Christian Leadership Center



Biblical Archaeology Index


Class Eleven


THE IRON AGE IA  (1200-1050 B.C.) 



"When the Judges Judged"


The Times of the Judges



Biblical Data

It is important to have the biblical facts clearly in mind when looking at the conquest and settlement.  There are a few cities that Joshua conquered and burned; they were re-inhabited a little later, and had to be re-conquered by the various tribes (like Debir, also known earlier as Kirjath Sepher, the site called Tell Beit Mirsim, some 13 miles south of Hebrew; it had to be reconquered by Othniel (Josh. 10:38,39, and 15:15-17 and Judges 1:11-13).

The simple reason for this is that Israel did not destroy the Canaanites (Judges 1:1-36).  Joshua in the conquest simply broke the power of the Canaanites.  In several conquered cities they destroyed the Canaanites, but many scattered, only to re-surface later and once again pose a problem for the tribes.

But Joshua made three major political blunders in the whole conquest: he made a treaty with the Gibeonites (Josh. 9), he allowed the Jebusites to hold Jerusalem (Josh. 15:63), and he failed to prevent the land from being occupied by the early Philistines.  As a result, Judah and Simeon were cut off from the rest of the tribes.  From Jerusalem to the Sea there was a corridor filled with Gibeonites, then Canaanites in Dan, and then Philistines.

Elsewhere they failed to drive the Canaanites out of Gezer (Josh. 16:10) and out of Beth-Shean. Ibleam, Dor, Endor, Taanach, Megiddo, and the Plain of Esdraelon (Josh 17:11); out of Beth-Shemesh in the Shephelah (Judges 1:33), and out of the region of Acco and Sidon in the north (Judges 1:31).  Wherever the Canaanites were allowed to remain, they proved to be a snare to Israel, both politically and spiritually-morally (Judges 3:6,7).


Palestinian Archaeological Data

1.  Judges 1:16.  The first un-walled settlements at upper Tell Arad are identified by Aharoni in Land of the Bible with this Kenite occupation.

2.  Judges 1:18.  The text of the Masoretic (Hebrew) Text poses both exegetical and archaeological problems when it says Judah captured Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron.  It is difficult to conceive how Judah could have succeeded in the initial period of the settlement in gaining control over these important cities along the Via Maris, which were centers of Egyptian authority and which became Philistine capitals in the twelfth century.  Moreover, Ekron was apparently founded by the Philistines, because in an exacting survey of its mound no earlier remains were found (J. Naveh, IEJ, 8 [1958], pp. 84ff., 165ff.).  Finally, the statement conflicts with Judges 1:19 and 3:3.

It is plausible, therefore, that the Greek translation (old Greek) preserves the correct reading, and that it should be adopted: “And Judah did not capture . . . .”  The problem would have been one of haplography, which is a normal scribal error in the MT.

3.  Judges 1:19 (cf. Josh. 12:7-24).  A couple of things need to be mentioned with regard to this section.  First, the biblical silence regarding Egypt.  According to this verse the districts of tribal occupation were far from the Egyptian administration centers, and this explains the astonishing phenomenon that there was no mention in the Bible of the Egyptian presence in Palestine, in spite of the fact that during the time of the Israelite's penetration and conquest the pharaohs of the New Kingdom still controlled the Egyptian province of Canaan.  For the same reason the Israelite penetration did not make a deep impression upon Egyptian sources, since the latter did not view them as a serious threat to peace or to their hegemony.

Second, settlement in the hill country was furthered by two technical advances.   One was the use of iron tools (see Albright, Archaeology of Palestine, p. 111).  Iron tools, stronger and more useful than bronze implements, made the arduous task of clearing the forests and preparing the hill sectors for cultivation much easier.

The other technical advance was the invention of the plastered cistern.  In various excavations plastered and whitewashed water cisterns have been found in LB strata, especially in the later phases.  This invention freed the population from dependence upon a nearby well.  It was not original to the Israelites; it shows up in the Canaanite cities who had always spared no effort to assure an emergency water supply.  But the newly arriving tribes took it over very quickly, and it helped them to found small independent settlements, widely dispersed and unrestricted by the limited number of wells.

4.  Judges 1:27-36.  There is no evidence of Israelite occupation during this period in any of the cities belonging to the list of 19 unconquered Canaanite cities.

