The Samson Mosaic

Archaeologists digging in a synagogue in the Jewish village of Huqoq have discovered a mosaic depicting Samson tying torches to foxes’ tails in order to burn his enemies’ crops.

Below is an excerpt from an article describing the discovery. The article was published by Live Science:

The mosaic, which is incomplete, depicts several scenes. In one, two female faces flank a Hebrew inscription about rewards for people who perform good deeds. In the other, Samson, of the biblical story Samson and Delilah, ties torches to pairs of foxes, an event described in the Book of Judges in both the Christian and Hebrew Bibles. As the story goes, Samson falls in love with a woman of Philistine origin, a people who ruled the city-states of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath in the ancient Middle East. The Philistines are depicted as enemies of the Israelis in the Bible.

At his wedding feast with his Philistine bride, Samson taunts the Philistine groomsmen with a riddle they cannot possibly answer. When his bride begs Samson for the solution and passes it on to her kinsmen, he kills 30 men from Askelon in a rage. When he returns home, he finds that his bride has been given to someone else. In revenge, Samson gathers pairs of foxes and ties their tails together with torches between them. He then looses 300 of the animals on the Philistines’ fields, destroying their crops.

Archeologists have released photos of two other mosaics found in the synagogue. One mosaic depicts a female face. The other mosaic shows an inscription about rewards for those who do good deeds. Archaeologists have not yet released photos of the Samson mosaic.

You can see photo of the mosaics by visiting Live Science online.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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