The biblical Elhanan son of Jair (variant forms "Jaare-Oregim" in 2 Samuel 21:19, "Jesse" in 1 Samuel 17:12) is believed by conservative Bible scholars to be an earlier name of David, who later became the second King of Israel. (See also Elhanan son of Dodo.) In the ancient world it was common for people to be known by one name at one time in their lives and to be known by another name or names at later times. The name Elhanan is used in 2 Samuel 21:19 where he is mentioned as killing the Philistine giant Goliath and in 1 Chronicles 20:5, where in addition to Goliath he is also mentioned as killing Goliath’s brother Lahmi.
Some liberal scholars, believing Elhanan son of Jair was someone other than David, consider the biblical account to be in contradiction of itself in who it claims killed Goliath. They argue that the text in Samuel represents the original form of the story, and that the victory over Goliath was later credited to David in order to enhance his reputation. They argue that other aspects of the text point to this alteration, since Saul is supposed to have asked who the killer was, despite being already acquainted with David.
The King James Version of the Bible adds the phrase “the brother of” before Goliath’s name, in order to avoid contradicting the better-known story that David killed the Philistine champion. The insertion is justified by a reference in Chronicles to Elhanan having killed Goliath’s brother.
Other scholars assert that the omission of “brother of” in Samuel is likely to be a transcription error.
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