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Foe of the Children of Israel (q.v.) slain by David (q.v.). Goliath's name (Jālūt; this Arabic rendition of the name is possibly influenced by the Heb. word for exile, gālūt; cf. Vajda, Djālūt) is mentioned three times in q 2:249-51 wherein he is portrayed as the ancient Israelites' opponent in battle. The qurʾānic account conflates the biblical story of GideonGideon ii, 334b iv, 530a v, 43a 's conflict with the MidianitesMidianites ii, 334b iii, 381a iii, 389b iii, 390a iii, 390b iii, 391a iii, 393b iii, 520b iv, 288a (see midian ) — in particular the episode wherein God instructed Gideon to select only those men who drank from the river by scooping water with their hand (Judg 7:1-7) — with the account of the wars of Saul (q.v.) and David against the Philistines (I Sam 17). The “stories of the prophets” tradition (qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ) identifies Goliath as the king of the Amalakites; the biblical account identifies him as the champion of the Philistines (I Sam 17:4, 23). The qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ tradition transforms the simple phrase, “David slew Goliath” (q 2:151) into a tale, attributed to Wahb b. Munabbih (d. 114/732), whose origins may be found in midrashic legend. In Wahb's account, David collected the stones of his ancestors Abraham (q.v.), Isaac (q.v.), and Jacob (q.v.) and put them in his satchel. When he confronted Goliath, he reached into his satchel and the three stones became one. After he placed it in his sling and threw it at Goliath, the single stone again became three. One stone penetrated Goliath's helmet and slew him; the second vanquished his right flank; the third his left flank. Not surprisingly, the Muslim tradition views the miraculous victory of the young David's outnumbered forces over the formidable Goliath's mighty host as a foreshadowing of the battle of Badr (q.v.). In fact, one finds the passage “Many a small band has, by God's grace, vanquished a mighty army; God is with those who endure with fortitude” (q 2:249), cited in all sorts of accounts in which the smaller armies of the righteous (however defined by the author) defeat the larger armies of their opponents (see expeditions and battles; fighting).

in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'ān Online


This article examines how Ibn 'Asākir (1105-76)—in keeping with the well-established fadā' il al-Shām (merits of bilād al-Shām) tradition—fashions portraits of Sarah and Hagar in his Ta'rīkh madīnat Dimashq (History of Damascus) to extol their special role in the sacred history of God working through his human agents in Syria's past. As is the case in his biographies of other sacred and pious figures in Syria's past, Ibn 'Asākir's biographies of Sarah and Hagar are also intended to provide a moral example as well as pious inspiration for the faithful.

In: Medieval Encounters