Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning

Page: 49

"And it came to pass, on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson's wife: 'Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle.'"

She accordingly went to Samson, and told him that he could not love her; if it were so, he would tell her the answer to the riddle. After she had wept and entreated of him, he finally told her, and she gave the answer to the children of her people. "And the men of the city said unto him, on the seventh day, before the sun went down, 'What is sweeter than honey, and what is stronger than a lion?'"

Samson, upon hearing this, suspected how they managed to find out the answer, whereupon he said unto them: "If ye had not ploughed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle."

[Pg 64]

Samson was then at a loss to know where to get the thirty sheets, and the thirty changes of garments; but, "the spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle."

This was the hero's second exploit.

His anger being kindled, he went up to his father's house, instead of returning to his wife.[64:1] But it came to pass, that, after a while, Samson repented of his actions, and returned to his wife's house, and wished to go in to his wife in the chamber; but her father would not suffer him to go. And her father said: "I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her, therefore, I gave her to thy companion. Is not her younger sister fairer than she? Take her, I pray thee, instead of her."

This did not seem to please Samson, even though the younger was fairer than the older, for he "went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned (the foxes) tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burned up both the shocks and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives."

This was Samson's third exploit.

When the Philistines found their corn, their vineyards, and their olives burned, they said: "Who hath done this?"

"And they answered, 'Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion.' And the Philistines came up, and burned her and her father with fire. And Samson said unto them: 'Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.' And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter, and he went and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam."

This "great slaughter" was Samson's fourth exploit.

"Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi. And the men of Judah said: 'Why are ye come up against us?' And they answered: 'To bind Samson are we come up, and to do to him as he hath done to us.' Then three thousand men of Judah went up to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson: 'Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? What is this that thou hast done unto us?' And he said unto them: 'As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.' And they said unto him: 'We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hands of the Philistines.' And Samson said unto them: 'Swear unto me that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.' And they spake unto him, saying, 'No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hands: but surely we will not kill thee.' And they bound him with two new cords, and [Pg 65]brought him up from the rock. And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burned with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jaw-bone of an ass, and put forth his hand and took it, and slew a thousand men with it."

This was Samson's fifth exploit.

After slaying a thousand men he was "sore athirst," and called unto the Lord. And "God clave a hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout, and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived."[65:1]

"Then went Samson to Gaza and saw there a harlot, and went in unto her. And it was told the Gazites, saying, 'Samson is come hither.' And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying: 'In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.' And Samson lay (with the harlot) till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of a hill that is in Hebron."

This was Samson's sixth exploit.

"And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Soreck, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her: 'Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him.'"

Delilah then began to entice Samson to tell her wherein his strength lay.

"She pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death. Then he told her all his heart, and said unto her: 'There hath not come a razor upon mine head, for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb. If I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.' And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she went and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying: 'Come up this once, for he hath showed me all his heart.' Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hands (for her).

"And she made him (Samson) sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him."

The Philistines then took him, put out his eyes, and put him in prison. And being gathered together at a great sacrifice in honor of their God, Dagon, they said: "Call for Samson, that he may make us sport." And they called for Samson, and he made them sport.

"And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand. Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.

[Pg 66]"Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.

"And Samson called unto the Lord, and said: '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.'

"And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said: 'Let me die with the Philistines.' And he bowed himself with all his might; and (having regained his strength) the house fell upon the lords, and upon the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death, were more than they which he slew in his life."[66:1]

Thus ended the career of the "strong man" of the Hebrews.

That this story is a copy of the legends related of Hercules, or that they have both been copied from similar legends existing among some other nations,[66:2] is too evident to be disputed. Many churchmen have noticed the similarity between the history of Samson and that of Hercules. In Chambers's Encyclopædia, under "Samson," we read as follows: