Judges Chapter 14
Fast forward and Samson is now a mature man of the times. His first recorded adventure takes place in Timnah town as Samson is looking for a wife. Timnah is spelled תמנתה, Thmnthha. This is translated equally as Thamnatha, Timnath and Timnah in various Bible versions. But what is interesting to a Literal Qabalist is not in this case the gematria, but its temurah. For after the letters are transposed, number 111 appears which hints something else. The number equals אפל, aphel, 'darkness, obscurity'. The suggestion here is that this might be Samson's initiation and first foray into his own dark side. Back home he gathers his parents for another trip to Timnah, but they object to his wanting a Philistine wife over his own people. Samson is adamant because, the author informs us in 14:4, his parents did not know that it was the Divine Fire within him urging him on, the very Fire surrounding his birth circumstance. The Fire within ushers us into seeming Darkness as into Light.
Moving along, Samson, with his parents, are back on the road to Timnah. Then, כפיר אריות, kfir arioth, 'a young lion' roared against him. These two Hebrew words in verse 5 create a bit of frustration for lay translators and Literal Qabalists alike. In all versions translated into English the phrase is rendered 'a young lion'. Yet in all Hebrew versions investigated the word for 'lion' is written as the above Hebrew, in the feminine plural form, 'lions'.1 Moreover the other Hebrew word, כפיר, kfir, means 'young lion' of itself, making the other, feminine plural form for 'lions' superfluous. This is frustrating to translators because being attacked by a 'pack' of young she-lions is quite different than the one young lion and most likely would have had a totally different result for our hero. The frustration for the Literal Qabalist, however, is the number within the letters. The singular form for lion in Hebrew is אריה, arieh. The sum of these letters is 216, and leads to some very intricate and esoteric Qabalah relevant to the whole story. The plural form contains a different number entirely which leads us nowhere. If there is anyone out there reading these words and has further information or conjecture as to what all this could mean, I would most appreciate being enlightened. Perhaps the plural form is merely an error from the very earliest Hebrew/Aramaic versions of the Old Testament or copied erroneously in later versions. I simply do not know.
In verse 8 the lion word appears again. This time, however, in its correct Hebrew singular form, אריה, arieh. This being the case let us continue the supposition with investigating numeral 216 within arieh.
Two key words conjuring associated ideas toward the Samson story add up to 216. One is גבורה, Geburah, the 5th sphere on the Tree of Life mentioned earlier. The title given Geburah in the Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom2 is שכל נשרש, Sakel Nesharash, the 'Radical Intelligence'. Qabalists teach that the Hebrew adjective “radical” assigned to the 5th Sephirah is derived from a noun meaning “a root.” Nesharash (radical) is an important Qabalistic word because its first three letters spell נשר, nasher, 'eagle', and its last three letters form the noun שרש, sharash, 'root'. In occult tradition, therefore, Qabalists say that the Radical Intelligence is the “Root of the Eagle.” What this means may be understood clearly if we know that the eagle is one symbol for the zodiacal sign Scorpio. Then, knowing that the 5th Sephirah on the Tree is also assigned the Sphere of Mars, we are reminded that planet Mars is said by astrologers to be the ruling planet of Scorpio (this was before the time Pluto was to assume rulership). Mars, or the Mars center3 in human personality, is that root. This force is closely connected with the feeling of personal will, the false 'free will'. It is also the basis of muscular tone. There are some psychologists of the Freudian school who would agree that flabby muscles and a weak will characterize the sexually incontinent, theoretically. Medically speaking these are characteristic also of persons suffering from deficiency of the internal secretions of the gonads. In this connection Qabalists teach that the name Geburah, given to the 5th Sephirah, is from a Hebrew adjective signifying the muscular power of a strong man, גבור, gabor, and the same adjective indicates also the virile force manifested in numerous progeny.
