Bible Stories

Samson and the Philistines

The people of Israel had disobeyed God.
God sent the Philistines to rule over them.
For 40 years, the Philistines had ruled over Israel.

There was a man called Manoah. He had no children.
An angel appeared to his wife and told her that she was to have a son.
The angel said to her, "You must not drink any wine, or strong drink," the Angel continued, "and when your son is born, you must never cut his hair. He is going to be a Nazarite, a person set apart for God. He is going to save your people from the power of the Philistines."

Just as the angel had said, Manoah and his wife did have a child.  His name was Samson.

Samson was picked by God to free Israel from the Philistines.  The Philistines were the enemies of the Israelites.  Samson, just as the angel had said, was a Nazarite.  There are three rules which a Nazarite must follow:
1. No Strong drink or wine.
2. Not allowed to ever cut the hair.
3. No contact with the dead.

Samson grew up tall and strong
When he was about 18, he went to Timnath.  It was a town just a few miles from his home.  A lot of Philistines lived there.
There, he fell in love with a Philistine woman and wanted to marry her. At first, his parents said no.  They wanted him to marry one of his own people but when Samson insisted, they finally agreed.
Samson traveled with his parents to Timnath. As he came to the vineyards, a young lion tried to attack him. Samson killed it with his bare hands. Samson did not tell his father and mother what had happened.
Some time later, Samson passed by the body of the lion, and there he found a swarm of bees had made a home inside the lion  So Samson reached in, and took out a handful of honey. He gave some to his parents, too but he didn't tell them where it came from.

Later on, the marriage was arranged and there was a big wedding feast. Thirty young Philistine men were there.  Samson said to them, "Here is a riddle for you, and if you can solve it within seven days, I shall give you thirty sheets and thirty suits of clothes, but if you fail to find the answer, you must give me thirty sheets and thirty changes of clothing."
The men said, "Tell us your riddle."
Samson said, "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness."
The Philistine men could not answer to the riddle.  They thought and thought and still did not know the answer.
They went to Samson's wife to see if she could find out the answer.  They threatened to burn her father's house if she did not find out the answer. Samson's wife begged him so much, Samson finally told her the answer to the riddle ... she told the Philistine men the answer.

Before sunset on the very last day, the Philistine men gave Samson the answer to the riddle.  They said, "What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?"
Samson knew what had happened and said to them, "You would never have found the answer to my riddle if you had not threatened my wife." Samson was angry.  He felt cheated.  He now owed the men their winnings for answering the riddle correctly when they cheated.  He went to Ashkelon.  That was where the Philistine's fort was.  There, he forcibly took the thirty suits, hurting the men who owned them.  He brought the suits back to Timnath and gave them to the men who had cheated him.
He was angry with his wife.  He felt she betrayed him.  Samson went to his parents house without her.  Her father allowed her to marry another.  After a period of time, Samson returned to her father's house with a gift.  He wanted to talk to her.  Her father told him she had married another.  Samson was angry.   Samson decided to burn the farm lands of the Philistines.  He went into the forest and caught 300 foxes.  He tied their tails together, placed firebrands upon them and turned them lose.  Frightened by the torches, the foxes streaked through the fields and vineyards setting fire to the grain and setting fire to the vineyards.

The Philistines wanted this stopped.  Samson was just too much for them.  They were afraid to try and stop him alone.  Samson was so strong.  He was so powerful.  The Philistines sent an army to Judah to force the people to give Samson to them.  Three thousand men of Judah went to meet the Philistine army.  Not to fight with them but to surrender.  They agreed to give Samson to them.
Three thousand men of Judah went to the cave at Etam where Samson was living.  They said to Samson, "Don't you realize that the Philistines rule us?  Why did you do that to them and make them mad at us?"
Samson said to them, "What they did to me, I did to them."
Then the men of Judah said, "We have come to take you back to the Philistines."
Samson said, "Do you promise not to attack me?"
"We promise," said the men.  "We will tie you and turn you over to the Philistines."
They tied him with two very strong ropes and brought him down from the cave.

They brought Samson to Lehi where the Philistines were waiting.  When they saw Samson coming, they shouted with a terrific howl of scorn and triumph.  At that very moment, the Spirit of the Lord descended on Samson making the strong ropes on his arms as if they were a weak stem from a small plant, the ties on his hands fell away.
"The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him"
Samson saw a clean jawbone from a donkey laying at his side.  He picked it up and began using it against the entire Philistine army. He lashed into them, swinging the jawbone, lunging at this one and lunging at that one.  The Philistine army was surprised by this sudden power.  They were unable to fight in their confusion and they ran in fear.  After the Philistines had run away, Samson threw down the jawbone and named the place, Remathlehi, in memory of his victory.

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