Christian Churches of God
Samson and the Judges
(Edition 2 19941022-20031011)
The activities and evils of Israel under the Judges were to eventuate in the raising of Samson as Judge of Israel from the tribe of Dan. The story is examined from a spiritual point of view, showing the sequences as they apply to the development of the Holy Spirit in the individual under the direction of Jesus Christ and also in the Church as a group. This story has some interesting and surprising lessons for today in our understanding of the activities of Messiah and of the Church.
Samson and the Judges
The Lord established Israel under Joshua (salvation) the son of Nun (endurance). Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and the days of the elders of Israel (the remnant of The Seventy) that outlived Joshua, who died at one hundred and ten (Jdg. 2:7-8). All of that generation were gathered unto their fathers, i.e. they died (Jdg. 2:10). The children of Israel did evil after this and served the Baalim or the other Lords (Jdg. 2:11). This was to become a characteristic of Israel under its own rule. There are six evils recorded in Judges 3:7,12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1. This serving of other gods, including Baal and Ashtoreth, provoked the Lord to anger and He delivered them into the hands of spoilers and the hands of their enemies so that they could not withstand them (Jdg. 2:12-14). Whenever they went to war the hand of the Lord was against them (Jdg. 2:15). They were sent into captivity and the Lord raised up judges to deliver them (Jdg. 2:16).
Judges 2:17-23 And yet they did not listen to their judges; for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed down to them; they soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the LORD, and they did not do so. 18 Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. 19 But whenever the judge died, they turned back and behaved worse than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them; they did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. 20 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel; and he said, “Because this people have transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not obeyed my voice, 21 I will not henceforth drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, 22 that by them I may test Israel, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the LORD as their fathers did, or not.” 23 So the LORD left those nations, not driving them out at once, and he did not give them into the power of Joshua. (RSV)
Israel was left among the nations that remained after the occupation so that Israel might be tested through those nations (Jdg.3:1-4).
Judges 3:1-11 Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had no experience of any war in Canaan; 2 it was only that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, that he might teach war to such at least as had not known it before. 3 These are the nations: the five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sido’nians, and the Hivites who dwelt on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Ba’al-her’mon as far as the entrance of Hamath. 4 They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by Moses. 5 So the people of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Per’izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb’usites; 6 and they took their daughters to themselves for wives, and their own daughters they gave to their sons; and they served their gods. 7 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, forgetting the LORD their God, and serving the Ba’als and the Ashe’roth. 8 Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cu’shan-rishatha’im king of Mesopota’mia; and the people of Israel served Cu’shan-rishatha’im eight years. 9 But when the people of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who delivered them, Oth’ni-el the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel; he went out to war, and the LORD gave Cu’shan-rishatha’im king of Mesopota’mia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cu’shan-rishatha’im. 11 So the land had rest forty years. Then Oth’ni-el the son of Kenaz died. (RSV)
Every time the judge appointed by the Lord died, the people returned to evil and idolatry. These judges possessed the Holy Spirit, termed the Spirit of the Lord. The example of how that works, is demonstrated from the story of Samson, which will be examined below.
After Othniel (meaning the force of God) who was the son of Kenaz, bother of Caleb, died they again sinned.
Judges 3:12-15 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done what was evil in the sight of the LORD. 13 He gathered to himself the Ammonites and the Amal’ekites, and went and defeated Israel; and they took possession of the city of palms. 14 And the people of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. 15 But when the people of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The people of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. (RSV)
The present that they sent to Eglon, king of Moab, was in the form of a dagger strapped to Ehud, son of Gera, the Benjamite’s right thigh (Jdg. 3:16).
The Benjamites were left handed, which is allegedly the weakest hand. The symbolism is that God affects deliverance through the weakest things. Through weakness He produces strength. This is effected seven times in Judges illustrating 1Corinthians 1:27; 2Corinthians 12:9. These are:
· the left hand (Jdg. 3:21);
· the ox-goad (Jdg. 3:31);
· a woman (Jdg. 4:4);
· a nail (Jdg. 4:21);
· a piece of a millstone (Jdg. 9:53);
· pitchers and trumpets (Jdg. 7:20); and
· the jawbone of an ass (Jdg. 15:16).
Bullinger (see Companion Bible, n. to Jdg. 3:21) holds that this sequence was continued in later times with the activities of Luther (a miner’s son), Calvin (a cooper’s son), Zwingle (a shepherd’s son), Melancthon (an armourer’s son) and John Knox (a plain burger’s son). Thus the five were seen as complementing the seven. The conclusions are perhaps more far reaching than those seen by Bullinger.
