LET’S BRIEFLY SET THE STAGE FOR THE STORY OF THE MUSCLE-BOUND SAMSON, THAT WE’VE ALL HEARD SINCE WE WERE CHILDREN. MANY HAVE STATED THAT SAMSON WAS IN NO WAY A TYPICAL JUDGE OVER YISHARAL, HOWEVER AFTER SEEING THE PREVIOUS JUDGES THAT HAVE COME BEFORE, WE MUST ASK “WHAT’S A TYPICAL JUDGE?” THEY EACH OPERATED IN A DIFFERENT WAYS, EACH HAD THEIR OWN SET OF CHARACTER FLAWS AND STRENGTHS TO GO WITH THEIR OWN PERSONAL AGENDAS AND AT TIMES TO EVEN BRING ABOUT YAHUSHA’S AGENDA, AND SO WE FIND THAT LIKE ALL THE REST, SAMSON WAS ALSO IN A CATEGORY ALL OF HIS OWN.
SAMSON LIVED DURING A TIME OF PHILISTINE OPPRESSION; IN FACT IT HAD BEEN ONGOING FOR ABOUT 40 YEARS. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO VISUALISE THAT WE HAVE AN OVERLAP IN TIME-FRAME BETWEEN THE LIVES AND MISSIONS OF SAMUEL (WHO WE’VE YET TO READ ABOUT) AND SAMSON. IN FACT THE PHILISTINE OPPRESSION IN THE WEST, NEAR THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA, WAS BEGINNING AT THE SAME TIME AS THE JUDGE JEPHTHAH WAS OPERATING AND WAS ANOINTED TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST THE OPPRESSION OF THE AMMONITES OVER THAT PORTION OF YISHARAL WHO LIVED IN THE TRANS-JORDAN. THE POINT BEING THAT YISHARAL WAS FIGHTING OFF SEVERE AGGRESSION AND OVERPOWERING PAGAN PRESSURE IN SEVERAL AREAS AT THE SAME TIME. THERE WASN’T A SINGLE TRIBE OF YISHARAL WHO WASN’T FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES (OR WAY OF LIFE) IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER DURING SAMSON’S ERA.
SAMSON, JEPHTHAH & SAMUEL AROUND THE SAME TIME
BY THE TIME OF SAMSON THE PHILISTINES HAD ALREADY TAKEN THE HEBREWS’ PRECIOUS ARK OF THE BLOOD-COVENANT FROM THEM, THE RESULT OF A DISASTROUS WAR AND SAD DEFEAT OF THE YISHARALITES DURING THE CLOSING YEARS OF ELI, THE HIGH PRIEST OF YISHARAL. NOW BECAUSE THE STORIES OF ELI AND THEN SAMUEL APPEAR IN THE SCRIPTURE AFTER THIS STORY OF SAMSON, IT WOULD SEEM AS THOUGH THE WAR WITH PHILISTIA AND THE LOSS OF THE
ARK OF THE BLOOD-COVENANT HAD HAPPENED AT A LATER TIME; BUT IN FACT THESE ARE MERELY ACCOUNTS OF DIFFERENT THINGS GOING ON IN DIFFERENT PLACES IN ROUGHLY THE SAME NARROW SLICE OF TIME. THAT’S RIGHT, SAMSON, JEPHTHAH (LAST CHAPTER) AND SAMUEL (WHO WE’RE GOING TO SEE SOON AFTER JUDGES) IS ALL HAPPENING AROUND THE SAME TIME!!
LET’S BE CLEAR: AT THE TIME OF SAMSON WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL IN OUR USE OF THE TERM “OPPRESSION” WHEN REFERRING TO THE PHILISTINES. INDEED THEY HELD THE UPPER HAND, THEY WERE THE MASTERS OF THE REGION, BUT THEY WEREN’T TRYING TO ANNIHILATE THE LOCAL YISHARALITES BY ANY MEANS. WHEN WE READ SCRIPTURE CLOSELY AND ALSO EXAMINE SOME EXTRA-SCRIPTURAL SOURCES WE TEND TO SEE A POLITICAL AND SOCIAL LANDSCAPE ALONG THE WEST COAST OF CANAAN WHEREBY THE PHILISTINES WERE AT ONCE GENERALLY NOT LIKED, YET IN SOME WAYS
WERE ADMIRED AND ACCEPTED, BY THE ADJACENT YISHARALITE TRIBES AND CLANS. THE YISHARALITES ALWAYS HAD A DANGEROUS FASCINATION WITH THE MYSTERY BABYLON MAZZAROTH SYSTEM AND THE PHILISTINES’ METHODS OF WORSHIP WERE NO LESS INVITING. INTER-MARRIAGE BETWEEN HEBREWS AND PHILISTINES WAS NOW COMMON, AND FEW YISHARALITES EVEN SPOKE OUT AGAINST IT BECAUSE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SEEN AS BIGOTRY. BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN YISHARALITES AND PHILISTINES WERE USUAL; IT BROUGHT ADVANTAGE TO BOTH SIDES. ONLY THE MOST EXPERT MODERN ARCHAEOLOGISTS CAN DISTINGUISH BETWEEN HEBREW AND PHILISTINE POTTERY FROM THE 12TH OR 11TH CENTURY BC (SAMSON’S ERA), BECAUSE SO INTERTWINED HAD THE TWO SOCIETIES BECOME.
