The Bible’s Tough Guy Heroes
Samson seized the lion and tore it in pieces. Judges 14.6 (Painting by C.E.Brock)
In considering the events that have caused me to write the previous papers ‘Doves and Serpents’ and ‘Witches’, it has been increasingly obvious to me that my personality has changed irrevocably as a direct result of my consequential experiences. I am now a much more resilient and hard-nosed individual, no longer being prepared to be ‘short-changed’ or treated as second-best by the overtly less righteous half of mankind. It has also been noted by me now that pretty much all my brothers in The Fourth True Christian Church of the Lords’ Witnesses have all been suffering in one way or another over recent times, and in some cases for a little longer. Our church president Gordon, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a couple of years ago; brother Frank has kidney failure and has to go on a dialysis machine every other day; brother Ian has issues with HMG social services persecution; brother Dave has housing and finance issues and recently had a health scare which, interestingly enough, he claims has toughened him up psychologically; brother Mike’s financial issues and Brother Alan's difficulty in finding work in his specialist field to name but a few.
It seems odd perhaps that those ones that, at least in my understanding, are carrying our Lords’ torch in this world by representing the one true church, are being made or allowed to suffer some of the various ills that this world has to offer. Or maybe it is not so odd on reflection! I have certainly been toughened up mentally as a result of my recent experiences and I am certain the same is true for my brothers in Christ. Why is this occurring now, particularly since in the main we have enjoyed relatively comfortable lives until recent times? Are we being prepared for the trials and tribulations to come upon mankind to enable us to provide the leadership and strength of character to rise above all the chaos that will ensue? And if so, why is this happening at this time? Could it be that the end-times are now so imminent as we have been predicting (incorrectly thus far I must admit)? In concert with these end-times predictions there are a number of iconoclastic finance experts who are predicting a global stock market melt-down in the northern hemisphere’s spring of 2016. The signs are already there with the early 2016 closure of the Chinese stock market due to its heavy stock price falls. And we all know what that will eventually lead to: financial chaos, armed conflict and essential commodity shortages on a global scale. A scenario ripe for mankind’s final destruction of the planet!
It is in this light that I started to consider the potential similarities between the bible heroes of ancient times with those yet to rise with God’s Word above all the godlessness to be fully exposed in mankind’s near future. So let us look at some of those heroes of old and the strength of character they needed to fulfil God’s requirements of them in times past as told through the Holy Scriptures.
According to Wikipedia, Jehu (Hebrew: יֵהוּא, meaning "Jehovah is He", was the tenth king of Israel since Jeroboam I and is noted for exterminating the house of Ahab at the instruction of Yahweh. He was the son of Jehoshaphat and grandson of Nimshi. Whilst not one of the best known of the bible heroes, let us have a look into some of the exploits of Jehu as described in the Old Testament scriptures and see what we make of the ‘tough guy’ image that other bible commentators have given him:
5 And [he] came in; and, behold, the army commanders [were] sitting. And he said, I have a word to you, O commander. And Jehu said, To which of all of us? And he said, To you, O commander.
6 And he rose up and came into the house, and poured the oil on his head, and said to him, So says Jehovah, the God of Israel, I have anointed you as king to the people of Jehovah, to Israel.
7 And you shall strike the house of your lord Ahab, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of Jehovah from the hand of Jezebel.
8 And all the house of Ahab shall perish. Yea, I have cut off to Ahab those who urinate against the wall, both bound and free in Israel. (2 Kings 9 GLT)
Well these first four verses set Jehu up from the very start as a king of Israel blessed by God and given the express job by God of destroying His then enemy of the day, Ahab and all the male members of his house. All this is described in angrily graphic terms, particularly the ‘male members’ bit since girlies cannot urinate against a wall (at least last time I looked)! So before we even begin to look at Jehu’s forthcoming activities, we can see that he has been expressly blessed in his prospective royal heritage and selected by God for this bloody commission. Well things are certainly boding well for confirming Jehu’s ‘tough guy’ status, since I am sure that God knew Jehu’s personal qualities before he was born! We must remember that, at least in this case, any such ‘tough guy’ status is clearly directed and sanctioned by God and is not just adopted by Jehu as a personal preference for his life style! So let us continue to see if Jehu actually fulfilled God’s requirements of him:
20 And the watchman spoke, saying, He came to them, and he has not returned. And the driving [is] like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives madly.
21 And Jehoram said, Harness up! And his chariot was harnessed. And Jehoram the king of Israel and Ahaziah the king of Judah went out, each in his chariot. And they went out to meet Jehu, and found him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite.
