Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Samson Strikes Again

According to Rossella Lorenzi, writing in Discovery News, Israeli archaeologists have found a small stone seal – possibly a coin – that “depicts a man with long hair fighting a large animal with a feline tail.” Less than an inch in diameter, the seal was excavated at the Tell Beit Shemesh site in the Judean Hills near Jerusalem. A tell is a hill or mound, often covering an ancient site. This seal was found in the tell at a level that dates to roughly the 11th century BC.

Whose image might that be?  What strong man, at just that time, so many hundreds of years before Christ, would have taken on such a beast with his bare hands? Students of Scripture cannot help but think of just one man: Samson. Take a look at Jud 14:5-6.

Here’s another clue. That tell is located near the Sorek River, which was the boundary separating the Israelite territory from the Philistine territory at that very same time. The Valley of Sorek is mentioned but once in the Bible, in Jud 16:4, as the area where a woman lived who was named Delilah.  So not only the image on the seal, but also its location, would seem to point to Samson, the powerful, long-haired judge of ancient Israel.

Can we be sure that it’s Samson on this seal? The Israeli archaeologists, Shlomo Bunimovitz and Zvi Lederman of Tel Aviv University, don’t claim that the seal positively proves that Samson actually existed, but they do see the coin as evidence that stories – independent of the Bible – about a Samson-like man existed at that very time. In other words, as Eric Metaxas notes in his BreakPoint broadcast, the story of such a man was not a legend first invented by a sixth-century BC scribe living in Babylon, as many mainstream “Bible scholars” have claimed. The report goes back to the exact era in which the Bible claims that Samson lived.

There’s more. The archaeologists also found a large number of pig bones near the river Sorek on the Philistine side, while they unearthed nearly none on the Israeli land. The implication is that the ancient Hebrews, living on that side, did not eat pork. Obviously, this fits the dietary restrictions given in the Law of Moses. See Lev 11.

It seems so ironic that whenever skeptics deny the existence of a biblical character, nation, place, or event, scientists make this kind of discovery. What will they find next? I don’t know, but such things encourage me to believe all that the Bible says.  Faith is still “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1).

Go get ‘em, Samson. The fight’s not over.

“Samson Legend Gains Substance with New Find,” Rosella Lorenzi, Discovery News, Aug 3, 2012.

A Man with Long Hair,” Eric Metaxas, BreakPoint, Aug 15, 2012.

“Lion Seal from Beth Shemesh Sparks Samson Discussion,” Noah Wiener, Bible History Daily, Jul 30, 2012.

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