Watchman's Teaching Letter #227 March 2017
This is my two hundred and twenty-seventh monthly teaching letter and continues my nineteenth year of publication. I have resolved to do a series of lessons providing clarifying criticism of Howard B. Rand’s books, tracts and articles published in his Destiny Magazine, which includes several guest writers of varying degrees in excellence. Although I rate Rand and his associate writers only 50%, some of their articles are simply outstanding.
With this lesson, I will continue a critical review of a series entitled “The Book Of The Kingdom” found in Destiny magazines from January, 1949 until April, 1952 in 24 chapters, and oddly enough Rand does not identify an author. He may have written it all himself, or it might have been a team effort by him and some of his associated writers. So Rand either wrote it, or if by the help of others at least he approved of it and is responsible for it (and it will be edited by me):
With WTL #226 I had completed “The Book Of The Kingdom”,Destiny, June 1949: chapter VI of XXIV. With this lesson, I will reviewchapter VII of XXIV thusly,
“Samson The Nazarite
“Therewasaman of Zorah, of the tribe of Dan, whose name was Manoah and he and his wife were childless. However, the Angel of Yahweh appeared to his wife one day and said to her:
“‘... Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.’ (Judges 13:3.)
“The Angel of Yahweh then proceeded to give her specific instructions. She was told to take great care and see to it that she did not drink any wine, nor liquors of any kind. She was to refrain from eating any unclean thing for she was with child. When her son was born, no razor was to be used upon his head, for he was to be a Nazarite and consecrated to Yahweh from the day of his birth. Yahweh declared that through her son He would deliver Israel from the Philistines.
“The root meaning of the term ‘Nazarite’ in Hebrew, as well as in the Greek, indicates a ‘consecrated one’ or a ‘devotee.’ Under ordinary vows men consecrated some material possession, but the Nazarite consecrated himself or herself, taking a vow of separation, thus dedicating themselves wholly to the service of Yahweh.
“Following the conversation with the Angel of Yahweh, the woman went to her husband and told him what had happened:
“‘... A man of the Almighty came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of the Almighty, very terrible ...’ (Judges 13:6.)
“She related to her husband the conversation she had with the Angel with the result that Manoah entreated Yahweh to send the man to them again so that they might be properly instructed as to how they should bring up this child. Yahweh listened to his plea and the Angel of Yahweh appeared again to the woman when she was alone. She went in haste to get her husband who asked the man if he was the one who had previously spoken to the woman. He replied that He was. Manoah then asked, ‘When the child is born and the words of the Angel have come true, how are we to train the child?’ The Angel replied that the woman must do all that He had commanded her and refrain from wine and strong drink or any unclean food.
“Secret or Wonderful
“Manoah did not realize that he was talking with the Angel of Yahweh so he pressed him to stay, saying that he would prepare food for him. But He replied that though His host detained Him, He would not eat any of his food. However, He instructed Manoah to make a burnt offering unto Yahweh instead. Not knowing to whom he was speaking, Manoah asked for His name, saying he wanted to honor him when his message came true:
“‘And the Angel of Yahweh said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?’ (Judges 13:18.)
“The Hebrew word translated ‘secret’ should have been rendered ‘Wonderful.’ Ferrar Fenton translates this passage as follows:
“‘Why do you ask my name, – when it is Wonderful?’
“Immediately our thoughts go to the use of this name as one which is applied to the Child of whom Isaiah was speaking when he said:
“‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Almighty, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’ (Isa. 9:6.)
“Here we have the clue which identifies the Angel of Yahweh who appeared to Manoah and his wife and also to Gideon. His name being ‘Wonderful,’ this immediately associates Him with the coming One who was later to be born of a virgin. Thus, we have confirmation of the fact that the Angel of Yahweh is none other than our Yahweh and Saviour before He took upon Himself the form of man and was born as Jesus the Christ.” [Note: Howard B. Rand is absolutely correct on this occasion by identifying both the Father and the Son as being one and the same, therefore, exploding the myth of a “pagan trinity”! C.A.E] – Back to Rand:
“Manoah followed the instructions given to him and offered up a burnt offering to Yahweh. As the flames ascended the Angel of Yahweh ascended up in the flames and disappeared from their sight. Manoah recognized that he had indeed seen the Angel of Yahweh and he exclaimed:
“... ‘We shall surely die, because we have seen the Almighty.’ (Judges 13:22.)
