1 Samuel 18:7, David Hath Slain His Ten Thousands!
And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
//In today’s verse, the women of Israel honor returning warriors David and King Saul with this little ditty. The hyperbole is obvious, meant to imply that David’s battle heroics far exceed even the magnificent warrior Saul.
How do we know it’s hyperbole? Well, the Philistine population at its height probably numbered about thirty thousand. If David slew tens of thousands (plural), and Saul thousands (again plural), then that’s at least 22,000 slain. Obviously, they could not have slain the majority of the Philistines; this is not meant to be a body count.
Instead, the Bible turns a phrase, meaning “aheckofalot.” You’ll find the same language in other places, not meant to be read literally there, either:
That our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets–Psalms 144:13
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?–Micah 6:7