Judges Chapter 16
Fast forward yet again and… Samson, feeling his oats after his recent shot of enlightenment, trundles off a' whorin' in Gaza town. If I may flash back to Mr. Sinatra's That's Life, our hero must have been “ridin' high in April” by the end of Chapter 15. But sure to follow, he (and we) seem destined to get “shot down in May.” For now, as the story goes, Samson seems so sure of himself, perhaps drunk on his own feeling of indestructible power, he decides to push it. And isn't that just like the lot of us.
The gematria from the Hebrew spelling of Gaza, עזתה, azata, sums to 482. This is equal to עבדות, av'dut, 'slavery, servitude', and strongly suggests where our hero is actually headed. But it is not the slavery implied near the finale of his saga. The servitude suggested here is the initial response to negative habit patterns yet rooted in the deep dark side of sub-consciousness. For are we all not slaves to our own neuroses and habit patterns? Samson is flirting with the old habit of squandering his reproductive force which weakens will-force, physical strength, and spiritual insight; the involution of that cycle suggested previously by number 3,000.
Word gets round, Samson's in town. Philistine bad guys gather from all quarters. They surround the whore's house and the city gate, lying in wait to jump out, pounce upon and kill our hero at dawn's early light. But Samson, roused by the Intuitive Voice within, awakens at mid-night. He slithers out into the darkness, tip-toeing amongst the somnolent Philistines, and pauses at the city gate for an after-thought. This is where I believe it gets hilariously and ridiculously preposterous.
As a preliminary comparison, let be it known that the current world record for a dead-lift goes to Britain’s Mr. Eddie Hall, who lifted 463 kg (1,020 lbs.) in the summer of 2015. He did it by squatting before the steel bar bell and grasping it firmly with both wrist-wrapped hands. He pulled it straight up and stood erect, holding the weighted bar across his middle thighs. His legs trembled under the weight as he held the stance for a few seconds before he let the barbell fall. Mr. Hall himself at the time weighed 172 kg/379 lbs, and stood 1.90m/6'-4” tall.
Now, can you imagine the size, shape, and weight of a typical city gate from the late Bronze Age thru the early Iron Age with its double doors and copper sheeting, the side posts with hinges, and the locking cross-bar assembly? Then, try to imagine the size of a being capable of grasping, wrenching, lifting, and bearing the entire assemblage on his shoulders to carry it all off to a nearby hill top? And all this is done silently, mind, so quietly in fact as to not arouse even one of the sleeping Philistines who had surrounded the gate area, according to the biblical narrative.
Collected commentary from various religious authorities of the literal English Bible translations actually believe some guy could and did do this because he held within himself the Spirit of the Almighty, they reasoned. And no steroids. Another common error in some translations stretches the basic incredulity even further by translating: “Then he carried them all the way to the top of the hill that overlooks Hebron, [about 40 miles from Gaza] where he set the doors down, still closed and locked.1 This rendition is far from the Hebrew. The problem, as I see it, lay with interpreting ההר אשר על-פני, ha har aser al-pene, 'the hill that overlooks…'. This Hebrew phrase at the very end of verse 3, Chapter 16, translates aser al-pene variously as: see the footnoted versions below; also, “is before” in King James; “is opposite” in the New American Standard; “across from” in the New Living Translation; and, “in front of” in the English Standard Bible. All these descriptions place this hill very near the town of Hebron, which is quite far from Gaza 'as the crow flies' over impossible terrain at that period. The Hebrew version of this same phrase comes to: “the hill that faces or turns towards Hebron,” or “overlooks towards Hebron.” The difference being that, tromping with this load near on 40 miles to place the doors on the hill near Hebron is a far cry from placing the doors near Gaza on the hill that faces towards the direction of Hebron. Why the nit-picking? To illustrate the point that if such wide misinterpretations can come from such a minor phrase, what becomes of the vastly more important interpretations so misconstrued? Moreover, at the very end of the quotation above from the Contemporary English Version reads, “still closed and locked.” This is not even in the Hebrew version! This is entirely fabricated. Why is it even in there?