Ehud escaped after he killed Eglon and summoned Israel from the mountain of Ephraim.
Judges 3:27-30 When he arrived, he sounded the trumpet in the hill country of E’phraim; and the people of Israel went down with him from the hill country, having him at their head. 28 And he said to them, “Follow after me; for the LORD has given your enemies the Moabites into your hand.” So they went down after him, and seized the fords of the Jordan against the Moabites, and allowed not a man to pass over. 29 And they killed at that time about ten thousand of the Moabites, all strong, able-bodied men; not a man escaped. 30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest for eighty years. (RSV)
Thus, two generations passed. After Ehud was Shamgar, son of Anath, who slew six hundred Philistines with an ox-goad (Jdg. 3:31). When Ehud was dead, after Shamgar, the people again did evil in the sight of the Lord and He delivered them into the hands of the Canaanites under Jabin of Hazor, whose captain was Sisera and they oppressed Israel mightily for twenty years (Jdg. 4:1-3).
Deborah, the prophetess of Ephraim, who lived between Ramah and Beth-el judged Israel at this time. Under direction of God, she summoned Barak ordering ten thousand of Napthali and Zebulun to liberate Israel.
The Israelites were initially betrayed in the enterprise by Heber (meaning society or community or company and also a spell or enchantment), the Kenite, of the children of Hobab, the father in law of Moses. He had severed himself from the Kenites and was encamped in the plain of Zaanaim (meaning removals) near Kedesh (Napthali) (Jdg. 4:11-12). There was peace between the people of Heber, the Kenite, and Jabin, king of Hazor (Jdg. 4:17). Sisera fled to the tents of Heber. Heber’s wife Jael went out to meet Sisera and, after offering him sustenance, killed him by fastening a nail through his temples into the ground (Jdg. 4:21-22).
So, God subdued the Canaanites, and Israel prospered. The song of Deborah notes, that the heavenly Host were involved in the battles (Jdg. 5:20). The battles we fight in this sequence are not material battles, but involve the powers of the Host.
The land had rest for forty years (or another generation) and then they again lapsed into idolatry and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years. Israel dwelt in the rocks and caves of the mountains. The Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east came up against Israel and destroyed the produce and left no food or animals for Israel (Jdg. 6:1-5). Israel cried out to the Lord and they were sent Gideon of Manasseh. The story of Gideon (meaning to fell a tree or cut down and, hence, a feller or warrior) or Jerubbaal (meaning Baal will contend) (Jdg. 6:1 to 8:28) is dealt with in the paper Gideon's Force and the Last Days (No. 22). The essence of the story refers to the last days and is the story of the removal of idolatry and the subsequent war that follows, from the fact that Baal contends in the last days. The significance for the elect and the apostasy of the end requires study.
Gideon had seventy sons, which symbolised the council of the elders. As soon as Gideon was dead, Israel again went whoring after foreign gods. This happened every time a judge had died. Israel left God’s message and went into idolatry, until they cried to God and He raised up another judge. Each time the judge was from a different tribe and with different authority to the previous judge. Never did the son of a judge succeed for good purpose, or with the authority of God.
Abimelech, son of Jerubbaal, or Gideon by his maid-servant (Jdg. 9:18) was made king over the men of Shechem, the people of his mother’s house. Abimelech reigned over Israel for three years (Jdg. 9:22). The reign of Abimelech represents the first attempt at usurping the authority of the Sanhedrin to the kingship. Abimelech killed his own brothers, the seventy, in order to seize rulership. Abimelech was killed by a woman throwing a piece of a millstone from the tower of Thebez. It broke his skull and he begged his armour bearer to kill him so that he would not be said to have been killed by a woman (Jdg. 9:53-54). In a way, this is symbolic of the Host where Satan, who makes war on the seventy of the celestial Host, is overcome by the woman that is the Church.
After Abimelech, the defender of Israel, was Tola son of Puah of Issachar. He dwelt in Shamir in Mount Ephraim and he judged Israel twenty-three years (Jdg. 10:1-2). After Tola was Jair, the Gileadite, who judged Israel twenty-two years (Jdg. 10:3). He had thirty sons who rode on ass colts.
