Samson, the Thirteenth Judge – 1137 B.C. & Human Sacrifice in Israel

Since You sent Your angel to tell Samson’s parents about him, is he gonna be like Moses or more powerful than that?

Timnath-heres or Timnath-serah was the town given to Joshua in the Bible.
He requested it and the people gave it to him “at the order of the Lord”.

He built up the town and lived in it (Josh 19:49-50).

On his death, he was buried there (Josh 24:30).

Jewish tradition also places the tomb of Caleb there.

Location:

It was in the mountainous region of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

Some identify the place with Kifl Hares about 30 km southwest of Shechem, located northwest of Ariel.

Etymology:

Mark of grave attributed to Caleb

In Josh 19:49-50 and Josh 24:30, the town is called Timnath-serah, whereas in Jdg 2:9 it is mentioned as Timnath-heres.

The name Timnath-serah signifies in Hebrew an “extra portion” or “portion of abundance”.

Similarly, the name Timnath-heres means “portion of the sun”.

In the book of Josh 24:30; it is written in thirteen different published editions of the Old Testament as Timnath-Heres or some variation of it where the second word begins with an ‘h’, or ‘H’ and ends in ‘s’, either with or without the intermediate dash.

The inversion of “serah” to make “heres”, as sometimes means sun, as in Job 9:7; some Jews observe, the name signifies the figure of the sun, the Jews say was put on his monument, in commemoration of the miracle of the sun standing still for him.

“And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. 

And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. 

Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?  And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

But his father and his mother knew not that 1 it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.  

To learn more click on the Image.
Israel is the original “old world” wine region. The Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean was the cradle of the world’s wine culture thousands of years before the vine reached Europe.

Wine in the Bible
Wine has been produced in the Land of Israel since Biblical times.

Ancient wine presses and wine making equipment are frequently found in archaeological digs.

Often, these finds have even occurred at new wineries that have opened up only in the past decade.

In fact, wine making is thought to have originated in the area between the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and Sea of Galilee.

Noah was the first recorded viticulturist who, after the flood, “planted a vineyard.”

As the vine traveled throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean, the Jewish attraction to wine was shown in the developing literature.

In 1800 B.C. there was a communication that the land of Israel was “blessed with figs and with vineyards producing wine in greater quantity than water.”

The prophet Micah’s vision of peace included every person sitting “under his vine and under his fig tree.”

In the book of Numbers, the story is told about how two men sent by Moses to scope out the land of Israel returned with a great cluster of grapes that they had to carry together.

That image is now used by Carmel Winery and the Israeli Tourism Ministry.

The Bible also speaks of the Israelite kings have vast vineyards.

King David’s wine stores were so vast that he had a special official just in charge of his wine.

The vineyards of ancient Israel are mentioned throughout the Bible.

Excavations frequently uncover ancient presses and wine storage vessels from the Golan Heights to the Negev Desert.

Grapes and vines were frequent motifs on coins and jars in ancient times.

Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. 

And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done. 

And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.

And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion. 

And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion. 

So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.

And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.  And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments:

But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments.  And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.

And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.  And they could not in three days expound the riddle. 

And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson’s wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have?  Is it not so?

And Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me.  And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee? 

The ritual sacrifice of a ram is depicted in this third-millennium B.C.E. Mesopotamian mosaic.

Ritual Sacrifice in Ancient Israel
Many ancient cultures practiced ritual sacrifice, and ancient sacrifice in Israel was a part of religious worship at the Jerusalem Temple.

While ritual sacrifice is now discouraged in many modern religions–with the ritual sacrifice now often represented by symbolic acts and gestures—ancient sacrifice in Israel and many other ancient cultures was a common part of religious worship.

While ancient sacrifice in Israel was common practice, it wasn’t original to the Hebrews. The most convincing evidence of the practice of ritual sacrifice comes from the much older Mesopotamian civilization.

Ritual sacrifice to the gods in Mesopotamia developed as a means of justifying meat consumption by human beings – a privilege generally reserved for the elite of society – and that by the beginning of the third millennium B.C. ritual sacrifice was understood as a means of feeding the Mesopotamian gods.

Ancient sacrifice in Israel was also a means of sanctifying meat consumption, but it also took on several additional layers of meaning and significance.

Ancient sacrifice in Israel was seen as a method for sanctifying certain human activities and as a way of imparting greater significance to certain rituals.

Animal sacrifice was also a means of redress and was seen as a way of atoning for human transgressions.

And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.

And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey?  And what is stronger than a lion?  And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.

And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle.  And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house. 

But Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend” (Jdg 14:1-20).

1 God even uses the sinful weaknesses of men to accomplish His purposes and bring praise to His name (Gen 45:8, 50:20; 2 Chr 25:20; 1 Ki 13:24, 20:36; Josh 11:20; Acts 2:23, 4:28; Rom 8:28-29).

Human Sacrifice in Israel 

Lessinia (Verona, Veneto, italy), vineyards at summer and village with ancient church.

Did the spiritual decline during the days of judges involve human sacrifice, an issue raised by Jephthah’s vow ? 

Before Jephthah went into battle against the Ammonites, he vowed to God that if victorious he would offer as a burnt offering whatever came forth from the doors of his house to meet him upon his return. 

After the victory his only child, a daughtger, rushed out to meet him as he came back home.  There has been endless discussion in biblical literature over this ill-considered vow.

Some argue that Jephthah was a rather wild man, living on the fringes of Israelite religious influence in an area where human sacrifice would have been practiced by pagans.  He had made a vow, and one would expect him to keep it. 

Others argue just as cogently that human sacrifice was an abomination to God, and it is inconceivable that any God-fearing person could have committed such a crime.  They say his daughter was allowed two months to bewail her virginity, not her loss of life.

Lion Wood observes that if he did literally sacrifice his daughter, the place of sacrifice would have been the tabernacle, and no priest would have been willing to officiate. 

He also notes that the latter part of Judges 11:31 may be translated “shall surely be the Lord’s or I will offer it up for a burnt offering” – the first part indicating that Jephthah would have done if a human being had met him and the latter if an animal.

Do you think Jephthah sacrificed his own daughter?  I must say yes because a vow is a vow – If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

It is true that life is important to God, He is the creator of it, but life on earth is only for a moment.  God allowed Jesus to be sacrificed; yet, He is very much alive, just like Jephthah’s daughter.