Vengeance and the death of Samson (Judg 16:23-16:31)

“Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They were rejoicing as they said. ‘Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand!’ When the people saw him, they praised their god. They said.

‘Our god has given our enemy into our hand,

The ravager of our country,

Who has killed many of us.’”

Dagon, the national god of the Philistines, had the face and hands of a man, but with the tail of a fish, who had been adapted from the Canaanites. There were temples to Dagon in Gaza and Ashdod. The Philistines finally had their mortal enemy, Samson.  

“When their hearts were merry, they said. ‘Call Samson, let him entertain us.’ So they called Samson out of the prison. He performed for them. They made him stand between the pillars. Samson said to the attendant who held him by the hand. ‘Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, so that I may lean against them.’ Now the house was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there. On the roof there were about three thousand men and women who looked on while Samson performed.”

They brought out Samson to entertain all the lords of the Philistines with about 3,000 other men and women on the roof looking on. Samson wanted to lean on the pillars since he was blind. His hair was growing back, so that he was getting stronger.

“Then Samson called to Yahweh. ‘O Yahweh God, remember me. Strengthen me only this once, O God, so that with this one act of revenge I may pay back the Philistines for my two eyes.’ Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested. He leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. Then Samson said. ‘Let me die with the Philistines.’ He strained with all his might. The house fell on the lords and all the people that were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. Then his brothers and all his family came down. They took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had judged Israel twenty years.”

Samson represents the last of the 12 judges as he died destroying thousands of Philistines, including their leader lords. Samson called on Yahweh to give him the strength for one last deed, the destruction of the house of the Philistines. The 2 pillars made up for his 2 eyes. He killed more in his death than he had killed during his life. He was like a suicide bomber giving up his life to kill others. I thought he had no brothers, but there is mention of brothers here. Anyway, they bring him back to be buried with his father, Manoah, in his tomb. So ends the story of the judges, fantastic as it may sound. The super-hero Samson with this destruction of temple of Dagon brings it to an end.

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