The sequence we see, is that Salvation through Endurance is succeeded by judgment of the Host. There were twelve judges in Israel after Joshua until the establishment of the kings. Joshua was War Leader of Israel under Moses. He led Israel into Palestine and conquered it. After him the Judges of Israel can be seen as commencing rule.
· Othniel, son of Kenaz, nephew of Caleb;
· Ehud of Benjamin;
· Shamgar, son of Anath;
[After Ehud died the people were delivered into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan. In this sense Shamgar was not a direct judge as we see from Jdg. 3:31-4:4].
· Deborah the prophetess, wife of Lapidoth of Ephraim (using Barak of Napthali as war chief) (Jdg. 4:4-7);
· Gideon of Manasseh;
[Abimelech the usurper, son of Gideon by the Shechemite, made himself a false king. That is the meaning of usurper. He was not one of the twelve judges but a false king.]
· Tola, son of Puah of Issachar, twenty-three years (Jdg. 10:1-2);
· Jair of Gilead (Gad and Manasseh), twenty- two years (Jdg. 10:3-5);
· Jepthah the Gileadite, the son of a harlot (Jdg.11:1), six years (Jdg. 12:7).
Jepthah was thrust out by the sons of Gilead, his brothers by Gilead’s wife. Machir, the son of Manasseh, was the father of Gilead (Josh. 17:1). Thus the deliverer of Israel here was the illegitimate son of a harlot to Gilead. When Gilead was in trouble, the elders turned to him and requested his help and made him head over them (Jdg. 11:9-11). Jepthah subdued the Ammonites. It was this Jepthah who vowed his daughter as a sacrifice to the Lord. The Companion Bible assumes that, as a sacrifice was illegal, the text refers to her being made a virgin. The text from Judges 11:34-40 does not indicate that and the Soncino takes the sacrifice as being by no means certain. According to the Talmud (Taan. 4a) and other rabbinic sources, including the Targum, she was indeed sacrificed. Kimchi remarked regarding the text I cannot go back that legally the vow was invalid and could have been annulled. According to the Soncino:
the Midrash Rabbah (Leviticus end) relates that he should have gone to Phinehas or the High Priest should have gone to him and had the vow annulled. Each stood on his dignity and waited for the other to take action, and between the obstinacy of the two the maiden suffered. Both were punished: the Divine Presence departed from Phinehas and leprosy struck Jepthah.
The lesson here is that no person is bound in Israel by a vow which breaches God’s law. The failure of the priesthood to act and the individuals to recant is the departure of the Holy Spirit from the individuals involved. The Shekinah will relocate to those showing the fruits of it. The arguments that one is bound to organisations or groups, that contravene the Bible, on the grounds that they once possessed the authority of God through the Holy Spirit, is quite wrong. More importantly, the person who fails to act will die. The disease of leprosy is a wasting disease, which represents the destruction of the spiritual body. The recent arguments relating to loyalty to apostate churches, or corporate structures, is thus quite wrong and lethal, for both the priests who knowingly utter such false statements, and the people who delude themselves in following such advice. Both groups, priests and leaders, will die.
Jepthah also experienced internal war because of his error. All Ephraim gathered together against him and 42,000 of Ephraim were killed at the passages of the Jordan, because they could not pronounce Shibboleth correctly but rather said Sibboleth (Jdg. 12:1-6). Shibboleth means a flowing stream, hence a channel, and also a branch or an ear of corn.
The significance of the errors not being addressed indicates perhaps that the symbolic identification of the elect is in issue and there is a great loss in Ephraim because of their failure to act. God acts for them and has supremacy over them. The Gileadites are fugitives among Ephraim and among Manasseh (Jdg. 12:4-5) yet will be given power among them as a force in Israel. We know that Manasseh, Reuben and Gad received their inheritance beyond the Jordan, and Manasseh was given an additional inheritance within Israel. The symbolism is that Manasseh, Reuben and Gad receive inheritance outside of Israel. Gad and Manasseh both occupy the land termed Gilead, on the east of the Jordan.
The next judges were:
· Ibzan of Bethlehem, seven years. He had thirty sons and thirty daughters and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons (Jdg. 12:8-10). This represents the inner council.
· Elon of Zebulun, ten years (Jdg. 12:11).
· Abdon, son of Hillel the Pirathonite of Ephraim, eight years. He had forty sons and thirty nephews that rode on seventy ass colts (Jdg. 12:13-14). This represents the total council of the seventy restored.
