Sampson slept on Delilah’s softest sofa amid a tremendous amount of hair clippings. His hair clippings. He was a very sound sleeper, and this made Delilah’s job that much easier. After cutting Sampson’s long hair off, she tied his arms with seven new ropes. While she did this, his snoring wasn’t halted, not even for a second. “I hate to do this, my lover, but I can’t live off love alone.” She went outside to inform the Philistine soldiers that it was safe to go in and arrest him.
The soldiers stealthily entered her house, and surrounded Sampson with swords drawn. Fear was on every face. The Champion of Israel, with his supernatural strength, could wake and break those ropes like they were twigs, and then they were as good as dead. They were told his strength was due to his hair, and since it would be cut off, they would be able to arrest him. However, some of them knew comrades who were told similar things when they tried to arrest him, yet they never made it out alive.
The captain nodded to Delilah.
“Sampson, get up! They’re back!” Delilah shouted.
“Be careful!” The Captain shouted as they tightened their circle of blades. “Don’t get too close!.”
Sampson woke slowly. He took in the scene of swords, soldiers, and Delilah, with little concern. He tried to yawn, however he couldn’t move his arms. Tied again. I’ve got to stop telling Delilah new ropes are my weakness. He laughed to himself, but as the grogginess wore off he remembered something. I told her seven new ropes? No, that’s not it. That was the last time. I told her something different? What was it? He thought to himself. Wait a minute! Fear crept in. He remembered what he told her last night. My hair! He stood and tried to break the ropes and as he did the soldiers fell back in near panic.
“Hold your ground! Look at him! Look at him!” The captain dared a smile. “He can’t break them.” Sampson struggled with all his might, but to no avail. “Grab the shackles. You two fasten his feet, and you two fasten his neck. The rest of you, keep swords ready.”
Sampson resisted, but the soldiers easily overpowered him and clamped the shackles shut. For the first time in his life he felt weak. He had never encountered anyone stronger than him, but reality was staring him in the face and he couldn’t deny what was happening. They are stronger. The soldiers began to kick and punch him, releasing all their nervous energy and hatred on him. Then Sampson felt another sensation he never felt before; pain. Although, Sampson didn’t know it at the time. It would become his constant companion.
Through the blows, Sampson looked back at Delilah. “How could you? You whore! I loved you! I trusted you!”
Her face was as cold as stone in Antarctica, “You shouldn’t have.” Then she turned her back and walked away.
A constant drip from somewhere above, kept hitting Sampson on the head. Each drop reminding him of Delilah. Sitting in his cell, he tortured himself with swirling thoughts of betrayal, anger, revenge, and loss. He tried to shake them off by focusing on his new surroundings. But that was not any better. The sound of scurrying rats, hopeless crying, tortuous screams, moans, and half crazed yells filled his ears. His cell floor was made of cold mud and the only light he could see came from the tiny window of his cell door. Suddenly, he heard someone unlocking his cell.
“Sampson! The hero of Israel!” Nimrod, the Chief of the prison, said. A short man with muscular arms and a paunchy belly. He walked to Sampson, bent down, and spit in his face. “You dog! You’re no hero. You’re a murderer.”
Sampson wiped the spit off and defiantly looked up.
“You killed my brother at Lehi.” Nimrod jerked Sampson to his feet. “He was part of the battalion sent to arrest you. You killed them all! All 1,000!”
He began to drag Sampson from his cell to the torture room. A room of horror. Devices designed for pain adorned the walls. A rack laid in the middle, equipped with pulleys and ropes to tear a person’s limbs off. But the most unsettling implement was a fire pit containing an iron rod glowing red hot. With the help of two guards, Nimrod chained Sampson’s arms, legs, and head, so that he couldn’t move an inch.
“I’ve just been given an order that I’m going to enjoy.” Nimrod walked over to the fire pit. “I get to gouge out your eyes.” Nimrod pulled the rod out of the fire and raised it slowly until it was even with Sampson’s eyes. Sampson felt the heat and tried to resist. Nimrod pushed it into Sampson’s left eye, then laughed. Sampson released an agonizing scream. Every muscle stiffened. Every nerve reacted. Then Nimrod slid the rod into Sampson’s other eye. Sampson's wild shriek reverberated throughout the prison, and then suddenly, the screaming stopped. He fainted.
When Sampson woke, he found himself back in his cell. The pain hit him like a ton of bricks—an indescribable pain. He was on the edge of fainting again, but a voice came from somewhere in his cell.
“I really did enjoy that.” Nimrod chuckled. “I just wish I could've done it again.”
