(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
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’
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.