After this, the children of Israel sinned and the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years, as He had done previously under the Moabites (Jdg. 13:1). During this period, Samson was judge. The last two judges are taken up in 1Samuel where Eli and Samuel were the last judges of Israel. Samuel was prophet and judge in Israel, who ordained Saul and served under him, but he was not technically one of the twelve judges. On the death of Eli the kingship commenced.
Judges 13:1-25 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years. 2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Mano’ah; and his wife was barren and had no children. 3 And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have no children; but you shall conceive and bear a son. 4 Therefore beware, and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, 5 for lo, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his countenance was like the countenance of the angel of God, very terrible; I did not ask him whence he was, and he did not tell me his name; 7 but he said to me, `Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son; so then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth to the day of his death.’” (RSV)
The deliverance of Israel was ordained by the Angel of Yahovah. The Angel is identified as Christ (see the papers The Elect as Elohim (No. 1) ; The Pre-Existence of Jesus Christ (No. 243) and The Angel of YHVH (No. 24)). Samson was set aside from birth as being holy to the Lord. This is the predestination of the elect from the foundation of the world. The inheritance of Dan, was to judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel (Gen. 49:16) and Samson was the first and major example of this aspect. However, this prophecy was not fulfilled in Samson. There was also a city of Dan in northern Palestine in the time of Abraham (Gen. 14:14), which is different to the Laish renamed Dan by the Danites. This old area was in the north of Gilead. Judges 18:30 refers to the idolatry of Dan. The inclusion of Dan with Ephraim in Revelation 7:4 as the tribe of Joseph, is sometimes seen as a punishment for the first tribe to enter idolatry (see also Deut. 29:18-21; Lev. 24:10-16; 1Kings 12:30; 2Kings 10:29). It is a joining of the tribe with Ephraim in the last days to enable Levi to enter the 144,000 as a priesthood.
The establishment of the judge as a Nazirite from birth, is a mark also of the elect. The vows of Nazirite were, in effect, no longer necessary from Messiah who was not himself a Nazirite. From the Bible record, at no stage in Christ’s ministry did he take the vows of a Nazirite. The education of Samson was also under direction.
Judges 13:8-18 Then Mano’ah entreated the LORD, and said, “O, LORD, I pray thee, let the man of God whom thou didst send come again to us, and teach us what we are to do with the boy that will be born.” 9 And God listened to the voice of Mano’ah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field; but Mano’ah her husband was not with her. 10 And the woman ran in haste and told her husband, “Behold, the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me.” 11 And Mano’ah arose and went after his wife, and came to the man and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to this woman?” And he said, “I am.” 12 And Mano’ah said, “Now when your words come true, what is to be the boy’s manner of life, and what is he to do?” 13 And the angel of the LORD said to Mano’ah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her beware. 14 She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing; all that I commanded her let her observe.” 15 Mano’ah said to the angel of the LORD, “Pray, let us detain you, and prepare a kid for you.” 16 And the angel of the LORD said to Mano’ah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food; but if you make ready a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD.” (For Mano’ah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD.) 17 And Mano’ah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honour you?” 18 And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” (RSV)
The term wonderful (translated as secret in the KJV seemingly to disguise the relationship) is a name of the Messiah from Isaiah 9:6.
Judges 13:19-25 So Mano’ah took the kid with the cereal offering, and offered it upon the rock to the LORD, to him who works wonders. 20 And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar while Mano’ah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Mano’ah and to his wife. Then Mano’ah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. 22 And Mano’ah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” 23 But his wife said to him, “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a cereal offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.” 24 And the woman bore a son, and called his name Samson; and the boy grew, and the LORD blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Ma’haneh-dan, between Zorah and Esh’ta-ol. (RSV)
Samson means sunlight and, through the light of the world, justice is given to Israel. The Spirit of the Lord was the means by which Samson was given power. Samson’s hair was merely the outward or physical sign, given as a manifestation of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The Danites were encamped at Mahaneh-Dan or the camp of Dan which is in Kirjath-jearim in Judah. From there they went into Ephraim and removed the teraphim and idols from the house of Micah and established Laish and set up Micah’s graven image in the house of God all of the time that it was at Shiloh and Jonathan the son of Gershom the son of Manasseh the Levite, and his sons were priests there (Jdg. 18:12-13, 30-31).