HERE’S SOME THINGS TO WATCH FOR AS WE UNFOLD THIS FASCINATING STORY;
1) FIRST IS ABOUT SAMSON’S CHARACTER. HE WAS LIKE AN OVERGROWN AND UNCONTROLLABLE IMMATURE TEENAGER. HE UNDERSTOOD HIS TREMENDOUS STRENGTH ADVANTAGE, THE ADMIRATION OF THE YOUNG MEN AND GIRLS THAT IT BROUGHT WITH IT, AND HE HAD NO PROBLEM USING IT FOR PERSONAL ENJOYMENT.
2) SECOND IS THAT SAMSON WAS ALMOST SCHIZOPHRENIC (SPLIT-PERSONALITY) IN HIS BEHAVIOUR; ONE MOMENT HE WAS WILLING TO RISK HIS LIFE FOR THE PURER WAYS OF THE HEBREW BELIEF (YAHUSHA’S INSTRUCTIONS), AND THE NEXT HE WAS PARTYING ON WITH THE PAGANS.
3) THIRD IS THAT WHILE SAMSON RECOGNISED HIS STATUS AS A NAZARITE (SOMETHING GIVEN TO HIM WHILE HE WAS STILL IN THE WOMB), OF THE SEVERAL TURAH REQUIREMENTS PLACED UPON A NAZARITE THE ONLY ONE HE SEEMED TO CARE ABOUT WAS HIS LONG HAIR. WE’LL FIND HIM DRINKING ALCOHOL, TOUCHING DEAD THINGS, AND EATING FOODS THAT WASN’T PERMITTED.
ALTHOUGH WE GET THE TYPICAL ANNOUNCEMENT THAT YISHARAL AGAIN DID WHAT WAS EVIL IN YAHUSHA’S EYES AND THAT YAHUSHA PUNISHED HIS ERRANT PEOPLE BY TURNING THEM OVER TO AN OPPRESSOR (IN THIS CASE THE PHILISTINES), WHAT WE DON’T GET IS ANY RECORD OF THE PEOPLE CRYING OUT TO YAHUSHA FOR DELIVERANCE, AND THAT’S BECAUSE THE SO-CALLED OPPRESSION OF THE PHILISTINES WAS RATHER EASILY ACCEPTED BY YISHARAL, AT LEAST BY THE TRIBE OF DAN. THE PHILISTINES WERE A TECHNOLOGICALLY AND CULTURALLY ADVANCED SOCIETY; EVEN THOUGH IT WAS THEIR MILITARY MIGHT THAT ALLOWED THEM TO CONQUER SO MANY AREAS ALL ALONG THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA COAST.
EVEN SO THE PHILISTINES WERE NOT BARBARIANS AND THEIR CULTURE WAS GENERALLY ATTRACTIVE TO THOSE WHO THEY RULED OVER. SO THE YISHARALITE TRIBE OF DAN SEEMED TO BE SOMEWHAT ACCEPTING OF THEIR CONDITION; IT APPARENTLY BOTHERED YAHUSHA MORE THAN IT DID THEM BECAUSE HE RAISED UP SAMSON TO DEAL WITH THE PHILISTINES ON THEIR BEHALF WITHOUT THEM EVEN ASKING OR CARING ABOUT IT.
WHAT’S UP WITH YOUR BRO DAN ?
DAN NEVER FIRMLY HELD ANY OF THE TERRITORY IT WAS GIVEN BY JOSHUA. RATHER, IN FAIRLY SHORT ORDER AFTER THEIR ARRIVAL IN CANAAN, FAMILIES WITHIN DAN STARTED MOVING OUT INTO THE MORE SECURE TERRITORIES OF SOME OF THE OTHER YISHARALITE TRIBES. A LARGE GROUP OF DAN ALSO PULLED UP STAKES AND MIGRATED NORTH TO THE LEBANON BORDER REGION AND ESTABLISHED A NEW CENTRE OF RESIDENCE UP THERE IN WHAT THEY CONSIDERED BETTER CONDITIONS. UP NORTH THEY ESTABLISHED THE CULT CITY OF DAN, WENT FAR ASTRAY IN THEIR
WORSHIP, AND IN TIME WERE ALSO FORCED OUT OF THAT AREA AND SCATTERED. OBVIOUSLY NOT EVERYONE FROM DAN WANTED TO TAKE SUCH DRASTIC ACTION AS TO MIGRATE NORTHWARD, AND SO THEY STAYED BEHIND IN A NUMBER OF SMALL TOWNS IN THE CENTRAL PART OF CANAAN. IT IS SELF-EVIDENT THAT PEOPLE WHO CHOSE TO STAY WERE MORE WILLING THAN THOSE WHO MOVED NORTH TO SUBMIT TO THE GOVERNANCE OF THE PHILISTINES AND (TO VARYING DEGREES) WERE WILLING TO ASSIMILATE INTO PHILISTINE SOCIETY. AND THIS IS THE CASE WITH SAMSON AND THE DANITES WHO HE LIVED AMONG.
WHILE EACH JUDGE WAS DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS IN THEIR PERSONAL NATURES AND DUTIES, SAMSON WAS PERHAPS THE MOST UNIQUE. FOR ONE THING HIS BIRTH WAS FORETOLD AND ANNOUNCED BY THE MESSENGER OF YAHUSHA. WHY WAS SAMSON SINGLED OUT FOR SUCH AN HONOUR? WE DON’T REALLY EVER LEARN WHY; HOWEVER MANY BELIEVE THAT SUCH A THING MUST HAVE MEANT THAT SAMSON WAS ON A VERY HIGH SPIRITUAL PLANE, WHICH LEADS TO THE SECOND UNIQUE ASPECT OF SAMSON; HE NEVER RAISED AN ARMY NOR LED HIS TRIBE IN AN UPRISING AGAINST THEIR OPPRESSORS. INSTEAD WE SEE SAMSON GENERALLY OPERATE AS A ONE-MAN GANG IN A MANNER THAT COULD NEVER POSSIBLY TOPPLE THE PHILISTINES FROM POWER; RATHER HE WAS JUST A CONSTANT ROYAL PAIN IN THE ARSE FOR YAHUSHA’S ENEMY. AND EVEN THIS, ON THE SURFACE, STEMMED FROM SAMSON’S UTTER LACK OF SELF-CONTROL AND HIS WARPED MORAL COMPASS.
