“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.
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
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.