The first instance we have of Samson is where he requests a wife of the Philistines and demands that his parents get her for him. Marriage was arranged by the parents and especially the father (Gen. 21:21; 24:4; 34:8 Ex. 21:9; see Soncino, Daath Mikra). The marriage arranged by the father is representative of the giving of the elect in marriage to Christ. According to the Soncino, the rabbis held that before the marriage the woman would have become a proselyte, as it was unthinkable that a Nazirite should live with a heathen (Kimchi on 12:4, Metsudath David). The reality is that all the elect were Gentiles called out of a heathen system and prepared for marriage through the Holy Spirit with Messiah a judge epitomised here as Judge of Dan who is judge of Israel as a tribe hence physically judge of judges.
Judges 14:1-4 Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 Then he came up, and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” 3 But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your kinsmen, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me; for she pleases me well.” 4 His father and mother did not know that it was from the LORD; for he was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel. (RSV)
Here we have the specific statement that it was the Angel of Yahovah (called Yahweh or Jehovah) who was using Samson to specifically engage and deal with the Philistines. These people represent the Gentiles who were given dominion over Israel from the Babylonian captivity, until the time of the Gentiles was to be completed. As the Angel of the Lord delivered Israel from the hand of the Philistines via Samson, so too will he deliver Israel in the last days through the sequence of judgment of Danite-Ephraim (Jer. 4:15) and the witnesses (Rev. 11:1-2) which precede his coming as king Messiah (cf. the papers The Warning of the Last Days (No. 44) and The Witnesses (including the Two Witnesses) (No. 135)).
Judges 14:5-11 Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and he came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion roared against him; 6 and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion asunder as one tears a kid; and he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. 8 And after a while he returned to take her; and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. 9 He scraped it out into his hands, and went on, eating as he went; and he came to his father and mother, and gave some to them, and they ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion. 10 And his father went down to the woman, and Samson made a feast there; for so the young men used to do. 11 And when the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. (RSV)
The thirty companions are again an allusion to the inner council of the Host. The taking of honey from the body of the lion represents the making clean and edible, that which is unclean of itself. The riddle was posed over the seven days of the feast. The kephir or fully-grown lion cub (from gur, to kephir, to aryeh to labi and then laish) becomes fiercer as it grows older. The custom of having marital festivities for seven days is mentioned in Genesis 29:27, as having been practised in Patriarchal times in Mesopotamia. Jews practice it today, because of rabbinical enactment (see Soncino, p. 271). The feast represents the marriage of the Lamb at the seventh month called Tishri.
Judges 14:12-14 And Samson said to them, “Let me now put a riddle to you; if you can tell me what it is, within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments; 13 but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments.” And they said to him, “Put your riddle, that we may hear it.” 14 And he said to them, “Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet.” And they could not in three days tell what the riddle was. (RSV)
There are a series of possibilities with this text. The garments of the central council are prepared for the replacement elohim. The dead lion is the concept of the newly emergent and warlike rebellion of the Host. Its destruction will result in new garments and the removal of the bitterness of the rebellion. The judge is the steward of the mysteries of God. The elect are given the mysteries, as they are ready and it is necessary to reveal the plan of salvation. The Gentiles long to understand the mysteries and resort to violence when they cannot understand or control the process. That is why they seek to destroy the bride when they are thwarted.
Judges 14:15-20 On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, lest we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?” 16 And Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, “You only hate me, you do not love me; you have put a riddle to my countrymen, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?” 17 She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted; and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her countrymen. 18 And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?” And he said to them, “If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have found out my riddle.” 19 And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he went down to Ash’kelon and killed thirty men of the town, and took their spoil and gave the festal garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man. (RSV)
The heifer is the nation of Israel, represented also by the bull of Ephraim. The red heifer sanctifies the priesthood (see the paper Messiah and the Red Heifer (No. 216)). The trained heifer of Hosea 10:11 is also likened to Egypt in Jeremiah 46:20. Ephraim and Judah will be put to the yoke according to Hosea 10:11. Israel covenanted themselves to God in the wilderness, but turned to the fertility god Baal in Canaan. That is why this text refers to ploughing with the heifer of the Judge. For this reason Israel is made barren from Hosea 9:11 ff.
The obtaining of the mysteries by deceit, of necessity, involves the destruction of one’s own people. The garments of the thirty relate to gifts of God, which cannot be obtained under duress.
The wife who had been unfaithful, was disposed of in accordance with the laws that had been instituted under the fallen Host, in replacement of God’s laws. The legal code in question was that of the Code of Hammurabi sections 159, 163 and 164. The disposal of this woman was done in accordance with that code. The unfaithful woman was disposed of in accordance with the laws, that had been used to replace the law of God, and which had subverted the people in the first place. Thus, the traditions of the Gentiles interfere with the calling of the elect. This resulted in the loss of the position of Samson’s first wife, as we see from the next verses.