The second key word summing to 216 is ראיה, reahyah, meaning 'sight'. A lion, throughout Rosicrucian, alchemical, and Qabalistic literature, is the picture symbol for the base will-sex urge in human consciousness. Also, the genuine spiritual alchemists were very aware that the more sexually incontinent a human is, the less one’s 'insight' into spiritual matters. This idea was hinted in their various writings under multiple guises, the 'Hermetic Seal' being just one. Also, this may very likely have been the root of the ludicrous, fabled wives' tale that excessive auto-eroticism could lead to “blindness.” However, where in-sight is concerned, this is relatively true. This lion symbol is also attached to the 5th sphere Geburah. When our expression of the reproductive energy goes awry it is considered a lion gotten out of hand. Conversely the disciplined practice of sexual continence sharpens insight. This is intimated in another biblical story of Joseph, who rejected the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife in Egypt. The sexual abstinence sharpened his insight enough to interpret dreams while a prisoner, and later he correctly interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh. This is also one reason for sexual abstinence being a requirement for those individuals intent on the monastic achievement. Morals have little or nothing to do with the occult idea behind sexual continence, but exoteric religions force their dupes into guilt complexes about sin.
So early into the Samson story this 'young lion' roared against him which he slew barehanded. The significance of this is revealed in verse 14:8. For very shortly thereafter Samson traveled again on the same road to discover swarming “bees and honey” in the lion’s carcass. He scraped the honey out and ate of it on his way. The bees and honey are again Qabalistic clues. The masculine Hebrew 'bees' is דברים, debrim,4 which letters total 256. This number is equivalent to the Hebrew/Chaldea and Aramaic word נור, nur, 'fire'. The spelling for 'honey' in this story is דבש, debesh. At number value 306 it is amazingly coincidental to another, feminine form for fire, אשה, ashah, which I propose is the probable reason this word was used to describe Samson's mother as 'woman' and 'wife' in Chapter 13 rather than giving her a name. Bees and honey translate to masculine and feminine word forms for fire! In an alchemical text the sage wrote:
“The sages do faithfully teach us that two strong lions, to wit, male and female, lurk in a dark and rugged valley (sub-consciousness). These the master must catch, though they are swift and fierce, and of terrible and savage aspect. He who, by wisdom and cunning, can snare and bind them, and lead them into the same forest (body), of him it may be said with justice and truth that he has merited the meed of praise before all others, and that his wisdom (insight) transcends that of the worldly wise.”5
So Samson's first adventure into his own darkness, as suggested by the temurah of Timnah, seems thus far to be a success. Samson has mastered to a degree the self-conscious and sub-conscious expressions of the will-sex urge and walks with the fire of the central Christ Consciousness, a solar force.
Next in the narration Samson's strength seems to be on the rise. Verses 14:10 and 14:11 tell us that Samson's dad meets the fiancėe while Samson prepares the customary wedding feast. When all is ready Samson shows up at the event and is given 30 companions. The Hebrew word מרעים, meraim, translated as 'companions' has a sinister implication.6 They are not bon homies. The letter Mem (מ) beginning the word here implies 'from' some place, while its suffix Yod and the Mem-final (ים) is the masculine plural form. The root of the word is, רע, roa, 'evil' in all senses, which fits the story. Samson and his parents are in the enemy's camp surrounded by 30 local boys and other Philistines.
Number 30 is also significant. Whenever a Literal Qabalist comes across a number or a proper name of persons and places in sacred and secret texts there is ample reason for some glaring hidden inference. In this case there are a couple.
Firstly, 30 has the immediate association with Hebrew letter lamed (ל) for those familiar with the numbers in the alphabet. Its assignation with the Tarot Key Justice suggests that plus 'action, work, and karma.' Letter lamed is assigned the 22nd path on the Tree of Life, which path connects the 5th Sphere, Geburah, with the 6th Sphere, Tiphareth. These two spheres were investigated previously in connection with Samson's very name. Moreover, the name of this path is שכל נאמן, Sakel Ne-emen, the 'Faithful Intelligence' in the Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom, because by faith, “spiritual virtues are deposited and increased.” For Samson's spiritual and physical strength to be augmented he must pass the test of sheer faith through action and works. These both prove devotion.
