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Samson was one of those men who was endowed from his birth with extraordinary qualities for the public service. His parents were informed of his honourable destiny before he was born, by a special message from Heaven, and commanded to "let no razor come upon his head, for he should be a Nazarite of God."

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MRS. M. The denomination is from a word which signifies, to separate. In the sixth chapter of Numbers you will see the law of Moses for the government of a Nazarite, or a person who had consecrated himself to the performance of a religious vow. Amongst other rituals to be observed, by his class, he was not to cut his hair until the days of his vow were fulfilled. Samson was devoted by God himself all the days of his life, therefore his hair was never to be shorn.

The Israelites were at this time in subjection to the Philistines,* descendants of Ham the son of Noah, who had emigrated from Egypt, and now possessed a strip of country along the Mediterranean, divided into five principalities, called Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron. The tribe of Dan, to which Manoah the father of Samson belonged, lay adjacent to Philistia. Possessing, as yet, but a part of the inheritance which had been allotted to them, and too much confined for their population in that which they occupied, they had lately sent an expedition against a place called Laish, routed the inhabitants, repaired the city, and given it the name of Dan. Their camp

* Palestine, one of the appellations of the land of Canaan, was derived from this people, and appears to have been as ancient as the days of Moses, (See Exodus, 15. 14.) but not much used until more modern times.

yet remained, and thither Samson, as he grew up, was accustomed to resort and display his uncommon strength in feats of activity. About his twentieth year, in one of his rambles, he fell in love with a beautiful woman of Timnath, a city of Gath, and entreated his parents to obtain her for him in marriage. They objected, that she was the daughter of an enemy, and advised him rather to seek a wife amongst his own people; but unable to divert his unhallowed passion, they consented to accompany him to make the treaty. On the way to Timnath he attacked à young lion, and slew him as easily as he would have killed a kid. His father and mother being at some distance on the journey, did not witness this exploit, nor did he relate it to any one. Some time after, when he went to receive his bride, he found a swarm of bees in the carcass of the lion, and ate of the honey they had made. From this incident he contrived a riddle for the entertainment of the wedding guests, and to thirty young men amongst them especially, he offered each a change of garments if they should expound it, and if they failed, thirty changes should be given to him. "Out of the eater," said he, 66 came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." The seven days* of festivity were spent in unavailing endeavours to discover Samson's riddle, but the secret which their wit could not penetrate, was betrayed by the bride, whom the young men had entangled by the specious reproach of having invited them to a feast in order to defraud them of their goods, and at last, terrified with the threat of burning her, with all her father's house, unless she prevailed with her husband to explain his riddle to her.

See Leah's week, ante,

-She too had her irresistible plea-" thou dost not love me," said she weeping, when weaker arguments had assailed him without effect. This was not to be resisted! his contest with the lion was confided to his wife, and her countrymen were soon enabled to meet him exultingly with the solution-" what is sweeter than honey, and what is stronger than a lion ?”

The base manner in which the young Philistines had obtained the forfeit, might have exonerated the abused husband from his obligation, but the opportunity of giving them an earnest of his powers, was not to be neglected-he therefore went down to Ashkelon, and procured the thirty garments, by slaying thirty Philistines. Thus the illegal marriage of Samson, so inauspicious in the eyes of his family, prepared the way for the emancipation of Israel. Disgusted, however, by the perfidy of his wife, he left her, and returned for a time to his father's house. Absence, in a few months, mollified his resentment, and returning love brought him back with a conciliating present in his hand, to his fair wife, but resentment, was rekindled, and encreased into rage, when he found her in the possession of his friend! In vain her father excused himself, on the supposition of her having been entirely abandoned by Samson, and offered him a younger daughter, still more beautiful than she. Deaf to all overtures of accommodation, the injured husband flew to avenge himself on the Philistines, whose artifices had destroyed his domestic peace. Three hundred foxes were soon collected by Samson, which, after tying them in pairs, and attaching a firebrand to each pair, he let loose in their fields and vineyards, and laid the whole in ruin!

There was no difficulty in laying the mischief at the door

of the mighty Samson: he alone could have achieved it! and the unhappy Timnite and his daughter, whose fatal charms had brought the destroyer amongst them, became the victims of their fury-they set fire to his house and suffered them both to perish in the flames! Exasperated anew by the total loss of his wife, and the barbarous manner in which it had been effected, Samson turned upon them and slew a great number of men.

Either satisfied with the vengeance he had taken, or not fully assured of his ability to defend himself against a multitude, the champion of Israel now retired to a district of Judah, and took up his abode on the summit of a great rock. His departure, however, did not allay the apprehensions of the Philistines; they had sadly experienced his power, and knew not how soon, or in what quarter it might again assail them. His destruction, therefore, was a common cause, and to this determined end, a body of men marched into Judah, and demanded the devoted hero.

CHARLES. But I hope his countrymen refused to deliver him into their hands?

MRS. M. The Israelites were at this time in that spiritless condition into which they always sank, when for their sins Jehovah withdrew his sustaining arm. Smarting under the domination of strangers, and in Judah particularly exposed by their local situation to incursions from their tyrants, whom they now saw encamped in the very heart of their territory, they ventured not to refuse, but submissively despatched 3000 men to bring Samson from his fortress. Yet not knowing that he was inspired for the sake of his oppressed country, they expostulated with him on the folly of using an accidental superiority to the ultimate injury of his own people, and told him plainly, that

they must consult their own safety by surrendering him. Samson knew what he might expect from the rage of the Philistines, but trusting that he should be assisted as heretofore, he desired only that he might not be provoked by any personal violence from his brethren, to injure them; and submitted to be bound and conducted to Lẹhi, the station of his pursuers. Acclamations of unbounded triumph announced his approach to the camp: but when they came forward to lay hold on him, he suddenly burst the strong cords which confined his hands, and seizing the jaw bone of an ass, perhaps the only weapon within his reach, the death of a thousand men attested that God had not forgotten his chastened people! And that Samson, fainting and ready to die with thirst after the prodigious exertion of his strength, might know to whom his deliverance was to be ascribed, a miraculous supply of water restored him to his wonted strength!

Gaza, in the south of Philistia, was the scene of his next exploit. Attracted again by female beauty, Samson was passing the night in Gaza; but whilst the citizens were exulting that they now had the great scourge of their country imprisoned within their walls, he arose at midnight, and departed with the ponderous gates of the city upon his shoulders!

The Philistines now perceived that every attempt to subdue the invincible Samson by physical means, availed them nothing. Their only hope remained in discovering the manner in which he might be successfully assailed-a secret impe-netrable to them, but known, as they believed, to himself.

Another attachment to a fascinating woman afforded the fatal opportunity. Samson, though gifted by the supreme Governor of Israel with extraordinary abilities for the re

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