5.  Judges 1:30-33.  An archaeological survey in Galilee proved that the Israelite settlement took place in the forested and unoccupied areas during the Bronze Age.  This is especially noticeable in the southern extremity of the Upper Galilee, which is the highest region of Galilee and the least convenient for settlement.  Farther to the north a chain of Canaanite tells was discovered.  At the beginning of the Iron Age a dense Israelite population blossomed out precisely in the southern part where there are no Canaanite tells.

6.  Judges 3:3 (cf. Joshua 13).  In the area described as “the land that remains” there is no evidence of Israelite occupation during this period.

7.  Judges 4:2.  The 900 chariots of iron reminds one of the 924 chariots taken as booty by Thutmose III at Megiddo (see ANET, p. 237).

8.  Judges 4:4.  The tactics employed by the Canaanites also reminds one of their tactic of a sudden chariot attacks they had planned against the Egyptian army as it marched in the Jezreel Plain in the area of Megiddo.

9.  Judges 9:6.  A fortified temple, probably the “house of Baal-berith” or the tower of Shechem, built upon a high, artificial hill (evidently giving rise to the name “Beth-millo”) was discovered during the excavations at Shechem (see Wright, Shechem, pp. 80ff.)

10.  Judges 11:26.  The Moabite Stone reads: “. . . the men of Gad had always dwelt in the land of Ataroth” (line 10).    

The stone building pillars for the room uncovered at Hazor illustrates one of the strangest accounts of the Bible.  The houses probably were the second floor, and the ground floor, with the pillars holding it up, housed the animals (see figure).  The pillars are not tall enough to be a house for people--no one could stand up in it if the ceiling was only 4-5 feet high.  But they do fit for animals.  Thus, when Jephthah returned home and made his careless vow, he expected the first thing he would see was an animal--from the ground level at the doorway.  But his daughter came out first.


The Abominations of the Canaanites


The Biblical Data

The Bible simply declares the corruptions of the Canaanites as evil abominations to be judged.  The practices of the Canaanites were known even to the patriarchs, for the cities of the plain, Sodom and Gomorrah, were places where the people were “exceedingly wicked sinners against the LORD” (Gen. 13:13).  Lot had not the spiritual strength to be living there--as indeed the “tribe of Lot” (a poetic description for people who walk by sight and not by faith) did not later.  God destroyed the cities of the plain according to Genesis 19; their sins according to Scripture included moral and sexual perversions as well as great injustice.  In any society, these two sins go together.

The Canaanite way had gotten so bad that the land was said “to vomit out its inhabitants” (Lev. 18:25; 20:22).  Israel was warned to avoid their abominations, or it too would vomit them out.  Leviticus 18 and 20 catalogue the major vices.  And no attempt to soften the modern “sophisticated” view of fornication, homosexuality, bestiality, and incest can take away the fact that God will judge these practices.


The Extra-Biblical Evidence

Philo of Byblus.  The main source about Canaanite life and religion outside the Bible before Ugaritic was Philo of Byblus (a Greek name for the ancient Gebal on the Mediterranean [Josh. 13:5; 1 Kings 5:18], forty-two miles from Sidon).  Philo lived about 100 A.D.  He was a native Phoenician scholar and gathered material for his Phoenician Matters (later called Phoenician History).  According to Eusebius and Porphery, Philo translated the earlier writings of Sanchuniathon--whom Albright placed about 750 B.C.  Sanchuniathon, in turn, got his material from one Hierombalus under Abibal, king of Berytus, who is said to have flourished before the Trojan War.

Ugaritic.  While the abstract of Phoenician mythology has been preserved in Philo (through Eusebius), its details and structure have been confirmed by the discovery of the Ugaritic tablets.  No longer can skeptics challenge the Bible or Philo as being later interpretations and inventions.  Philo should be provisionally accepted then, apart from his subjective interpretations.

What then do we learn from Philo and Ugaritic that helps us understand the biblical references to Baal and to the religion of the Canaanites--in short, what do we learn about the Canaanites that God might term “abomination”?

1. The Canaanite Pantheon

Canaanite deities present a remarkable fluidity of personality and function, so that it is often difficult to fix a particular domain to a god or to fix their relationships.  Physical descriptions, sexes, and relationships often change with disconcerting ease.  This is one of the grossly irrational aspects of Canaanite religion, indicative of its corrupt nature.  On the other hand, the deities have transparent names, which represents a cruder and more primitive type of polytheism.

