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Title: The Nature of Goliath's Visual Disorder and the Actual Role of his Personal Bodyguard
Subtitle: נשא הצנהֵ Sam (17:7,41)
Author(s): BERGINER, Vladimir M. , COHEN, Chaim
Journal: Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Volume: 43    Date: 2006   
Pages: 27-44
DOI: 10.2143/ANES.43.0.2018763

Abstract :
This article should be understood in continuation of V. M. Berginer’s previous article suggesting that Goliath suffered from visual field restriction as a result of acromegaly. Thus the actual role of Goliath’s personal bodyguard נֹשֵאֹ הַצִּנּהָ
(I Sam 17:7, 41) was taken there as that of a guide for the visually impaired; and Goliath’s claim to have seen David armed “with sticks” בַּמַּקְלוֹת (I Sam 17:43) after the reader has just been informed that David was armed with but one stick (I Sam 17:40) was interpreted there as an indication of his impaired vision. The present more detailed article will attempt to provide much more evidence, both medical and philological (from both biblical and ancient Near Eastern sources) for all these assertions. The giant Goliath was most probably suffering from acromegaly (due to pituitary tumor) in which the main concomitant disorders are bilateral visual field constriction and in some cases diplopia (while central “tunnel vision” remains intact). A detailed chart has been provided listing the various possible allusions in the text of I Sam 17 to the empirical symptoms of this disease as exhibited by Goliath (including relatively slow movement). It will further be contended that this usage of נֹשאֵֹ הַצִּנּהָ in the present context is in fact satirically euphemistic and is intended to (secondarily) heap ridicule on the blasphemous, insolent Philistine, Goliath, in the eyes of the astute reader without, however, detracting from David ’s her oic achievement. Finally, it will be suggested that the author is implying that it was in fact Divine intervention that truly caused David to decline King Saul’s magnanimous proposal to utilize his own heavy armor and weaponry even after the king himself had outfitted David with them (I Sam 17:38–40). Given the circumstances of Goliath’s medical condition as suffering from acromegaly, had the king’s proposal been accepted, it would have cost David his military advantage and given Goliath (despite his visual disorder) the upper hand.

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