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The story of David comes from the first book of Samuel chapter seventeen in the Old Testament of the Bible. It is about a young man named David, who is brave enough to take on this terrible giant, named Goliath. Goliath is a great Philistine warrior who comes out to the battle lines and challenges the armies of Israel to come and fight him. However, all of the men were too fearful of confronting this enemy. Meanwhile, young David is there to check on his older brothers and overhears this challenge from Goliath. It offends him that Goliath is challenging the people of Israel and God. As a result, David steps up to the challenge – all without any armor to protect him.
When David was trying to convince Saul to fight Goliath he said “If he is able to fight with me and kill me, we shall be slaves to you, and if I overcome him, and kill him, you shall be slaves to us and serve us”. After this happened the Israeli people were panic stricken and very much afraid. Goliath fought Israel for 40 days and 40 nights. His daughters hand in marriage was offered for whoever was the victor of war. He thought that he was threatening the ranks of the living god which was not ok. The way the war was fought was milchamet reshut because Goliath was planning on attacking him so it was a war to protect themselves rather than mitzvah which is a war for something that is allowed to be started.
The men who are present all think this to be a horrible idea. After all, Goliath is an experienced soldier, wearing strong armor and carrying a sword, spear, and javelin. However, there was one thing David had that Goliath did not – the living God on his side. David steps forward, takes his sling and hurtles a stone at Goliath’s head, causing him to fall.
To the Florentine people, this was not merely King David from the Bible. There was a wide range of affiliations. First of all, David in the scriptural story vanquishes his enemy – even though he is the underdog. He overcomes his enemy with God’s help. The Florentine people felt as though they related to David because, like David, they had defeated their adversary, the Duke of Milan, with the assistance of God. Thus, Goliath assumes the role of the Duke of Milan.
Milan was altogether stronger than Florence, which was a trade culture, as opposed to military power. Florence was, of course, a republic whereas Milan was totalitarianism. That is, it had a single ruler. So David became a representation of the Florentine Republic. Anybody seeing this figure in the fifteenth century would have understood David as a reference to the freedoms and the liberties that were so cherished by the Florentine people.
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