Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber




The False Delilah

We left Samson on top of a steep rock, where he had taken refuge after killing many Philistines to avenge his wifeís death. Here he staid until he was captured by an army three thousand strong.

To prevent the escape of this prisoner, the men bound him securely with new ropes; but Samson broke them almost without effort. Then, seizing the jawbone of an ass lying near at hand, he wielded it so vigorously, and to such good purpose, that he soon stretched one thousand Philistines dead at his feet, and put to flight the remainder.

These superhuman efforts left Samson very weary, and he was so thirsty that he longed for a drink. To satisfy this want, a spring of fresh water suddenly and miraculously sprang out of the jawbone, and the thirsty hero was able to refresh himself.

This massacre of the Philistines was a cause of great rejoicing among the Israelites, who raised Samson to the rank of judge. In spite of this dignity, however, Samson continued to live as before, and he once ventured into Gaza, one of the enemyís strongholds, to pay a visit there.

Delilah

DELILAH


The Philistines, hearing that their foe was within their walls, closed the city gates, intending to find and kill Samson in the morning. But the hero, starting on his homeward journey at midnight, and finding the gates closed, lifted them off their hinges, and bore them off to the top of a neighboring mountain, whence the people of Gaza had much trouble in bringing them down once more.

Shortly after this adventure, Samson married another Philistine woman named Delilah. She had been secretly bribed by his enemies to discover the source of his great strength, and to deliver him into their hands securely fastened with bonds which even he could not break.

When first asked by his bride what bonds would hold him, Samson told her that he could not break green withes. So she once bound him thus, while he was asleep, and then awakened him by crying that the Philistines were coming; but he snapped his bonds as if they had been threads.

Delilah now made two other efforts to bind him, once with new ropes, and once with seven strands of his own hair, but these also failed to hold him. Then she pouted and coaxed until the giant told her that the real secret of his strength lay entirely in the keeping of his vow, and hence in his unshorn locks.

Delilah therefore cut off Samsonís abundant hair while he was sound asleep, bound him, and delivered him bodily into the hands of the cruel Philistines. They put out his eyes, and made him grind wheat in their prison.

Samson suffered untold agonies while thus in the enemyís power. But God had not entirely forsaken him; for, as his hair grew long again, he gradually felt his wonted strength come back.

His enemies, wishing to taunt him, once had him brought into the temple of their god Dagon. The heavy roof of this building was supported by large stone pillars. As it was a great festival, several thousand Philistines were assembled there on that occasion, and about three thousand were on the flat roof.

After breathing a short, silent prayer for divine help, Samson threw his powerful arms around two of the columns, gave them a mighty wrench, and thus tore them down. As they fell, the heavy roof which they supported came crashing down upon the heads of the luckless Philistines, whose taunts were still ringing in their victimís ears.

All the people assembled there perished, and Samsonís body, taken from the ruins, was buried with his family in their ancestral burying ground.