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Samson is a name forever associated with phenomenal physical strength

Posted in Bible, Interesting Words, Language, Religion on Friday, 30 August 2013

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This edited article about the language of the Bible originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 390 published on 5 July 1969.

Samson carrying the gates, picture, image, illustration

Samson carrying the gates of Gaza

In a garage, while my car was being repaired, I watched a young but sturdy mechanic lift a heavy machine and carry it across the workshop floor.

“That must be some weight,” I said. “You’re a regular Samson!” And then, when he looked blankly at me, I added, “You know who Samson was?”

Obviously puzzled, he replied, “Was he a great boxer?”

Samson was not, of course, a great boxer, although he was a notable fighter, and his name has become a byword for someone of great physical strength.

Samson lived at the time when the Hebrew nation had just settled in Palestine, and his exploits are recorded in the Bible, mainly in the Book of Judges (Chapters 13 to 16).

Samson was early noted for his strength. As a young man he was attacked by a lion, and is said to have killed it with his bare hands.

But it was against a rival tribe, the Philistines, that his most daring feats were carried out. He actually ventured into one of their cities, where a band of men planned to trap him. The great wooden gates of the city were bolted, and Samson seemed to be at the mercy of his enemies. In the night, however, Samson left his hiding place, made his way unseen to the city walls, lifted the great gates from off their hinges and carried them away – before his enemies even knew of his escape!

In another encounter with the Philistines, Samson, surrounded by his attackers, picked up the jaw bone of a dead donkey and, using it as a club, felled many of his enemies to the ground.

It was Samson’s misfortune to fall in love with Delilah, a woman of the Philistine tribe. He used to visit her secretly, not realising that, far from loving him, she was plotting to betray him to his enemies.

One day Delilah asked him, in what seemed to be a casual manner, where the secret of his great strength lay.

Three times Samson gave her untrue answers, and at last she reproached him for teasing her, and for not being honest with someone he claimed to love. As a result, Samson revealed to her the secret that his strength lay in his hair. Cut that off, he said, and he would only have the strength of a child.

Delilah lulled Samson off to sleep, then had his head swiftly shaved by a skilled barber, and handed him over to his enemies.

The story did not end there. Blinded and made to work as a slave, Samson was one day dragged out to entertain his enemies. By then, his hair had grown again, and with that his strength had returned.

Samson used his new-found strength to wreak a terrible revenge. He forced apart the pillars of the great hall in which his enemies had assembled. The roof crashed in, and Samson died in the ruins, together with those who had come to make fun of him.

No wonder he is remembered as the strong man of the Bible!

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