El“El” (the ordinary Semitic word for “God”) is the chief god of the pantheon.  The word is used in the Old Testament, especially with epithets: El Elyon, the Most High God (Gen. 14:18), El Shadday, the Almighty God (Gen. 17:1), etc.  This has led some liberal scholars to conclude that the god of the fathers was this Canaanite god.  But in Hebrew poetry the word El is used even more frequently--something that the psalmists would not do after Baalism became such a threat if El referred in anyway to the Canaanite religion. 

In Canaanite paganism El was, in accordance with the moral grossness and general irrationality of Canaanite religion, a dim and shadowy figure.  He had three wives, who were also his sisters.  He would also on occasion step down from his lordly throne and become the hero of sordid escapades and crimes.   He is a bloody tyrant, whose acts terrified other gods.  He dethroned his father Uranus, and murdered his favorite son, and decapitated his daughter.  Ugaritic texts add the crime of uncontrolled lust to this morbid picture.  The description of his seduction of two human women is the most sensuous in ANE literature.

But this is the number one god.  He was considered the exalted father of years, the father of man, the father bull, that is, the progenitor of the gods.  What a role model for the Canaanites to follow!  And to say this was the god of the patriarchs would create so many problems and raise so many questions that the value of divine revelation would be completely lost.  No--it is a word “God” in Hebrew, and not the Canaanite high god who is called “El” or “god.”

BaalBaal was the “son of El” and the reigning king of the gods.  The word means “lord, master”; it occurs in Biblical Hebrew frequently.  As El’s successor he was enthroned on the mountain in the north heavens; he was often considered the “Lord of Heaven.”

Baal was the god of storm and rain, whose voice (thunder) could be heard across the skies.  This was important for the Canaanite fertility cult.  He struggles with the god Mot (death), losing temporarily (bringing about winter), but is revived in the spring to bring fertility to the land again.  His return is the work of Anath, his sister and lover, who destroys Mot and brings Baal back to life.  This is the central theme of the Baal-Anath cycle.  Baal celebrates his reign with a wild orgy in the “holy temple” on the mountain; and he copulates with a heifer to ensure fertility in the land.

Baal is also the god of justice, the terror of evil-doers.  He is also the “son of Dagon,” the grain god, who was the chief deity at Ashdod (1 Sam. 5:1-7).   

Baal's consort at Ugarit was Anath, but at Samaria in the 9th century it was Asherah (1 Kings 18:19).

Anat.  Anat was a combination of sister and spouse--in the loose sense.  She was one of an array of three Canaanite goddesses whose character gives a hint of the depths of moral depravity to which the Canaanite cults sank.  The other two are Asherah and Astarte.  All three were patronesses of sex and war--sex mainly in its sensuous aspect of lust, and war in its excessive aspect of violence and murder.

Interestingly, Anath was given the epithets “the virgin” and “the Holy One” (qudshu) in her role as sacred prostitute--another illustration of complete irrationality and moral indiscrimination of Canaan.  So virginity and fecundity, as well as emasculation and fecundity for male gods, as well as sacred prostitution, all show the baseness of the Canaanite religion.  N.B. It does not matter that they had great cities, good trade, fine pottery, decent burial traditions, and forms of justice--if they were morally perverse and had corrupt religion, they were abominable to God.  God is not interested in mankind’s ability to build magnificent buildings, or beautiful parks, are personal wealth if they are not righteous.

The goddess was also called Qudshu, Holiness,[1] in the perverted sense of the word.  She is represented as a nude woman bestride a lion with a lily in one hand and a serpent in the other.  She is a “divine courtesan.”  In the same sense the male prostitutes who prostituted themselves to her honor were called qadesh, “holy” (or Sodomites).  See Deut. 23:18, 1 Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46, Hos. 4:14.

AstarteThis was the goddess of the evening star.  She was concerned with sex and war, and not always easily distinguished from the other “ladies.”  In Egypt Anat and Astarte were fused into one, Antart; later in Syria there was a composite deity Anat-Astarte, or Atargatis.  She shares all the moral turpitude of Anat.

Asherah.  This is the wife of El in Ugaritic.  She is also known as “she who walks on the sea.”  She was the chief goddess of Tyre in the 15th century, with the title Qudshu.  She became the consort of Baal when he took over.

Most references to Asherah in the Bible refer to some cult object associated with her, which might be cut down and burned--the “Asherah.”  It may be a pole, or an object or image of her ( 1 Kings 15:13, 2 Kings 21:7).  The various symbols that referred to her were known as the “asherim.”  Whatever the cult object depicted, it was set up on the high places beside the altars of incense and stone pillars.  The image was connected with “groves,” which apparently were the favorite place to “adore” the goddess (see Isa. 57).

