THE NAZARITE - The Untold Story of Samson & Delilah
“Argh!” I cried out.
“Silence!” the guard demanded.
What felt like a spike being driven into my skull was nothing more than the creaking of the prison cell door swinging open.
“Who goes there?” I groaned, though I should have stayed silent, as every word I spoke compounded my pain.
“Settle down you scum,” the guard barked.
“There’s no need to get yourself worked up Samson,” a friendly sounding voice said. “I’m the court scribe Mizar. I’ve been appointed by our Lord to set down, for the record, your life in words.”
“Pfft, he’s not my lord,” I insisted, removing the bloody rag covering the holes where my eyes once dwelled.
Ignoring my belligerence, Mizar said, “You can put the desk and chair over there, close to his bunk.”
With both my sight and strength taken from me, I swung my legs around to sit up. Then with all the power I could muster, I pressed my hands onto my knees and rose. Breathing heavily, I took a blind man’s awkward step toward the intruder’s voice and asked, “What desk?”
A heavy hand landed upon my chest, forcing me to stop.
“It’s okay Samson, I’m not here to harm you,” Mizar said.
“What do you want from me?”
“You poor man,” Mizar said, placing a gentle hand on my bearded cheek. “It’s true what they say—your eyes are gone.”
I smacked his hand away, and stumbled backwards, nearly losing my balance.
“What have you done to him?” Mizar asked, gripping my arm to prevent me from falling.
“What he deserved,” the guard growled.
“They gouged out my eyes with a blacksmith’s poker,” I said.
“Guard, you can leave us,” Mizar said firmly.
“Are you sure?” the guard asked. “He can still be dangerous.”
“Nonsense, look at him,” Mizar said.
“Why are you here?” I demanded.
“Samson, I understand you’re confused and frightened. But know this, I’m not your enemy.”
“Not my enemy?” I scoffed. “All Philistines are my enemy, every last one of you filthy dogs.”
“I understand your anger,” Mizar said with a sigh. “But I’m not a soldier. My purpose is to listen to your words and write them down upon parchment, so the life of the great Samson will be preserved for eternity within the great halls of the Temple of Dagon.”
I clutched at my shaved skull and groaned, “My head feels like an almond, ready to crack open.”
“Why don’t you sit Samson,” Mizar offered and took my arm guiding me back to the edge of my straw filled bunk.
“I need drink to soothe my pain,” I said. “But these bastard soldiers ignore me.”
“Well,” Mizar scoffed, “you do realize that you’re not very popular among the soldiers. After all, you’ve killed so many.”
“And I’d slaughter every last one of them if I had my eyes and strength back.”
“Guard,” Mizar called out. “Bring us wine.”
“I’m sorry sir, but we’re not allowed,” the guard’s muffled voice said from beyond the door.
“Nonsense,” Mizar shouted back, “I’m here by the order of our Lord to make Samson comfortable. Would you dare disobey?”
Silence hung in the stale, odor ladened air for a moment before the guard replied, “Yes master.”
“Now,” Mizar said clapping his hands together. “Shall we get started?”
I groaned and laid down, replacing the blood soaked rag over what used to be my eyes, but were now soft, puss-oozing portholes into my skull.
“Let me get you cool water and clean cloth,” Mizar offered.
Grateful for the kindness, I lifted a hand as a gesture of thanks.
When the guard returned with the wine, Mizar instructed him to fetch water and clean cloth. “While we wait, would you mind if we begin?” Mizar asked.
“Begin?” I muttered. “Begin what?”
“Your story,” Mizar said. “You’ve lived quite a life Samson. It would be a shame to have it forgotten.”
“There’s nothing to tell. I’m blind and frail,” I said with a sigh. “A failure to my people.”
“Nonsense,” Mizar countered. “You are a great warrior who has killed many Philistines single-handedly. You’re a marvel Samson,” he said and paused. “At least you used to be.”
“Argh,” I said feeling as if the room was spinning around.
The door opened and I heard the shuffling of feet. “Bring it here,” Mizar commanded.
A moment later, I heard what I thought were hands plunging into a bucket, and the wringing out of excess water. “Here you go,” Mizar said and laid the cool cloth over my empty eye sockets.
The moment it touched, a sensation triggered a wave of relief that washed over me. “Thank you,” I said touching the cloth with my fingertips.
“Here, have some wine,” Mizar said.
I rose onto my elbows and took the goblet Mizar stuck into my hand and without hesitation, I drank, feeling the smooth Philistine wine coating my throat.
“Not so fast Samson,” Mizar cautioned.
Ignoring him, I swallowed its contents and wiggled the goblet, requesting a refill.
As Mizar poured, he said, “Now, what do you say? Will you share the story of Samson the mighty warrior?”
