Slide 1: Question: What is one medical explanation for the biblical story of Goliath the giant?

Slide 2: Answer: Acromegaly with Pituitary Apoplexy! Acro = extremity. Megaly = enlargement. Apoplexy = condition due to hemorrhage or stroke.

Slide 3: In the classic biblical tale, the Jewish shepherd David defeats Goliath, a giant and leader of the enemy army, by hitting his forehead with a stone using a slingshot (1 Samuel 17).

Slide 4: Physicians have hypothesized that Goliath suffered from a pituitary macro-adenoma, which could explain his large size resulting from acromegaly. Graphic showing anterior pituitary adenoma leading to increased growth hormone effecting the muscle, bone, and heart.

Slide 5: In addition, pituitary macro-adenomas can also cause visual field restriction (bi-temporal hemianopia), leading to blind spots during battle. Finally, large adenomas can be prone to spontaneous hemorrhage (apoplexy), especially with trauma. This may have ultimately led to Goliath’s demise after being struck with a stone.


  • Sprecher S. David and Goliath. Radiology. 1990 Jul;176(1):288. PMID 2191367.
  • Berginer VM. Neurological aspects of the David-Goliath battle: restriction in the giant’s visual field. Isr Med Assoc J. 2000 Sep;2(9):725-7. PMID 11062784.

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