The Revenge of Samson & Samson and the Philistines


1. Tell Abu al Kharaz New Finds from ‘Sea People’ Settlement.
Tell Abu al-Kharaz: New Finds from ‘Sea People’ Settlement.
Tell Abu al-Kharaz is located in the Jordan Valley close to the border to Israel and the West Bank.

It most likely corresponds to the biblical city of Jabesh Gilead.

The Swedish Jordan Expedition has explored the city, which was founded 3200 B.C. and lasted for almost 5 000 years.

The first excavation took place in 1989 and the most recent in autumn 2013.

All in all, 16 excavations have been completed.

Peter M. Fischer and his team of archaeologists and students have surveyed an urban settlement that flourished three times over the 5 000 years: * around 3100–2900 B.C. (Early Bronze Age),

* 1600–1300 B.C. (Late Bronze Age) and

* 1100–700 B.C. (Iron Age).

These are the local periods; in Sweden, they occurred much later.

Remarkably well-preserved stone structures have been exposed during the excavations.

The finds include defensive walls, buildings and thousands of complete objects produced locally or imported from south-east Europe.

“What surprises me the most is that we have found so many objects from far away.

This shows that people were very mobile already thousands of years ago,” says Fischer.

The scientists have made several sensational finds in the last three years, especially during the excavation of the building from 1100 B.C. where containers still filled with various seeds were found.

There are also finds from Middle Egypt that were exported to Tell Abu al-Kharaz as early as 3100 B.C.

The exploration of the 60-meter long building discovered in 2010 continued during the most recent excavation.

It was originally built in two levels of which the bottom level is still standing with walls reaching 2.5 meters in height after more than 3 000 years.

The archaeologists found evidence indicating that the Philistines who lived in the building together with local people around 1100 B.C. utilized a defense structure from 3 000 B.C. in the form of an old city wall by constructing their building on top of it.

In this way, they had both easy access to building material and a solid surface to build on.

“One of our conclusions after the excavation is that “Jordanian culture” is clearly a Mediterranean culture even though the country does not border the Mediterranean Sea.

There were well-organized societies in the area long before the Egyptian pyramids were built,” says Peter M. Fischer.

The excavations in Tell Abu al-Kharaz are funded mainly by the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.

Only about 20% of the city has been exposed so far, and in some places just the top layers.

The Swedish Jordan Expedition 2013 consisted of professional archaeologists and students from Sweden, Austria, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Switzerland and Jordan.

“But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber.  But her father would not suffer him to go in.  

And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she?  Take her, I pray thee, instead of her. 

And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.

2. Medinet Habu Luxor Egypt
Representation of Sea People and Philistines from the Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt.
Philistines, also known asThe Sea People,”

throughout their long history the Philistines have been closely associated with God’s chosen people, Israel.

Even to this day the people who live in the area around Gaza, one of the ancient cities of the Philistines, have an extremely stormy relationship with the State of Israel.

The Philistines are mostly remember by two accounts: that of Samson and Delilah and David and Goliath.

So far as the Biblical account is concerned, the Philistines are mentioned in the time of the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – although their origins can be traced back to the ‘sea peoples’ originating from the Aegean Sea area (now part of Greece).

Even today the name ‘Philistine’ is used to describe a person who is ignorant of the arts and culture, though the reasons why this is the case are less easy to trace.

We are concerned more with the Philistines in their place in the Bible, because, as we hope to show, they still have an important part to play in God’s purpose with the nations.

And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. 

And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.

Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this?  And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion.  And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire. 

And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.

And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam. 

Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi. 

And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us?  And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us. 

Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? What is this that thou hast done unto us?  And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.

And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines.  And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves. 

And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand: but surely we will not kill thee.  And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock.

And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. 

And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith. 

And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramath-lehi. 

And he was sore athirst, and called on the LORD, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?

But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof En-hakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day. 

And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years” (Jdg 15:1-20).

Samson and the Philistines

3. Samson Slaying a Philistine about 1562 Giambologna
Samson Slaying a Philistine, about 1562, Giambologna (1529-1608).
Archaeologists Find Cultural Connections With Europe In Ancient Jordanian Settlement,
January 24, 2014.

Swedish archaeologists in Jordan led by Professor Peter M. Fischer from the University of Gothenburg have excavated a nearly 60-metre long well-preserved building from 1100 B.C. in the ancient settlement Tell Abu al-Kharaz. The building is from an era characterized by major migration.

New finds support the theory that groups of the so-called Sea Peoples (Philistines) emigrated to Tell Abu al-Kharaz.

They derive from Southern or Eastern Europe and settled in the Eastern Mediterranean region all the way to the Jordan Valley.

“We have evidence that culture from present Europe is represented in Tell Abu al-Kharaz. A group of the Sea Peoples of European descent, Philistines, settled down in the city,” says Peter Fischer.

“We have, for instance, found pottery resembling corresponding items from Greece and Cyprus in terms of form and decoration, and also cylindrical loom weights for textile production that could be found in central and south-east Europe around the same time.”

As the Philistines expanded their territory into the Shephelah, conflict with Israel was inevitable. The tribes of Dan and Judah claimed portions of these rolling hills and the strategic wadis that led up into the heart of Judah.  

The Samson stories portray the struggles between Philistines and Israelites for control of the Shephelah.

Samson was a Danite born at Zorah in the hills flanking the eastern Sorek Valley He married a Philistine  woman from nearby Timnah and later fell in love with Delilah, who came from the same area.  

Betrayed in love, Samson exacted his revenge against the Philistines by slaying thirty men of Ashkelon and setting afire the grain fields surrounding Timnah. 

Although the treachery of Delilah brought him into the hands of his enemies, his famous strength returned a final time to bring the walls of Dagon’s temple crashing down upon the citizens of Gaza.

But Samson’s deeds failed to relieve Philistine pressure upon Dan.  The tribe abandoned its original allotment and migrated north in search of new land. 

Philistine power reached its peak in the mid-eleventh century as they continued to oppress Israel.  Philistine remains at Tell Zeror, Megiddo, Beth-shan, and numerous sites in the Shephelah (Timnah, Lachish, and Beth-shemesh) indicate the scope of the threat posed to Israel.   

The Philistine lords were capable military rulers who coordinated their strategy carefully.  The Philistine army with its chariots, archers, horsemen, and infantry was superior to Israel’s military forces.  

First Samuel 13:19-20 implies that the Philistines maintained a monopoly on  sharpening metal tools, thereby hindering the Israelites from obtaining weapons.




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