Judges 15:1-2 After a while, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife with a kid; and he said, “I will go in to my wife in the chamber.” But her father would not allow him to go in. 2 And her father said, “I really thought that you utterly hated her; so I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister fairer than she? Pray take her instead.” (RSV)
This sets the scene for the next phase of the activities of the judgment. The marriage of the Gentiles is ongoing. We have here the first instance of the use of the Holy Spirit. This is the first love of the sequence. This is the Ephesian year and cycle – being the first year of the seven-year period and the first cycle of the seven cycles of the Jubilee. The stages of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in Samson, follow the stages of the parable of the tree as given by Christ in Luke 13:8.
Luke 13:6-9 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, `Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, `Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. 9 And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” (RSV)
The sequence runs for three years. Then the fourth is one of fertilisation and forced growth. The fifth is one of grace and the sixth is one of trial. The seventh is that of the Sabbath rest. The law is then reinforced and the sequence starts again at a higher level. The seven-year sequence can see the elimination of the candidate, who is therefore called but not chosen. The loss of the first love follows also as a distinct danger of this early process. This sequence was also seen as the seven stages of the Church, through the seven Churches of God in Revelation 2 and 3.
Judges 15:3-8 And Samson said to them, “This time I shall be blameless in regard to the Philistines, when I do them mischief.” 4 So Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches; and he turned them tail to tail, and put a torch between each pair of tails. 5 And when he had set fire to the torches, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines, and burned up the shocks and the standing grain, as well as the olive orchards. 6 Then the Philistines said, “Who has done this?” And they said, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion.” And the Philistines came up, and burned her and her father with fire. 7 And Samson said to them, “If this is what you do, I swear I will be avenged upon you, and after that I will quit.” 8 And he smote them hip and thigh with great slaughter; and he went down and stayed in the cleft of the rock of Etam. (RSV)
Here, we have the same story as Gideon, where the torches are used to destroy the Gentiles. The three hundred foxes are equivalent to the three hundred men with pitchers in the story of Gideon. Here, it is the Holy Spirit in the hands of Christ, using the judge of Dan to prepare them. The reference to the olive orchards concerns the continuing use of the term for the priesthood. The false systems of the Gentiles are consumed by the word of God, in the hands of the elect. That is why the wife of the Judge is persecuted and they are burnt at the stake, as are those who are of their lineage, because of the hidden tribes from which the 144,000 are taken.
For this reason the Gentiles then attack Judah.
Judges 15:9-13 Then the Philistines came up and encamped in Judah, and made a raid on Lehi. 10 And the men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?” They said, “We have come up to bind Samson, to do to him as he did to us.” 11 Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so have I done to them.” 12 And they said to him, “We have come down to bind you, that we may give you into the hands of the Philistines.” And Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not fall upon me yourselves.” 13 They said to him, “No; we will only bind you and give you into their hands; we will not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes, and brought him up from the rock. (RSV)
In this instance the judge of Israel was given up by Judah, because they were attacked by the Gentiles, in order to eliminate the tribe from which he would spring. Messiah allowed them to bind and hand him over to be killed. He was, however, restored and returned in power through the Holy Spirit, as he will in the last days as king.
Judges 15:14-17 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the ropes which were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands. 15 And he found a fresh jawbone of an ass, and put out his hand and seized it, and with it he slew a thousand men. 16 And Samson said, “With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jawbone of an ass have I slain a thousand men.” 17 When he had finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone out of his hand; and that place was called Ra’math-le’hi. (RSV)
Thus, through this object deliverance was made. The protection of the elect follows from that deliverance.
Judges 15:18-20 And he was very thirsty, and he called on the LORD and said, “Thou hast granted this great deliverance by the hand of thy servant; and shall I now die of thirst, and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 And God split open the hollow place that is at Lehi, and there came water from it; and when he drank, his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore the name of it was called En-hakkor’e; it is at Lehi to this day. 20 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years. (RSV)
Here, we see the process of the judgment established. His judgment of twenty years followed from this sequence. Yet the fall of the Gentiles is occasioned also, through the three hundred as we see from Gideon. This process can be extrapolated to the last days. The process is thus ongoing from the repeated analogy. The allegory of the splitting of the rock at Lehi is also a replication of the activity of Moses. Thus, we are viewing the activity of Messiah, making available the fountain of living waters from the rock which is God.