Sampson yelled. “I’ll kill you! I swear! I’ll kill you!”
Nimrod chuckled. “How? You can’t even see me. I could drop my sword in this mud, and you wouldn’t be able to find it. You are worse than dead, Sampson. You are harmless. Our King saw that killing you would be too fast and too easy. His plan is to humiliate you over and over again. He will show Israel that even their mighty hero cannot stand up against Philistia.” Nimrod walked out and locked the cell, laughing as he moved down the corridor.
The pain in his eye sockets was unimaginable. However, even more significant than the pain was the blindness. Nimrod was right. He would never be able to fight again. How could he? You have to be able to see your enemy to kill him.
“Get up, Sampson!” Nimrod kicked Sampson. “The King just found you a job. A job that even a blind beggar like you can do. Now get up.”
He forced Sampson to his feet and took him outside. Sampson felt the sun, however despair hit him hard because he couldn’t see any light, not even the mild light that comes though shut eyelids. Nimrod half dragged and half led Sampson through several streets. Until they came to the main city market, made up of small tents, wooden lean-tos, and four posted structures with blankets for roofs. Shoppers and merchants filled the street trying to make deals that favored each of them best.
At the end of the market street, stood a giant grindstone. Built by the city to mill wheat. It was there for anyone to use. Usually, two or three men grabbed the beam connected to the round stone, and pushed in circles until all the wheat was milled. Sampson’s new job was to do this alone. Anyone who wanted, could have the great warrior mill their wheat for them. It was humiliating work and many Philistines came simply to watch and make fun.
Every morning, the guards would chain Sampson’s feet and wrist and guide him through the streets to the grindstone. Nimrod brought lunch and tried to work up the people to jeer and taunt more.
One day, Nimrod came with his lunch. He hated this. He hated doing anything that could be seen as a kind gesture. But today, he did not come alone. A boy, 15 years old, was with him. “Tooga will bring your lunch from now on,” Nimrod said. “I’m sick of your face.” And with that, he turned and left.
Sampson pointed his face in the direction of Nimrod’s voice.“Thank you, Tooga.” He sat up against the base of the grindstone and began to eat.
“Don’t thank me. It’s not my idea. My master makes me.” Tooga glared at Sampson’s eerie, eyeless, face. “I’ve heard the stories, and it wouldn’t bother me if you starved. You killed so many. Over a thousand, they say.”
“You’re right. I did, but they tried to kill me.”
‘People call you a murderer.”
“If I had been killed by those soldiers instead, they wouldn’t have called them murderers.”
Tooga was stumped. If they had won, there would have been a victory parade throughout every Philistine city. He had seen them celebrate with other battles won. He sensed that there was some truth about what Sampson said, even if it was repugnant.
“You’re done.” Tooga walked over to Sampson. ‘Give me your bowl so I can leave.” Sampson held it out. Tooga snatched it. “I’ll be back tomorrow.” The abruptness of his departure told Sampson that he hit a chord. Although, he now wished he did it after he ate his food, instead of before.
Tooga did come back the next day, and the day after that. For several weeks he brought Sampson his lunch, and each day he would sit a little closer to Sampson. Tooga listened to Sampson tell the story of how he killed a lion with his bare hands, and how he tore the main gate of Gaza from its hinges and carried it away. He also told Tooga about the time he caught several foxes, but left out the part about tying torches to their tails to set Philistine wheat fields on fire. Tooga had many conflicting thoughts about Sampson. He loved his stories, and found himself starting to like him, even though he knew he should hate him. Sampson was the bad guy, after all, right?
One night, in Sampson’s cell, God spoke to him. “I’m sorry you lost your eyes.”
Sampson had heard this voice before and in the past it filled him with joy, however this time only anger arose. “You left me! You took my strength simply because I got a hair cut! You let them blind me!”
“I never left you, and I did not take your strength. Your pride, arrogance, and lust did. You told Delilah your secret. That is how you lost your strength. And because you lost your strength, you lost your eyes.” God paused. “I gave you supernatural strength to use for good. To free my people, the Israelites from the dominion of the Philistines. But instead, you used your strength to please yourself.”
The truth hit Sampson in his gut. He knew. He lived selfishly, brashly entering Philistine cities to sleep with some woman, daring anyone to try and stop him. “I’m sorry, God. You’re right. I lived selfishly and chased pleasure. Forgive me. Give me another chance to fight for Israel.”
“Your fight is over, because I will bring you to be with me soon. However, I will let you deal a critical blow to the Philistines before I do.”
“When? How?” Sampson asked.
“You will know when you see it.”
A few months later.