22 And it happened, when Jehoram saw Jehu, he said, Peace, Jehu? And he said, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of your mother Jezebel and her sorceries [are so] many?
23 And Jehoram turned his hands and fled, and said to Ahaziah, Treachery, O Ahaziah!
24 And Jehu filled his hand with a bow and struck Jehoram between his arms. And the arrow went out from his heart. And he sank down in his chariot. (2 Kings 9 GLT)
The above section of scripture tells us much about Jehu’s ‘tough guy’ image before we need to go any further. I have included verse 20 since it states that Jehu is a mad chariot driver which, I think, sets him up as an early day version of Vin Diesel in ‘Fast and Furious’! Adding further to that persona, Jehu is totally in Jehoram’s face, the then current king of Israel, in telling him exactly what he thinks of the latter’s mother, Jezebel, causing the king to flee from him. And finally, not just being content with managing God’s requirements as a prospective leader of the nation of Israel, he then kills the current king himself without looking to his army to assist in the matter. What an aggressive way to look to be the next king of Israel! Yeah, I am sure that Vin Diesel would be typecast in the role of Jehu in his next starring role should they make a movie about Jezebel and her friends (and enemies)!!
30 And Jehu came to Jezreel. And Jezebel had heard, and had painted her eyes and adorned her head, and looked down through the window.
31 And Jehu came to the gate. And she said, [Was it] peace [to] Zimri the slayer of his lord?
32 And he lifted his face to the window, and said, Who [is] with me? Who? And two [or] three eunuchs looked down to him.
33 And he said, Throw her down! And they threw her down. And some of her blood was splashed on the wall, and on the horses. And he trampled her.
34 And he came in and ate and drank, and said, Now look after this cursed [woman] and bury her, for she is a king's daughter.
35 And they went to bury her, but did not find [any] of her except the skull, and the feet, and the palms of the hands. (2 Kings 9 GLT)
And so we have a little more of the same. Whilst he did not kill Jezebel by his own hand (perhaps it was considered unmanly to kill a woman which is perhaps why he required the services of the eunuchs?) he certainly ordered her messy execution and added to her disgrace by trampling her remains under his horses. A pretty bloodthirsty choice of action since there clearly was not much of her left by the time Jehu had finished. Oh yes and none of this put Jehu off his food since he went off to dine and drink immediately after these events.
These scriptures are seeming to be at particular pains to describe Jehu as a ‘tough guy’. It is almost as if they have been sitting waiting several thousand years for yours truly to turn up to write this paper with Jehu being the first such character for me to examine! It's a little scary and not the first time this has happened, from my perspective, sending a shiver down my spine!!
And now we have Jehu’s treatment of the Jewish servants of Baal to feast upon:
11 And Jehu killed all those left to the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and his great men, and his friends, and his priests, until he did not leave a survivor to him.
12 And he rose up and came in, and went to Samaria. He [was at] the shepherds' shearing house in the way.
13 And Jehu met the brothers of Ahaziah the king of Judah, and said, Who [are] you? And they said, We [are] brothers of Ahaziah, and we are going down to [ask] the welfare of the sons of the king, and the sons of the queen.
14 And he said, Capture them alive! And they captured them alive, and killed them at the pit of the shearing house, forty men. And he did not leave a man of them.
15 And he left there and found Jehonadab the son of Rechab [coming] to meet him, and [he] blessed him. And [he] said to him, [Is] your heart right, as my heart [is] with your heart? And Jehonadab said, It is. If it is, give your hand. And he gave his hand, and he made him come up to him into the chariot.
16 And [he] said, Come with me and see my zeal for Jehovah. And they made him ride in the chariot.
17 And he came to Samaria and killed all those left of Ahab in Samaria, until he had destroyed him, according to the Word of Jehovah that He spoke to Elijah.
18 And Jehu gathered all the people and said to them, Ahab served Baal a little; Jehu shall serve him much.
19 And now call to me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests. Do not let a man be lacking, for I shall have a great sacrifice to Baal. Anyone who is lacking, he shall not live. And Jehu was acting with cunning in order to destroy the servants of Baal.
20 And Jehu said, Separate an assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed [it].
21 And Jehu sent to all Israel, and all the servants of Baal came in. And there [was] not a man left who did not come in. And they came into the house of Baal, and the house of Baal was full from mouth to mouth.
22 And he said to the [one] over the wardrobe, Bring out garments to all the servants of Baal. And he brought out the garments to them.
23 And Jehu and Jehonadab the son of Rechab went in to the house of Baal and said to the servants of Baal, Search and see that there [are] none of the servants of Jehovah here with you; but only the servants of Baal.
