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Judges – Samson and the Philistines

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Timnah, Sampson's Marriage

Samson marries a Philistine girl from Timnah, near Ekron. He kills a lion on the way, later finds honey in it, and sets the Philistines a riddle to solve. They persuade his wife to tell them the answer and Samson is furious.


Ashkelon, 30 Philistines Killed

Samson goes to Ashkelon and kills thirty Philistines.


Philistines Kill Sampson's Wife

Samson’s wife is given to his friend, so he destroys the Philistines’ corn, vineyards and olive trees. In retaliation, the Philistines kill Samson’s wife and father-in-law. Samson explodes and slaughters many of the Philistines, before hiding in a cave at the Rock of Etam.


Philistines Attack Lehi

The Philistines attack Lehi in pursuit of Samson.


Sampson Tied Up

The men of Judah tie Samson up and plan to hand him over. Samson snaps the ropes and kills a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. The place is called Ramath Lehi ('Jawbone Hill').


Sampson in Thirst

Samson cries out to the LORD in thirst and God provides a spring at Lehi. It is called En Hakkore ('caller's spring').


Travel to Gaza

Samson travels to Gaza, demolishes the city gate, and carries it to the top of the hill facing east towards Hebron.



Samson falls in love with Delilah from the Valley of Sorek. After several attempts, she persuades him to tell her the secret of his strength, and gets a servant to shave off the seven locks of his hair while he is asleep. Samson has now broken his ‘Nazirite’ vow not to shave his head, and with this disobedience his strength disappears.


Sampson Overpowered

The Philistines overpower Samson and he is blinded and led to Gaza.


Sampson Destroys Temple

While in prison, Samson’s hair begins to grow again and some of his strength returns. As a final act of defiance, Samson destroys the Temple of Dagon in c.1061BC by pushing the pillars apart. He kills the whole court of the Philistine kings along with himself.


Sampson Buried

Samson is buried in the family tomb between Zorah and Eshtaol.

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The Judges

For nearly four hundred years following the invasion of Canaan in c.1406BC, Israel was a loose confederation of self-governing tribes. Far from being a strong and unified nation, the new inhabitants of Canaan consisted of scattered groups of tribal clans, often separated from each other by rival settlements of Canaanites, Amorites and Philistines who had occupied the area before the arrival of the Israelites. The ‘conquered’ land of Canaan remained dotted with ‘enemy’ strongholds such as Jebus (Jerusalem), Gezer and Megiddo, and the Philistine cities of GazaGathAshkelonAshdod and Ekron were little more than a short march away.

Frequently the rival groups clashed, and often the Philistines and Canaanites became dominant, demanding subservience from the Israelites. Throughout this period, intermarriage between the Israelites and their neighbours was common. The one thing uniting the Israelite tribes was their common worship of Yahweh, the God of Israel, and the Bible blames the failure of the Israelites to defeat their neighbours on intermarriage and the assimilation of foreign customs – including the worship of foreign gods.

During particularly difficult times of subjection and hardship, God frequently raised up inspirational leaders who cajoled the Israelites into concerted action against their powerful neighbours. These leaders – strong characters such as Othniel, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson – became known as the ‘judges’. The term is misleading, however, as while these leaders no doubt dispensed justice within their own local area, they had no jurisdiction over the other tribes of Israel. Even Samuel, the last and probably the most powerful of the ‘judges’, confined his ‘judge’s circuit’ to ‘sittings’ at Ramah, Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpah – all within a 15 mile / 24 km radius of his home in the central hill country of Ephraim, north of Jerusalem (see 1 Samuel 7:15-17).

Source: The Bible Journey

Canaanite altar at Megiddo

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