And once again the Yisharalites were up to their same old tricks in idolatry against Yahusha. So he let the Philistines take control over them for forty years.
Manoah from the Tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah and his wife wasn’t able to have children, GENERALLY THE FAULT ALWAYS FELL ON THE WOMAN, EVEN THOUGH IN SOME CASES IT WAS BOUND TO BE THAT HER HUSBAND WAS BIOLOGICALLY UNABLE TO IMPREGNATE HER.
But one day Yahusha appeared to her and said: ”Even though you’ve never been able to have any children, very soon you’ll be pregnant and will have a son. He will belong to Yahuah from the day he is born, so his hair must never be cut. And even before he is born, you must not drink any wine or beer or eat any food forbidden by Yahuah’s instructions, for your son will begin to set Yisharal free from the Philistines".
THE NAZIRITE VOW
A NAZIR USUALLY TOOK A TEMPORARY VOW, AND ONCE THE TERMS OF THE VOW WERE FULFILLED HE OR SHE WAS NO LONGER A NAZARITE NOR HAD TO OPERATE UNDER THE LAW OF THE NAZARITE AS FOUND IN THE TORAH (NUMBERS 6). IN GENERAL ALL NAZIRIM HAD 3 NEGATIVE COMMANDMENTS THEY HAD TO FOLLOW:
1) THEY WERE NOT TO EAT OR DRINK ANY GRAPE PRODUCT (THIS INCLUDES WINE, OR OLD WINE MEANING MUCH STRONGER DRINK OR EVEN FRESH GRAPES OR GRAPE JUICE),
2) THEY WERE NEVER TO TOUCH A DEAD BODY, AND
3) THEY WERE NOT TO CUT THEIR HAIR.
HOWEVER TRADITION TENDED (AS IT ALWAYS DOES) TO EXPAND UPON THESE GENERAL REQUIREMENTS. FOR INSTANCE, WHILE ONLY GRAPE BASED PRODUCTS ARE INTENDED AS A PROHIBITION TO A NAZIR, TRADITION MADE IT THAT ALL ALCOHOL WAS PROHIBITED. SO THE STANDARD GRAIN BASED ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES WERE ALSO BANNED FOR A NAZARITE. WHILE THE WORDS OF NUMBERS 6 SAY THAT A NAZIR IT NOT TO TOUCH A DEAD NEPHESH (A HUMAN CORPSE) TRADITION EXPANDED IT TO INCLUDE DEAD ANIMALS (USUALLY THE UNCLEAN KIND OTHERWISE EATING MEAT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE).
THEN THE MYSTERIOUS VISITOR SAYS SOMETHING ELSE OF GREAT IMPORTANCE: THIS SON WILL BEGIN TO RESCUE YISHARAL FROM THE PHILISTINES. REMEMBER, THE “YISHARAL” THAT THIS BEING WAS REFERRING TO
SPECIFICALLY WAS THE TRIBE OF DAN (EVEN THOUGH THE PHILISTINES ALSO WERE TROUBLING THE SOUTHERN TRIBES LED BY JUDAH), NOT ALL OF YISHARAL IN GENERAL. BUT THE KEY WORD IS “BEGIN”. IN OTHER WORDS SAMSON WOULD BE THE CATALYST TO START THE PROCESS OF REMOVING THE PHILISTINE INFLUENCE FROM YISHARAL BUT HE WOULDN’T FINISH THE JOB. AND SOME OF THAT HAD TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT WE DISCUSSED EARLIER THAT THE TRIBE OF DAN WASN’T PARTICULARLY CONCERNED WITH THEIR CONDITION, SO IT’S NOT LIKE SAMSON WOULD HAVE MUCH SUPPORT IN HIS EFFORTS.
And Manoah's wife ran to her husband and said, “A man who looked like an angel came and talked to me and I was so frightened, that I didn’t even ask where he was from and He never told me his name either, but he did say that I’m going to have a baby boy. So I’m not supposed to drink any wine or beer or eat any food forbidden by Yahuah’s Instructions for our son will belong to Yahuah for as long as he lives.”
Then Manoah spoke to Yahusha, “O' Yahuah, please send that prophet again and let him tell us what to do for the son we are going to have.”
And Yahusha answered Manoah and went back to Manoah’s wife while she was resting in the fields. Manoah wasn’t there at the time, so she found him and said, “That same man I saw the other day is here again!”
So Manoah went with his wife and asked Yahusha, “Are you the one who spoke to my wife?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered. Manoah then asked, “When your promise comes true, what rules must he obey and what will be his work?”
“Your wife must be careful to do everything I told her. She must not eat or drink anything made from grapes. She must not drink wine or beer or eat anything forbidden by Yahuah’s Instructions. Don’t worry, I told her exactly what to do.”
“Please,” Manoah said, “Stay here with us for just a little while, and we’ll fix a young goat for you to eat.” (For Manoah didn’t realise that he was actually talking to Yahusha Himself). And Yahusha answered, “I can stay for a little while, but I won’t eat any of your food. But if you’d like to offer the goat as a sacrifice to Yahuah, that’d be fine.”
Manoah said, “Tell us your name, so we can honour you after our son is born.”
