Sometime later Samson, accompanied by his parents, went to Timnah to bring his betrothed home. On the way there he turned aside from the road to look at the corpse of the lion that he had killed earlier and found a swarm of bees and honey inside. Samson ate some of the honey and, upon rejoining his parents, offered honey to them. At the wedding banquet he made this incident an object of a riddle and propounded it to thirty Philistine groomsmen. Further developments centering around this riddle provided the occasion for Samson to kill thirty Philistines at Ashkelon.—Judg. 14:8-19.
When the father of his betrothed gave her to another man and did not permit Samson to see her, Samson was furnished with yet another opportunity to act against the Philistines. Using three hundred foxes, he set the grainfields, vineyards and olive groves of the Philistines on fire. The enraged Philistines therefore burned Samson’s betrothed and her father, the Philistines’ loss having resulted from his treatment of Samson. By this act the Philistines once more gave Samson reason for avenging himself upon them. He slew many of them, “piling legs upon thighs.”—Judg. 14:20–15:8.
Seeking revenge against Samson, the Philistines came to Lehi. Three thousand fearful men of Judah then prevailed upon Samson at the crag Etam to surrender, thereafter binding him with two new ropes and leading him to the Philistines. Exultantly, the Philistines prepared to receive Samson. But “Jehovah’s spirit became operative upon him, and the ropes that were upon his arms came to be like linen threads that have been scorched with fire, so that his fetters melted off his hands.” Taking the moist jawbone of a male ass, Samson struck down a thousand men, after which he ascribed this victory to Jehovah. On that occasion Jehovah, in answer to Samson’s request, miraculously provided water to relieve his thirst.—Judg. 15:9-19.
Another time Samson went to the home of a prostitute in the Philistine city of Gaza. Hearing of this, the Philistines laid in wait for him, intending to kill him in the morning. But at midnight Samson got up and ripped the city gate and its side posts and bar from the wall of Gaza, and carried them “up to the top of the mountain that is in front of Hebron.” (Judg. 16:1-3) This was a great humiliation for the Philistines, as it left Gaza weak and unprotected from intruders. The fact that Samson was able to accomplish this amazing feat indicates that he still had God’s spirit. This would argue against his having gone to the house of the prostitute for immoral purposes. On this point commentator Paulus Cassel observes: “Samson did not come to Gaza for the purpose of visiting a harlot: for it is said that [‘Samson went to Gaza and saw a prostitute woman there and came in to her’]. But when he wished to remain there [at Gaza] over night, there was nothing for him, the national enemy, but to abide with the [prostitute]. . . . His stay is spoken of in language not different from that employed with reference to the abode of the spies in the house of Rahab. The words, [‘saw a prostitute’], only indicate that when he saw a woman of her class, he knew where he could find shelter for the night.” (A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures by J. P. Lange and translated by Philip Schaff, The Book of Judges, p. 212) It should also be noted that the account reads “Samson kept lying till midnight” and not ‘Samson kept lying with her till midnight.’
By going into enemy territory Samson demonstrated his fearlessness. It may well be that he went to Gaza to ‘look for an opportunity against the Philistines,’ as had been the case earlier when he sought a wife among them. (Judg. 14:4) If so, Samson apparently intended to turn any effort directed against him into an occasion for inflicting injury upon the Philistines.
BETRAYED BY DELILAH
It was after this that Samson fell in love with Delilah. (See DELILAH.) For material gain she sought to learn the secret of Samson’s strength. Three times he gave her misleading answers. But, on account of her persistent pestering, he finally gave in and revealed to her that his strength lay in his being a Nazirite from birth. She then got in touch with the Philistines to get the reward for turning him over to them. While Samson was sleeping on her knees, Delilah had his hair shaved off. Upon awakening, he no longer had Jehovah’s spirit, for he had allowed himself to get into a position that led to the termination of his Naziriteship. Not the hair itself, but what it stood for, that is, Samson’s special relationship to Jehovah as a Nazirite, was the source of his strength. With the end of that relationship, Samson was no different from any other man. Therefore, the Philistines were able to blind him, bind him with copper fetters and put him to work as a grinder in the prison house.—Judg. 16:4-21.
While Samson languished in prison the Philistines arranged for a great sacrifice to their god Dagon, to whom they attributed their success in having captured Samson. Great throngs, including all the axis lords, were assembled in the house used for Dagon worship. On the roof alone there were 3,000 men and women. The merry Philistines had Samson, whose hair had meanwhile grown luxuriantly, brought out of prison to provide amusement for them. Upon his arrival, Samson asked the boy who was leading him to let him feel the pillars that supported the structure. He then prayed to Jehovah: “Remember me, please, and strengthen me, please, just this once, O you the true God, and let me avenge myself upon the Philistines with vengeance for one of my two eyes.” (Judg. 16:22-28) It may be that he prayed to avenge himself for only one of his eyes because of recognizing that the loss of them had come about partly through his own failure. Or, it may be that he felt it would be impossible to avenge himself completely as Jehovah’s representative.
Samson braced himself against the two supporting pillars and “bent himself with power,” causing the house to collapse. This resulted in his own death and that of more Philistines than he had killed in his entire lifetime. Relatives buried him “between Zorah and Eshtaol in the burial place of Manoah his father.” Thus Samson died faithful to Jehovah after having judged Israel for twenty years. Therefore his name rightly appears among men who, through faith, were made powerful.—Judg. 15:20; 16:29-31; Heb. 11:32-34.
(Samʹu·el) [name of God].
A prominent prophet and judge (Acts 3:24; 13:20), traditionally credited with the writership of the Bible books of Judges, Ruth and part of First Samuel. (Compare 1 Samuel 10:25; 1 Chronicles 29:29.) His father Elkanah was a Levite of the nonpriestly family of Kohath. (1 Chron. 6:27, 28, 33-38) Samuel came to have three full brothers and two full sisters.—1 Sam. 2:21.
Promised to the service of Jehovah as a Nazirite by his mother Hannah before conception (1 Sam. 1:11), Samuel was taken to the tabernacle at Shiloh upon being weaned (perhaps at the age of three years at least; compare 2 Chronicles 31:16) and left there in the charge of High Priest Eli. (1 Sam. 1:24-28) Thus Samuel, having a linen ephod girded on, ‘ministered to Jehovah’ as a boy. Annually his mother visited him and brought him a new sleeveless coat. (1 Sam. 2:18, 19) As he grew, Samuel became “more likable both from Jehovah’s standpoint and from that of men.”—1 Sam. 2:26.
BECOMES PROPHET AT AN EARLY AGE
At night Samuel slept in the “temple of Jehovah, where the ark of God was,” and his first assignment in the morning appears to have been to open the