“But his wife said that if Yahweh had intended to kill them He would not have accepted a burnt offering from them; He would not have let them see all they had seen, nor would He have given them instructions regarding the child.
“Birth of Samson
“Afterward the woman gave birth to a son and she called his name Samson, which in Hebrew means ‘the Brilliant.’ The child grew to manhood under the blessing of Yahweh and when he was fully grown the Spirit of Yahweh began to stir him. At the time he was living in the camp of Dan which lay between Zorah and Eshtaol.
“Samson went down to Timnath, a city on the border of Dan, which was at times in the possession of the Philistines. There he saw a young Philistine woman with whom he fell in love and he returned home to ask his father and mother to get her for him for a wife. They asked him:
“‘... Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?...’ (Judges 14:3.)
“But Samson was insistent with his father and mother, urging that they get her for him for he liked her or, as the Bible states, ‘She pleaseth me well.’ His parents were grieved for they were not aware that circumstances would come about for Samson to seek a wife among the Philistines with the approval of Yahweh since He intended to use the results of those circumstances to discomfit the Philistines who ruled over Israel at that time.
“Then Samson, with his parents, went down to Timnath. Evidently, prior to this trip, Samson had gone down toTimnath and while there had wandered about in the vineyards of the place whereupon a young lion there had roared at him. The Spirit of Yahweh came upon him and he tore the lion in two as easily as one might destroy a kid, though he had no weapon in his hand. This might have been the first revelation to Samson of the tremendous strength he possessed; however, regardless of that, he told the incident to no one, not even to his father and mother.
“Arriving in Timnath, Samson’s parents spoke to the Philistine maiden and stayed there in anticipation of the coming marriage. One day Samson went to look at the carcass of the lion he had slain and observed a swarm of bees in the skeleton, and honey there. He took some of the honey to eat, giving some to his father and mother. He did not disclose to them, however, where he had got the honey.
“The Wedding Feast
“Later Samson prepared a feast and thirty young Philistines were invited to be his companions to celebrate his approaching marriage with him. This was the custom as the bridegroom celebrated his coming marriage in a wedding feast at which his friends, but not the bride, were present. At the close of the celebration the friends of the bridegroom would accompany him to the home of the bride where he would claim his wife.
“Because Bible students fail to recognize this custom of those earlier times, they have failed to comprehend the full significance of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, which is an event to precede the triumphant return of Yahshua when He will take His bride, the Kingdom, and, sitting upon the throne of David, will rule over the House of Jacob forever. At the Marriage Supper of the Lamb only the friends of the Bridegroom will be present. An understanding of these facts is essential in order to truly comprehend the full meaning of the events that are to precede and follow this Supper.”
[Critical note by Clifton A. Emahiser: If the doctrine of a “trinity” is true, then the Son will marry His Father’s wife!] – Back to Rand:
“At his marriage supper. Samson propounded a riddle to the thirty young Philistines dining with him. He told them that if they could answer the riddle during the seven days of the feast, he would give them thirty shirts and thirty suits of clothes. But, he said, if they could not tell the meaning of his riddle, they were to give him thirty shirts and thirty suits of clothes. The young men agreed and told Samson to tell them the riddle and they would listen to it. Samson said:
“‘... Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness ...’ (Judges 14:14.)
“At the end of three days the young men had not been able to guess the meaning of the riddle so they went to Samson’s wife. (She is called his wife although he had not as yet married her. But an engagement to marry, or, as the Bible states, when they were betrothed, the woman became his wife although the consummation of the marriage was not completed until later.) The young men sought her out privately and said to her:
“‘Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father’s house.’ (Judges 14:15.)
