Saturday, March 14, 2009
I have Just finished illustrating a picture of Samson from Judges chapter 16 for our upcoming Bible. Most children's Bibles show Samson in the process of pushing over the two key pillars that supported this vast temple, so I thought that I would depict the scene that led up to this event instead. Incidentally, if you are interested to read about Samson's physique, we have discussed this before in the 'Was Samson Muscular?' post.
In the picture above you can see Samson being taunted by the Philistines. From reading the text in Judges 16 it does sound like this scene is taking place in a building dedicated to the worship of Dagon. Dagon appears to be either a god of grain and agriculture or a fish god, (half man, half fish). I decided to go for the latter and based the stone statue in the background on ancient stone carvings thought to be of Dagon. In 1 Samuel chapter 5, we read about when the Ark of the Covenant had been captured and was placed by the Philistines before the statue of Dagon. When the statue fell prostrate before the Ark for the second time, we read that both its head and hands were broken off. No mention of legs, which might give credence to the fish god theory. This might be interesting to discuss further.
At the bottom right of the picture you can see one of the priests of Dagon. He is wearing the fish-head mitre and cape as depicted on ancient carvings showing the priests of Dagon.
Incidentally, and while on the subject of fish, we are in the Jewish month of Adar. The month of Adar has a sign which is the fish! The reason for this is that traditionally this is the month that the fish in Israel spawn. The Hebrew word for fish is 'dag'. (I thought you might find that interesting!) Anyway, back to the story.
Samson was blinded and bound with fetters of brass. This was a common punishment used also by the Babylonians, Assyrians and Persians. We read in 2 Kings 25:7 that Zedekiah was punished in the same way. There are a pair of ancient bronze fetters in the British Museum that were found in Ninevah. I would describe them as a sixteen inch brass rod with a two pronged fork at each end. These two prongs were hammered around the ankles of the prisoner allowing only short steps to be taken. The chains that I have illustrated around Samson's wrists are not mentioned!
At the bottom left of the picture you can see a Philistine soldier wearing the feathered helmet depicted on the ancient carvings in the temple of Ramesses III.
Samson is stood at the central point of the temple between two of the load bearing pillars. The light coming from above is from a large central opening in the roof above. The reason that I believe that there was a large central opening in the roof is that the text suggests that the three thousand people stood on the roof were able to see Samson being taunted. It makes sense that if two of these load bearing pillars that lined this central opening were toppled how the entire building would collapse. If you look through the arches at the back of the picture you can see that the temple is built on high ground. Buildings used for the worship of pagan deities were always built on high ground as this was thought to be nearer to the heavens where their gods dwelt. These are referred to in the Bible as the 'High places'.
Delilah is stood in the shadows under the arches and next to the stairs which led to the roof. As always, I look forward to your comments.
'Was Samson Muscular?'