Samson, Shimshon (Hebrew: "שמשון, Standard "Šimšon" Tiberian "unicode|Šimšôn"; meaning "of the sun" – perhaps proclaiming he was radiant and mighty, or " [One who] Serves [God] ") or Shamshoun شمشون"' (Arabic) is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Children of Israel mentioned in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), and the Talmud. He is described in the Book of Judges chapters 13 to 16.cite book |title=Chronicle of the Old Testament Kings: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Ancient Israel|last=Rogerson|first=John W.|year=1999|publisher=Thames & Hudson |location=London|isbn=0500050953|pages=58] cite book |title=The Illustrated Guide to the Bible|last=Porter|first=J.R. |year= 2000|publisher=Barnes & Noble Books |location=New York|isbn=0-760-72278-1 |pages=75] He is believed to be buried in Tel Tzora in Israel overlooking the Sorek valley. There reside two large gravestones of Samson and his father Manoah. Nearby stands Manoach’s altar (Judges 13:19-24). [ [,7340,L-3430970,00.html|The Philistines are upon you, Samson, Ynet] ] It is located between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol.

Samson is a Herculean figure, who is granted tremendous strength through the Spirit of the Lord to combat his enemies and perform heroic feats unachievable by ordinary men: [wwbible|Old Testament, 316-317] wrestling a lion,cite book |title=Chronicle of the Old Testament Kings: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Ancient Israel|last=Rogerson|first=John W.|year=1999|publisher=Thames & Hudson |location=London|isbn=0500050953|pages=59] slaying an entire army with nothing more than a donkey's jawbone, and tearing down an entire building.wwbible|Old Testament, 320]

Joan Comay, co-author of "Who's Who in the Bible:The Old Testament and the Apocrypha, The New Testament", believes that the biblical story of Samson is so specific concerning time and place that Samson was undoubtedly a real person, who pitted his great strength against the oppressors of Israel.

Biblical narrative

Samson's activity takes place during a time when God was punishing the Israelites, by giving them "into the hand of the Philistines." [Bibleref|Judges|13|KJV] An angel appears to Manoah, an Israelite from the tribe of Dan, in the city of Zorah, and to his wife, who had been unable to conceive.wwbible|Old Testament, 317] This angel proclaims that the couple will soon have a son who will begin to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines. The wife believed the angel, but her husband wasn't present, at first, and wanted the heavenly messenger to return, asking that he himself could also receive instruction about the child that was going to be born. Requirements were set up by the angel that Manoah's wife (as well as the child himself) is to abstain from all alcoholic beverages, and her promised child is not to shave or cut his hair. He was to be a "Nazirite" from birth. In ancient Israel, those wanting to be especially dedicated to God for awhile could take a nazirite vow, which included things like the aforementioned as well as other stipulations. After the angel returned, Manoah soon prepared a sacrifice, but the Messenger would only allow it to be for God, touching his staff to it, miraculously engulfing it in flames. The angel then ascended to Heaven in the fire. This was such dramatic evidence as to the nature of the messenger, that Manoah feared for his life, as it has been said that no-one can live after seeing God; however, his wife soon convinced him that if God planned to slay them, He would never have revealed such things to them to begin with. In due time the son, Samson, is born; he is reared according to these provisions.