“Threat of the Philistines
“Furthermore, they wanted to know if she had invited them to her wedding only to make beggars of them. Frightened by their taunts and threats, she went to Samson and wept before him, begging him to tell her the riddle. Instead, she should have told him the cause of her sorrow. But, fearful for her life and the life of her father, she resorted to the pressure a young woman has applied from time immemorial to a lover when endeavoring to have her way. She said to Samson that he must hate her, for if he truly loved her he would explain the riddle to her. But Samson replied that he had not even told it to his father or mother so why should he tell it to her. Samson certainly had a great deal to learn if he expected such an excuse to satisfy her. It did not for she wept the more and day by day she appeared to him, weeping bitterly and imploring him to tell her the riddle. Finally, even Samson, strong man that he was, could not resist the tears of the girl he loved, for, as the account states according to Ferrar Fenton’s translation, ‘She wore him out’, with the result that on the seventh day he told her the riddle. She immediately told it to her countrymen, who said to Samson just as he was about to enter the bridal chamber before sunset of the seventh day of the feast:
“‘What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?’ (Judges 14:18.)
“‘If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.’
“Samson evidently left immediately, for the Spirit of Yahweh came upon him. He went down to the Philistine city of Ashkelon and slew thirty Philistine young men of that city and took their garments, giving them to the young men who had found out his riddle. But Samson was still furious and returned to his father’s house without taking his bride.
“It should be remembered that Samson was endowed with super-human strength to punish the lawless wrongs to which his people were subjected at the hand of the Philistines. In going down to Ashkelon he had selected a city the men of whom were robbers and murderers, and in fulfilling his obligation he destroyed these destroyers of his people.
“Samson Returns for Wife
“After a while Samson’s anger cooled and, taking a kid as a present, he returned to Timnath to take his wife. Arriving there, he found that her father had given her in marriage to another, stating that he thought Samson hated her and had rejected her. However, he offered to substitute her younger sister, whom he declared was better looking, but Samson refused to accept her for his wife. He declared he would be avenged this time upon the Philistines for the wrong they had done to him. Moffatt translates Samson’s reply as follows:
“‘I shall be quits with the Philistines this time; I shall do them a mischief.’ (Judges 15:3.)
“Samson caught three hundred foxes, or, as the Hebrew word signifies, jackals and proceeded to tie them together in pairs by their tails with a fire brand or torch fixed between the two tails. He then let loose these one hundred and fifty pairs of foxes among the cornfields, vineyards and olive groves of the Philistines. This resulted in the destruction of the harvests in these fields as well as the orchards. No doubt Samson watched the results from the top of Zorah, for in the dry and sunny climate of Palestine such a fire, once started, would spread rapidly and burn fiercely.
“Some have raised an objection to Samson’s ability to secure that number of jackals. With the assistance of friends he could have secured that number very quickly, or by himself it would not have taken very long, for the jackal existed in the gardens and among the ruins and tombs in great numbers in Palestine.
“Reaction of Philistines
“This loss of their harvests stirred up the Philistines and upon inquiry they learned that Samson was responsible for the destruction of their crops, having done this because his wife had been given to another. Thereupon, the Philistines went up and destroyed the woman and her family, together with their house and possessions, with fire. Thus, Samson’s wife suffered the fate she tried to escape when she betrayed his confidence and told the riddle to the Philistine young men. In fact, her betrayal of Samson’s secret brought about conditions which led directly to the very type of death she had sought to avoid. Had she told Samson of the threat against her, the affair would have had a far different ending, for the young men who had threatened her life would have been slain by Samson. Samson’s strength and bravery would have been sufficient to protect his relatives against the vengeance of those who threatened them.
“Slaughter of Philistines
“Samson told the Philistines that because they had slain his wife he would take vengeance upon them and he routed them headlong with a heavy slaughter. The Bible states:
“‘And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter ...’ (Judges 15:8.)
“It is evident that when he attacked them in the fury of his strength there was great confusion among his foes. He smote them hip and thigh, i.e., those who fled and those who fought, for he cut down the brave who stood their ground and pursued, overtook and destroyed those who fled. After this conquest Samson went to the rock of Elam and encamped in a cavern in the top of that rock.
“Because Samson had attacked and killed many Philistines, the lords of the Philistines were aroused against him and gathered a great army for battle. This army encamped in Judah and advanced against the city of Lehi. The men of Judah asked the Philistines why they had come against them and the Philistines replied that they had come to seize Samson so that they might do to him what he had done to them. The people were in fear of the Philistines and of their rulers, so three thousand men of Judah went to Samson to the top of the rock where he was dwelling and said to him:
“‘Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us?’ (Judges 15:11.)