24 And they came in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings. And Jehu had set for himself eighty men on the outside. And [he] said, The man who lets any of the men escape whom I am bringing into your hands, his life for the life of him.
25 And it happened, when he finished offering the burnt offering, Jehu said to the runners and the third officers, Go in, strike them. Do not let any man come out. And they struck them by the edge of the sword. And the runners and the third officers threw [them] out. And they went into the city to the house of Baal, (2 Kings 10 GLT)
I apologise for the above lengthy bible text but I have to confess to finding it difficult to decide which of the above verses to leave out. So I left them all in, since there are several points that are worth making throughout the whole text:
Finally to wrap up the exploits of Jehu, I think the following two verses are quite telling:
30 And Jehovah said to Jehu, Because you have done well, to do the right in my eyes, and you have done to the house of Ahab according to all that [was] in My heart, the sons of the fourth [generation] shall sit for you on the throne of Israel.
31 And Jehu did not take heed to walk in the Law of Jehovah, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, who caused Israel to sin. (2 Kings 10 GLT)
God was clearly well pleased with the blood-thirsty manner in which Jehu had carried out His commission. God had certainly picked the right man for the job. However, when it came to the less violent job of ruling over Israel in peacetime, this would not appear to have been Jehu’s strongest suit. So, to my mind, Jehu appears to have been the perfect ‘tough guy’ with little or no skills on the gentler side of life. Well there goes my nice guy image as a man of God! Is this the lesson God is at such great pains to teach me I wonder?
Ehud the Left-Handed
Wow, after researching one of the bible’s lesser known characters and coming out with such a result I thought I would try my hand at another lesser known and, this time, little wrote about biblical tough guy. I do not think there is much for me to add to the short but not so sweet verses on this tough guy hero. He was an assassin sought out by God for one very specific high visibility killing which he performed with great calm and efficiency. The killing is described in graphic detail, amongst other things, to inform us of Ehud’s character albeit under God’s instruction. I think the scriptures speak clearly for themselves and, whilst they do not wax lyrical about him in the way they do about Jehu, I think Ehud certainly ranks official Biblical Tough Guy status. Bear in mind the following are pretty much the only scriptures in the bible on this character:
15 And the sons of Israel cried to Jehovah, even Jehovah raised up a deliverer to them, Ehud the son of Gera, a son of the Benjamite, a man with his right hand impeded. And the sons of Israel sent a present by his hand to Eglon the king of Moab.
16 And Ehud made a sword for himself, and it [had] two edges, a cubit in length. And he girded it under his long robe, on his right thigh.
17 And he brought the present to Eglon the king of Moab; and Eglon was a very fat man.
18 And it happened, when he had finished offering the present, he sent away the people, the bearers of the present.
19 And he himself turned back from the carved images at Gilgal, and said, I have a secret word for you, O king. And he said, Be silent! And all those standing beside him went out from him.
20 And Ehud came to him. And he was sitting by himself [in] the cool roof room which was his. And Ehud said, I have a word from God to you. And he rose out of his seat.
21 And Ehud put out his left hand and took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into [Eglon's] belly.
22 And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed on the blade; for he did not draw the sword out of his belly. And it came out behind.
23 Then Ehud went out to the porch, and shut the doors of the roof room on him, and locked them. (Judges 3 GLT)
Ehud then went on to govern Israel with an iron (left) hand, after destroying the Moabites, until his death when things went to pot again:
26 And Ehud escaped while they waited. And [he] had passed by the images, and had slipped away to Seirath.
27 And it happened, when he had come, he blew a horn in the hills of Ephraim. And the sons of Israel came down with him from the hills, and he before them.
28 And he said to them, Follow me, for Jehovah has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him and took the fords of the Jordan against the Moabites. And [they] did not allow a man to pass over.
29 And they struck about ten thousand men of Moab at that time, every lusty man, all mighty men. And not a man escaped.
30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest eighty years. (Judges 3 GLT)
1 And the sons of Israel did evil again in the sight of Jehovah when Ehud was dead. (Judges 4 GLT)
Well a pleasant chap he was not but Ehud clearly carried out the will of God until his dying day and even in peacetime. Obviously a slightly more balanced tough guy than Jehu but clearly not someone you would want to cross!
Well not to be outdone by the guys we also have the tough gals as in Jael:
15 And Jehovah routed Sisera, and all the chariots, and all the army, by the mouth of the sword, before Barak. And Sisera came down from the chariot and fled on his feet.
16 And Barak pursued the chariots and [went] after the army, to Harosheth of the nations. And all the army of Sisera fell by the mouth of the sword; there was not even one left.
17 And Sisera fled on his feet to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. For [there was] peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.
18 And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, Turn aside, my lord; turn aside to me; do not fear. And he turned in to her into the tent; and she covered him with a rug.
19 And he said to her, Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty. And she opened a skin of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.
20 And he said to her, Stand [at] the door of the tent, and it shall be if anyone comes in and asks you, and says, Is there a man here? Then you shall say, There is not.
21 And Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and went to him quietly. And [she] drove the peg into his temple, and she beat it into the ground. And he had been fast asleep, and faint; and he died.
22 And, behold, as Barak followed Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking. And he came in to her, and, behold! Sisera had fallen dead [with] the peg in his temple.
23 And on that day God humbled Jabin the king of Canaan before the sons of Israel. (Judges 4 GLT)
Now while the scriptures do not explicitly state that Jael was carrying out a commission given her directly from God, she was clearly carrying out His will in destroying Sisera and his hordes. Even the archangel Michael sings her praises for her act of violence against Sisera. Praise does not come from any higher a level:
23 Curse Meroz, said the Angel of Jehovah; curse the [ones] living in it bitterly, because they did not come to the help of Jehovah, to the help of Jehovah against the warriors.
24 Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. She is blessed among women in the tent.
25 He asked for water; she gave [him] milk; in a lordly bowl she brought curd.
26 She put her hand to the tent peg, and her right hand to the workmen's hammer; and she hammered Sisera; she smashed his head; she struck through and pierced his temple. (Judges 5 GLT)
Her mention in the bible seems to be just as brief and bloodthirsty as does Ehud’s. While Jael is no Vin Diesel, I wonder if Angelina Jolie might accept the starring role in her next movie? So it would appear that, while tough guy status is largely a male province both in and outside the scriptures, it is certainly not a purely male preserve even in God’s eyes.
Tough guys can take on different forms and characteristics. God’s tough guys are certainly not type-cast in the same way that Hollywood’s are. Arguably the best known Old Testament prophet of God was Elijah. One might not normally consider him to be a tough guy at all, but he was prepared to put his very life in jeopardy in the service of the Lord. Surely this is the very stuff of brave heroes?
I suppose the best place to start with Elijah is to examine his credentials as a man of God. I think there is no better story to tell, on this topic, than his reviving of the dying son of the widow who had shown him much kindness in giving him food and shelter:
17 And it happened after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house became sick; and his illness was very severe until he had no breath left to him.
18 And she said to Elijah, What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to cause my iniquity to be remembered, and to cause my son to die?
19 And he said to her, Give me your son; and he took him out of her bosom, and caused him to go up into the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed.
20 And he cried to Jehovah and said, Jehovah my God, have You also brought evil on the widow with whom I am staying by slaying her son?
21 And he stretched himself on the child three times, and called to Jehovah and said, O Jehovah my God, I pray, let the soul of this boy return to him.
22 And Jehovah listened to the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the boy returned to him, and he lived.
23 And Elijah took the boy and brought him down from the upper room of the house, and gave him to his mother; and Elijah said, See your son lives!
24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now I know this, that you [are] a man of God, and the Word of Jehovah in your mouth [is] truth. (1 Kings 17 GLT)
This scripture truly demonstrates how close this prophet was to his creator; a healing ability to rival that of Jesus Christ himself was clearly within Elijah’s God–given powers! In point of fact Elijah was actually the archangel Gabriel ( The 5/6 earthly identities of Michael, Gabriel and Melchizedek), so we should not be in the least bit surprised at his healing abilities. Does this invalidate Elijah’s claim to be a biblical tough guy? I think not. What it does demonstrate, I think, is the strength of character and purpose required for such a station in life as we shall see as we expand on Elijah's tale.
Probably the best known of Elijah’s exploits was his sacrificial competition against the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. The first point in this tale is that he was unafraid to pit himself alone against the whole mass of 450 Baal plus 400 Asherah worshippers in the presence of all the peoples of Israel:
17 And it happened when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, [Are] you this one, this one destroying Israel?
18 And he answered, I have not disturbed Israel, but you and the house of your father, in that you have forsaken the commands of Jehovah, and you have gone after the Baals.
19 And now send, gather all Israel to me, to Mount Carmel and four hundred and fifty of the prophets of Baal, and four hundred of the prophets of the sacred pole, who eat at the table of Jezebel. (1 Kings 18 GLT)
After the abject but unsurprising failure of the prophets of Baal to encourage their god to light their burnt offering, it was clearly no big deal for Elijah to get Jehovah God to set his own burnt offering on fire:
36 And it happened at the offering of the sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, O Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known today that You [are] God in Israel, and I Your servant, that by Your Word I have done all these things.