“No,”Yahusha replied. “You don’t need to know My Name right now. And if you did, you wouldn’t understand anyway.”
WE’VE TALKED ABOUT THIS WORD “NAME” BEFORE, BUT IT’S A REAL ISSUE FOR OUTSIDE NATIONS ESPECIALLY BECAUSE WE TEND TO GET THE WRONG IDEA OF WHAT “NAME” INDICATED IN SCRIPTURE TIMES. THE HEBREW WORD IS `SHEM', AND THE TERM HAS LITTLE TO DO WITH AN INDIVIDUAL’S IDENTIFICATION (LIKE IT DOES TO US TODAY). RATHER IN THOSE DAYS A `SHEM' TOLD OF THAT PERSON’S REPUTATION AND CHARACTERISTICS. OFTEN TIMES IT SPOKE OF THEIR PHYSICAL AND/OR SPIRITUAL HERITAGE. A NAME HELPED TO EXPLAIN THE ESSENCE OF THAT PERSON, HIS OR HER ATTRIBUTES, WHAT THEY STOOD FOR AND EVEN WHAT THEIR PROVIDENTIAL PURPOSE IN LIFE WAS. IF THE BEARER OF A PARTICULAR `SHEM', NAME, WAS A DEITY THAT MEANT THAT THE NAME ASSIGNED TO THIS PARTICULAR GOD OR GODDESS INDICATED WHAT PARTICULAR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE (LIKE FERTILITY OR WEATHER OR WAR) THAT THEY RULED OVER. IF YOU WERE A BELIEVER IN THE PAGAN DEITIES, THAT WAS A VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE BECAUSE IT WAS ESSENTIAL TO KNOW WHICH DEITY TO PRAY TO DEPENDING ON YOUR CURRENT IMMEDIATE NEED OR WANT. IF THE NAME (SHEM) BELONGED TO A HUMAN IT SPOKE OF HIS OR HER INNATE NATURE, ABILITIES, AND DIVINELY ESTABLISHED DESTINY OR EVEN SOME IMPORTANT LINKAGE TO THE PAST.
SO IN THE LATTER TEXTS, WHEN WE ARE INSTRUCTED TO ACT IN YAHUSHA’ NAME, COMMUNICATE IN YAHUSHA’S NAME, IT ISN’T REALLY MEANING TO “SAY” HIS NAME OUT ALOUD ALL THE TIME EVERYWHERE, RATHER WE ARE TO BEHAVE IN YAHUSHA’S ATTRIBUTES AND CHARACTER IN HIS BEHAVIOUR WE ARE TO COMMUNICATE IN YAHUSHA’S MANNER, IN HIS ATTITUDE, AND IN REALISATION AND SURRENDER TO THE STATUS THAT YAHUSHA HAS BOUGHT FOR US, AND THE UNITY WE NOW HAVE WITH HIM, WITH ALL CREDIT AND ESTEEM GIVEN TO HIM.
SO MANOAH'S WIFE SAYS SHE DIDN’T FIND OUT THIS MAN’S CHARACTERISTICS AND ESSENCE; AND THIS, MANOAH KNEW, WAS AN IMPORTANT OMISSION OF INFORMATION THAT NEEDED TO BE REMEDIED. SO WE FIND MANOAH SPEAKING TO YAHUSHA TO SEND THIS PERSON BACK TO THEM SO THEY COULD BE TAUGHT WHAT WAS TO BE DONE WITH THE CHILD (WHO WOULD BE SAMSON).
Manoach asks the burning question that is on his mind: What is your name? Yahusha answers: "Pille" (wonderful, incomprehensible, extraordinary, beyond understanding) meaning something much different than the common way we use “wonderful” today.
YAHUSHA IS ESSENTIALLY SAYING, WHAT GOOD WILL IT DO YOU TO KNOW MY CHARACTERISTICS AND ATTRIBUTES BECAUSE THEY ARE UTTERLY INCOMPREHENSIBLE TO A MERE MORTAL. YAHUSHA IS SAYING THAT I COULD TELL YOU, BUT YOU HAVE NO ABILITY TO GRASP IT. THEREFORE, THINK OF MY ATTRIBUTES AS BEING BEYOND YOUR ABILITY TO EVEN UNDERSTAND THEM. AND WHEN IN THE LATTER TEXTS WE SEE YAHUSHA BEING CALLED “WONDERFUL” WE NEED TO TAKE IT IN THE SAME VEIN. WE SHOULD NOT THINK THAT WE’RE BEING TOLD THAT HE IS JUST A PEACH OF A GUY, A PERFECT SPECIMEN, OR ONE OF THE BEST AND GREATEST MEN EVER TO WALK THIS PLANET. RATHER IT IS THAT HIS TRUE ATTRIBUTES ARE DIVINE AND SO ARE BARELY, IF AT ALL, WITHIN THE REALM OF HUMAN ABILITY TO EVEN IMAGINE . . . WOW !!
So Manoah took a young goat over to a large rock he had chosen for an altar, and he built a fire on the rock. Then he killed the goat, and offered it with some grain as a sacrifice to Yahusha. But then an amazing thing happened. The fire blazed up toward the sky, and Yahusha melded into the huge flames, shooting upwards into the sky and Manoah and his wife fell on their faces when they saw this spectacular sight. Yahusha was gone, but they both realised that He was Yahuah (or at least one of His Messengers). And Manoah said, “We have seen Yahuah so now we’re going to die.”
“Yahuah isn’t going to kill us, He just accepted our sacrifice and love-grain offering, and He let us see something amazing. Besides, He just told us that we’re going to have a son.”
