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In the days between Israel’s entrance into Canaan and the establishment of the kingdom, the Israelites were often oppressed by other peoples of the region. During one period, when the Philistines dominated them for forty years, the people had become so crushed that they had no more desire to fight. It was easier to accept the hardship of Philistine rule than to try to overthrow it (Judges 15:11-13). The man whom God raised up to stir the Israelites from this apathy was Samson. He began the revolt that would eventually lead to the overthrow of the Philistines (Judges 13:5 b).

As a person dedicated to God according to the conditions of the Nazirite vow, Samson was not to drink wine, cut his hair or touch any dead body (Judges 13:5; cf. Numbers 6:2-8). Although he carried out mighty deeds through the special power of God’s Spirit upon him (Judges 13:25; Judges 14:6; Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14), he was not careful to maintain his Nazirite dedication to God (Judges 14:8-9). When, towards the end of his life, he allowed the removal of the last symbol of this dedication (his uncut hair), God withdrew his divine power from him (Judges 16:19-20).

Samson had to fight his battles against the Philistines virtually unaided by his fellow Israelites. While they were complacent, he was looking for ways of unsettling the enemy. He lost no opportunity of doing as much damage as he could (Judges 14:4).

When, for example, the Philistines won a bet against him through cheating, Samson killed thirty of their citizens (Judges 14:18-19). When his wife was given to another man, Samson burnt the Philistines’ fields (Judges 15:1-5). In retaliation for their murder of his wife and father-in-law, Samson killed more Philistines (Judges 15:6-8). When the Philistines made an attack on the town where he was staying in an attempt to capture him, he killed another thousand of them (Judges 15:15).

Samson became known as one of the judges of Israel. He was a judge not in the sense that he settled legal disputes, but in the sense that he executed judgments on the oppressors of God’s people. His remarkable attacks, spread over twenty years, began the deliverance that David eventually achieved many years later (Judges 13:5 b; 15:20; 2 Samuel 8:1; 2 Samuel 8:11-12). His greatest triumph was on the day of his death when, through faith in the power of God, he killed all the Philistine rulers along with three thousand of their leading people (Judges 16:23; Judges 16:28; Judges 16:30; Hebrews 11:32-34). It was the turning point that gave Israel new hope.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Samson'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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