Her prophets were there at the conflict on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:19).

2. The Canaanite Cult

Essentially, the cult was a polytheism of an extremely debased type.  Canaanite cultic practice was barbarous and thoroughly licentious.  It inevitably had a most serious retarding and debilitating effect on every phase of Canaanite life.  The saying “like gods, like priests; like priests, like people” aptly describes the problem.

As with the other pagan mythologies, the principle of sympathetic magic was employed.  Myth and ritual worked together to induce the deities to function accordingly.  This gave raise to temple priestesses and priests who functioned at times in the roles of cult prostitutes.  Strict rules were often invoked to prevent these people from normal whoring (working on the side), indicating very clearly the nature of their work.  All of this was in stark contrast to the strict Levitical code that seemed at times to go out of its way to keep sex and sexual activities out of the Temple.

The Canaanite cults were utterly immoral.  Brutality, lust, and moral abandon found in Canaanite mythology is far worse than anywhere else in the ANE.  The fact that the gods had no moral character whatever must have sanctioned the most debased practices in parts of society. People find sanction for their activities by immitating their gods--but in Canaan the deities were at a far lower level. It is to such practices that the Bible refers.

The Canaanite cults were effete and corrupting.  The effect on the population was vile.  The later prophets of Israel refer to the abominations of the Canaanites in ways that show the lives of the gods had been replicated in the people.  And that corrupt life had then transferred to Israel, ruining the faith and the morals of the land.  Hosea described it as prostitution, unfaithfulness to God; and those who practiced it were an evil and adulterous generation.[2]

The character of the Canaanite cults justifies divine judgment.  While many today question God's decision to judge the Canaanites, after giving them another 400 years while his people were in Egypt, the evidence shows that if ever there was a people violating God's laws and normal standards of decency and morality it was the Canaanites. So there are several principles about the destruction of the Canaanites that must be preserved.  The first is  that they deserved divine judgment.  But there was a divine forbearance at work here: God waited some time before bringing the judgment, so that they would in no way be able to plead innocence.

Second, the judgment was talionic.  Instead of using the forces of nature, as in the flood or on Sodom, God chose to use the Israelites as the ministers of justice.  Israel was informed that they had this purpose (Josh. 5:13,14); and they were held to the strict rules of the judgment factor (story of Achan).  Holy War was well known to the culture at that time; and the Canaanites and Philistines of all people would have understood perfectly well how this works.  They had inflicted it on others for centuries.  God works this way.

Third, individuals could always escape the judgment.  This is the point of the stories of Rahab, or the Gibeonites--even into the New Testament with the strategic story of the Syro-Phoenician woman.

Fourth, in the conquest the Israelites were dealing with the Canaanites in the only way the Canaanites would understand and appreciate.  The Canaanites were a warrior class; they would have attacked the new Israelite settlers sooner or later.  Likewise, in 586 God did not have to “cause” the Babylonians to fight--that was their natural bent.  All he had to do was remove his restraining influnece and the Babylonians did what they wanted to do.  But the poetic language of the Bible says that God raised them up--after all, he is the sovereign God.  In the conquest the Canaanites would have to be fought if the israelites were going to settle down.

There could be no compromise between good and evil.  Yahweh and Baal were poles apart; and only the removal of the evil would preserve the true faith and common decency, because in addition to being grossly wicked the Canaanites were very synchretistic--they would have swallowed up the pure in heart.  So, as Albright says, “the Canaanites, with their orgiastic nature-worship, their cult of fertility in the form of serpent symbols and sensuous nudity, and their gross mythology, were replaced by Israel, with its nomadic simplicity and purity of life, its lofty monotheism, and its severe code of ethics” (From the Stone Age to Christianity, p. 214).  This would be a warning to all generations; but unfortunately the Israelites, and countless nations after them, have followed their baser instincts and attempted to sanction their perverse cravings by re-imaging divinity.  No matter how “good” that culture is otherwise, to God it is and always will be an abomination.  And if the culture will not change, then individuals who see the light should transfer their allegiance to the true LORD by faith, like Rahab the Canaanite harlot.  


The Coming of the Philistines


The Sea Peoples

The Philistines of the Late Bronze Age are people who came from the region of the Aegean Sea, and are known as Sea Peoples.  They are not to be confused with the Philistines of the Abrahamic era who were Semites.  These Sea Peoples brought with them many innovations for culture, but also the old traits of their culture which were a snare to Israel.