HOW IS THIS ACT PROPER AND LEGAL? YAHUSHA HAD LONG AGO DECREED THAT THERE WAS TO BE BUT ONE PLACE FOR SACRIFICING, THAT IT HAD TO BE OFFICIATED BY A LEVITE PRIEST, AND IT HAD TO HAPPEN ON THE BRONZE ALTAR THAT WAS ESTABLISHED BY YAHUSHA. PEOPLE WERE NOT TO BUILD THEIR OWN PRIVATE ALTARS AND THEMSELVES OFFICIATE OVER THE SACRIFICE AS THE PAGANS OFTEN DID. BUT THE REALITY IS THAT THE PRIESTHOOD WAS PRACTICALLY DEFUNCT BY NOW. THE PRIESTS IN SAMSON’S TIME HELD ONLY LIMITED POWER AND OPERATED ONLY BY THE LEAVE OF THE VARIOUS YISHARALITE TRIBES. THE PEOPLE PAID LITTLE ATTENTION TO THEM, AND EVEN LESS TO THE REGULATIONS OF MOSES INSTRUCTIONS. AT THE END OF THE BOOK OF JUDGES AND THEN ON INTO SAMUEL WE’RE GOING TO GET A PRETTY GOOD PICTURE OF HOW FALLEN AND FOREIGN THE PRIESTHOOD OF YISHARAL HAD BECOME SINCE THOSE GOLDEN DAYS OF MOSES AND JOSHUA.
YET SOMEHOW MANOAH’S OFFERING WAS ACCEPTABLE TO YAHUSHA. WITH MANOAH AND HIS WIFE STANDING THERE LOOKING ON, SUDDENLY THIS BEING MELDED INTO THE FLAMES COMING FROM THE BURNING SACRIFICE AND SHOT UPWARDS INTO THE SKY AND VANISHED. WELL THAT DID IT: THEY BOTH FELL ON THEIR FACES IN FEAR AND AWE. THEY BOTH FINALLY GRASPED JUST WHO THIS BEING WAS, AND IT WAS NEITHER A MAN NOR A MESSENGER; IT WAS YAHUSHA HIMSELF.
And later that year, Manoah’s wife gave birth to a son, and she named him Samson. And as the boy grew, Yahusha blessed him.
Then as a young adult, while Samson was staying at Dan’s Camp between the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol, the Spirit of the Yahusha took control of him.
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IS OFTEN SAID IS THAT WHILE SAMSON WAS TO BEGIN THE END OF THE INFLUENCE OF THE PHILISTINES, IT WAS KING DAVID WHO FINALLY ACCOMPLISHED IT.
One day, Samson went to Timnah, where he saw a Philistine woman and when he got back home, he told his parents, “I saw a beautiful Philistine woman in Timnah today and I want to marry her. Get her for me!”(AT THIS TIME PARENTS OFTEN ARRANGED MARRIAGES FOR THEIR CHILDREN). SAMSON WAS AROUND 18 TO 19 YEARS OLD WHEN THE SPIRIT OF YAHUSHA CAME UPON HIM FOR THE FIRST RECORDED TIME, SO HE WAS ABOUT 20 AS WE ENTER THIS CHAPTER AND SAMSON SPIES A GIRL HE’D LIKE FOR A WIFE. A PHILISTINE GIRL CATCHES HIS EYE; HE FELL INSTANTLY IN LUST WITH HER. AND THE FACT THAT SAMSON “SAW A WOMAN” MEANS MORE THAN TO NOTICE HER EXISTENCE; IT MEANS HE SAW HER UNVEILED FACE, MEANING FROM TYPICAL MIDDLE EASTERN CULTURAL NORMS, THIS WAS AN IMMODEST GIRL.
His parents answered, “Son, there are plenty of gorgeous women in our clan here and even more in the rest of Yisharal. Why would you wanna chase after one of those Philistines broads, you know they’re all pagans".
“Nah it’s all good, she’s the one, she’s absolutely breathtaking!” Samson answered, “Get her for me, I think she’s good!”
At that time, the Philistines were in control of Yisharal, and Yahusha wanted to stir up trouble for them and that’s why He made Samson desire that particular woman.
SAMSON’S PARENTS WERE HORRIFIED; SAMSON WAS A NAZARITE. HE WAS SET APART FOR YAHUSHA WHEN HE WAS STILL IN HIS MOTHER'S WOMB AND A NAZARITE WAS EXPECTED TO BE ESPECIALLY OBSERVANT TO THE INSTRUCTIONS OF MOSES. FOR HIM TO WANT A PHILISTINE GIRL (AN IMMODEST ONE AT THAT) HAD TO TAKE THEIR BREATH AWAY; FOR ONE THING IT WAS AGAINST HEBREW LAW.
WHAT SAMSON LITERALLY SAYS IS “GET HER, SHE IS RIGHT IN MY SIGHT”. THIS REVEALS SAMSON’S UNDERLYING CHARACTER. EACH TIME A NEW JUDGE CYCLE BEGINS WE HAVE YAHUSHA SAYING, “YISHARAL WAS EVIL IN MY SIGHT”. NOW HERE IS SAMSON SAYING THAT IN HIS SIGHT THIS PAGAN GIRL IS THE RIGHT CHOICE. SAMSON IS DECLARING THAT HIS JUDGMENT IS BEYOND REPROACH (ALMOST LIKE YAHUSHA’S) AND IF SOMETHING IS RIGHT IN HIS SIGHT (IF IT’S GOOD TO HIS MIND), THEN THERE'S NO POINT IN DISCUSSING THE MATTER ANY FURTHER.
