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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Samson

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(See MANOAH.) ("awe inspiring".) (Judges 13:6; Judges 13:18-20) or else "sunlike" (Gesenius): compare Judges 5:31, "strong" (Josephus Ant. 5:8, section 4). Judge of Israel for 20 years (Judges 15:20; Judges 16:31), namely, in the Danite region near Philistia. Judah and Dan, and perhaps all Israel, were subject then to the Philistines (Judges 13:1; Judges 13:5; Judges 15:9-11, "knowest thou not the Philistines are rulers over us?" Judges 15:20). His 20 years' office was probably included in the "40 years" of Philistine rule. At the time of the angel's announcement to his mother (Judges 13:5) they ruled, and as his judgeship did not begin before he was 20 it must have nearly coincided with the last 20 years of their dominion. However their rule ceased not until the judgeship of Samuel, which retrieved their capture of the ark (1 Samuel 7:1-14). So the close of Samson's judgeship must have coincided with the beginning of Samuel's, and the capture of the ark in Eli's time must have been during Samson's lifetime. Correspondences between their times appear.

(1) The Philistines are prominent under both.

(2) Both are Nazarites (1 Samuel 1:11), Samson's exploits probably moving Hannah to her vow. Amos (Amos 2:11-12) alludes to them, the only allusion elsewhere to Nazarites in the Old Testament being Lamentations 4:7.

(3) Dagon's temple is alluded to under both (1 Samuel 5:2; Judges 16:23).

(4) The Philistine lords (1 Samuel 7:7; Judges 16:8; Judges 16:18; Judges 16:27).

Samson roused the people from their servile submission, and by his desultory blows on the foe prepared Israel for the final victory under Samuel. "He shall begin to deliver Israel" (Judges 13:5) implies the consummation of the deliverance was to be under his successor (1 Samuel 7:1-13). "The Lord blessed him" from childhood (Judges 13:24); type of Jesus (Luke 2:52, compare Luke 1:80, John the Baptist the New Testament Nazarite). "The Spirit of the Lord" is stated to be the Giver of his strength (Judges 13:25; Judges 14:6; Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14). Samson was not of giant size as were some of the Philistines (1 Samuel 17); his strength was not brute natural strength, but spiritual, bound up with fidelity to his Nazarite vow. An embodied lesson to Israel that her power lay in separation from idol lusts and entire consecration to God; no foe could withstand them while true to Him, but once that they forsook Him for the fascinations of the world their power is gone and every enemy should triumph over them (1 Samuel 2:9).

Still even Samson's falls, as Israel's, are in God's wonderful providence overruled to Satan's and his agents' confusion and the good of God's elect. Samson slays the lion at Timnath, and through his Philistine wife's enticement they told the riddle; then to procure 30 tunics he slew 30 Philistines, the forfeit. His riddle "out of the eater came forth meat (carcasses in the East often dry up without decomposition), and out of the strong (Matthew 12:29) came forth sweetness," is the key of Samson's history and of our present dispensation. Satan's lion-like violence and harlot-like subtlety are made to recoil on himself and to work out God's sweet and gracious purposes toward His elect. Deprived of his wife, Samson by the firebrands attached to 300 "jackals" (shual ), avenged himself on them. The Philistines burnt her and her father with fire; then he smote them with great slaughter at Etam. Then under the Spirit's power with an donkey bone (for the Philistines let Israel have no iron weapons: 1 Samuel 13:19) he slew a thousand Philistines.

This established his title as judge during the Philistine oppression ("in the days of the Philistines": Judges 15:20). (See DELILAH for his fall.) By lust Samson lost at once his godliness and his manliness; it severed him from God the strength of his manhood. Samson set at nought the legal prohibition against affinity with idolatrous women (Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 7:3). Parting with the Nazarite locks of his consecration was virtual renunciation of his union with God, so his strength departed. Prayer restored it. The foes' attribution of their victory over "Samson the destroyer of their country" to their god Dagon provoked God's jealousy for His honour. A Philistine multitude, including all their lords, congregated in the house, which was a vast hall, the roof resting on four columns, two at the ends and two close together at the center; 3,000 men and women on the roof beheld while Samson made sport. Samson by pulling down the house slew at his death more than in his life. Type of Christ (Colossians 2:15; Matthew 27:50-54).

Fulfilling Jacob's prophecy of Dan, his tribe (Genesis 49:16-17). A token that Israel's temporary backslidings, when repented of, shall issue in ultimate victory. Samson, the physically strong Nazarite, prepared the way for Samuel, the spiritual hero Nazarite, who consummated the deliverance that Samson began. Samson wrought what he did by faith, the true secret of might (Hebrews 11:32; Matthew 21:21). The Phoenicians carried to Greece the story of Samson, which the Greeks transferred to their idol Hercules. The Scholion on Lycophron (Bochart Hieroz. 2:5, section 12) blends the stories of Samson and Jonah, and makes Hercules come out of the belly of the sea monster with the loss of his hair. Hercules was "son of the sun" in Egypt (shemesh ) related to Sam-son). Ovid (Fasti 54) describes the custom of tying a torch between two foxes in the circus, in memory of damage once done to a harvest by a fox with burning straw. Hercules dies by the hand of his wife; but every fault is atoned by suffering, and at last he ascends to heaven. His joviality and buffoonery answer to the last scene in the life of Samson. The history is taken probably from the tribe of Daniel. (See TIMNATH.)


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Samson'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/s/samson.html. 1949.

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