Goliath's humanimal body: Masculinity, ethnicity, and animal imagery in 1 Samuel 17

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In 1 Samuel 17, Goliath is described using animal imagery, depicted like a sea creature, a lion and bear, a dog, and scavengers’ prey. I argue that these images present Goliath as not fully human, and contribute to the construction of his masculinity and ethnicity. This article traces the trajectory here: masculinity is established then undermined; the foreigner encroaches then is expelled. Goliath is introduced as a hypermasculine ultrapredator. Akin to a sea monster from the chaotic beyond, he has an exoskeleton of fish-scale armour (17:5). David then likens him to lions and bears (17:34-37), imperial symbols for fearsome foreign nations. David, though, can grasp their beards (overturning their masculinity) and slay them. Goliath perceives David to be treating him like a scavenging dog (17:43)—a dishonourable creature encroaching where it does not belong. Consequently, the opponents threaten to give the other’s flesh to the birds and beasts (17:44, 46). Their bodies’ masculine wholeness is disarticulated by scavengers and expelled from society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-545
Number of pages19
JournalBiblical Interpretation: A Journal of Contemporary Approaches
Issue number5
Early online date23 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • animal imagery
  • masculinity
  • ethnicity
  • 1 Samuel
  • Goliath
  • monster


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