SAMSON WRESTLES A LION CUB
And as Samson and his parents reached the vineyards near Timnah, a fierce young lion suddenly roared and attacked Samson. But Yahusha’s Spirit took control of Samson, and with his bare hands he tore the lion apart, as though it had been a young goat. His parents didn’t know what he’d done, and he certainly didn’t tell them.
LET’S STOP THERE FOR A SECOND. WHO CAN IMAGINE FIGHTING A LION UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES LET ALONE WITHOUT ANY KIND OF WEAPON. BUT LET’S ALSO NOT MAKE THIS MORE THAN IT IS. THE HEBREW WORD USED HERE FOR LION IS KEPHIR, SO WHAT SAMSON FOUGHT WAS A MATURE CUB, BUT NOT EVEN A YOUNG ADULT LION. SO THE TYPICAL ILLUSTRATIONS OF A LARGE MALE LION WITH A FLOWING MANE IS A LITTLE OVER THE TOP.
When they got to Timnah, Samson talked to the Philistine woman that he fancied, and he was sure that she was the one for him.
So the following year Samson returned to Timnah for the wedding and when he came near the place where the lion had attacked him, he left the road to see what was left of the lion carcass. And behold, he was surprised to see that bees were living in the lion’s skeleton, and they’d even made some honey. So he scooped up the honey in his hands and ate some of it as he walked along. And when he got back to his parents, he gave them some of the honey, and they ate it too. But he didn’t tell them he had found the honey in the skeleton of a lion(BECAUSE TO EAT ANYTHING THAT HAD TOUCHED A SKELETON WAS AGAINST YAHUSHA’S INSTRUCTIONS - LEV 11). A LION IS AN UNCLEAN ANIMAL. WORSE, THIS WAS A DEAD UNCLEAN ANIMAL. SO WHILE SAMSON DIDN’T SEEM TO BE BOTHERED BY THE PROSPECT OF EITHER CONTACT WITH THIS RITUALLY IMPURE OBJECT NOR EATING FOOD TAKEN FROM IT, HIS PARENTS WOULD PROBABLY NOT HAVE EATEN THE HONEY HAD THEY KNOWN ITS SOURCE
While Samson’s father went to make the final arrangements with the Bride and her family, Samson threw a rip-roar’in party with lots of wine, as men and warriors about to be married usually did.
THIS BANQUET WAS A PHILISTINE TRADITION NOT HEBREW. SINCE SAMSON WAS IN PHILISTIA, MARRYING A PHILISTINE GIRL, THERE WEREN’T ANY OF SAMSON’S YISHARALITE BUDDIES WITH HIM. SO OUT OF HOSPITALITY THE BRIDE’S FAMILY PROVIDED 30 PHILISTINE MEN AS “COMPANIONS” FOR THE GROOM. I SUSPECT THAT SAMSON HAD AT THE LEAST SOME FAMILIARITY WITH MANY OF THESE MEN, AND ESPECIALLY THE BEST MAN. APPARENTLY A PHILISTINE WEDDING CEREMONY WAS MUCH LIKE A MODERN WESTERN BACHELOR’S PARTY (WONDER HOW THE BRIDE FELT ABOUT THAT?) ONLY THIS PARTY WAS A 7-DAY LONG AFFAIR!
And when the Philistines saw what Samson was like, they told thirty of their young men to stay with him at the party. And Samson told the thirty young men, “This party will last for seven days. So let’s make a bet: I’ll tell you a riddle, and if you can tell me the right answer before the party is over, I’ll give each one of you a shirt and a full change of clothing. But if you can’t tell me the answer, then each of you will have to give me a shirt and a full change of clothing.”
“You’re on! It’s a bet!” the Philistines said, “Tell us the riddle.”
Samson said: “Once so strong and mighty, now so sweet and tasty!”So three days went by, and the Philistine young men had not come up with the right answer. And finally, on the seventh day of the party they went to Samson’s Bride and said, “You had better trick your husband into telling you the answer to his riddle. Have you invited us here just to rob us? If you don’t find out the answer, we will burn you and your family to death.”
So Samson’s Bride to-be went to him and started crying in his arms. “You must really hate me,” she sobbed, “If you loved me at all, you would have told me the answer to your riddle.”
“But I haven’t even told my parents the answer!” Samson replied, “So why should I tell you?”
But for the entire seven days of the party, she had been whining and trying to get the answer from him, and on that seventh day she put so much pressure on Samson that he finally gave in and told her the answer. Then she ran straight to the young men and told them.
And before sunset that day, the men of the town went to Samson with this answer: “A lion is the strongest and honey is the sweetest!”
And Samson replied, "This answer you’ve given me obviously came from my bride-to-be”.
Then Yahusha’s Spirit took control of Samson and he went to the Philistine town of Ashkelon and killed thirty men and took their clothing! Then Samson went back and gave it to the thirty young men at Timnah and stormed back home to his own family.
UNDERSTAND THAT THESE MEN HE KILLED HAD NO CONNECTION TO THE WEDDING AT ALL. THEY WERE JUST RANDOM KILLINGS, BUT UNDOUBTEDLY SAMSON PICKED MEN WHO POSSESSED THE SPECIAL KIND OF CLOTHING THAT THE BET REQUIRED. HE TOOK THE CLOTHES AND GAVE THEM TO THE MEN HE OWED THEM TO, THEN WENT TO HIS FATHER’S HOUSE IN JUDAH. YES, SAMSON’S OWN EVIL INCLINATIONS MADE HIM THE IMPETUOUS BULLY (WITH ANGER MANAGEMENT ISSUES) THAT HE WAS; BUT YAHUSHA UNAPOLOGETICALLY USED THIS FOR HIS PURPOSES.
And the father of Samson’s Bride-to-be actually had her marry one of the thirty young men that had been at Samson’s party.