37 Answer me, O Jehovah, answer me; and this people shall know that You [are] Jehovah God; and You shall turn their hearts back again.
38 And fire fell from Jehovah and burned up the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and the water in the trench [was] licked up.
39 And all the people saw, and fell on their faces, and said, Jehovah, He [is] the God; Jehovah, He [is] the God!
40 And Elijah said to them, Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let a man of them escape. And they caught them, and Elijah brought them down to the Kishon and killed them there. (1 Kings 18 GLT)
These scriptures demonstrate two things to me. Firstly Elijah’s blessed standing with God. Even in those days it was not going to be just anybody that would get God to openly demonstrate His powers to the masses. Secondly whilst it was clearly easy for God to carry out such an action of lighting up the bonfire, there was no offer from God to destroy the idol worshippers. This was left entirely up to Elijah to organise with the help of the people. It was as if God actually wanted Elijah to demonstrate his tough guy credentials. Perhaps this was God’s way of telling the people that His preference was for mankind to rule over himself but that it would need a strong pair of hands to carry out God’s wishes in this respect?
And what do the New Testament scriptures tell us of Elijah? Well for a start, as if to emphasise the importance of Elijah, his name is referred to in describing the coming of Christ. Not surprising I think since he was really the angel Gabriel (as indeed was John and Jeremiah):
14 And if you are willing to receive, he is Elijah, the [one] going to come. (Matthew 11 GLT)
14 And they said, Some [say] John the Baptist, and others Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. (Matthew 16 GLT)
Furthermore Elijah appeared with Moses at the transfiguration of Christ thereby marking out Elijah’s importance in God’s plan:
2 And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothing became white as the light.
3 And, behold! Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.
4 And answering, Peter said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here. If You desire, let us make three tents here, one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. (Matthew 17 GLT)
Christ Himself marks out Elijah as the necessary harbinger of His own coming:
10 And His disciples asked Him, saying, Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?
11 And answering, Jesus said to them, Elijah indeed comes first and shall restore all things.
12 But I say to you, Elijah already came, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they desired. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer by them. (Matthew 17 GLT)
So I guess my conclusion upon Elijah's tough guy credentials is that being a prophet and an angel is no bar to claiming that status as one's own.
Well, having spent some time looking at the less well known of the bible’s tough guys, let us take a look at probably the best known of the Old Testament Judges, Samson. Well scripture starts us off in the time-honoured fashion in telling us that Samson was expressly blessed by God:
24 And the woman bore a son, and called his name Samson. And the youth grew, and Jehovah blessed him. (Judges 13 GLT)
Samson’s choice of a Philistine woman appears to be a desire expressly planted in Samson’s mind so that He, Jehovah, could use His servant against their common enemy. I have to say that this gives me something of an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. This does not come within the permit of expressing free will in my book, although I suppose if God is going to give you His blessing before you start, I guess He does have some call on your thoughts and time?
3 And his father and his mother said to him, [Is there] not a woman among the daughters of your brothers, and among all my people, that you must go to take a woman from the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said to his father, Get her for me, for she pleases me very much.
4 And his father and his mother did not know that [it was] from Jehovah, that He [was] seeking an occasion against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines were ruling over Israel. (Judges 14 GLT)
This sounds a little familiar from my own personal point of view. I am now beginning to worry as to whether Jehovah Himself got me to marry a 'shiksa' and to what purpose!!
The first sign of Samson’s tough guy credentials is shown by his tearing a lion apart with his bare hands. Clearly he had the courage, aggression and physical strength to carry out this superhuman act:
5 And Samson and his father and his mother went down to Timnath. And they came to the vineyards of Timnath. And, behold, a young lion roaring to meet him.
6 And the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily on him. And he tore it as the cleaving of a kid. And there was nothing in his hand; and he did not tell his father and his mother what he had done. (Judges 14 GLT)
The first recorded mention of his killing a human being is surrounding what should have been the very trivial matter of the guessing of Samson’s riddle. On this pretext, and I can think it no more than that, God motivated Samson to kill thirty men of Ashkelon. Well these were Philistine menfolk and, I assume, that Samson killed them all by himself. We are certainly not told that he had any helpers. So this further act started to build Samson’s career as a mass serial killer of Philistines:
19 And the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him. And he went down to Ashkelon and struck thirty men of them, and took their plunder. And [he] gave the changes to those who told the riddle; and his anger glowed. And he went up to his father's house. (Judges 14 GLT)
Samuel’s next recorded exploit takes his reputation further with regard to the Philistines. This next tale involves Samson’s father-in-law’s giving his wife away to another, together with all the unintended consequences of this foolish act. We can see that God’s plan in getting Samson to marry the Philistine woman was starting to bear the fruit that He knew it would:
2 And her father said, I certainly said that hating you would hate her, and I gave her to your companion. [Is] not her sister, the young one, better than she? Please let her belong to you, instead of her.
