Judges 16

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1 Samson went to Gaza, and saw there a prostitute, and went in to her.

2 [It was told] the Gazites, saying, "Samson is here!" They surrounded him, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, [Let be] until morning light, then we will kill him.

3 Samson lay until midnight, and arose at midnight, and laid hold of the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and plucked them up, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of the mountain that is before Hebron.

4 It came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.

5 The lords of the Philistines came up to her, and said to her, "Entice him, and see in which his great strength lies, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and we will each give you eleven hundred [pieces] of silver."

6 Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me where your great strength lies, and what you might be bound to afflict you."

7 Samson said to her, "If they bind me with seven green cords that were never dried, then shall I become weak, and be as another man."

8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green cords which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.

9 Now she had an ambush waiting in the inner room. She said to him, "The Philistines are on you, Samson!" He broke the cords, as a string of tow is broken when it touches the fire. So his strength was not known.

10 Delilah said to Samson, "Behold, you have mocked me, and told me lies: now please tell me with which you might be bound."

11 He said to her, "If they only bind me with new ropes with which no work has been done, then shall I become weak, and be as another man."

12 So Delilah took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said to him, "The Philistines are on you, Samson!" The ambush was waiting in the inner room. He broke them off his arms like a thread.

13 Delilah said to Samson, "Until now, you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me with what you might be bound." He said to her, "If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web."

14 She fastened it with the pin, and said to him, "The Philistines are on you, Samson!" He awakened out of his sleep, and plucked away the pin of the beam, and the web.

15 She said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies."

16 It happened, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, that his soul was troubled to death.

17 He told her all his heart, and said to her, "No razor has ever come on my head; for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will go from me, and I will become weak, and be like any other man."

18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, "Come up this once, for he has told me all his heart." Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hand.

19 She made him sleep on her knees; and she called for a man, and shaved off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.

20 She said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" He awoke out of his sleep, and said, "I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free." But he didn't know that Yahweh had departed from him.

21 The Philistines laid hold on him, and put out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he ground at the mill in the prison.

22 However the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaved.

23 The lords of the Philistines gathered them together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice; for they said, "Our god has delivered Samson our enemy into our hand."

24 When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said, "Our god has delivered our enemy and the destroyer of our country, who has slain many of us, into our hand."

25 It happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, "Call for Samson, that he may entertain us." They called for Samson out of the prison; and he performed before them. They set him between the pillars;

26 and Samson said to the boy who held him by the hand, "Allow me to feel the pillars whereupon the house rests, that I may lean on them."

27 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were on the roof about three thousand men and women, who saw while Samson performed.

28 Samson called to Yahweh, and said, "Lord Yahweh, remember me, please, and strengthen me, please, only this once, God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes."

29 Samson took hold of the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and leaned on them, the one with his right hand, and the other with his left.

30 Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" He bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell on the lords, and on all the people who were therein. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than those who he killed in his life.

31 Then his brothers and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the burial site of Manoah his father. He judged Israel twenty years.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 16      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 16: Samson and Delilah; Samson dies with the Philistines.

In this final chapter about Samson, he becomes involved with two women, and both episodes lead him to fight for his life.

The first woman was a prostitute from Gaza, a Philistine town. When the men of Gaza heard that Samson was visiting this woman, they lay in wait for him all night, so that they could kill him in the morning. Samson foiled their plot by sneaking out at midnight. As he was leaving, he took the gates of the city and its two posts, put them upon his shoulders, and took them to the top of a hill facing Hebron, a town in Israel.

Some time later, Samson began to love an Israelite woman called Delilah, whose name means “lustful pining”. The lords of the Philistines bribed her to find out the source of Samson’s strength, so that they could take him prisoner. After deceiving her three times and evading her almost-daily questions, Samson finally admitted that his strength lay in his hair; if it were cut, he would be like any other man.

Delilah told this to the the lords of the Philistines, and they paid her the bribe. She lulled Samson to sleep, and had a man shave off all of Samson’s hair. She called out as she had the first three times: “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” He awoke, but he was as weak as a normal man. The Philistines took him captive, gouged out his eyes, and forced him to work as a mill grinder in prison. However, while he was in prison, his hair began to grow back.

When the Philistines gathered to make a great sacrifice in the temple of their god, Dagon, to celebrate the capture of Samson, 3000 Philistine men and women were there, plus all of their kings. Samson was brought in as a spectacle to be mocked. He could feel his strength returning, and asked the boy leading him to let him lean against the two central columns of the temple. Samson prayed to the Lord, and pushed the columns until the temple collapsed, killing everyone there. That day, Samson brought about the death of more Philistines than he had in his life. His family took his body, and buried him between Zorah (“stricken”) and Eshtaol (“supplication”) in his father’s tomb.

*****

This chapter demonstrates the temptations and potential pitfalls of faith-alone spirituality, specifically through the women that Samson was involved with. Both of these episodes - the first with the prostitute from Gaza, and the second with Delilah - highlight Samson’s brazen passions and his apparent faults and weaknesses. Samson represents our determination to overcome the draw of faith alone, which the hells employ in order to ensnare us, and then rule us. The Lord’s teachings through the Word often precipitate a struggle within us between our lusts from the hells and our spiritual intentions (see Swedenborg’s work, Apocalypse Revealed 678[2] and Apocalypse Revealed 798[2]).

Seizing the gates and gateposts stands for changing the focus of our spiritual view. Gates represent the entry and exit points to our hearts and minds, through which we receive the Lord and the Word, but also the influences of hell (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Providence 119). The top of the hill stands for a mind raised up toward God, and ‘facing Hebron’ is representative of a new focus on the unity between us and the Word, for Hebron means ‘joined, brotherhood, unity’.

After three failed attempts, Delilah discovered that Samson’s strength lay in his hair, which had never been cut. Hair stands for the power and beauty of the Word in its literal sense, and our faithfulness in abiding by its truths (see Swedenborg’s works, Arcana Caelestia 9836[2] and Doctrine of the Lord 15[8]).

Samson’s imprisonment and abuse by the Philistines symbolize a period of spiritual turmoil, during which we are misled by the hells. Blindness corresponds to our inability to see or recognize truths; ‘grinding grain at the mill’ is like molding truths from the Word to support our own purposes - in this case, faith alone spirituality (Arcana Caelestia 10303[5] and Arcana Caelestia 10303[6]). Yet all the while, our ability to follow the Lord will gradually restrengthen, represented by Samson’s hair growing back.

In the last moments of his life, Samson brought down the temple of Dagon, killing three thousand of the Philistines at once. The two supporting columns of the Philistine temple stand for what is evil and what is false; when evil and falsity are toppled, the whole system of belief collapses. In sacrificing his life, Samson demonstrated the highest of all divine and heavenly loves (see Arcana Caelestia 2077[2]).

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