ELHANAN. 1. A son of Jaare-Oregim (called also Jair), a Bethlehemite who killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath (2Sam.21.19; 1Chr.20.5).

2. A son of Dodo of Bethlehem and one of David’s thirty heroes (2Sam.23.24; 1Chr.11.26).

Conjectural efforts to solve this problem are: (a) Postulate two separate giants named Goliath, one slain by David and one by Elhanan, or postulate that Goliath is a generic name for a class of giants. (b) Assume that “brother of” has fallen out of the text of Samuel. (c) Assume that Chronicles is trying to solve the problem by adding “brother.” (d) Assume with Ewald and Kennedy that a story originally dealing with Elhanan has been transfered to David whose victim previously had been anonymous. (f) Assume from a tradition preserved in Jerome (Quaest. Heb. in Libros Regnum) and the Targum that David and Elhanan are identical. It recently has been widely assumed that David rather than being a personal name is a throne name for Elhanan. Support for this contention from the occurrence of dawidum in Mari texts for a leader now has been shown to be indefensible.

2. Son of Dodo of Bethlehem, one of the thirty mighty men of David who ranked next to the three (2 Sam 23:24; 1 Chron 11:26).


A. R. S. Kennedy, Samuel: The Century Bible (n.d.), 300; S. R. Driver, Notes On the Hebrew Books of Samuel (2nd ed., 1913), 354, 355; A. M. Honeyman, JBL, 67 (1948), 23f.; V. Pákozdy, ZAW, 68 (1956), 257-259; J. J. Stamm, SVT, 7 (1959), 167ff.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(’elchanan, "whom God gave"):

(1) A great warrior in the army of David who slew a Philistine giant. There is a discrepancy between 2Sa 21:19 and 1Ch 20:5. In the former passage we read, "And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan, the son of Jaare-oregim the Beth-lehemite, slew Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam"; while in the latter we are told, "And there was again war with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam." Most modern critics prefer as the original text of the latter part of the two discrepant statements the following: "and Elhanan the son of Jair the Beth-lehemite slew Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam." It is contended that the Chronicler slightly modified the text before him, in order to bring it into harmony with 1Sa 17, where David is said to have slain a Philistine giant Goliath. There is almost unanimous agreement that "Jaare-oregim" is a corrupt reading, and the "Jair" in 1Ch is to be preferred. From Jerome to the present some scholars identify Elhanan with David, and thus remove the discrepancy. Ewald ( Hist, III, 70) argued that the name "Goliath" was inserted in 1Sa 17 and 21 by the narrators whose compositions are embodied in Samuel, Elhanan being the real victor over Goliath, while David’s antagonist was simply called "the Philistine."

(2) The son of Dodo of Bethlehem, one of David’s mighty men (2Sa 23:24; 1Ch 11:26). Some moderns think that there was only one Elhanan, and that he was the son of Dodo of the clan of Jair.