05 November 2009

The Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson and he murders 30 men for their clothes

Just when you think the stories in Judges couldn't get any stupider, the next one comes along to prove you wrong.

Take the story of Samson, for example.

It starts out in the usual way, with the children of Israel doing evil in the sight of the Lord and the Lord doing what he always does in such cases: he sells them. (Except that this time the Bible says he "delivered" them to the Philistines for forty years, so maybe the Israelites were a gift and he didn't get paid for them.)

Of course, after giving, selling, or renting the Israelites to the Philistines, God needed to find someone to help kill the Israelites' new owners. And that, as you probably guessed, is where Samson comes in.
(This is the first time that the third step in God's famous four-step process was skipped. At least I can't find where the Israelites cry out to the Lord. Oh well, maybe they cried out, but God couldn't hear them or just forgot to tell us about it.)

Samson's birth was a lot like Jesus'. An angel visited his mom to announce that she was going to have a son. He even came again unto her when her husband wasn't around and got her pregnant.
So Samson's birth was a fucking miracle.
And the Lord blessed him ... and the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times. Judges 13:24-25
The first thing the Bible tells us about Samson is this:
Samson ... saw a woman ... of the daughters of the Philistines ... And Samson said unto his father ... Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. Judges 14:1-3
Now Samson's folks were a bit troubled by this, since they knew how crazy God gets when an Israelite even thinks about marrying a non-Israelite. But then they didn't know that this was all a part of God's plan.
But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines. Judges 14:4
Samson was on his way to visit his new Philistine girlfriend when "the Spirit of the LORD came mightily" on him. Now in the Bible, there's pretty much only one thing that happens when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon somebody: the spirit-filled person kills something. That's what happened here.
Behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid. Judges 14:5-6
When he arrived his Philistine girlfriend's place "she pleased Samson well" and then he returned home. On his way he saw the lion carcass...
...and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion. Judges 14:8
Which, of course, was another miracle.

The spirit of God came upon Samson and he killed a lion. Then God sent bees to make honey from the dead lion's body.

Of course, it's also possible that the dead lion was covered with flies (not bees) and the putrefying flesh and maggots looked like honey to the dumb as shit Samson. (In which case the "honey" would have been pretty nasty stuff!)

Well whatever it was, Samson thought it tasted pretty darned sweet. He even brought some home to his folks, although he didn't tell them where it came from.
And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion. Judges 14:9
Although the Bible doesn't actually say so, I guess Samson married the Philistine woman that pleased him well. And they had a week-long party with thirty of Samson's new-found Philistine friends.

At the party Samson told a riddle.
I will now put forth a riddle unto you ... Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. Judges 14:12-13
Wasn't that a great riddle? Anyway, Samson told his guests that whoever could figure it out before the week of partying is over would get 30 sheets and 30 garments. But whoever can't will have to give Samuel 30 sheets and 30 garments.

Now the party goers took the riddle pretty seriously. So they asked Samson's new wife to tell them the answer or they'd burn her house down. She finally got the answer from Samson and then she told the guys at the party. So Samson didn't get his 30 sets of sheets and garments.

Samson was pissed. He accused his guests of ... well, I'm not sure what. Here's what he said:
If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle. Judges 14:18
So the party animals plowed with Samson's heifer and they found out his riddle.
And then God gets involved again.
And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. Judges 14:19
So Samson went to another Philistine town (Ashkelon) and killed 30 men and took their clothes to give to the guys at his party for solving the riddle.

Oh, and then in the next verse, Samson's new wife is given to the best man at his wedding.
But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend. Judges 14:20
So everything worked out according to God's plan. Samson's brief (1 week) marriage, the lion and honey episode, the clever riddle and the clothing bet -- It was all carefully planned by God so that, in the end, Samson would murder thirty men for their clothes.

The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Oh, did you get Samson's riddle? Me neither.

God's next killing: The spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson and he kills 1000 men with the jawbone of an ass

9 comments:

matt311 said...

I think he just assumed the Philistines were as dumb as he was.

busterggi said...

So even as a newly-wed Samson was calling his wife a heifer?

No wonder she told her friends the answer, she'd have been his 'old lady' by the weekend.

By the way, am I wrong or is this whole story pointless as far as a moral lesson?

Steve Wells said...

Busterggi,

As far as I can tell, the entire book of Judges is just one absurd, pointless, nasty story after another.

Tim Atheist said...

Yeah, it's crazy bullshit. Gets annoying.

Couldn't God have told Samson to go kill thirty Philistines without the whole crap trial?

And the riddle is even more bullshit.

"As far as I can tell, the entire book of Judges is just one absurd, pointless, nasty story after another."

Amen to that brodda!

Ritchie Annand said...

So, how exactly does God sell the Israelites into slavery in the first place? Am I missing a mechanism here?

Do they wake up and there's a golden receipt in the middle of the camp?

Does their head priest make off like a bandit?

Do they run out of money and have to sell themselves into servitude?

Do they vandalize something and have to become slaves as community service?

Is it just a euphemism for the times that they lost a war?

Or is a grumpy deity supposed to have come down, trailed all the Israelites to the nearest town, knocked on the gate and made a deal with the local king, all the while somehow managing not being impressive enough to freak the crap out of the local gate-guarding constabulary?

Ritchie Annand said...

(I guess personally, it looks like a euphemism for losing a battle.

Not exactly the moral high ground for these folks that the people victorious against them only made them slaves, whereas when the Israelites have the upper hand, they commit genocide.

Normally, I'd put scare quotes around the only in only made them slaves, but on the grand sliding scale of things, genocide beats that by an order of magnitude or so.)

Steve Wells said...

Ritchie,

Yeah, you're probably right about the whole God selling the Israelites into slavery thing. I doubt if the author of Judges thought God came down and personally negotiated a deal to sell the Israelites. (Although he might have. Judges is filled with batshit crazy stories.)

But morality of it all is the same. Whether God was handling money or just pulling strings when he "sold them", it was just as stupid and just as cruel either way.

busterggi said...

Either way with that riddle SAmson is no Bilbo Baggins.

Sam Donner said...

Well, with respect to the riddle: I think that the answer is the lion he encountered before. It would be the eater, in whose death came forth meat (IE, samson ate the stuff inside the lion after it died), and the honey would be the sweetness coming from the strong.

According to wikipedia, a heifer is a cow that has yet to have a child, which could metaphorically apply to his wife. Presumably, "plowing with" is code for talking. Interesting etymology, I suppose, because people would talk while plowing.

Overall, though, a stupid and pointless story.