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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Samson (England)

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Hakkore, " the spring of the caller" (a name for the partridge). The well-known removal of the gates of Gaza to Hebron, 40 m. distant - "no journey of the Sabbathday" (Milton, Samson Agonistes) - has been rendered still more marvellous by a later exaggeration (xvi. 2). Finally the Philistine Delilah worms out of Samson the secret of his strength, and by shaving his head' renders him an easy captive. He is blinded and put to menial work, and as his hair grows again his invincible strength returns. At a festival of Dagon he is led out before the Philistines in the temple, and by pulling down the house upon their heads kills more at his death than in all his life-time.

Points of similarity between Samson and the Babylonian Gilgamesh, the Egyptian Horus-Ra and Hercules, have been observed by many writers, and it has been inferred that the whole story of Samson is a solar myth. His name, and the proximity of Beth-shemesh ("house of the sun") to his father's home, favour the view that mythical elements have attached themselves to what may have been originally a legendary figure of the Danites, the tribe whose subsequent fortunes ' In Judg. xiv. I-10 the narrative has been revised; originally Samson went down alone to Timnath to contract his marriage. The metrical riddle and its answer are thus translated by G. F. Moore (Sacred Books of the Old Testament: Judges): " Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet:" "If with my heifer ye did not plough, Ye had not found out my riddle, I trow." No doubt the Hebrews, like the Arabs, were fond of enigmas; see 1 Kings x. 1, and Ency. Biblica, s.v. " Riddle." 2 The punning couplet of the original is thus rendered by G. F. Moore: "with the jawbone of an ass, I assailed my assailants" (more literally "I piled them in heaps," or perhaps "flayed them clean").

For the hair as the seat of strength cf. J. G. Frazer, Golden Bough,' iii. 390 seq. In ch. xiii. the consecration of the hair is regarded differently.

are narrated in the chapters immediately following (Judg. xvii. - xviii.) .

On the mythological interpretations, see further Ed. Stucken, Mitteil. d. vorderasiat. Gesells. (1902), iv. 54 (with references); Velter, Agypten and die Bibel (Leiden, 1909), pp. 119-132; A. jeremias, Alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients (Leipzig, 1906), pp. 478 sqq., and the commentaries on the Book of JUDGES. (S. A. C.)

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Samson (England)'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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