The story of Samson and Delilah is well known yet the least understood. The fall of Samson took place at the end of his period as Judge of Israel, when theoretically he should have been stronger through growth in the Holy Spirit. His twentieth year was in fact the third year of trial under the Jubilee system. The process commenced from the nineteenth year. The story, however, takes a complete cycle to develop. In the first phase he was thrown into an idolatrous relationship with a heathen. This relationship was commenced under the direction of the Holy Spirit, as was the first. The purpose was to bring down the entire edifice of the house of the Gentiles. This is exactly the same process as will be experienced at the end of the twenty Jubilees of the Millennium, when Satan is again released and the nations are subverted by the rebel Host, again establishing the false system. The representation also deals with the Church in the last days as it is subverted by the whore.
Judges 16:1-3 Samson went to Gaza, and there he saw a harlot, and he went in to her. 2 The Gazites were told, “Samson has come here,” and they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They kept quiet all night, saying, “Let us wait till the light of the morning; then we will kill him.” 3 But Samson lay till midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two posts, and pulled them up, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that is before Hebron. (RSV)
Here, the Holy Spirit is with him. Samson begins to become confident in the power that he has been given. The Gentiles envied the power that was attendant to the possession of the Holy Spirit. Samson’s preparation from birth was symbolic that Christ can work better with an uncontaminated or holy individual.
Judges 16:4-12 After this he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Deli’lah. 5 And the lords of the Philistines came to her and said to her, “Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to subdue him; and we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.” 6 And Deli’lah said to Samson, “Please tell me wherein your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.” 7 And Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings which have not been dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” 8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings which had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9 Now she had men lying in wait in an inner chamber. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the bowstrings, as a string of tow snaps when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known. 10 And Deli’lah said to Samson, “Behold, you have mocked me, and told me lies; please tell me how you might be bound.” 11 And he said to her, “If they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” 12 So Deli’lah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And the men lying in wait were in an inner chamber. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread. (RSV)
The process is developed from bow strings to ropes. The trial becomes harder as it progresses. Seven is the number of completeness. There are seven cycles of the Jubilee in which this process is repeated.
Judges 16:13-14 And Deli’lah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me, and told me lies; tell me how you might be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web and make it tight with the pin, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” 14 So while he slept, Deli’lah took the seven locks of his head and wove them into the web. And she made them tight with the pin, and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep, and pulled away the pin, the loom, and the web. (RSV)
Here, the process is getting nearer to the truth. The three trials that he undertook were under divine protection. Samson was beginning to become confident, that the power he possessed was his own and not that of the Angel of the Lord, who is Messiah, controlling the Holy Spirit within him. This process takes up the four years of growth and dung. The first year of marriage under the law prevents a person from going to war.
The fifth year of grace prepares the person for the sixth year of trial. However, the trial process begins in the Year of Grace and ends with the double harvests of the sixth year feasts. In the Year of Grace the sins of our folly are pointed out and God uses this year to commence the trials and the rectification or justification of the individual. Each year this process commences and leads up to the Passover season, and the Lord’s Supper, the Foot-washing, and Passover Sacraments in which our sins are forgiven for another year. However, the Fifth Year of the cycle is particularly serious and many people are tested in this process. The sins that have been overlooked to date are brought to a head and, in many cases, many individuals are removed entirely from the Church of God over serious and unrepented sins.
God will also deal with people in aspects that are critical in the Sabbatical cycle and which He does not wish to leave uncorrected for the next cycle. The seven locks of Samson’s head symbolised the sequence of the seven cycles and the angels of the seven Churches on the head which is Christ.
Judges 16:15-20 And she said to him, “How can you say, `I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me wherein your great strength lies.” 16 And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. 17 And he told her all his mind, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head; for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I be shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” 18 When Deli’lah saw that he had told her all his mind, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up this once, for he has told me all his mind.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hands. 19 She made him sleep upon her knees; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. 20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free.” And he did not know that the LORD had left him. (RSV)
This last phrase is the key. He did not know that the Lord had left him indicates that the awareness of the condition of our own spirituality is largely lacking in the elect. The Lord left Samson to establish in Samson’s mind quite firmly, that only through the power of God in the Holy Spirit could Samson survive against the Gentiles. The secret of the power is kept in a mystery until the last days. It is revealed in order to test the elect and to judge the Gentiles and to bring their system down. The Gentiles took power over the judge of Israel and, hence, the embodiment of the Holy Spirit. They put out his eyes that he might not see, as was done to Judah and the majority of the nation, until the 144,000 were taken in and the multitude were tested in the great tribulation. The beast power is an extension of this process.