The Sea Peoples came from (or through[3]) Caphtor or around that region, and are known as Caphtorim (Gen. 10:14; 1 Chron. 1:12; Am. 9:7; Jer. 47:4).  They also include Cherethites, or Cretans (Ez. 25:16; Zeph. 2:5).  They destroyed the Evim and dwelt in that region (Deut. 2:23).

From the Ugaritic tablets we read that kptr was the abode of the crafts gods Kothar wa Hasis (Anat, 6:14,16).  They are also listed in parallelism with mny or Minoans (2117:39).

The Egyptian literature (ANET, p. 262) tells us that the Sea Peoples overran the area of Palestine and Egypt.  During the reign of Ramses III there was a great battle in Egypt.  In Hati, Carchemish, Ugarit, and other places, there was this overrunning of the land.  A few years earlier both the Hittites and the Egyptians under Merneptah had claimed victory over them.  But now it was a bigger threat.

These peoples were listed as Peleset, Tjeker, Shekelesh, Denye(n), Weshesh, and Sherden.  The pictures depict battles on the sea; but they also depict wagons, camels, children--they were coming to stay.

The Stele of Ramses III tells of his victory over them.  The sea battle and the land battle were fought, and Ramses took the credit for a victory.  But the Sea Peoples settled down in Egyptian territory.  Wen Amon inscription has them sailing to get wood to build Dor, a town of Tjeker.  So Egypt had fallen to them--but they settled in up the coast.


Greek and Hebrew Civilizations

The literary critics emphasize the parallels between Greece and the Semitic world, but they often over-extend themselves.  But the connections are valid for the period of the judges.  The first connection that has been put forward concerns the question of the Amphictyony.  This was a proposal by M. Noth (Das System der zwolf Stamme Israels (1930), pp. 39ff; and A. Alt, Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des Volkes Israel, I, pp. 278ff.

Alt and Noth derive the term “amphictyony” from the twelve-tribe sacral leagues of the early centuries of the first millennium B.C. in Greece and Italy (even though they were in the later part of it).  They applied this classical concept to the organization of the Israelite tribes by Moses in the wilderness and then Joshua at Shechem near Mount Gerizim (cf. Deut. 11:29; 27:12), where an association of the tribes was established around a central sanctuary as a means of unifying their religious and political activities.  They contended that this arrangement was similar to the somewhat later amphictyonies such as the twelve-member league of Etruscans of Voltumna, or the Greek league of Delphi, which functioned on much the same basis.

But there are problems with this connection.   First, one would expect to see such an institution reflected in the social structure of the Philistine occupation of southern Palestine, since these people were already grouped into a confederacy for purposes of self-protection.  But they have a league of five cities (Pentapolis) with which were associated numerous smaller settlements (1 Sam. 6:18).

It is more probable that the associations of twelve-member tribes originated in Semitic rather than Greek circles.  Traces of early groups of this kind can be seen in Genesis, where there are enumerated twelve Aramaean tribes (Gen. 22:20ff.), and the twelve Ishmaelite tribes (Gen. 25:13ff.).  It is well known that the configuration of groups in terms of twelve or six is of Sumerian origin, and not Greek.

Moreover, the renewal of the covenant in Joshua 24 was a feature of the Hittite and Assyrian cultures.  It would seem prudent, therefore, to seek the origin of the Israelite social structure at an earlier period in the Near East.


Samson and the Heroic Age

It is in this material that the connections are the most helpful.  In 1962 Cyrus Gordon published a valuable contribution to the background common to the Greek and Hebrew civilizations in which he sought to demonstrate that, so far from being totally different from one another, they actually were parallel structures erected upon the same east Mediterranean cultural foundations (Before the Bible [1962]; Christianity Today, 7 [1963], p. 579).  The period under consideration extended from the beginning of the Egyptian Amarna Age (15th century B.C. to the tenth century B.C.). 

Gordon wrote Greek and Hebrew Civilizations (the title varies; the book is out of print and hard to find) in which he goes into great detail comparing Judges and the material from Homer--comparing the Iliad with the Book of Judges, and the Odyssey to the Book of Ruth.  The Book of Judges evidences this historic stitching together of the events in this period; it then has three appendices (in reality): chapter 18, chapter 19, and Ruth (the return to the peaceful valley and marriage).

