Golgotha: ‘The Place of A Skull’? 1 Samuel 17:41-58

Text:  And He (Christ Jesus) bearing His Cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called Golgotha; where they Crucified Him…”

John 19:17-18.

Good morning, deeper-thinking Christian!  The Lord God has blessed thee and me with His Salvation; wisdom outside the realm of human reasoning; faith and Spiritual discernment - and it is a joy for us to exercise every whit of His gift to us.  Praise God for thinking Christians!

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  (2 Timothy 1:7)

If therefore, the Lord God has blessed us with ‘…a sound mind…’, let us seek to use this blessing as we think through the Scripture accounts to make sense of what we read and, by Gods good grace, enhance our knowledge of Christ and the nature of the Divine Lord God.  (2 Timothy 2:15)

Let us look for a while at this place of a skull, called Golgotha - the place where our dear Saviour was Crucified for our vile sins.  Praise His Name!

The place of a skull - Golgotha - was, and is by all accounts, positioned outside the city walls of Jerusalem.  It was a place of obvious notoriety, a place closely associated with death; with dead bodies; a place to which ritually unclean people and things were exiled, ‘…outside the camp…’

Touching unclean things: Uncleanness conveyed by touch usually lasted until evening, though touching a human corpse made one unclean for seven days (Numbers 19:11).  A priest was not to be involved in the burial of any corpse except that of an immediate relative (mother, father, son, daughter, brother; Lev. 21:1012), since touching the corpse would lead to defilement and exclusion from his duties in the sanctuary.  (Joe M. Sprinkle, The Rationale Of The Laws Of Clean And Unclean In The Old Testament, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 43.4 (2000): 637-657.)


"This hill was discovered by British General Gordon on a visit to Jerusalem in 1883. The Scriptures tell us that Christ was crucified at Golgotha, which means "place of the skull" which accurately describes a skull-shaped hill less than a hundred metres from the site of the tomb outside the old city walls.

Both the skull-shaped hill, known as Gordon's Calvary, and the Garden Tomb are outside the limits of the Old City. Even though the present walls do not follow the same line as those of the first century, both hill and tomb still certainly lie outside the first-century wall, as burial places were considered "unclean" and forbidden within the city walls." (www.virtualtourist.com)

All that would make people ritually unclean was to be put outside the camp, the city; the social boundary of a given place.  Such a place was Golgotha - outside the city walls of Jerusalem.

“For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy; that He see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.”  (Deuteronomy 23:14)

In the light of this ritual law, and from our Bible reading for today, we understand the fact that the head of the Philistine giant, Goliath of Gath, was severed from him by David and taken up to Jerusalem.      (1 Samuel 17:51; 54;57)

However, because of the Levitical laws concerning touching dead bodies, Goliath’s head would have to be eventually taken outside the city walls and buried - otherwise Jerusalem would have been deemed ritually unclean!

Personal Thought:  Could it be that Goliath’s severed head was buried just outside Jerusalem’s city walls, and the people, knowing the social, political, historical, and symbolic significance of that event, called it Golgotha - ’…the place of a skull…’?  I wonder?  Was ’..the skull…’ that of the giant, Goliath?  (1 Samuel 17:54; 57)

However, no matter what other significance the name Golgotha conjures up in our all too fallible minds; one thing is completely certain to all true regenerate Christians: OUR HEAD, our only Head, Christ Jesus, took our vile sins upon His Holy Self; bore our sins to Golgotha’s Hill; was nailed to a cruel Roman Cross in our place; suffered the full penalty of our sins; and made an Eternal Sacrifice of total Redemption for us there. 

Now, that is good news for any saved sinner to get excited about.  Hallelujah!   “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp…!”  (Hebrews 13:11-15)

Spread the news, beloved Christian, Christ has wrought Victory for repentant sinners.  His Sword cuts off the Serpent’s head, and sets the captives free!

Thought: ‘There is a green Hill far away, outside a city’s walls…’: Mount Calvary!  There the Eternal Battle was finished for us by Christ Jesus.  Hallelujah!

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