BACK IN TIMNAH, HIS WIFE-TO-BE AND HER FAMILY WAITED FOR SAMSON TO RETURN FROM HIS INSANE QUEST TO MURDER & STEAL CLOTHING, BUT HE DIDN’T COME BACK. WHAT A TERRIBLE INSULT TO HER FAMILY AND WHAT A DILEMMA. WAS THIS GIRL MARRIED OR NOT MARRIED? WOULD SAMSON RETURN AND COMPLETE THE MARRIAGE PROCESS OR WAS THIS GIRL TO REMAIN IN LIMBO? AFTER SOME TIME PASSED (WE DON’T KNOW IF IT WAS DAYS OR MONTHS), THE GIRL’S FATHER GAVE HER IN MARRIAGE TO SAMSON’S BEST MAN. SAMSON’S RASH DECISION TO MARRY THE PHILISTINE GIRL; THE GIRL’S DECISION TO BETRAY HER FIANCÉ TO THE 30 WEDDING GUESTS; AND THEN HER FATHER’S DECISION TO GIVE HER TO ANOTHER MAN AFTER SAMSON TOOK OFF, NOW MADE RECONCILIATION IMPOSSIBLE. SAMSON’S WAR AGAINST THE PHILISTINES WAS ABOUT TO BEGIN IN EARNEST AND THIS WAS YAHUSHA’S PLAN.
Later, during the wheat harvest, Samson went to visit the young woman he thought was still his wife, taking along a young goat as a gift and said to her father, “I want to go into my wife’s bedroom.”
“You can’t do that,” he replied, “When you left so abruptly the way you did, I thought you were divorcing her (QUITE EASY FOR A MAN TO DO IN THESE DAYS). So I arranged for her to marry one of the young men who were at your party. But my younger daughter is even prettier, and you can have her as your wife if you’d like?”
“This time,” Samson answered, “I have good reason to crack some Philistine heads!”
SOME UNDEFINED AMOUNT OF TIME PASSED AND THE WHEAT HARVEST SEASON ARRIVED, WHICH MEANS IT WAS AROUND LATE MAY OR EARLY JUNE, THE TIME OF THE SET-APART CELEBRATION OF SHABUOT (PENTECOST). SAMSON’S ANGER FINALLY HAD SUBSIDED SUFFICIENTLY THAT HE DECIDED HE WOULD GO BACK TO TIMNAH TO SEE HIS WIFE.
WHY WOULD HE BE BRINGING A GOAT AND WHY WOULD IT HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO INCLUDE THE GIFTING OF IT IN THIS ACCOUNT? IT IS USUALLY TAUGHT THAT THE YOUNG GOAT WAS A PRESENT OF RECONCILIATION AND WHILE POSSIBLE IT IS HARD TO IMAGINE THAT SUCH A COMMON AND RATHER INEXPENSIVE ITEM WOULD HAVE BEEN SUITABLE TO APOLOGISE FOR THE TREMENDOUS INSULT AND BOORISH BEHAVIOUR THAT SAMSON HAD DISPLAYED SEVERAL MONTHS EARLIER AT HIS OWN WEDDING.
INSTEAD THERE IS ANOTHER AND MUCH MORE LIKELY POSSIBILITY. THERE IS AN ANCIENT MIDDLE EASTERN CUSTOM (STILL PRACTICED TODAY BY SOME MIDDLE EASTERN CULTURES) CALLED SADIKA; IT WAS (AND STILL IS) FOLLOWED BY MEN WHO HAVE NO PERMANENT HABITATION, AND SO THEIR WIFE IS ALLOWED TO REMAIN WITH HER PARENTS ON A MORE OR LESS INDEFINITE BASIS. THIS SADIKA IS PROBABLY AN EVOLUTION OF THE CONCUBINE RELATIONSHIP WHEREBY A MAN TAKES A WOMAN TO LIVE IN HIS HOUSEHOLD BUT SHE IS NOT GIVEN A MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE OR MARRIED UNDER A CHUPPAH (GIVEN A WEDDING CEREMONY), YET SHE DOES HAVE MANY RIGHTS OF A WIFE.
AND IN THIS SYSTEM IT IS THE HUSBAND’S DUTY TO BRING THE WIFE A GIFT EACH TIME HE COMES TO VISIT HER; IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A REAL VALUABLE GIFT BUT IT CAN’T BE SO SMALL AS TO BE INSULTING; A GOAT KID WOULD FIT THAT BILL JUST ABOUT RIGHT IN THAT ERA. SO IN OUR CASE WITH SAMSON HE SAYS “I WANT TO GO TO MY WIFE IN HER ROOM”. AND NO MAN WOULD BE ALLOWED TO ENTER A SINGLE WOMAN’S PRIVATE CHAMBERS, NOR COULD A MARRIED WOMAN HAVE A MALE VISITOR OTHER THAN HER FATHER OR HUSBAND IN HER OWN ROOM. SUCH A THING JUST WASN’T DONE AND COULD EASILY BRING THE DEATH PENALTY FOR VIOLATORS; BOTH FOR THE VISITOR AND THE VISITEE. SO SAMSON OBVIOUSLY THOUGHT THAT HE HAD SOME KIND OF MARITAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS GIRL (PROBABLY OF THE SADIKA KIND), BUT THE FATHER THOUGHT OTHERWISE.