“Here we have a most interesting situation in the land of Israel at that time. The people were dominated by the Philistines and had been under their power and control for so many years that the Almighty had to raise up a man who in his own strength could be used of Him to defeat Israel’s enemies. Samson himself was actuated by revenge for wrongs done to him personally but Yahweh purposely allowed him to be thwarted in his love so that He might use him single-handed to defeat the Philistines. But, rather than oppose their oppressors, his own people would have delivered Samson into the hands of the Philistines.
“Apropos of this is the following editorial from DESTINY for September 1938:
“‘History demonstrates that men of business, with a few splendid exceptions, are so engrossed with their individual occupations that they have no time for the greater issues, especially so if they might interfere with their profits. It was a poor tentmaker who plied his trade only to earn enough for traveling purposes and who left an enviable record of accomplishments.
“‘Who has not heard of Paul, read his letters and marveled at his spiritual endurance? But who can name a single businessman of his day or tell of his accomplishments? The only businessman mentioned is Alexander the coppersmith, named by Paul as doing him much evil. This evidently was the Alexander who had at one time been faithful (1 Tim. 1:20), but had turned against Paul, whose message no doubt was affecting his profits.
“‘There were many businessmen in Israel at the time of Gideon. The nation was under bondage to her enemies, but who brought deliverance to the people? The businessmen? No. That deliverance came through a young man of a poor family in Manasseh. When Gideon began his task of cleansing the land of evil the businessmen of the city gathered together to stop him, even to the point of desiring to take his life. He was interfering with their business operations.
“‘At another time Israel was being ruled over by the Philistines. A young man of the tribe of Dan destroyed their corn because of what they had done to a young woman with whom he had fallen in love. Three thousand businessmen of Judah came to him and said, ‘Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? What is this that thou hast done unto us?’ What had he done to them? He had given the Philistines an excuse to lay tribute upon them; therefore, he was interfering with their business profits. They proposed to bind Samson and deliver him over to the Philistines in order to save the business situation. This was more important to them than ultimate deliverance from these rulers.
“‘Such instances of compromise by men of business for the sake of continued profits could be multiplied over and over again. However, we do not have to dwell upon records of ancient history for such examples. We have before us concrete illustrations in modern times of the timidity of businessmen to meet current issues. A correspondent, head of an organization dealing with serious current developments writes, ‘The businessmen and the intelligentsia, we waste no time on – believing that history will repeat itself and they will do nothing but talk and compromise – being wiped out when the going is tough.’
“‘Some day the story of the present fight against the forces of evil will be told in all of its details. That record will carry very few of the names of those who could have contributed to the accomplishment of the seemingly unaccomplishable.
“‘Ezekiel condemned those who failed to stand in the breach in Israel’s time of trouble. He says: ‘They shall not come to the Council of My People, nor be recorded in the records of the House of Israel’ (Ezekiel 13:9, Ferrar Fenton Trans.). [Actually, Ezekiel was condemning false prophets and lying diviners. C.A.E.] – Back to Rand:
“Destruction of Philistines
“Samson’s reply to the businessmen of his day who were disturbed over his actions was that what he had done to the Philistines was in retaliation for what they had done to him. But the men of Judah told Samson they had come to bind him and hand him over to the Philistines. Samson asked them to promise him they would not murder him themselves if he allowed them to bind him. They replied that they would not kill him but simply turn him over to the Philistines. So he allowed the men of Judah to tie him up and they did so with new ropes and brought him to Lehi where the army of the Philistines was in camp. When the Philistines saw Samson bound and being delivered to them, they shouted aloud and made a great clamor in their triumph over him. But they had not counted on the next happening:
“‘... and the Spirit of Yahweh came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed [melted] off his hands. And he found a new [moist] jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.’ (Judges 15:14-15.)
“‘And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.’ (Judges 15:16.)
Ferrar Fenton renders this verse:
“‘With the jaw-bone of an ass, I have made them asses! – With the jaw-bone of an ass, I’ve slain a thousand men!”