I thought about this while I drank. The idea of immortalizing my life appealed to me. “I will agree under one condition,” I proposed.
“And what is that?” Mizar asked eagerly.
“That you write these words twice. One set of parchment for your temple of sin, and one for my people in the village of Zorah.”
Now Mizar stayed quiet for a moment as he considered. Then he clapped his hands together, causing me to jump in fright. “Agreed Samson. This I will have done.”
“Very well,” I said, though I had no way to know if Mizar was an honorable man. I had yet to meet a Philistine who was. But I had nothing more to lose, so I nodded my consent and began my story.
“From what I was told, Mother was unable to bear children, though she tried with Father for many years,” I said while lying on my back. The wine offered some relief from the incessant throbbing.
“One night while Father was away tending sheep, Mother said her prayers. Just as she laid her head upon her pillow, a man appeared at the foot of her bed. Who are you? Mother asked wide-eyed, pulling the blanket tight to her chin.
“I am here to provide what you’ve been praying for, the stranger said, offering out his hands.
“Mother furrowed her brow and said, How would you know what I’ve been praying for?
“The man, his skin as fair as an overcast sky, framed with long, straight hair, white as a dove, smiled and said, I will provide you with the seed, so you may bear a male child.
“But what of my husband, Manoah? Mother asked bewildered at the stranger’s bold words.
“The man shook his head. Your husband is unable to provide, that is why I’ve been summoned.
“Oh my,” Mizar said, as I heard his quill scratching out the words.
“The man approached, pulled the blanket back and laid down beside her. Then, as Mother told me, He touched my belly and said—Now therefore beware, I pray thee shall consume neither wine nor strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. For thou shalt conceive, and bear a son and this child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb, whose purpose is to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines.”
“Oh for the sake of Dagon,” Mizar exclaimed. “Did this stranger say anything else?”
“You uncircumcised Philistines don’t understand, that was no stranger but an angel of Yahweh.”
“Angel of Yahweh?” Mizar repeated, sounding dubious.
“Yes,” I said as my head resumed its pounding. “The angel told Mother, that as a Nazarite I was under service to Yahweh and as such, no razor shall come upon my head. I was to abstain from drink and unclean food, and to avoid mingling among the dead, and above all—my purpose was to deliver our people from the torment of the Philistines.”
“But what of your father,” Mizar asked. “Did he not question how your mother was with child?”
“He did,” I said nodding. “And Mother shared the details of the angel’s visit. But Father was angered. Naturally he felt betrayed and insisted that this messenger of Yahweh should return as proof.”
“And did the angel return?” Mizar asked.
I nodded. “Yes, and the angel stood with staff before Father, who inquired as to his name. The angel stared, his eyes bearing down upon him and said, Why do you ask when it is beyond your understanding. Frightened and wanting to make amends for his doubts, Father offered to sacrifice a sheep from his flock. But moments before the slaughter, the angel reached out his staff to the animal, and upon its touch, the animal burst into fire. With flames twisting into the sky, the angel followed, vanishing within the silver smoke.”
“And did that convince your father?” Mizar asked.
“Most certainly,” I said. “Father was terrified. He feared for his life, telling Mother that no one could live after witnessing the presence of Yahweh. But Mother soothed his worries, saying if he were meant to be slain, Yahweh would have never revealed such secrets to him. Convinced, both Mother and Father agreed, that upon my birth I would be raised according to the strict laws as Nazarite.”
“Mmm,” Mizar murmured. “And I assume you believed this story?”
Angered, I tried to lift my head, but pain drove itself through me like a sword cleaving my skull in two, forcing me to collapse.
“Easy Samson, I do not wish to stir you.”
I moaned and said, “You Philistines follow no faith, that is why Yahweh has chosen the Israelites as the righteous ones.”
“Well Samson, I’m sorry to say, but it seems your god has forsaken the Israelites.”
I sighed, trying to muster my anger. But my strength could hold it no more, and I fell back to the bed and was succumbed by a desire to sleep and dream.
Delilah stared at me while running her fingers through my hair she said, “You realize they will never stop until you are captured.”
I chuckled and replied, “They haven’t so far.”
“It’s only a matter of time, my love.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
“I hear things,” she said with a shrug.
“Only that our Lord is determined to capture or kill you.”
“Pfft,” I scoffed. “I’m not worried.”
“But how are we to have a life Samson? Always looking over our shoulders. We should run from here. Far from your people and mine.”
“I can’t abandon them, I am their only hope.”
“You cannot defeat the mighty Philistine army, and you know it.”
I laughed and ran my finger along the soft spot inside Delilah’s upper thigh and said, “Right now, that is the last thing I want to think about.”
Delilah’s eyes widened. “Do you want to think about this?” she said and opened her robe, exposing her loin-throbbing nakedness.