Secondly, number 30 points directly to the 30th path on the Tree, שכל כללי, saykel kellawliy, the 'Collective Intelligence'. The adjective is rooted from כל, kala, 'whole, complete'. The path has to do with a step toward completion to full enlightenment, when the Christ level of Consciousness, evolved from the natural human by the Life-power working through the mental, emotional and physical activities of human personality, arrives at a certain degree of manifestation. The 30th path connects the 8th sphere, Splendor, or intellect, with the 9th sphere, Foundation, or the automatic consciousness. It 'collects' influences from above the 8th sphere, gathering them into self-conscious intellectual knowledge which is then absorbed permanently into sub-consciousness where they form habit patterns. It is a level of initiation for Samson. Note also that the 30th path on the Tree is assigned Tarot Key, the Sun, and hints back to Tiphareth.
So why mightn't Samson, full of himself and on a mission from Yahweh as verse 14:4 hinted, want to mess with the local boys for some fun. That is, if he were an actual person. But as the story goes he next poses a cute little riddle to the 30 'companions'.
After banging their heads together for three days the local yokels are stumped. Frustrated, the 30 approach Samson's new wife (also not named) to make her an offer she can't refuse: “Get the riddle solution for us or we burn you and your father's household to death!” Through the next 4 days she throws herself on Samson begging the answer, and on the final day, to shut up her badgering, Samson spills the beans. Wife turns 180º and babbles the intel.
The riddle is discovered by deception. Samson's answer to the 30 locals is one of the most amusing verses in the Bible. Not one Hebrew version, nor any translated version that I can find, offers any commentary on his sarcasm in verse 18 of Chapter 14. It's knee-slapping hilarious. Read it for yourself.
So Samson, full of the wrath of the Lord, travels to nearby Ashkelon7 and slays 30 other Philistines, retrieves their linen and raiment to pay off the bet. Meanwhile, back in Timnah town, thinking Samson had hated his wife for betraying him over the riddle incident, Samson's no-name wife is given to one of the 'companions' by her father.
Chapter 14 ends poorly for our hero with Samson deceived, disheartened, cuckolded, and angry as all get out. Samson is crestfallen and has been demoted to the “duh” category of humanity. Sounds like a lot of us, doesn't it. We become so full of ourselves only to be deflated later; to quote That's Life sung by Frank Sinatra: “...ridin' high in April, shot down in May.”
But he, like we, eventually come around again and bounce from despair. Things pick up for the mighty Samson with the next chapter. Stay tuned.
1 The Latin Vulgate has catulus leonis in the masculine singular, but the Vulgate was written considerably later than most Hebrew versions.
2 The Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom is an obscure manuscript usually attached to the Sepher Yetzirah (Book of Formation). Its original author and the dates when written or attached to the Sepher Yetzirah are unknown.
3 The Mars center is the Mars Chakra of esoteric astrology, the metal Iron of alchemy, and the Svadishthana Chakra of eastern traditions.
4 Ben-Yehuda, Pocket English-Hebrew, Hebrew-English Dictionary. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1977.
5 Delphinas, Nicholas Barnaud, The Book of Lambspring. Edmonds, WA: The Alchemical Press, 1986.
6 There are other, kinder words for 'companions', like חברים, haverim. I believe our author chose the above intentionally for its hidden implication.
7 Ashkelon, אשקלון, by Theosophic Articulation is אש, aish, 'fire', and קלון, kalon, 'combustion'. Kalon has a second meaning as 'degradation' and 'disgrace'. The Philistines conquered the area around 1150 BC. When it fell in 604 BC to the Babylonians it was burnt and destroyed and its people taken into exile, the Philistine era was over. Given its history it has certainly lived up to its name.