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Biblical Names

Samson

Pronunciation: SAM-son
Origin of name: Hebrew
Meaning of name: Solar, like the sun

The Story Behind This Baby Name

Only one man in the Bible is mentioned by the name Samson. Appropriate, for such a singular man. He is the “Superman” of many children’s Bible stories, known for his God-given great strength. He is also something of a flawed hero, whose whole story is filled with angst and very human mistakes.

Samson was of the Israelite tribe of Dan, the son of a man named Manoah. He was born after the Israelites had begun settling the “promised land” of Canaan, during the time when the national leaders were called “judges”, before they had their first king. His mother was unable to bear children, which was something of a disgrace in those days. How delighted she was when an angel appeared to her and told her she would give birth to a son!

But there were some strange instructions that came along with this news. The angel told the woman (who remains nameless throughout the story) that she must not drink any wine or similar drink, eat nothing from the grapevine, and should carefully follow the Hebrew kosher eating  restrictions during her pregnancy.

This was because the boy was to “be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death”. The Nazirite vows involved never eating or drinking anything from the grapevine, not cutting their hair, and staying away from dead bodies (Numbers 6:2-21). These vows were usually for a limited period of time — but this time, God asked for something extra special: a man who would be different from everyone else from the moment he was conceived until the day he died.

God had a special purpose for this special guy. At the time Samson was born, the Israelites had been attacked, harassed and dominated by the Philistines for 40 years. The angel told his mother that by her son, God would “begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” So, imagine his parents’ surprise (and dismay) when Samson came home one day as a young man and declared he wanted a Philistine wife.

Thus began the long and tortuous story of Samson’s love life. He got engaged to the Philistine woman, and during the seven-day wedding feast made an expensive bet with some Philistine men that they couldn’t guess his riddle. He would have won the bet, but the men threatened Samson’s fiancee until she nagged the answer out of Samson. Angry at this betrayal, Samson killed 30 Philistines in a nearby town to get the price of the bet to pay these thugs, and then stomped back to his parents’ house to sulk.

Meanwhile, the family of his new wife decided he must totally hate her after this incident, so they gave her away in marriage to his best man.  Outraged, Samson did a feat of mythic proportions: he captured 300 foxes, took them in pairs and tied a torch to the tails of each pair. He lit the torches and sent the foxes running through the fields of Philistine crops. Grain fields, vineyards and olive groves went up in flames.

The Philistines had no compassion for anyone involved in this economic disaster. They burned down the house of Samson’s ex-wife and her family and then went to arrest Samson himself. He turned himself over to his fellow Israelites, allowing them to tie him up with new ropes and deliver him to the Philistines. Delighted, the Philistines came to take their prisoner, but he was a one-man Trojan horse! The Spirit of God came on him, and with superhuman power, Samson burst the ropes, grabbed a nearby donkey jawbone and slaughtered one thousand Philistines in hand-to-hand combat.

After this great feat of strength, Samson felt he would die of thirst and cried out to God. God heard him and answered his prayer, miraculously splitting open a depression in a rock and creating a spring of fresh water.

The most famous episode of Samson’s story is, of course, his love for the woman Delilah and her subsequent betrayal of his trust. Once it was known that Samson had a girlfriend, the Philistine leaders approached her and offered her a fortune in silver to discover and tell them the secret to Samson’s strength. She agreed.

Three times Delilah asked Samson his secret, and three times he lied to her. Finally, after Delilah pestered him day after day after day, Samson reached the breaking point. To shut her up, he told her the truth: if his hair was cut, his great strength would be gone and he would become as weak as any other man.

Sure enough, after she lulled him to sleep and cut his hair, Samson was unable to defend himself against the Philistines. They arrested him. Not content to simply kill this superman who had been a great pain in the side of their nation for 20 years, they gouged out his eyes and put him to slave labor in the prison. Every so often, they would bring him out to mock him and be entertained by his helplessness.

It was such a time that they were celebrating their god Dagon, who they believed had delivered Samson into their hands, and they had Samson brought out to the temple feast. Little did they realize the significance of the hair that had begun to grow back on Samson’s head.

He placed his hands on the pillars supporting the temple, and called out to God asking for one last burst of strength to topple the whole temple and have revenge on his captors and lifelong enemies. The Bible records that he killed more Philistines in that one act than he’d killed during the course of his lifetime. Afterwards, his brothers came and claimed his body, burying him in the tomb of his father, Manoah.

Scriptures for the Bible Stories related to the Boy Name Samson

Variations of the boy name Samson

Boy names: Sam, Sammy

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Discussion

2 Responses to “Samson”

  1. Linda, this one’s for you! Thanks for your request!

    Posted by bookworm | March 11, 2009, 10:24 am
  2. i love this and it make me feel comfortable and forget my sorrow and still beleive God that nothing is impossible for him to do he can answer anybodys prayer even in times of hard time as he answer samson to take revenge frm the philistines Great God

    Posted by prince Bisi | August 20, 2010, 12:26 pm

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