Friday, July 23, 2004

I was talking a friend the other day, a came upon a startling fact. Not everyone knows the Old Testament stories in the Bible. Having grown up in a Christian home, my parents read them to me, and there were plenty of Bible story books around. This isn't a 'holier than thou' thing, this is just realizing how much different other people's 'worlds' can be from my own. I just can't imagine not knowing them. So....since I find them very interesting, I decided to read one a few times, and then paraphrase it. This is also a great technique for memorizing the details. I've left some details out, so just remember these are basically the events, not the words of the Bible. If you want to read it for reference, or just to get the story in it's entirety (including the riddle Samson told his 30 companions) it's Judges 13-17.

Samson (and Delilah) 

The Israelites (the chosen people of God) had done evil, and God had put them into the hands of the Philistines.

The Lord visited a the wife of a man called Manoah, in Zorah, and told her even though she was sterile and childless, she would conceive a son. He told her not to consume wine or other fermented drink, nor any unclean food, as this child was to be a Nazirite of God. He was not to cut his hair as long as he lived.

The woman later gave birth to a son and named him Samson. Samson grew in the Lord and the Lord blessed him.

Samson found a Philistine woman in Timnah and told his parents he wished to marry her. He went and talked to her and he liked her. He went down later to marry her. He made a great feast, as was the custom for the bridegroom at that time. He was given 30 companions to be with him for the 7 days of the feast. He told them he would tell them a riddle, and if them solved it before the 7 days were over, he would give them 30 sets of linen and 30 sets of clothes. If they were not able to solve it, they would give him 30 of each, linen and clothes. They couldn’t solve the riddle, so they asked his wife to lure him into telling her the solution. She did lure him into telling her; she cried the whole 7 days of the feast, and he told her the answer. She in turn told the men. When they answered the riddle on the 7th day of the feast, he was furious. He left the wedding and went back to his father’s house. His wife was given to a friend that attended him at the wedding.

Later, at harvest time, he returned for his wife. Her father would not let him see her, and he became angry. He told himself, this time I will get back at them, I have every right to. So he caught 100 foxes, tied torches to their tails and sent them through the Philistine’s fields, burning their crops. When they realized Samson had been angry because his wife had been given away by her father, they went up and burned his wife and her father to death. This also made Samson angry, and he attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went and lived in a cave.

The Philistines went up to Judah, where Samson was living, and the leaders there asked them why they had come. "We have come to get revenge, for what Samson did to us". Then 3,000 men of Judah confronted Samson and asked him "Don’t you know they are rulers over us? What have you done to us!?".
He replied, "I’ve only done to them as they’ve done to me."
The leaders told him "We have come to bind you and hand you over to the Philistines".
He made them promise that they would hand him over, and not kill him themselves. When they handed him over, the Philistines came at him, shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power and finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey nearby, attacked them and killed one thousand of them.

Samson returned and led the Israelites for 20 years.

One day when he went to Gaza, the Philistines saw him and said "Look, he has returned. We’ll wait by the gates and kill him tomorrow". But Samson did not spend the night. He lifted the city gates, along with their posts, out of the ground, and carried them to a hill.
Some time later, he fell in love with a woman from the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.

The Philistines went to her and asked her to coax Samson into giving her the secret of his strength. They offered to pay her well. She agreed, and asked him how he could be subdued. He told her, if you bind me with 7 fresh leather thongs, my strength will leave me. So she bound him in the night, and with men waiting in the room called out "Samson! The Philistines are upon you!"
He awoke, and the ropes fell off of him, as string snaps when it is put through the flame of a candle.
She said to him, "You have made a fool of me. Tell me what your secret is!"
He replied, "If you bind me with new ropes that have never been used, my strength will be gone."
So she bound him in the night with new ropes, and called out again, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!"
He broke the ropes again, and she told him "You are lying to me and making a fool out of me. How can you say ‘I love you’ when you do not confide in me? Tell me what your secret is."
So he told her "Weave my 7 braids into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, and my strength will leave me."
So in the night, she wove his hair into the loom, but when she called to him once again to tell him the Philistines were upon him, he awoke and pulled up the pin and loom, along with the fabric.
She said "This is the third time. You are making a fool of me! You are lying to me! Tell me what your secret is!"
She nagged him every day, till he was tired to death, and he finally told her, "My hair has never been shaved because I am a Nazirite, set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved I would be as weak as any man."
When Delilah saw that Samson had told her everything, she told the Philistines, and when it was night she put him to sleep on her lap, and called in someone to shave the 7 braids off his head. And his strength left him. When the deed was done, she called out, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!".
He woke, thinking "I will shake them off as I did last time", not knowing the Lord had left him. The Philistines seized him, gouged his eyes out and put him to work, grinding wheat in the prison. But his hair was growing back while he was in prison.

Now the rulers of Philistine were planning to offer a sacrifice to their god, Dagon, in their temple. They had a celebration, saying "Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands".
While they were in high spirits, they shouted for Samson to be brought out to entertain them. When Samson entered, he performed for them and then asked the servant who held his hands to lead him to the pillars, so he could lean against them. The temple was filled with many men and women, and many rulers, besides that there were about 3,000 people on the roof, watching Samson. Samson prayed to the Lord and said "O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes." Then Samson reached out and put his right and left hands on the supporting pillars for the temple. He said "Let me die with the Philistines". He pushed with all his might and the temple came down, coming down on top of all the people. He killed more people when he died than while he was alive.
His family came and buried him between Zorah and Eshtahol in the tomb of Manoah, his father. He had led Israel for 20 years.

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