But all this is moot from the beginning since the story is actually allegorical of something else entirely. Whether the ape-man carried these doors et al to this hill or that hill is utterly ridiculous. Firstly, if these initial three verses of Chapter 16 are to be taken in the actual literal sense, they have no bearing whatever on all the narration that follows. Verse 4, following immediately, begins with: “Some time later he falls in love...” Taken at face value verses 1, 2, and 3 is an episode of its own, and with no point other than to embellish a story to make Samson out to be a macho kind of guy.
Unless, of course, this whole prelude harbors a Qabalistic message and lesson. This supposition suggests there is. Being, if the will-sex urges within us get out of hand, beyond self-conscious control, the pent up frustrations well up into irrational anger that may release chaos. Samson, at this point, is a bloated ego used to getting his own way. What he wants he gets, if not, watch out or step aside. His appetites are demonstrated to be waxing. Do we not occasionally see in today's media some addicted sport, political, or entertainment individual who has gained sudden wealth, power, acclaim or celebrity, and wants more of the same, or demands exceptions? And if that individual feels thwarted from gaining more of what the bloated ego demands, does s/he not burst into a demonstrative outrage?
The lesson with Samson here, I surmise, is that his inner demons demanded more than mere flirtations. His appetites for sex, drugs, and rock n' roll, albeit the Iron Age version, was waxing and unfulfilled. The very thought of being checked (by Philistines plotting ambush) releases a destructive rage upon the nearest lightening rod. Samson's needs grow until his sub-conscious imagery manifests something or someone who can match his tumultuous game.
So now we come at once to the crux and climax of the whole Samson saga: “...he fell in love with a woman in the valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.” This is the stuff of major motion pictures! So big in fact that Cecil B. DeMille's 1949 blockbuster staring Victor Mature as Big Sam and Hedy Lamarr as Big D took 2 Academy Awards (none for acting) and received five other nominations! Great stuff!
Qabalah-wise, however, not so sensational, but of much deeper import. For starters, בנחל שרק, benahal soreq, is translated, 'in the valley of Sorek.' Most Bible translations are phrased this way from the Hebrew. Standard commentary on 'Sorek' states that it means 'vine'. I could find no such definition in all the sources I explored. The Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature illustrates four related pronunciations and meanings for 'Sorek' due to differing vowel points, none of which come close to anything like 'vine', but rather, a verb form suggesting 'to slide or glide'. And benahal means 'in the wadi, river bed, ravine, or stream'. It would seem that the said 'valley' had taken on the name of the small river or stream gently gliding or flowing through it.
In Qabalah-speak, however, 'the Valley of Sorek' suggests another level entirely. The word שרק, sorek, contains number 600 within its letters. When comparing this gematria with other words of equal value שקר, sheker, appears meaning 'falsehood' as a noun, and as a verb 'to lie, to fabricate'. The word is formed by transposing the very letters in Sorek. The same letters transposed again form קשר, kesher, which is 'conspiracy' as a noun and 'to conspire, join, connect' as a verb. And, with different vowels points it translates as qashar, 'to bind with cords'. Each of the words above sum to 600 by gematria. There are other ways to spell out Sorek with the Hebrew alphabet. But this chosen triliteral word presents another obscure hint when interchanged by utilizing the temurah tool. The new letters spell out בגד, bagad, meaning 'to betray, to engage in treason'.
The name of Samson's nemesis ties in all the imagery gathered from above together with more from the Hebrew דלילה, Delilah. Much can be discovered from this name. Its root לילית, lilith, means 'night' basically, but it is the name derived from a historically far earlier class of female demons from Sumeria, Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia. From Jewish mysticism Lilith is considered the Queen of Evil Spirits. The author's use of this root for Samson's concubine seems clear enough. The name Delilah in Hebrew contains letters whose numbers sum up to 79. Another Hebrew term with equal value is בעז, boaz, one of the pair of pillars in Solomon's temple (Jakin and Boaz, or the Yin and Yang of Eastern Traditions). Those familiar with Tarot Key designs would recognize both pillars in the representation of the High Priestess. This key is symbolic of one aspect of the personal sub-conscious because of the central figure in the design being feminine. The female seated in the High Priestess Key symbolizes that mode of the automatic consciousness representing memory in particular, but also that part within us which connects personal consciousness to all aspects and modes of the Universal Sub-consciousness Qabalists recognize as Ain Suph Aur, the Ocean of Limitless Light.