3 And Samson said to them, This time I will be blameless regarding the Philistines, though I [am] doing evil with them.
4 And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned tail to tail, and put a torch between the two tails, in the middle.
5 And [he] kindled fire on the torches, and sent [them] out into the grain-stalks of the Philistines, and burned from the stacks and the grain-stalks, and to the vineyard [and] the oliveyard.
6 And the Philistines said, Who has done this? And they said, Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he took away his wife and gave her to his companion. And the Philistines went and burned her and her father with fire.
7 And Samson said to them, Though you do this, yet I shall be avenged on you; and afterwards I will stop.
8 And he struck them hip on thigh, a great slaughter, and went down and lived in the cleft of the rock Etam. (Judges 15 GLT)
Firstly Samson takes extreme umbrage at this act, not just with his father-in-law but with the whole Philistine nation it would appear. In retaliating he considers himself blameless for his act of burning the Philistine grain, olive and grape stocks and fields. Needless to say the Philistines blamed the father-in-law for setting them up with Samson’s wrath. Samson then appears to treat the murder of his father-in-law and wife as an act against himself and kills the lot of them. We are not certain how many we are looking at in this case but ‘a great number’ sounds like quite a crowd! As in the previous case for the riddle, it all seems to have got completely out of hand although, this time, it was at least started by an injudicious act on the part of the father-in-law. Again another pretext for Samson to kill more Philistines and continue building his tough guy reputation against them.
The next couple of verses are interesting because they represent Samson not taking aggressive action against a body of men even though they intended to treat him badly. This time, however, the men were from the tribe of Judah so did not merit his killing of them so long as they promised not to try to kill him by their own hands, which they did indeed promise. From what we have previously seen I have no doubt that Samson would have taken many of the three thousand with him should it have come to a fight. His treatment of the Judeans, who presented a true threat to his livelihood, was markedly different from that of any Philistines even on a pretext. Again the word from God in this regard was clearly implanted in his mind. He was only to kill Philistines, and this time one thousand single-handed!
11 And three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Do you not know that the Philistines [are] rulers over us? And what is this that you have done to us? And he said to them, As they did to me, so I did to them.
12 And they said to him, We have come down to bind you, to give you into the hands of the Philistines. And Samson said to them, Swear to me that you will not fall on me yourselves.
13 And they spoke to him, saying, No, but we will certainly bind you, and will give you into their hand. But we certainly will not cause you to die. And they bound him with two thick cords, new ones, and brought him up from the rock.
14 He came to Lehi, and the Philistines shouted to meet him, And the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him, and the thick cords which were on his arms were as flax which [they] burn with fire. And his bonds melted from his hands.
15 And he found a fresh jawbone of an ass, and put out his hand and took it. And [he] struck a thousand men with it.
16 And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, a heap, two heaps, with the jawbone of an ass I have killed a thousand men. (Judges 15 GLT)
Finally we come to that famous tale of Samson and his Philistine delight Delilah. This starts with her uncovering the fact that, as a Nazarite, Samson’s great strength came from the long hair on his head. This, to me, is a strange thing and can only be put down to some superhuman capability from God. This is no normal human power and God seems to have abandoned Samson along with his hair. Clearly Samson would not be a part that Vin Diesel would be able to carry off with any conviction:
17 that he told her all his heart, and said to her, No razor has come on my head, for I [am] a Nazarite to God from my mother's womb. If I were shaved, my strength would go away from me, and I would be weak, and be like any one of men.
18 And Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart. And she sent and called for the Philistine rulers, saying, Come, for this time he has told me all his heart. And the Philistine rulers came up to her, and brought the silver in their hand.
19 And she made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man, and had him shave seven braids of his head, and began to afflict him. And his strength departed from him.
20 And she said, Samson, the Philistines [are] upon you! And He awakened from his sleep, and said, I will go out and shake myself free as time after time. But he did not know that Jehovah had departed from him.
