CBS – Judges: Deborah, Gideon, Jepthah, Samson – Judges 4-8, 11, 13-16

Recorded March 1st 2011

CBS – Judges

The Judges are not judges in our usual sense, as people who preside over courts of law. Rather, they are charismatic people raised up by God to save Israel from its enemies when needed.

We were all struck by the extreme violence in this book, especially the commandments to completely destroy the enemies and all their property. The Students Workbook included an essay discussing this extreme violence, but we thought it was inadequate in explaining it meaning. One very nasty incident is Jepthah’s vow, which leads to the death of his daughter (chapter 11).

It is important to note that there is a strong polemic against the worship of idols or pagans gods, and this is what brings down God’s anger every time.

The famous story of Samson is included (chapters 13-16). His birth is notable, indeed miraculous, to a barren woman, a story we have heard often before, for example with Isaac born of Sarah. Samson is dedicated to God as a child and becomes a Nazirite, and an undefeatable mighty man, but with his “Achilles Heel” in his hair.

At one point in the story Samson kills a lion with his bare hands, and later finds a swarm of bees in the carcass of the lion. This gives him the expression, “Out of the strong came forth sweetness” which he used in a riddle against his scheming in-laws. This also became the motto of Tate and Lyle, a British sugar manufacturer, for whom one of my grandfathers was a barrel-maker, for their brand of Golden Syrup:

Samson’s wife Delilah of course became the icon of all treacherous women, immortalized in song by Tom Jones and by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.

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