SEEING THAT SAMSON WAS SURPRISED AND UPSET, AND CERTAINLY NOT WANTING TO FURTHER ANGER THIS RENOWNED MAN OF VIOLENT AND IMPULSIVE BEHAVIOURS, THE FATHER OFFERED THE GIRL’S YOUNGER SISTER TO HIM. SHE’S EVEN PRETTIER, HE SAYS; WHY NOT TAKE HER AS A NICE TRADE? THE FATHER WAS MAKING A SINCERE ATTEMPT TO MAKE THINGS AS RIGHT AS HE COULD UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. OF COURSE SAMSON WASN’T HAVING ANY OF IT AND ANOTHER RAGE OVERCAME HIM.
So Samson went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them together in pairs with oil-soaked rags around their tails. Then he took the foxes into the Philistine wheat fields that were ready to be harvested ands set the rags on fire and let the foxes run wild through the fields. And all the wheat fields went up in flames, and so did the stacks of wheat that had already been cut. Even the Philistine vineyards and olive orchards all burned up.
NOW UNDERSTAND: JUST LIKE ANY ANCIENT SOCIETY THESE FIELDS OF GRAIN WERE THE LIVELIHOOD OF THE COMMON FOLKS. AND WHILE THESE FOLKS WERE INDEED PHILISTINES, WHO YAHUSHA ULTIMATELY WANTS REMOVED FROM THE PROMISED LAND, THEY WEREN’T MONSTERS THEY WERE SIMPLE FARMERS. MUCH OF THE WHEAT CROPS THAT THEY DEPENDED ON WERE NOW DESTROYED. IN ADDITION IT WAS COMMON TO PLANT WHEAT AMONG OLIVE TREES SO MANY OF THE OLIVE GROVES WERE ALSO BURNED DOWN. INTERESTINGLY, UNLIKE SOME OF HIS EARLIER ADVENTURES WE DON’T FIND ANY REFERENCE TO SAMSON BEING GIVEN DIVINE STRENGTH AND INFLUENCE TO SET THESE FIELDS ON FIRE.
Then some of the Philistines started asking around, “Who could have done such a thing?”
“It was Samson,” someone told them, “He married the daughter of that man in Timnah, but then the man gave Samson’s wife to one of the men at the wedding.”
So the Philistine leaders went to Timnah and murdered Samson’s wife and her father, burning them to death. So when Samson found out what they’d done, he went to them and said, “You bastards killed them? I won’t rest until I take revenge on you.”
Then Samson started hacking them to pieces with his sword, before leaving Philistia and going to live in the cave at Etam Rock.
But it wasn’t long before the Philistines invaded Judah and set up a huge army camp at Jawbone. SAMSON BELONGED TO THE DAN TRIBE, BUT HIS HIDEOUT IN THE CAVE AT ETAM ROCK WAS IN JUDAH, A FEW MILES SOUTHWEST OF BETHLEHEM.
The people of Judah asked, “Why have you invaded our land?”
And the Philistines answered, “We’ve come for Samson. We’re going to do the same things to him that he did to our people.”
And 3000 men from Judah went to the cave at Etam Rock and said to Samson, “Don’t you know that the Philistines rule us, and they will punish us for what you did?”
“I was only getting even with them,” Samson replied. “They did it to to me first.”
“We came here to tie you up and turn you over to them,” said the men of Judah. “Well I won’t put up a fight,”Samson answered, “but you have to promise not to hurt me yourselves.”
“We promise,” the men said. “We will only tie you up and turn you over to the Philistines. We won’t kill you.” Then they tied up his hands and arms with two brand-new ropes and led him away from Etam Rock.
After the fighting was over, he made up this poem about what he had done to the Philistines:
“I used a donkey’s jawbone
to kill a thousand men,
I beat them with this jawbone
Over and over again".
Samson tossed the jawbone on the ground and decided to call the place Jawbone Hill and it’s still called that today.
Samson was so thirsty and exhausted that he spoke to Yahusha, “Master Yahuah, you helped me win a battle against a whole army. Please don’t let me die of thirst now. Those heathen Philistines will carry off my dead body.”
And when the Philistines saw that Samson was being brought to their camp at Jawbone, they started shouting and ran toward him. But Yahusha’s Spirit took control of Samson, and he broke the ropes, as though they were pieces of burnt cloth. And Samson glanced around and spotted the jawbone of a donkey which had not dried out yet, so it was still hard and heavy. So Samson grabbed it and started slaying Philistines left, right and centre with it, and he killed a thousand of them!
Samson was tired and weary, but Yahusha sent water gushing from a rock and drank and felt strong again. So Samson named the place Caller Spring, because he had called out to Yahusha for help and the spring is still there at Jawbone. And Samson was a leader of Yisharal for twenty years, but the Philistines were still the rulers over Yisharal.
IN A RARE MOMENT OF PROPER SPIRITUAL CLARITY SAMSON ACKNOWLEDGES THAT IT WAS YAHUSHA WHO WON THIS BATTLE, AND WHO PRESERVED HIS LIFE IN WHAT ONLY SEEMED TO BE A ONE-MAN FIGHT AGAINST STAGGERING ODDS. HE SAYS TO YAHUSHA THAT HE IS GRATEFUL THAT YAHUSHA HAS SEEN FIT TO ACCOMPLISH SUCH A GREAT RESCUE THROUGH HIS SERVANT. BUT WHILE SAMSON WAS QUITE AWARE OF HIS CALLING AS A NAZARITE FOR LIFE (SO CALLING HIMSELF YAHUSHA’S SERVANT) AND AS YAHUSHA’S TOOL TO BEGIN TO LIBERATE YISHARAL FROM THE PHILISTINES, HE WAS PROBABLY BY FAR THE MOST UNTRUSTWORTHY AN DISOBEDIENT OF ALL THE JUDGES AND PAID ONLY `LIP-SERVICE' TO HIS YAHUSHA-ESTABLISHED STATUS AS A NAZIR.