Samson's Heritage

Posted 5/24/2003 8:32:50 PM

Samson's upbringing; Judges 13.

The sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord Judg 13:1. Again? How many judges have preceded Samson?

  1. Abdon the son of Hillel (8 years) Judg 12:13-14
  2. Elon the Zebulunite (10 years) Judg 12:11
  3. Ibzan of Bethlehem (7 years) Judg 12:8-9
  4. Jephthah the Gileadite (6 years) Judg 12:7
    The Ammonites oppress Israel for 18 years Judg 10:6-8
  5. Jair the Gileadite (22 years) Judg 10:3
  6. Tola the son of Puah (23 years) Judg 10:1,2
  7. Abimelech the son of Gideon (3 years) Judg 9:22
  8. Gideon (40 years) Judg 8:28
    The Midianites oppress Israel for 7 years Judg 6:1
  9. Deborah and Barak
    The Canaanites oppress Israel for 20 years Judg 4:1-3
  10. Shamgar the son of Anath
  11. Ehud (80 years)
    The Moabites oppress Israel for 18 years Judg 3:12-14
  12. Othniel the son of Kenaz (40 years) Judg 3:9-11
    The Mesopotamians oppress Israel for 8 years Judg 3:8
  13. Joshua
God leaves us a really interesting comment in Judges 2:14-3:4, explaining much of the rationale for the book of Judges. God intended to leave several heathen nations around simply for the purpose of testing Israel's commitment to Him. Over the years, they had a mixed bag of successes and failures.

Anyway, if I haven't missed anybody, Samson was going to be the 14th judge of Israel, around 300 years after Joshua. So, for a longer period than the USA had been around, Israel has been through occupation and deliverance several times in its history. The people haven't even gotten to the kings yet!

In any case, the Philistines have been oppressing Israel for 40 years now, the longest occupation of Israel in its history so far. A whole generation of people have grown up in an occupied land, and everybody is pretty much used to it, as occupations go. It's kind of like Europe's occupation after World War II until the 1990s, as a faceoff between the Soviet Union and the US & its allies. Western Europe was not oppressed, but were allied against the potential threat of Soviet occupation. Eastern Europe did not have this freedom, living under Soviet rule and goverment for a whole generation. Children grew up knowing nothing else, either accepting the situation as normal, or learning from their parents or others of what else life could be.

Samson's role in life would be to begin to relieve Israel from the Philistine's rule. Again, after so long an occupation, it takes time to change goverments and systems that have been completely run by the Philistines, and turn them back over to the control of the (not-so-unified) people of Israel. Samson would lead the revolt against the Philistines for 20 years, but they would not really gain victory until God made David became king and make Israel the most powerful nation in the Middle East.

Samson's parents had the special privilege of having the angel of the Lord give them a special announcement and instructions for their son (and his mother):

  1. No wine or strong drink
  2. No unclean food, as defined by God's law
  3. No haircuts for Samson
What's interesting is that the angel told the wife, not Manoah. She immediately told Manoah what the "man" had told her. He begged God for more instructions from the man of God, which God granted; but the instructions were the same. Manoah's wife seems to be particularly sensible, apparently not falling down in fear when the angel appeared, even though he was awesome in appearance. She also calmed Manoah when he was afraid for his life after the angel revealed His divinity and accepted their offering and left.

This whole line of thought is particularly appropos this Memorial Day weekend, remembering those who have sacrificed before us to give us what we have now.

We are free today, not because of who we are, but because we inherit the benefits of those who have lived before us. The battles we fight today, for God in the spiritual world, and for our county in the physical, determine what the next generation's world we be like.

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