21 And the Philistines seized him, and bored out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. And they bound him with bands of bronze. And he was grinding in the house of prisoners. (Judges 16 GLT)
The Philistines needed no reminding of their numbers that Samson had killed in his heyday. But then, as we know, his hair grew again in prison along with his superhuman strength, something that the Philistines and their god Dagon were too stupid to have considered. In making sport of Samson they fell again straight into God's hands by collecting together in one building in great numbers. God was clearly back with Samson again and literally brought the house down on thousands of Philistines in his final act on this planet. In this one exercise he managed to kill more Philistines than he had throughout all his previous tough guy career:
22 But the hair of his head began to grow, for he had been shaved.
23 And the Philistine rulers gathered to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon, and to exult. And they said, Our god has given our enemy Samson into our hand.
24 And the people saw him, and praised their god. For they said, Our god has delivered our enemy into our hand, even the devastator of our land, who multiplied our wounded.
25 And it happened when their heart felt good, they said, Call for Samson, and he shall entertain us. And they called for Samson from the prison house. And he entertained them. And they made him stand between the pillars.
26 And Samson said to the young man grasping his hand, Let me alone, and let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean on them.
27 And the house was full of men and women, and all the Philistine rulers [were] there. And about three thousand men and women were on the roof watching Samson entertaining.
28 And Samson called to Jehovah, and said, O Lord Jehovah, remember me, I pray, and please make me strong only this time, O God. And I shall be avenged with one vengeance on the Philistines, because of my two eyes.
29 And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and on which it was supported; one with his right [hand], and one with his left.
30 And Samson said, Let my soul die with the Philistines! And he bowed mightily, and the house fell on the rulers, and on all the people who were in it. And the dead that he killed in his death were more than those he killed in his life. (Judges 16 GLT)
Thus ends the tale of the greatest tough guy in the bible! There are other obvious candidates such as David and Joshua but I think they would only go on to emphasise the points already made about some of the lesser known characters. But what about Job? Well if one were to describe him as a tough guy it would certainly be on a very different basis than the ones we have looked at thus far. I do not intend to analyse Job and his actions to any extent since the salient points are already covered in my earlier paper on Job (http://www.jewishlordswitness.com/job.html). However the question to consider is whether someone who is prepared to put up with extreme personal pain and grief to maintain his faith in God can be described as an (albeit rather different form of) tough guy. The previous examples could be described as offensive types of tough guy in that they took the fight to God's enemies; would it be valid to describe Job as a defensive type who accepted but resisted attacks from God's greatest enemy? Whilst he did not go round the country attacking and killing God’s enemies he was prepared to allow the fight to come to him direct from Satan himself and continue to defend his love of God. A different kind of tough guy perhaps but a tough guy in my eyes nonetheless!
On this basis then one could easily justify Jesus Christ Himself as the ultimate tough guy. Even though (or arguably even because) He was an angel He allowed Himself to be placed in human form in the knowledge that He would ultimately suffer an excruciatingly long and painful death on the cross as the Lamb of God. This He was prepared to do to give the whole human race the opportunity to seek salvation from their sins.
If we analyse the scriptures a little further though we find that Jesus was not just a mild-mannered super-hero accepting of pain and suffering in God’s cause. There was also an aggressive side to His character that shows itself on several occasions in the scriptures. The first such example is where Jesus’ anger is aimed at the Pharisees who put their religious rituals before the well-being of their disabled fellow man:
4 And He said to them, [Is it] lawful to do good on the sabbaths, or to do evil? To save a soul, or to kill? But they were silent.
5 And having looked around on them with anger, being greatly grieved over the hardness of their heart, He said to the man, Stretch out your hand! And he stretched out, and his hand was restored sound as the other.
6 And going out, the Pharisees at once took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him. (Mark 3 GLT)
This is then emphasised by Jesus’ tirade at these same ones of which this is one very small sample:
27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitened graves which outwardly indeed appear beautiful, but within are full of bones of [the] dead, and of all uncleanness.
28 So you also indeed outwardly appear righteous to men, but within are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23 GLT)
And then we have the famous scene where Jesus drives the money-changers out of the temple. Clearly he was highly displeased with them as we can tell from His actions and words to them:
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And entering into the temple, Jesus began to throw out those selling and buying in the temple; also He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling the doves.
16 And [He] did not allow any to carry a vessel through the temple.
17 And [He] taught, saying to them, Has it not been written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations." "But you have made it a den of plunderers."? [Isa. 56:7; Jer. 7:11] (Mark 11 GLT)
13 And the Passover of the Jews was near. And Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 And He found those selling oxen and sheep and doves in the temple, and the money changers sitting.
15 And making a whip out of ropes, He threw all out of the temple, both the sheep, and the oxen, and the money changers, pouring out the money and overturning the tables.
