Samson, a Hero and a Half ! (iii)

Last time, we saw how, when Samson stomped off from his wedding day, the bride-not-to-be was married off by her father to someone else. Unaware of this, and having recovered his cool, Samson “went to visit the young woman he thought was still his wife.” He brought with him a gift which he clearly thought would instantly win the forgiving heart of even a temporarily spurned young lady. It was “a young goat” ! Unfortunately, Samson was about to ‘make a goat’ of himself. The supposed wife’s father broke the bad news, that she was now married to someone else. A man ‘controlled by the Spirit of Yahweh’ would, one might imagine, be understanding and forgiving, and acknowledge that he was at least partly at fault for stomping off in a rage, and wish the married couple all the very best. Not so!

Now,” said Samson, “I have a good reason for really hurting some Philistines”. One wonders if the ‘spirit of Yahweh’ was the source of the inspired idea that entered Samson’s mind? In what sounds like any hunt master’s wildest dream, Samson caught, not one or two, but “three hundred foxes”. Somehow or another, he also “tied them together in pairs with oil soaked rags around their tales”. Having chosen some suitable targets, “He set the rags on fire and let the foxes go. The wheat fields (and the foxes!) went up in flames. Even the vineyards and olive orchards burned”. Nice one? Not really, since the enraged owners of the scorched fields, foxes, vineyards and orchards “burned to death Samson’s ‘wife’ and her father.” But hold on, we were told in 14:4 that “Yahweh wanted to stir up trouble for the Philistines.” Well, he certainly had, and with compound interest. When Samson found out who had burned to death his ‘wife’ and her father, he “started hacking them to pieces with his sword”. 

This is all getting just a little bit too much! The Philistines decided they’d had enough, but understood that they were up against a man “controlled by the Spirit of Yahweh”. So they assembled “a huge army” and demanded that the Israelites hand Samson over to them, or else! Astonishingly, Samson agreed to have “his hands and arms tied up with two brand-new ropes”. When the Philistines saw that he was bound, “they started shouting and ran towards him.” No chance! “Yahweh’s Spirit took control of Samson” and the ropes were effortlessly snapped. He didn’t however, have a weapon. Once again, this was no problem. He “spotted the jawbone of a donkey”. That, and Yahweh’s Spirit, was all that he needed. The Philistines got their just deserts – Samson “killed a thousand of them”. 

Our hero was so understandably elated that he composed a poem :

Having not only killed a thousand men, but also composed a two-line poem, Samson, understandably, “was tired and weary.” He was also “thirsty” but, as usual, this was no problem. “God”, like any approving and sympathetic in loco parentis, “sent water gushing from a rock. Samson drank some and felt strong again.” Who needs alcohol, when his God can supply ‘water on the rocks’?

Amazingly, there are multitudes who insist on claiming that all of this unremitting, preposterously over-the-top mayhem is, in fact, sober history. After all, the writer tells us the Samson, having slaughtered a thousand men with a jawbone, “decided to call the place ‘Jawbone Hill’. It is still called that today.” Not only that, having been supplied by God with water from a rock, “Samson named that place ‘Caller Spring’, because he had called out to God for help. The spring is still there at Jawbone”. The only thing ‘real’ about all that, is the bulge in the writer’s cheek, due to the presence there of his tongue.

Next time, we’ll enjoy the fourth, and final, act in this uproariously entertaining ‘comedy of errors’.

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