One day a friend sent me an invitation to a church meeting and asked me if I knew anything about the subject. On the flyer was a picture of a human skeleton with crooked teeth and a rock embedded in his forehead. The title above the skull read: “They’ve Found Goliath’s Skull!” Needless to say, that caught my attention.
I read with great interest what was written on the flyer. It reported: “Diggers in Israel believe they’ve made a giant discovery. For they’re convinced they’ve come across Goliath’s skull! And what’s more, they say, the stone from David’s slingshot is still embedded in the forehead. Archaeologist Dr. Richard Martin says: ‘We found the skull in the Valley of Elah, in the foothills of the Judean Mountains, where David’s battle with Goliath took place. The skull is huge and clearly belongs to a man of enormous statue.’ Tests show that the skull is between 2,900 and 3,000 years old – about the right time for the biblical battle. Dr. Martin says: ‘This is the archaeological find of the year.’ Wrong, doc. If you’re correct, the skull could be the archaeological find of the century! Make no bones about it!” [The identity of the church and its pastor will remain hidden to save them some major embarrassment]. What was the source for these claims? At the bottom of the flyer it cited the “Jewish Telegraph/UK/11 June 93”. That sounded like a respectable publication from Great Britain.
I wrote to one of my students in the UK and asked him if he could chase down a copy of this edition of the “Jewish Telegraph” for me (this was before the age when you could find anything and everything on the Internet). He was successful and it said basically the same thing that was on the church flyer. I did some more “digging around” and discovered the original source was an article by David Hudson in the May 25, 1993 edition of an American publication called “Weekly World News.” On one issue of the newspaper it boasted that they were “The World’s Only Reliable Newspaper.” In case you are unaware, the “Weekly World News” used to be a supermarket tabloid like the “The National Enquirer” and “The Sun” and was a very unreliable source of information (its last issue was August 2007). This is the publication that reported Elvis sightings and had articles such as “Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby,” “Aliens Capture Top-Secret NASA Moon Base!” and “Garden of Eden Found.” (Folks, I’m not making this up … they did!). The latter article claims the Garden of Eden was in Colorado and even the original apple that Eve ate was found!
The front page of the May 25th edition had the same picture of the skull with the rock in the forehead as the flyer. The headline said: “Goliath’s Skull Found in Holy Land! Dramatic discovery proves the Bible story true!” As I read through the article, red flags and warning bells began to go off. I knew of most of the leading Israeli and American archaeologists working in Israel, but I had never heard of this “Dr. Martin.” I was living in Jerusalem in the spring of 1993 when the alleged discovery was made on March 23, 1993 and never heard about the supposed “news conference” in Jerusalem given by “Dr. Martin” when he and his associates announced this “discovery.” I was perplexed by the fact that Goliath’s skull was found in the Elah Valley when the Bible says David took his head up to Jerusalem, presumably as an act of intimidation against the Jebusites (I Sam. 17:54). I was suspicious about the “test” that showed the skull was 2,900 to 3,000 years old and wondered if it had been published, or would be published, in a scientific peer reviewed publication. It is safe to say, this whole story, both on the flyer and in the article, was fabricated. There is not a shred of evidence for any of these bogus claims.
The most important lesson we can learn from this story is that we should do a thorough search in order to find out what the original source of a story was. In this case, the bogus story came from an unreliable tabloid. One should look for, and seriously consider, material that has been published in scientific peer reviewed publications. This so-called “skull of Goliath” was never published in any archaeological journal by “Dr. Martin.” This fabrication came from the fertile imagination of David Hudson and should not be used as proof that the Biblical account of the battle between David and Goliath is true.