Sunday, May 5, 2013

Samson's mission

In the Old Testament in the book of Judges we read yet another fantastical tale of a man of God. He was allegedly a Nazarite which does not mean that he was born in Nazareth, but that he was dedicated to God from the womb. He was the son of Manoah of Zorah from the clan of the Danites. His name was Samson.His story begins in the book of Judges chapter 13 and ends in the 16th chapter.

I would love to tell you the name of Samson's mother but apparently the author of this tale did not think she was important since he did not deem it necessary to identify her. This is not a surprise since the Hebrews are known to be a patriarchal society where women are counted as second class citizens. According to the narrative Manoah's wife was barren and unable to have children, so the fact that God chose her to give birth to a son was in and of itself a miracle. The story states that Israel had been given over to the Philistines for 40 years because they "did evil in the sight of the Lord." Judges 13:1

5You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” Judges 13:5

The above cited texts reveals two things. The first is the reason why Samson was required to have his hair long. As a Nazarite the physical sign of his pact with God was the long hair, this is similar to the pact made with Abraham and the Hebrews that required that all men be circumcised. The long hair in this case let others know that this was a man that was set aside from birth to the service of the Lord. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia a Nazarite is: "One who lives apart; one who has made a vow of abstinence; in the former sense used as early as Sifra, Emor, iv. 3; Sifre, Num. 23." You can read more about the Nazarites in the link that I have provided.

 
Samson battles a lion with his bare hands!

The exploits of Samson read like the trials/labors of Hercules. Samson eventually married with a Philistine woman against his parents wishes. But the bible tells us that this was all part of God's plan in order to stir up trouble between Samson and the Philistines. 4"(His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)" Judges 14:4 Remember that Samson's mission was to deliver Israel from the rule of the Philistines.

Unlike Hercules Samson did not have to go through 12 trials but the three short chapters that narrate his life contain within them some amazing feats of strength. Here's the short list: he tore a lion apart with is bare hands. Judges 14:5-6; he killed countless Philistines in different confrontations with them, he caught 300 foxes and tied their tales together in pairs of two and attached a torch to each pair and set them loose in the standing grains of the Philistines and destroyed their entire harvest. Judges 15:4-5; he killed 1,000 Philistine men with the jaw bone of a donkey! Judges 15:14-15; and finally, he brought down the temple with 3000 men and women on its roof and all of the Philistines rulers. Judges 16:29-30

Samson slays 1,000 Philistines with the jaw bone of a donkey!

I find it interesting that the bible states that Samson was a man chosen by God from the womb but that we read about him on one occasion sleeping with a prostitute. Judges 16:1 As stated above we also know that he married a Philistine woman who was later slain by the Philistines along with her father. We finally come to what was in my opinion Samson's Achilles heel. 

In chapter 14 Samson bets the Philistines that they could not figure out a riddle he would propose to them. This riddle was actually based on the incident where he tore a lion apart with his bare hands and upon returning the same way he had come sometime later, he found that the carcass of the lion had a swarm of bees in it and was filled with honey. Under threat of violence against herself and her father the Philistines told Samson's wife to coax him to give her the answer. So she pestered Samson for the entire 7 days till he tired of her and gave her the answer to the riddle. As a result of this he lost the bet and immediately realized that he had been betrayed by his wife. 

Samson's Achilles heel was women. This first betrayal by his wife sets up the ultimate betrayal that later led to his death. In chapter 16 of the book of Judges we read that he has a similar experience with his lover Delilah. For the promise of a large sum of money the Philistines asked Delilah to find out the secret to Samson's strength so that they may be able to subdue him. 

Once again Samson has a woman pestering him for days about yet another secret. Finally after having been lied to several times about the secret of his strength and several failed attempts by the Philistines to subdue him based on the information supplied to them by Delilah; her persistence pays off. He tells her the truth. 17So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.” Judges 16: 17

The story then states that after falling asleep on Delilah's lap his 7 braids were cut and his strength left him. 20Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
Judges 16:20 He is then taken into custody and his eyes are gouged out. He was made to work and was used from time to time to entertain the Philistines. Meanwhile, someone forgot to cut his hair and it began to grow back again! 

In his last act Samson completes his mission by destroying all of the Philistines rulers along with 3,000 others who were on the roof of the temple. He asks a  servant who held his hand to put his hands on the pillars that supported the temple. And then he prayed to God for one last time. 28Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

 Samson destroys the Philistine temple

Thus ended the legend of Samson. I say legend because quite frankly I don't believe this story for one minute. It is not historically corroborated and the author also gives an indication in the text itself that he is retelling a story from the past and was not an eyewitness of these events. 19Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi. Judges 15:19 Notice that the author in the underlined text gives away that the place he mentioned "is still there" he is obviously repeating an oral tradition that was believed to have happened in the past. Just like the Islamist refer to the Dome of the rock as the place where Muhammad ascended to Heaven accompanied by the angel Gabriel. 

Finally, this story also illustrates how oftentimes women are used in the bible to bring about some kind of evil or another. In the life of Samson it was two women and in Eden it was Eve. This misogynistic tone is prevalent throughout the entire bible.Of course every once in awhile a woman is thrown a bone but for the most part they are always blamed for some evil wrongdoing. Some of the early church fathers even referred to women as not even being human!

3 comments:

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  2. If you dont beleive the what the bible says abt samson then dont do a blog about it. you say you dont beleive it . then you are calling the bible a lier ever thing in the bible is real so is the " legend" of samson.

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    1. First off, I can blog about anything I feel like blogging about. Also, it's good that you called the story of Samson a legend. There might be hope for you yet. Oh and by the way the bible is bullshit.

      Legend: old story: a story that has been passed down for generations, especially one that is presented as history but is unlikely to be true

      Bing online dictionary

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