2 Samuel 18:17—Was Absalom buried in the forest of Ephraim or in the Kidron Valley?

Problem: After Absalom was killed by Joab’s men, they took his body and threw it into a pit and covered him with a large stone. However, according to 2 Samuel 18:18, Absalom had erected his own tomb in the Kidron Valley. Where was Absalom buried?

Solution: Absalom was buried in the pit as 2 Samuel 18:17 describes. The memorial Absalom built, which has come to be known as the Tomb of Absalom, was not necessarily erected to function as a burial place. Rather, it was a memorial of remembrance to Absalom’s name, and there is no claim in Scripture that he was buried there.

2 Samuel 21:19—This verse says “Elhanan ... killed Goliath” but 1 Samuel 17 declares that David did.

Problem: First Samuel 17 records the dramatic story of how David the son of Jesse killed the giant Goliath. However, 2 Samuel 21:19 says clearly: “Elhanan ... killed Goliath the Gittite.” But both texts cannot be right.

Solution: The 2 Samuel text is probably a scribal error in copying the manuscript and should read “Elhanan ... slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite.” This conclusion is supported by a parallel report of the story in 1 Chronicles 20:5 which has the missing highlighted phrase “Lahmi the brother of,” thus showing it was the brother of Goliath that Elhanan killed and not Goliath, whom David slew just as 1 Samuel 17 reports.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.