killing Goliath, David savagely decapitated him,3 then proceeded to carry his head back to Jerusalem as a trophy.4 Some may be able to overlook this as an overzealous celebration of war in a less-civilized era, however it gets much worse.
As king, David practiced polygamy and had concubines.5 But that did not satiate his sexual urges. He was also a peeping tom6 who used his position as king to impregnate a married woman named Bathsheba who he had been spying on.7 As if that wasn’t enough, he conspired to cover his misdeed by orchestrating the death of her husband Uriah (a loyal soldier in his army).8 Nowhere are we led to believe Goliath reached these levels of depravity.
The cruelty of biblical characters whose names are still used today does not end there. Elisha summoned bears to maul kids who teased his male pattern baldness.9 Despite a feeble attempt by Answers in Genesis to defend this story where they argue that, based on the original text, it might have been grown men who were immature, or just had low stature/importance in the city and not children. (I guess because in their minds having bears maul adults for teasing a balding man is reasonable?) They go on to point out some of them might have survived the attack so it was clearly a righteous move on Elisha’s part. (I wish this was a joke). The truth is undeniable. It was an evil, completely uncalled for, over-reaction. Much more cruel than saying you defy an army and attempting to minimize casualties like Goliath.
The New Testament is not much better. Paul openly espoused sexist views saying in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.“ He repeated similar sentiment in 1 Corinthians 14: 34-38 but to ensure churches uphold this ridiculous teaching the bible states “If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.” Goliath is really looking like a champion now!
For good measure, Jacob shouldn’t be ignored. He went to great lengths in order to deceived his blind, dying father Isaac in Genesis 27. He steals the blessing, land, and all possessions in the inheritance that was meant for his brother older brother Esau. Poor Esau was left with nothing!10
This list could continue but the point has been sufficiently made. Goliath was not a bad guy, especially when compared to the long list of flawed individuals from the Bible whose names are still in common use today. I urge all who read this to seriously consider bestowing your offspring with this great name! He needs to be given his long-overdue respect!
- 1 Samuel 17:23-24
- 1 Samuel 17:8-9
- 1 Samuel 17:51
- 1 Samuel 17:54
- 1 Chronicles 3
- 2 Samuel 11:2
- 2 Samuel 11:4-5
- 2 Samuel 11:14-17
- 2 Kings 2: 23-24
- Genesis 27:37