The Akashic Substance of Universal Memory holds the record of all the Life Power's manifested activity; all that was, is, and shall be of the light expressions, and all that was, is, and shall be of its darkest expressions. Boaz represents that link or connection to all Life's darker expressions and manifestations. From the Rosicrucian and alchemical manuscripts written in the coded Latin Cabala Simplex comes caligo divina, 'divine darkness' and lupus, 'wolf', the symbolic destroyer of forms. And finally, pratum, 'meadow, garden' (symbolic of sub-consciousness in the coded manuscripts). Each of the three terms sums to 79. Coincidentally or deliberately our author might or might not have known that the temurah of פלשתים, Philistines, after the interchange of letters, sums to 79, that of Delilah. And, conversely, the temurah of דלילה, Delilah, after these letter interchanges, sums to 270. Two more Hebrew terms of equal value surface here: סטרא, sitra, 'side influence' (of an evil nature, or a negative side effect), and רע, roah, 'evil', in all senses. This last term was looked at previously as the root word used for Samson's 30 'companions' in Chapter 14.
Putting this all together a seasoned Qabalist might readily recognize that in Delilah, from the Valley of Sorek, is the personification of Samson's own deep dark side of the sub-conscious. She can also be said to represent the same condition in all of us. At the beginning of Chapter 16 Samson entertains flirting with temptations roused from his personal inner demons. And he seems to be able to get away with it. Doing so he opts to push it, albeit initially confident. This side-tracks his true purpose, his designated path, as the deeper urges begin to seduce his once powerful will and physical strength.
Does this seem familiar? Do we all not harbor a dark side, that if exploited, would drain our personal resources and take us down all manner of roads to perdition? We are Samson. We are Delilah. This story is about us.
But now Delilah, as the outer tale unfolds, wastes no time with Samson. Bribed by the Philistines with "1100 pieces of silver per lord," Delilah badgers Samson for the secret of his prowess. Back at the end of Chapter 14 it was suggested that Samson had slipped into the “duh” category of humanity. Here in the reading, if this story is believed by some to be an actual event, it would also have to be concluded at this point that the guy has now slumped into the “too stupid to live” rank and file of humanity. Three times the Bible record exposes the details of Delilah's treacherous intentions. All the while Samson maintains the strength to out wit her. She persists, and adding insult to injury, also chides him for not trusting or loving her. Allegorically, however, these might be akin to nagging sub-conscious urges. Are we not like this with ourselves? Do we not test and push ourselves to the brink, thinking that we can handle it for a while yet? “Just one more time,” we tell ourselves, “then I'll back off, or maybe even quit entirely.” The times alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin junkies have given this very excuse to themselves and counselors are too numerous to count. Samson continued to tempt his own fate, squandering his reproductive energy that, otherwise re-channeled, was the key to his inner vision and outer strength. Finally, too weak to resist, he gave in totally to the sub-conscious desires (in the form of Delilah's unmitigated badgering) that sapped his will entirely. He, like we, binged. His dark side won him over. Judges 16:19 explains: "And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and had the seven locks of his head shaven off; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him."
