Old Testament Story List

Samson

But the Hebrews did not for long hold their land in peace. Many neighboring tribes made ware upon them, and, after Gideon, no leader came forward who could bring victory to the Israelites.

The Philistines were a warlike tribe who continually harassed their settlements, and the Hebrews cried out for a leader to conquer

these enemies.

In Zorah, in the land of Canaan, there was a man named Manoah who had no children. One day an angel of the Lord appeared to his wife and told her she would have a son who one day would deliver the Hebrews from the Philistines. When their son was born, they named him Samson, and as the angel had instructed them, they did not cut his hair at ll; nor, as he grew older, did he shave.

When Samson was a young man he visited the town of Timnath in Philistia, and there he met a young Philistine woman with whom he fell in love. When he came home he told his parents he wanted to marry her. They were very worried, not knowing that this was according to the Lord's plan to give Samson an occasion to quarrel with the Philistines.

According to custom, Samson's parent went with them to Timnath to see the girl. As they approached the town, a young lion came roaring at them. But the Lord suddenly gave Samson enormous strength. The youth seized the lion and tore it to pieces with his bare hands.

Some time later, when he was again traveling to Timnath, Samson passed the place where he had killed the lion. He noticed that a swarm of bees had made a nest in the carcass, and, finding honey, he took some and at it. He took some to his father and mother, without telling them where it came from.

When Samson was married there was a great feast in Timnath, and among the guests were thirty young Philistine men. To them Samson said, "I will give you a riddle. If you can solve it, give me the answer within a week, and I will give you thirty suits of clothing If you cannot, then you shall give me thirty suits of clothing." And he gave them this riddle: Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And no one could solve the riddle.

So the Philistine men went to Samson's wife and threatened to burn down her father's house if she did not find out the answer from her husband. At first Samson did not want to tell her, saying as an excuse, "I have not even told my parents. I have told no one. It is a secret." But she wept and pleaded so that finally he told her how he had killed the lion and then found the honey.

She went straight to the Philistines with the answer, and on the seventh day, at the end of the wedding feast, they spoke to Samson. "What is sweeter than honey, and what is stronger than a lion?"

Samson knew that only his wife could have given away the secret, and he was very angry. He left her, went out and slew thirty Philistines, took their clothes, and gave them to the thirty who had solved the riddle. And then he went home to his father's house.

When his anger had passed he returned to Timnath for his wife, but found that her father, thinking Samson no longer loved her, had given her as a wife to another man. Fore revenge, Samson caught three hundred foxes and, tying firebrands to their tails, sent them running through the Philistines' cornfields, vineyards, and olive groves, so that the crops were all burned. Then he left the town and hid himself in a cave high on a nearby hill, while the Philistines searched all over for him without success.

After that the Philistines persecuted the Hebrews even more than before. Finally some of the Hebrews, who knew where Samson was hidden, went to him and told him they were going to turn him over to the Philistines so that they might have peace. He agreed to let them bind his hands and arms and to go with them, if they would promise not to harm him.

When they had given him over to the Philistines and were gone, the strength of the Lord came again to Samson, and he broke all the cords with which he had been bound. Seeing the jawbone of a dead ass on the ground, he seized it in his hand as a club and killed a thousand of the Philistines.

Some years later, Samson fell in love with a woman of Sorek who was named Delilah. When the leaders of the Philistines heard of it, they sought to capture Samson with her help. They went to Delilah and promised her great wealth if she could find out the secret of Samson's strength.

Finally, wearied by her endless questions, Samson told her of the Lord's command that his hair should never be cut - that if it were to be cut he would not longer have his strength.

Delilah sent for the Philistine leaders, who came bringing her the eleven hundred pieces of silver they had promised. That night as Samson slept she cut off his long locks of hair, and his great strength left him. Samson was now weak, and the philistines were easily able to take him. They put out his eyes and brought him to Gaza, where they bound him and set him to grinding grain in the prison house.

Knowing that he was now blind and that he was securely bound, the Philistines forgot the secret of Samson's strength. Each day, as his hair grew, his strength return.

One day the lords of the Philistines gathered in the temple to offer sacrifices to their gods and to rejoice at having captured Samson. After the ceremonies they spread a great feast and made merry, and they had Samson brought from the prison so that they could make fun of him. When Samson could endure it no longer, he said to the boy who guided him, "Lead me to the pillars that hold up the temple so that I may rest against them"

Then he put an arm around each great pillar and he called to God, "Oh, Lord God, remember me and give me strength that I may have revenge on these Philistines for blinding me." He pulled with all his might and broke the pillars, so that the roof of the temple came down and killed all who were within.

Then Samson's relative came and took him and buried him in the burying place of his family.


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