When he becomes a young man, Samson leaves the hills of his people to see the cities of the Philistines. While there, Samson falls in love with a Philistine woman from Timnah that, overcoming the objections of his parents who do not know that "it is of the Lord", he decides to marry her.Bibleref|Judges|14|KJV] The intended marriage is actually part of God's plan to strike at the Philistines. On the way to ask for the woman's hand in marriage, Samson is attacked by an Asiatic Lion and simply grabs it and rips it apart, as the Spirit of God moves upon him, divinely empowering him. This so profoundly affects Samson that he just keeps it to himself as a secret. He continues on to the Philistine's house, winning her hand in marriage. On his way to the wedding, Samson notices that bees have nested in the carcass of the lion and have made honey. He eats a handful of the honey and gives some to his parents. At the wedding-feast, Samson proposes that he tell a riddle to his thirty groomsmen (all Philistines); if they can solve it, he will give them thirty pieces of fine linen and garments. The riddle ("Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.") is a veiled account of his second encounter with the lion (at which only he was present). The Philistines are infuriated by the riddle. The thirty groomsmen tell Samson's new wife that they will burn her and her father's household if she does not discover the answer to the riddle and tell it to them. At the urgent and tearful imploring of his bride, Samson tells her the solution, and she tells it to the thirty groomsmen.Before sunset on the seventh day they said to him, :"What is sweeter than honey? :and what is stronger than a lion?" Samson said to them, :"If you had not plowed with my heifer, :you would not have solved my riddle."wwbible|Old Testament, 318] He flies into a rage and kills thirty Philistines of Ashkelon for their garments, which he gives his thirty groomsmen. Still in a rage, he returns to his father's house, and his bride is given to the best man as his wife.Her father refuses to allow him to see her, and wishes to give Samson the younger sister. Samson attaches torches to the tails of three hundred foxes, leaving the panicked beasts to run through the fields of the Philistines, burning all in their wake. The Philistines find out why Samson burned their crops, and they burn Samson's wife and father-in-law to death.cite book |title=Chronicle of the Old Testament Kings: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Ancient Israel|last=Rogerson|first=John W.|year=1999|publisher=Thames & Hudson |location=London|isbn=0500050953|pages=61] In revenge, Samson slaughters many more Philistines, smiting them "hip and thigh."

Samson then takes refuge in a cave in the rock of Etam.JewishEncyclopedia|article=Samson|url=] An army of Philistines went up and demanded from 3,000 men of Judah to deliver them Samson. With Samson's consent, they tie him with two new ropes and are about to hand him over to the Philistines when he breaks free. Using the jawbone of an ass, he slays one thousand Philistines. At the conclusion of "Judges" 15 it is said that "Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines."Bibleref|Judges|15|NIV]

Later, Samson goes to Gaza, where he stays at a harlot's house.Bibleref|Judges|16|NIV] His enemies wait at the gate of the city to ambush him, but he rips the gate up and carries it to "the hill that is in front of Hebron."

He then falls in love with a woman, Delilah, at the Brook of Sorek. The Philistines approach Delilah and induce her (with 1100 silver coins each) to try to find the secret of Samson's strength. Samson obviously does not want to tell the secret, so at first he teases her, telling her that he can be bound with fresh bowstrings. She does so while he sleeps, but when he wakes up he snaps the strings. She persists, and he tells her he can be bound with new ropes. She binds him with new ropes while he sleeps, and he snaps them, too. She asks again, and he says he can be bound if his locks are woven together. She weaves them together, but he undoes them when he wakes. Eventually Samson tells Delilah that he will lose his strength with the loss of his hair.cite book |title=Chronicle of the Old Testament Kings: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Ancient Israel|last=Rogerson|first=John W.|year=1999|publisher=Thames & Hudson |location=London|isbn=0500050953|pages=62] Delilah calls for a servant to shave Samson's seven locks. Since that breaks the Nazarite oath, God leaves him, and Samson is captured by the Philistines. They burn out his eyes by holding a hot poker near them. After being blinded, Samson is brought to Gaza, imprisoned, and put to work grinding grain.

One day the Philistine leaders assemble in a temple for a religious sacrifice to Dagon, one of their most important gods, for having delivered Samson into their hands.wwbible|Old Testament, 319] They summon Samson so that he may entertain them. Three thousand more men and women gather on the roof to watch. Once inside the temple, Samson, his hair having grown long again, asks the servant who is leading him to the temple's central pillars if he may lean against them (referring to the pillars).