The italics in the quotation are deliberate for emphasis. For the ‘seven locks’ here are symbolically none other than the seven force centers, the chakras of the yogis, the seven metals of the alchemists, or the seven planetary centers of esoteric astrology. The 'force centers' have their beginning on the surface of what the alchemists’ call their “glass vessel.” This is the human aura that is like a vessel in that it contains all of the human constitution, and like glass in that it is transparent. It is an egg-shaped body of light strand that surrounds the human body and measures, when at full healthy strength, five units across by eight units high. The edge of this vessel is an arm’s length away from the physical body. The surface of the vessel, composed of living light, feeds and strengthens the denser bodies within it by “whirling” light energy towards the center. The force centers mentioned above, and in the narrative as seven locks, terminate within the physical body at five points in the spinal column and two within the brain. The physical body counterpart, in turn, is able to strengthen the surface area of the human aura into a seemingly hard, egg-shaped shell of light substance by re-channeling reproductive energy. This “puffs up” the surface of the aura to the proportions mentioned above. The image is not unlike a balloon, which surface is inflated and stretched by the forced air within. Genuine clairvoyants may perceive the resulting radiance of the aura. Sincere love-making with a partner of equal par will maintain this healthy aura.
Abusive, degrading sex, or habitual sexual encounters without love, or with partners on a radically different evolutionary level than one’s own, will eventually squander and deplete the energy from the one on the higher level. Episodes as these give rise to the tales of the incubus and the succubus. This squandering of the reproductive force within us, I surmise, is the example for all of us in the Samson–Delilah story. His energy was depleted by the accounts of sexual liaisons and wanton anger, but it need not be from sex only that depletes our strength. Any conscious or sub-conscious neurotic habit pattern can have the same result eventually. Self abusive behavior of any nature like sex, drugs, gambling, anger, violence, eating disorders, shopping, and even severely abusive and degrading speech can and will sap our reproductive force. Everything we do is an expression of this reproductive energy. My writing this and you reading it is an expression and an effect of this force. Contemplating, studying and understanding the use and abuse of this energy is what I surmise Dr. Sigmund Freud may have been trying to hone in on psychologically.
Long term abuse of this energy creates its first effects with lack of insight. Eventually, in extreme cases, it may influence our physical vision as well. 'Creates' is the correct expression here. For the reproductive force always creates something, for better or worse. It can heal, sharpen insight and enhance strength at best. And it can create sickness and death. It is the procreative energy of the entire universe. Continual or habitual ignorant misdirection of the force will adversely affect the will power and eventually even muscular tone. The end result is the eventual deterioration of tissue structure at the cellular level in vital organs and glands that ultimately create our physical death.
These were the consequences of Samson’s hard lesson, I believe. “He knew not that the Lord was departed from him.” – Judges 16.20. Samson was then blinded by the Philistines and lost all inner and outer vision along with his strength and will. The narration goes on to explain that he was then bound in bronze fetters.2 This is poignant and interesting in that bronze is an alloy from copper. Copper, one of 'our metals' to be purified according to the sage alchemists, has always been symbolic of the Venus planetary center of esoteric astrology or the Vishudda Chakra of Eastern traditions. It is the center attributed to the desire nature (Kama manas in Hinduism). Samson's wayward sub-conscious desire nature bound him fast at last.
The end of the story is well known. Samson prayed and repented with all his remnant might, and his hair began to grow again, that is, the seven chakras were eventually brought back into balance and up to strength. When the entire aura was restored to full strength he called once more upon the God he had forsaken. As Samson was brought out into the palace of the Philistines (the dense phantasm of this world) his restored power allowed him to push down the pillars of illusion, killing all three thousand Philistines present along with himself.
Lastly, Samson was interned “in the burying-place of Manoah, his father.” Manoah, back in Chapter 13, is spelled מנוח, Mnuch, and sums to 104. This number is equal to each, lux mundi, 'Light of the World', mons Sion, 'Mount Zion' (esoterically the center of the human brain aroused through meditation), and lapis ignis, 'stone of fire'. Samson had returned to his Celestial Father, the Central Source and 'Scintillating Silence' whence he came.
1 “Overlooks Hebron” from the Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by the American Bible Society. Also, 'overlooking' in the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
2 Some biblical versions have 'brass', some 'bronze'. Both are alloys of copper. The Vulgate uses 'chains'.