If God had judged David by external qualities, he could not have become King of Israel. In
subsequent chapters of the book of Samuel, on the other hand, David confronts a Philistine
military machine of impressive dimensions but conquers it with a shepherd's weapon --
slingshot. The narrative teaches that victory comes not by means of weaponry but by the grace of
God. Surely the confrontation between puny David and the
technocratic miracle of Goliath is among the most memorable
passages in the annals of literary history. But how often do
readers remember the carefully specified size of Goliath's
gargantuan spear? In II Samuel 21, when David confronts
the Philistines in battle, the narrator takes careful note of the -
-comically gigantic already in the second millenium b.c.e.?--
dimensions of the military hardware which the Philistines
brought to wage war against the people of the book, including
the size of Goliath's spear. The annotator underlines the
measurement -- comparing the spear to "a weaver's beam"² --
in scarlet ink (figure thirty-one). At issue is the principle
previously underlined in the marginal note at I Samuel 14 and
in the text of I Samuel 16.7. God is not impressed by the size
of Philistine armaments. He judges his subjects by intrinsic
piety and awards victory to the meritorious.
Falstaff, recounting his amorous adventures in Ford's household to Master Brook, remembers
the underlined comparison of Goliath's spear to a weaver's beam:
I will tell you: he beat me grievously, in the shape of a woman; for in the shape of a man,
Master Brook, I fear not Golias3 with a weaver's beam, because I know life also is a shuttle.
(Merry Wives 5.21-
This peculiar coincidence was among the first preliminary indications supporting the theory
detailed in the present document to receive wide public currency by being covered in the
September 1993 GTE teleconference on the authorship controversy. It is also the only factual
question conceded by orthodox critics of the present study. Responding to the GTE
teleconference in a 1993 Folger library pamphlet, Roasting the Swan of Avon, Bruce Smith admits
The phrase also occurs at I Samuel 17.7 and I Chronicles 11.23 and 20.5.
F's peculiar spelling, according to Shaheen (1989 30), is not found in any extant 16th century Bible, but only in Chaucer's Man of
Laws Tale and Have With You To Saffron Waldron (1596) by Thomas Nashe.
I follow the Riverside text, which is primarily based on F. The so-called "bad quarto" of Merry Wives omits the reference, along with
most of the Bible references listed by Shaheen (1993 132-146). Of thirty-four Bible references in the play listed by Shaheen, only
eight occur in Q.
Figure Thirty-One: II Samuel 21.16-20
in de Vere STC 2106, showing sequence
of marked verses on Philistine military
power. Photo retouched to reflect original