16 And to the ones selling the doves, He said, Take these things from here! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise. (John 2 GLT)
As if provided as an early warning we are told many years earlier in the Old Testament that one angers Jesus at one’s own peril:
12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish [from] the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Oh the blessings of all those who flee to Him for refuge! (Psalms 2 GLT)
There are also several scriptures where Jesus demonstrates his anger with Satan, firstly by his rebuking of His own disciple Peter and then by His accusation aimed at the Pharisees:
33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Go behind Me, Satan, because you do not mind the things of God, but the things of men. (Mark 8 GLT)
44 You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you desire to do. That one was a murderer from [the] beginning, and he has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks [a] lie, he speaks from [his] own, because he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8 GLT)
In this context it is worth remembering that Jesus was the archangel Michael who sung Jael's praises for her act of violence against Sisera. So Jesus certainly approved of acts of execution carried out in the name of Jehovah. No, Jesus was not just a meek and mild lamb of God; there was clearly another side to His character that demanded due praise be given to His Father.
How does this Tough Guys paper relate to the LWs current suffering? It seems to me that Jehovah God needs to rule over men (and angels) with a rod of iron to keep them on the side of righteousness. This He achieves with the various levels of Holy Spirit, the police forces that He empowers to ensure His will is carried out amongst His peoples in Heaven and on the Earth. During biblical times He also empowered specific individuals to enforce His will on Earth. Those ones either were already members of His Holy Spirit (e.g. Elijah aka Gabriel) or would no doubt become members after their physical death. So I see that the suffering of my brothers in Christ and I, whilst not at the level of suffering that the man on the Clapham omnibus would necessarily shed many tears over, has had the utilitarian function of toughening us up for the hard times to come when, as prospective members of the fourth Holy Spirit, we may be required to take appropriate tough guy action against God’s enemies here on planet earth during what I believe will be the imminent end-times. It is worth noting that our level of suffering has not been so great as to cause any traumatisation to speak of. Pain at that level would, I think, have proved counter-productive, in all probability, causing us to be totally ineffective in the required task at hand in the service of the Lord.
It is probably worth mentioning that I have had an illness whilst in the middle of writing this piece as if to emphasise the current relevance of my purpose in writing it. My illness has taken me out of my normal life pattern for a period of some two full calendar months and has been demonstrated to have been caused by one of my medications, a statin drug. Having carried out the appropriate research on the subject I now find my anger also aimed at big pharma and the medical profession as if to further extend my sphere of annoyance with the current system of things. These drugs are nothing short of toxins: I have suffered two weeks of withdrawal symptoms, after my main ailments subsided, having stopped taking the drug which, to my mind, puts them in the same category as most illegal substances. Also I now find I challenge the very premise on which these statins are so readily handed out: to reduce cholesterol. So what is wrong with cholesterol anyway? It is a fundamental cellular building block and thereby an essential element of human life. There is no such thing as ‘bad' cholesterol! The real culprit is refined sugar so Tate and Lyle and the rest of the sugar refining industry are now also included on my extensive and still rapidly expanding hit list! As evidence of my current views on the subject it is well worth visiting the following web-link for a professional opinion: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/10717431/Why-Ive-ditched-statins-for-good.html
I rest my case. I for one cannot wait for this system to end and the Kingdom of God to be established and I look forward to playing my tough guy role in it God willing! Amen!
As a late after-thought perhaps we are also being reminded of Lot's wife who looked back on her old life:
26 And his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19 GLT)
28 And likewise, as it was in the days of Lot, they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building;
29 but on [the] day Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from the heaven and destroyed all.
30 According to those things, it will be in the day the Son of Man is revealed.
31 In that day, [he] who will be on the housetop, let him not go down to take his goods [from] the house. And likewise, he in the field, let him not return to the things behind.
32 Remember Lot's wife.
33 Whoever seeks to save his life, [he] will lose it. And whoever will lose it, he will preserve it. (Luke 17 GLT)
Whilst there are many pleasant things in our lives today, it would seem that we are being hardened against the evil things that exist in the world that we live in. Perhaps it is this very hardening process that will help us to walk away from the current system of things and allow us to fully embrace what is on offer in the Kingdom to come. This will, hopefully, provide us with the protection we need to prevent us looking back on this world too fondly.
Interestingly I discovered some time after writing this paper that not only was I in the middle of a house move but also two of my brothers in Christ, Dave and Alan, were also in the throws of changing their accommodation arrangements. Since I do not believe in coincidences it seems to me that we are perhaps in the early stages of waving goodbye to our homes in this system and being prepared to take up residence in our new Kingdom locale. Only time will tell if world events occur swiftly enough in the near future prior to our respective house moves being completed in this system to confirm if my suspicions are correct or not.
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Jewish Lords' Witness