Paul Boorstin is an award-win­ning writer, film­mak­er, and author of the nov­el David and the Philis­tine Woman. He will be blog­ging here for Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s Vis­it­ing Scribe series all week.

The duel of David and Goliath, the ulti­mate clash of good against evil, is bare­ly a page long in the Hebrew Bible (I Samuel, Chap­ter 17). The sto­ry is so famil­iar, each of us feels as if we own it. Why was I dri­ven to take my ver­sion, the one that I have owned” since I was a child, and bring it to life?

Grow­ing up in Chica­go as a Jew­ish kid with thick glass­es and zero ath­let­ic abil­i­ty, I was always the last to be picked for base­ball, foot­ball, soc­cer, you name it. So when I learned at our syn­a­gogue about the unim­pos­ing David tri­umph­ing over the giant Goliath, I instant­ly chose the lit­tle guy as my role mod­el. I was soon inspired by oth­er Davids” in his­to­ry — from Joan of Arc to Nel­son Man­dela — under­dogs tri­umph­ing over impos­si­ble odds. At the top of my list, of course, were the Jew­ish peo­ple, who for cen­turies were per­se­cut­ed exiles, yet who over­came fear­some obsta­cles through spir­i­tu­al strength.

Half a cen­tu­ry after I first dis­cov­ered him, young David is still my favorite super-hero.” I find in his life the true mean­ing of hero­ism: as much a mat­ter of moral char­ac­ter as phys­i­cal courage. Begin­ning with the bib­li­cal text, I reimag­ined David’s sto­ry based on the nar­ra­tive I envi­sioned between the lines, to dis­cov­er what mys­ter­ies and sur­pris­es might be hid­ing there. My pur­pose in writ­ing David and the Philis­tine Woman was to broad­en the scope of the nar­ra­tive to encom­pass the con­flict of the Israelite and Philis­tine peo­ples. I also want­ed to focus on the minds, motives and hearts of some of the Bible’s most fas­ci­nat­ing fig­ures, along with orig­i­nal char­ac­ters — male and female — that I created.

While writ­ing David and the Philis­tine Woman, I was deter­mined to remain faith­ful to the spir­it of the Bib­li­cal orig­i­nal. Beyond that, I want­ed my nov­el to show that what links peo­ple of good­will is not so much the god they wor­ship as it is their bond of com­mon human­i­ty and shared compassion.

Research­ing the ear­ly years of the Hebrew Bible’s most beloved fig­ure, I was sur­prised to dis­cov­er a young man who is still a hero for us in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry: For unlike Moses or Abra­ham, young David, as depict­ed in my nov­el and in the Bible, does not hear the voice of God. He must seek out that voice in the stir­rings of his own heart. That is the spark that kin­dled my pas­sion to tell this sto­ry. For like David, in our trou­bled world we must do the right thing with­out God whis­per­ing a com­mand in our ear to direct our actions.

By the end of David and the Philis­tine Woman, David learns that whether or not it is ordained in heav­en, noth­ing of val­ue is achieved here on earth unless it is done by human hands. The task has nev­er been more urgent for us than it is today.

Learn more about Paul Boorstin here.

Paul Boorstin is an award-win­ning writer and film­mak­er whose TV doc­u­men­taries have exam­ined Bib­li­cal his­tor­i­cal and envi­ron­men­tal sub­jects for A&E Dis­cov­ery the His­to­ry Chan­nel and Nation­al Geo­graph­ic. His screen­plays have been pro­duced as motion pic­tures by Para­mount and 20th Cen­tu­ry Fox. He is also a blog­ger for the Huff­in­g­ton Post and a con­trib­u­tor to the Los Ange­les Times.

For Paul’s pre­sen­ta­tion, his wife Sharon, a past JBC cook­book author, has cre­at­ed recipes for a David’s Feast” fea­tur­ing the authen­tic foods and fla­vors of David’s time.