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(Samson Fighting the Lion: Lucas Cranach

the Elder ; Weimarer Stadtschloss;

Accession No G12)


Manoah wept: he had no son.

An angel told his wife:

You will conceive a son and give

him up to God for life.


This angel came again and he

had piercing azure eyes.

Manoah, liking what he said,

offered to sacrifice


a kid to God and, in the smoke,

the spirit heavenwards

ascended, while the man and wife

pondered on his words.


Samson grew in stature tall;

a razor did not trim

his hair, as he was set aside:

the role of Judge, for him.


A daughter of his enemies

came to his notice, so,

in spite of what his father said,

to Timnath he would go.


Meeting a lion would not prevent

his marriage to a stranger.

He tore the animal apart

(its threat to him no danger.)


And, when he passed the carcase next,

bees had filled its middle.

Scooping out honey, he laughed aloud:

Aha!  I have a riddle!


Thirty young men attended the feast.

What is strong, but also sweet?

He bet they’d never work it out,

but Samson’s wife was not discreet.


The answer, pressured out of her,

Samson lost the forfeit,

but he went down to Ashkelon

and found a way to cheat:


he offered the thirty all the fruits

he’d pillaged, far and wide.

Father-in-law was unimpressed

and gave away the bride.


Please let me sleep with her, Sam cried,

but ‘father-in-law’ rejected

his overtures and offered up

someone unexpected.


Raging, Samson stormed to the fields,

fiery foxes tying

by their tails, igniting corn,

until the crops were dying.


The Philistines burned Samson’s ‘wife’

in retaliation.

He took the jawbone of an ass;

displayed his indignation.


Twenty years passed and he

the role of Judge enacted,

but, like a moth to candle flames,

was fatally attracted


to a harlot (spied upon) –

a honey trap, or bait.

Gazites lay in wait for him.

He made off with the gate


and posts, which held the city wall.

He carried them to Hebron.

Enough of whores: he fell in love,

exhibiting his brawn,


but not his brain.  Delilah (bribed)

to find his secret strength,

determined, showing greed and pique,

to go to any length


until he was unwise and told

how he eschewed a razor.

And, when his hair was shorn away,

his weakness did amaze her.


The Spirit of the Lord had left

and Samson, unaware,

had eyes gouged out; was bound with chains

now that he’d lost his hair.


A trophy, he would grind the corn,

till Dagon’s feast came round

and then, for sport, they hauled him out-

still bloodied, beaten, bound.


Two pillars served as a support,

to lean against the stone,

but hair had grown; his strength returned –

he gave a mighty groan.


O let me die with Philistines,

he prayed.  Thy will be done.

He brought the house down literally

and killed them – every one.


They buried him beside Manoah.

A Deliverer he’d become,

achieving more in death than life,

foreshadowing God’s son.