We know, for example, that the Philistines were part of the Sea Peoples.  Their chiefs are called “lords” (surannoi = a Greek word actually for “tyrants”).  Their cities were arranged in a Pentapolis, a five city league.  And all their characteristics, including the contests of champions, bloody violence and retaliation, a demeaning view of women, and revenge, reflect the Heroic Age.


Here are four major comparisons between the times of the Judges and this classical Heroic Age or Greek influence:

1.  The Aristocracy of the Judge 

The judges apparently followed the pattern familiar in Aegean circles (cf. the nature of Mycenaean kingship) of appointment or selection from the ruling class.  While it was possible for personal giftedness or spiritual empowerment to elevate the more inferior members of the aristocracy, it is never recorded as having been given to those individuals whose fathers were of lowly and non-aristocratic status in the heroic age.  Thus, while Jephthah was the son of a woman who occupied a decidedly inferior position in the social scale, he was actually an aristocrat from the side of his father Gilead, whose status conferred on him the privilege of membership in the warrior class known as “gibbor hayil” (a “mighty man of valor,” perhaps a “warlord”). 

So we are dealing with judges who were landed aristocracy.  All the judges had as a father a gibbor hayil.  So the Spirit of God came upon the pedigreed person, the one with wealth, power, and weapons (the Hebrew term hayil [pronounced kyle] means wealth, power, influence, importance, etc.).  These men were recognized as leading citizens, had the respect of the community, were able to muster an army, could decide cases, and were benefactors for the poor and needy (compare Boaz).


2.         Land Grants.

As members of the aristocracy the conquering heroes of the settlement period received inalienable grants of territory in perpetuity, in return for which they acted as the ruling and administrative class in Canaan and served the nation in a military capacity in times of crisis.  For example, note the judgeship of Othniel by connection to Caleb (Judges 3:7-11); note however the classic sample of Semitic bargaining by Caleb to get the land (Josh. 14:6-15).


3.         The Concept of herem

The “devoting”or “banning” (Hebrew herem [pronounced kerem]) of an unsubmissive foe to destruction was well-established in Homeric and Semitic traditions alike (cf. also “The Mesha [Moabite] Stone”).

The Hebrew verb haram means “to devote, i.e., destroy or consecrate.”  The point is that in “holy war” whatever was put under this “consecration,” or “ban” as it might be translated, was “off-limits” to people.  It was set apart to God, either for destruction (usually) or for God's own personal use.[4]  

The Sin of Achan.  In the battle of Jericho Achan stole the Babylonian garment.  Since the conquest was holy war, there was to be no plundering--they were not to profit from this war, it was not to be something they wanted to do to get quick wealth!  This is why the punishment was so severe.  Achan had turned true holy war into a common war, taking what God had put off-limits.

The Sin of King Saul.  The same was true of Saul.  He was in holy war with the Amalekites, and professed to have obeyed the LORD.  But the sound of the sheep in Samuel's ears told him that Saul and his men had plundered the enemy.  No one was to benefit let alone profit from divine judgment.


4.         The Concept of menis, Wrath

In the Greek mind a menis was produced by an insult, and resulted in a chain of events whose consequences were completely disproportionate to the nature and extent of the original affront.  In the same way the “wrath of Samson” (Judges 15:1-8) depicted an angry man's completely irrational behavior because his wife had been given to someone else, and his refusal to be calmed until he had dissipated his rage by killing a number of Philistines, a situation that parallels the “wrath of Achilles” very closely. 

In addition to the parallel between Greek menis and the “wrath of Samson,” the stratagem of driving foxes bearing firebrands on their tails can be regarded as comparable to the act of Hannibal who caused chaos by turning loose cows with burning triches attached to their bodies.

The point is that Samson is with the Philistines, fighting Philistines--Greek peoples--and they would understand (and deserve) this.






     [1] The Semitic word qadosh, “holy,” simply means “set apart, distinct”; it does not mean righteous or good--it is a neutral word.  A cult prostitute, for example, was one who did not marry was set apart for temple functions.  In Israel the nature of the temple functions were totally different (no sex), and so one who was holy, that is, set apart to temple service, would be involved in righteous and pure works.

     [2] When Jesus called the people who challenged him “an evil and adulterous” generation, he was referring to Hosea’s language.  The people who rejected Jesus were as unfaithful as the people who rejected the LORD in the eighth century.

     [3] The Bible a couple of times says that Israel came from Egypt--but that was not their starting point.

     [4] The word has other uses too in Semitic languages; for example, it is the word for a “harem,” the court of women that belonged to the king and was absolutely off-limits to anyone else.