:"Then Samson prayed to the Lord, 'O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.' ("Judges" 16:28)." "Samson said, 'Let me die with the Philistines!' ("Judges" 16:30) Down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more as he died than while he lived." ("Judges" 16:30).Bibleref|Judges|16:30|NIV]

After his death, Samson's family recovers his body from the rubble and buries him near the tomb of his father Manoah.

The fate of Delilah is never mentioned

In rabbinic literature

Rabbinical literature identifies Samson with Bedan; Bedan was a Judge mentioned by Samuel in his farewell address (1 Samuel 12:11) among the Judges that delivered Israel from their enemies. However, the name "Bedan" is not found in the Book of Judges. [ BibleGateway - Quick search: Bedan ] ] The name "Samson" is derived from the Hebrew word "shemesh", which means the sun, so that Samson bore the name of God, who is called "a sun and shield" in Bibleref|Psalms|84:11|NIV; and as God protected Israel, so did Samson watch over it in his generation, judging the people even as did God. Samson's strength was divinely derived (Talmud, Tractate Sotah 10a); and he further resembled God in requiring neither aid nor help. [("Midrash Genesis Rabbah" xcviii. 18)]

Jewish legend records that Samson's shoulders were sixty ells broad. He was lame in both feet [(Talmud tractate "Sotah" 10a)] , but when the spirit of God came upon him he could step with one stride from Zorah to Eshtaol, while the hairs of his head arose and clashed against one another so that they could be heard for a like distance [ ("Midrash Leviticus Rabbah" viii. 2)] . Samson was said to be so strong that he could uplift two mountains and rub them together like two s of earth, [(ibid.; "Sotah" 9b)] yet his superhuman strength, like Goliath's, brought woe upon its possessor. [("Midrash Eccl. Rabbah" i., end)]

In licentiousness he is compared with Amnon and Zimri, both of whom were punished for their sins. [("Leviticus Rabbah". xxiii. 9)] Samson's eyes were put out because he had "followed them" too often. [("Sotah" l.c.)] It is said that in the twenty years during which Samson judged Israel he never required the least service from an Israelite [("Midrash Numbers Rabbah" ix. 25)] , and he piously refrained from taking the name of God in vain. Therefore, as soon as he told Delilah that he was a Nazarite of God she immediately knew that he had spoken the truth [("Sotah" l.c.)] . When he pulled down the temple of Dagon and killed himself and the Philistines the structure fell backward, so that he was not crushed, his family being thus enabled to find his body and to bury it in the tomb of his father [("Midrash Genesis Rabbah" l.c. § 19)] . In the Talmudic period some seemed to have denied that Samson was a historic figure; and was regarded by such individuals as a purely mythological personage. This was viewed as heretical by the rabbis of the Talmud, and they refuted this view. The Talmud does so by giving the names of his mother, and states that he had a sister named "Nishyan" or "Nashyan" (variant reading).

Modern speculation

Some evidence suggests that Samson's home tribe of Dan might have been related to the Philistines themselves. "Dan" might be another name for the tribe of Sea Peoples otherwise known as the Denyen, Danuna, or Danaans. If so, then Samson's origin might be entirely Aegean.cite book|last= Greenberg|first= Gary|title= 101 Myths of the Bible|pages=171-172|year=2000|publisher=Sourcebooks, Inc.|isbn=1-57071-586-6 ]

These speculations are in stark contrast to the historical depictions expressed in the Bible and are therefore mutually exclusive.

Samson parades

Samson parades are annual parades of a Samson figure in different villages in the Lungau, Salzburg (state) and two villages in the north-west Steiermark (Austria). [see ]

Samson is one of the giant figures at the "Ducasse" festivities, which takes place at Ath, Belgium. [see ]


ee also

*Samson in popular culture
*Cultural references to Samson
*Samson Unit - Military

External links

* [ 'Samson'] by Solomon Solomon
* [ 'Candlewick Productions']
* [ The Samson and Delilah Home Page]

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