Judges 16:21-31 And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with bronze fetters; and he ground at the mill in the prison. 22 But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved. 23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice; for they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” 24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has slain many of us.” 25 And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may make sport for us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he made sport before them. They made him stand between the pillars; 26 and Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the house was full of men and women; all the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who looked on while Samson made sport. 28 Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be avenged upon the Philistines for one of my two eyes.” 29 And Samson grasped the two middle pillars upon which the house rested, and he leaned his weight upon them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were in it. So the dead whom he slew at his death were more than those whom he had slain during his life. 31 Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Esh’ta-ol in the tomb of Mano’ah his father. He had judged Israel twenty years. (RSV)
The power of Almighty God was evidenced in this process of the renewal of the Holy Spirit, which was symbolised by the hair. Thus, through a blind man who was once able to see, the world empires will be brought down. That is why the last era of the Church, the Laodicean, is poor pitiable, blind and naked. It is mocked by the Gentiles because it is taken captive through its own lust and avarice. Yet out of that weak apostate system, there will be a few chosen that will bring down the GOD of the Philistines and break their power, so that the kingship might be established. The idolatry of the house of God in Shiloh, under its apostate priesthood, will be replaced by Messiah’s new Temple at Jerusalem.
The Jubilee and the seven-year cycles at the time of the end
We can see the relationship of the seven-year cycles in Samson, as applied to the individual person under Jesus Christ and as the Church under Christ and the Holy Spirit. The individual goes through a cycle of development over the fifty years of his or her life, as expressed as a Jubilee. Thus, the individual is an adult at twenty and goes to seventy years or one full Jubilee.
The Church is regulated as a body under Jesus Christ. This body is regulated according to the sequence of the forty Jubilees in the wilderness. We know when the Jubilee system is from the Bible texts (see the papers The Meaning of Ezekiel's Vision (No. 108); Reading the Law with Ezra and Nehemiah (No. 250)). The seventh years of the cycle are in 1998, 2005, 2012, 2019, 2026 with the Jubilee in 2027/28 and the first year of the next cycle being the sacred year 2028/29.
It therefore follows, that the years of trial for the Church run from and include the fifth to the sixth years of the cycle and the Sabbaths form the Sabbath rest and the Reading of the Law. Thus each Church is tested and pruned and each nation is tested on a Sabbath cycle basis. So the years 1996/97/98, 2003/04/05, 2010/11/12, 2017/18/19 and 2024/25/26 were or are years of trial and pruning for the Church and the nations. With the subsequent readings of the law over the next thirty years, each new cycle will see the tightening of judgment and consequence for Church and nation, with an ever increasing tribulation until the world is completely crushed in 2025. By that year, all nations should be placed under Messianic judgment and brought into total captivity to Messiah. The first year of the new Jubilee is 2028/29. Messiah will rule a new world order from Jerusalem, under the laws of God from the restoration.
Dagon will be fallen on its face and the Synagogue of Satan will be prostrate in worship before the elect. The elect will be pillars in the Temple of their God and they will no more go out of it. They will bear the name of God and the name of the City of God and the new name of Christ. Hold on to what you have that no man may steal your crown (cf. Rev. 3:8-13).
The story of Samson in the temple of Dagon is the last phase of Samson’s story, where he is removed through his own vanity, overcome and subdued within the Temple. The story is actually the story of the Laodicean church in the last days. It reflects the recovery of those within its ranks who reform in the Holy Spirit, to bring down the Beast system. That restoration occurs in the last days when the church is overcome and those of the elect (as Daniel says) are overcome by the Beast system. However, the church reforms and out of that structure Christ comes to save those who eagerly wait for him. The Temple of Dagon is the false system of this world, and that whole system is brought down and destroyed.
Samson’s seven locks of the seven spirits of God and the seven eras of the churches, in his sequence of development, goes to the point where he is poor, pitiable, blind and naked, captured by the Philistines (the God of this world), overcome and brought in to make sport before them in the Temple of Dagon (Jdg. 16:25). It is that last, lowest phase of the Church that the Church in the strength of the Holy Spirit, brings down and destroys the God of this earth and the entire religious system that phases or tries to destroy it.
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