David and Goliath: Shock theory exposed after ‘fundamentally wrong’ Bible interpretation 

The biblical account is told as a lesson of courage, faith, and overcoming what seems impossible, after David, a young shepherd armed only with a sling, beats Goliath, the mighty warrior. But, Malcolm Gladwell, the author of five New York Times bestsellers, thinks this story has been completely misunderstood, claiming Goliath was the real underdog. Mr Gladwell says there is evidence in the Bible that not only suggests that David was a far-more skilled warrior, but there is medical evidence that Goliath never stood a chance.

Speaking at a TedTalk in 2013, he said: “David, in that story, is supposed to be the underdog, right? In fact, that term, David and Goliath, has entered our language as a metaphor for improbable victories by some weak party over someone far stronger. 

“Now why do we call David an underdog? Well, we call him an underdog because he's a kid, a little kid, and Goliath is this big, strong giant. 

“We also call him an underdog because Goliath is an experienced warrior, and David is just a shepherd. 

“But most importantly, we call him an underdog because Goliath is outfitted with all of this modern weaponry, this glittering coat of armour and a sword and a javelin and a spear, and all David has is this sling.”

The story of David and Goliath has fascinated people for yeas

The story of David and Goliath has fascinated people for yeas (Image: GETTY)

The story is found in the Bible

The story is found in the Bible (Image: GETTY)

There is something fundamentally wrong with Goliath

Malcolm Gladwell,

Mr Gladwell broke down the tools that David came to battle with, and why they were so deadly.

He added: “Well, let's start there with the phrase ‘All David has is this sling,’ because that's the first mistake that we make. 

“In ancient warfare, there are three kinds of warriors, there's cavalry, men on horseback and with chariots, there's heavy infantry, which are foot soldiers, armed foot soldiers with swords and shields and some kind of armour and there's artillery, and artillery are archers, but, more importantly, slingers. 

“A slinger is someone who has a leather pouch with two long cords attached to it, and they put a projectile, either a rock or a lead ball, inside the pouch, and they whirl it around like this and they let one of the cords go, and the effect is to send the projectile forward towards its target. 

“That's what David has, and it's an incredibly devastating weapon. 

READ MORE: Archaeology shock: 2,000-year-old Mount Ebal discovery ‘proves Bible story’

Malcolm Gladwell gave a TedTalk in 2013

Malcolm Gladwell gave a TedTalk in 2013 (Image: TED)

“When David rolls it around like this, he's turning the sling around probably at six or seven revolutions per second, and that means that when the rock is released, it's going forward really fast, probably 35 meters per second.”

Mr Gladwell explained why this weapon would have been perfect to defeat Goliath.

He added “So what's Goliath? He's heavy infantry, and his expectation when he challenges the Israelites to a duel is that he's going to be fighting another heavy infantryman. 

“But David is not going to fight him that way, why would he? He's a shepherd. 

“He's spent his entire career using a sling to defend his flock against lions and wolves, that's where his strength lies. 

“So here he is, this shepherd, experienced in the use of a devastating weapon, up against this lumbering giant weighed down by a hundred pounds of armour and these incredibly heavy weapons that are useful only in short-range combat. 

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Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell said the story had been misunderstood (Image: Malcolm Gladwell said the story had been misunderstood)

David was never the underdog, according to claims

David was never the underdog, according to claims (Image: GETTY)

“Goliath is a sitting duck. He doesn't have a chance.”

But, perhaps even more shocking, Mr Gladwell claims Goliath may have been visually impaired.

He continued: “Goliath is not what he seems to be, there's all kinds of hints of this in the Biblical text, things that are in retrospect quite puzzling and don't square with his image as this mighty warrior. 

“So to begin with, the Bible says that Goliath is led onto the valley floor by an attendant. 

“Now that is weird, right? Here is this mighty warrior challenging the Israelites to one-on-one combat, why is he being led by the hand by some young boy, presumably, to the point of combat? 

“Secondly, the Bible story makes special note of how slowly Goliath moves, another odd thing to say when you're describing the mightiest warrior known to man at that point and then there's this whole weird thing about how long it takes Goliath to react to the sight of David. 

Malcolm Gladwell was speaking in 2013

Malcolm Gladwell was speaking in 2013 (Image: TED)

“So David's coming down the mountain, and he's clearly not preparing for hand-to-hand combat. 

“Why does Goliath not react to that? It's as if he's oblivious to what's going on that day and then there's that strange comment he makes to David: ‘Am I a dog that you should come to me with sticks?’ Sticks? David only has one stick.”

Mr Gladwell outlined a theory that has been proposed.

He added: “Well, it turns out that there's been a great deal of speculation within the medical community over the years about whether there is something fundamentally wrong with Goliath, an attempt to make sense of all of those apparent anomalies. 

“The first article was in 1960, in the Indiana Medical Journal, and it started a chain of speculation that starts with an explanation for Goliath's height. 

“So Goliath is head and shoulders above all of his peers in that era, and usually when someone is that far out of the norm, there's an explanation for it. 

“So the most common form of giantism is a condition called acromegaly, and acromegaly is caused by a benign tumour on your pituitary gland that causes an overproduction of human growth hormone.

“Throughout history, many of the most famous giants have all had acromegaly, the tallest person of all time was a guy named Robert Wadlow who was still growing when he died at the age of 24 and he was 8 foot 11.”

It has been claimed that this medical issue may have hindered Goliath’s sight.

Mr Gladwell continued: “Anyone who's unusually tall, that's the first explanation we come up with and acromegaly has a very distinct set of side effects associated with it, principally having to do with vision. 

“The pituitary tumour, as it grows, often starts to compress the visual nerves in your brain, with the result that people with acromegaly have either double vision or they are profoundly nearsighted. 

“That would also explain so much of what was strange about his behaviour that day. 

“Why does he move so slowly and have to be escorted down into the valley floor by an attendant? Because he can't make his way on his own.”

Mr Gladwell finalised by suggesting David underestimated his opponent because he could not see him properly.

He concluded: “Why is he so strangely oblivious to David that he doesn't understand that David's not going to fight him until the very last moment? Because he can't see him. 

“When he says: ‘Come to me that I might feed your flesh to the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field,’ the phrase ‘come to me’ is a hint also of his vulnerability, come to me because I can't see you. 

“So the Israelites up on the mountain ridge looking down on him thought he was this extraordinarily powerful foe. 

“What they didn't understand was that the very thing that was the source of his apparent strength was also the source of his greatest weakness.”

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