“Let’s go, Sampson. You have a special date waiting for you. Grab Tooga, he’ll guide you. I’m sick of touching you.” They escorted Sampson from prison to the Temple of Dagon. A beautiful round opened structure with twenty-four columns, each depicting a unique characteristic of their god, Dagon, on the outer edge, and two huge pillars in the center, supporting the roof. “You’re going to be our entertainment as we praise Dagon for the victory over you.”
As they neared the temple they heard the drunken crowd working themselves up to a frenzy. “We want Sampson! Give us Sampson!”
“This could get ugly,” Nimrod said. “Maybe if I’m lucky, they’ll rip you apart.”
When they entered, the crowd went berserk. Taking their food from the feast, they threw it at Sampson, hitting all three of them: bread, olives, lamb, and beef.
“Forget this,” Nimrod looked at Tooga. “You, take him to the center.”
Tooga took Sampson’s hand and guided him down the walkway. They tried to shield themselves from the melee of food by putting their arms in front of their faces. They heard an official try to calm the crowd down and to get control of the situation.
In the chaos, Sampson yelled at Tooga. “Are there two huge pillars in the center of this temple?”
“Yes. They go all the way up.”
“Perfect. I want you to put me between them.”
“I have an idea. Don’t know if it will work, but if it does, I’ll finally get even.”
“What are planning to do?”
“It’s better if you don’t know, but I want you to promise me something.”
“Run. Run out of here as fast as you can. Don’t stop. Get clear of this temple.”
“Now I’m afraid. Whatever you’re planning, don’t do it. You’re like an uncle to me. Let’s just take the hits and get back to your cell.” Tooga’s eyes watered up. “You don’t have to fight anymore.”
“Don’t worry. I’m only going to scare them a little and then we will go back. But the crowd could get even worse after my little joke, so that’s why I want you to run. Nimrod will take me back and we’ll eat lunch together tomorrow. Sound good?”
“Yeah. I would like to see the joke, though.”
“I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. Okay?”
Tooga positioned Sampson between the pillars, and with no regard to the possible consequences, he hugged Sampson then ran.
Sampson counted. Something wet smacked him in the face. “Twenty-one, twenty-two.” He felt hot meat hit his stomach. “Fifty-six, fifty-seven.” What felt like a cup, hit his leg. ‘Eighty-three, eighty-four.” The cursing and taunting grew louder, so loud, that it morphed into one indistinguishable noise. “Ninety-nine, one hundred. He should be long gone by now. God! Give my strength back! Let me repay them for the loss of my eyes. Just this once. Do you hear me? God?”
Nimrod saw Sampson mouthing something. He made his way to the center, trying to hear. “Why is he pushing the pillar?”
Sampson pushed as hard as he could, but to no effect. People started to notice and the crowd quieted a little. Sampson pushed again. Some began to laugh. “Look at him. He forgot he lost his strength.” Laughter filled the temple. “Oh mighty one, bring down the pillar.” The drunken horde mocked.
Nimrod made it to Sampson. “Push again, you weak dog! But I promise, I’m going to give you more lashes than you have ever had. How dare you try to scare us.”
Sampson could hear Nimrod. “God! Just enough to push this pillar.” Sampson pushed, but with the same results; no movement. “Let me kill the man that took my eyes and made my life a living hell.”
“That’s it!” Nimrod stepped closer and unleashed the whip he always carried with him. “I’ve had enough of you.”
With Nimrod just ten feet away, Sampson pushed once more, but this time something happened. Nimrod froze and the mob went deathly silent. Before anyone could say or do anything, Sampson pushed again and the pillar collapsed. The other supporting pillar followed, bringing the entire temple down, killing everyone inside, including Nimrod and Sampson.
Tooga stopped when he heard the rumble and turned around to see the temple collapse. "No!" He shouted. "No! You said!" Tears filled his eyes. "You said we'd see each other! No!" He fell to his knees and screamed, beating the dirt street with his fist. People ran towards the disaster, not even noticing the teenage boy weeping in the middle of the street.
When everything settled and the Philistines learned that Sampson had died, they secretly gave a sign of relief. Publicly they morned the loss of their fellow Philistines.
When Israel found out, there were no tears, just disappointment and lost hope. The only one who morned Sampson's death was Tooga.
Tooga never forgot Sampson. In his old age, he told stories to children of a supernaturally strong man and his heroic adventures. Wisely changing the name, he would end his story of how the hero freed his country by killing the enemy king and causing a civil war to break out in the enemy country. He never told of a collapsing temple, or that it was their king and country, or that it was Israel that was freed.