An Ancient 11th C BC Seal Depicting Sampson? And What To Make Of His Story Anyhow?

Sampson is renowned for his strength as well as his lust for a non-believing (well, technically, false-believing) woman in the Book of Judges.  There is much to his story that is quite amazing, in terms of his physical strength.

Archaeologists have recently uncovered an ancient seal that dates from around Sampson’s time, which depicts a man struggling with a lion with his bare hands (the way in which Sampson killed a lion, according to the story).

Now, when you go to this link and read the article, bear a few things in mind.  First, we cannot “prove” it is Sampson on the seal, as the article does note.  After all, it is possible the seal depicts a “proto-Sampson,” someone after whom the Sampson story was patterned.  I think, though, it is Sampson, if that is what the seal depicts.  I see no reason to presume that just because some things about Sampson became legendary, there must have been a pre-Sampson precursor.

One of the important aspects to all of this, which the article does not address (since that would steer it in a different direction, after all) is to what degree we should interpret the Sampson narrative literally.  I don’t know to what degree I’ve taken on biblical interpretation yet on Red River Orthodox, so I would suggest reading the first few entries of the Church History Series 1.  I do cover it there.  For Orthodox Christians, the important thing is that the text refer to Jesus the Christ, the Crucified and Risen One, on the assumption that there is one God, the Father, who reveals his Son/Word and Spirit/Breath.  If we keep that in mind, then we’ll see that what matters in the Sampson story, is not whether he literally lost his physical strength by having his hair cut (though that’s possible), but that when one is dedicated to God (he was to keep away from alcohol and not cut his hair), one should not give oneself over to someone who does not.  Notice, Sampson was not trying to convert Delilah (nor does it seem that he was that interested in converting his wife earlier in the story–his wife having died before Sampson met Delilah).  Although in the story God used Sampson to begin breaking the power of the Philistines, Sampson had given himself over to someone and placed his loyalty to Delilah over that to God.  So, too, when it comes to our loyalty with Christ, he is above all.  We should not forsake him for someone or something else.  For if we are truly in communion with Christ, we will be properly related to all those around us.