31 May. Judges 15:1-8

31 May. Samson destroys the Philistine grain harvest

“At the time of the wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his {Philistine] wife, taking a young goat with him. He said, ‘I’m going to my wife’s room,’ but her father would not let him go in.’”

“He said to Samson, ‘I thought you really hated your wife, so I gave her to your best man. Her younger sister is more beautiful. Take her instead.’ But Samson said to them, ‘This time no one will blame me for hurting you Philistines!’”

“So Samson went out and caught 300 foxes. He took two foxes at a time, tied their tails together and then tied a torch to the tails of each pair of foxes. After he lit the torches, he let the foxes loose in the grain fields of the Philistines so that he burned up their standing grain, the piles of grain, their vineyards and their olive trees.”

“The Philistines asked, ‘Who did this?’ Someone told them, ‘Samson, the son-in-law of the man from Timnah, did because his father-in-law gave his wife to his best man.’ So the Philistines burned Samson’s wife and her father to death.”

“Then Samson said to the Philistines, ‘Since you did this, I won’t stop until I pay you back!’ Samson attacked the Philistines and killed many of them. Then he went down [to the territory of the Israelites] and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.”

          (Judges 15:1-8)


In today’s episode from the Book of Judges, Samson’s wife was given to his friend by his father-in-law, so he got his own back by destroying the Philistines’ corn, vineyards and olive trees.

In retaliation, the Philistines killed Samson’s wife and his father-in-law.

Samson then exploded in anger and slaughtered many of the Philistines in a tit-for-tat orgy of violence, before hiding in a cave back in Israelite territory at the Rock of Etam.

This characteristic Old Testament Jewish behaviour of retribution and revenge occurs time and time again in the pages of the Bible. It follows the Old Testament legalistic approach of “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:22-25) which is still followed regularly today in the Middle East and further afield. It is diametrically opposed to Jesus’s command to ‘turn the other cheek’ and love your enemy (see Matthew 5:38-39).

Apart from the appalling details of the story which would shock any animal welfare activist, this whole incident is horrific – and brings no glory whatsoever to Samson’s name or his character.

Why Christians sometimes hold Samson up as a role model and try to teach the (heavily edited) story of Samson to their children is a mystery. The man was a violent thug, and this story teaches us only how far away from God’s love and mercy the Israelites had strayed at this low point in their history.

The photo shows a grain field in Israel.

You can read more about Samson @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/28-the-israelites-face-continuing-opposition/samson-challenges-the-philistines/

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