“Avenger of Blood
“Very likely this is the origin of the expression that makes the ass the emblem of obstinacy and stupidity, for the Philistines certainly were stupid to arouse Samson after he had informed them that after avenging the murder of his wife he would stop harassing them. Actually, as the avenger of blood under the Israel law, it was well within Samson’s rights to execute judgment upon those responsible for the murder of his wife and father-in-law. However, the Philistines did not recognize justice in behalf of an Israelite when involved in difficulties with the Philistines since Israel was under their domination. Following the slaughter of his enemies, Samson was terribly exhausted and thirsty and he cried out to Yahweh:
“‘... Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?’ (Judges 15:18.)
“Water at Lehi
“The King James version of the Bible makes it appear that water came forth from the jawbone used by Samson to slay his enemies. Actually, water came forth from a hollow or well at Lehi and not a hollow in the jawbone. The well from which Samson quenched his thirst was still there at Lehi when this account of Samson’s exploits was being written. As translated by Moffatt, the account reads:
“‘Then God split the hollow at Lehi, and water poured from it; when he drank, his spirits rose, and he revived. Hence the spot was named Caller-spring (Enhakkore); it is at Lehi to this day.’ (Judges 15:19.)
“For twenty years Samson judged Israel and no doubt the fear of him during those years of his judgeship kept the Philistines subdued. The narrative then moves on to give the details of the events which culminated in the death of Samson.
“Samson at Gaza
“We are informed that on one occasion Samson went to Gaza, a Philistine city, where he visited a harlot. Having learned of his presence in their city, the men of Gaza made an ambush for him, declaring that they would kill him in the morning when he tried to leave. But Samson left at midnight and pulled up the doors of the city gate with the two posts and the cross bar. Placing them on his shoulders, he carried them to the top of the hill opposite Hebron.
“Life of Samson
“The life and experiences of Samson have been a conundrum to many students of the Scriptures. Here was a man possessed of prodigious strength, upon whom the Spirit of Yahweh would come from time to time so that he could perform great feats of prowess. In the incident just recounted, immediately after he left the harlot’s house, the tremendous strength of which he was capable surged through his being and he carried away the doors of the city gates single-handed. It has been difficult for Bible students to reconcile Samson’s conduct at times with the inescapable fact that Yahweh used him to carry out His will and gave Samson mighty strength when His Spirit came upon him. It is only when the life of Samson is considered as a whole that it is possible to resolve some of the difficulties. The Almighty purposely thwarted Samson in all of his desires to have a home life in order to arouse in him a hatred of the Philistine. In this way alone could He use Samson to overcome Israel’s enemies. Samson’s frustrations led him to prey upon the Philistines, not only in his own right, but also because they were the oppressors of Israel. His very strength and passion was used of the Almighty to bring defeat to those who were oppressing His people. Samson’s weakness lay in his lack of discernment when it came to women. Though physically the strongest man who ever lived, he became weak when contending with the wiles of women who used his love for them to overcome him. This is very clear in this final account of his love for a Philistine woman who betrayed him.
“Samson fell in love with a woman in the valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. The lords of the Philistines came to her and said:
“‘... Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.’ (Judges 16:5.)
“There were five lords of the Philistines – Gaza, Ashdod, Ekron, Ashkelon and Gath – so the bribe offered to Delilah was a handsome sum of money. It proved to be true that though Samson loved her truly, she was willing to betray him for a price. Coveting the money she was to receive, Delilah began to seek from Samson the source of his strength. She asked him why he was so strong and how he could be tied up so as to be tortured. Samson replied that if he were bound with seven fresh bowstrings that had never been dried, he would be as weak as other men.
“The Philistines brought the seven fresh bowstrings to Delilah who tied Samson with them. Meantime, men were concealed in her apartment awaiting the results. Delilah exclaimed:
“‘... The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.’ (Judges 16:9.)
“Delilah then accused Samson of deceiving her, so he told her that if he were bound with new ropes his strength would be gone. They proved to be as ineffective as the bowstrings, however, when Delilah bound him with ropes. Accusing him of still lying to her, Delilah demanded to know the truth. She probably restrained her vexation, remembering that the Philistines would make it worth her while to hold her patience. Continuing to play the ‘game,’ Samson said that if she wove the seven locks of his hair with the web of the loom and twisted them in with the pin, his strength would fail. While Samson slept Delilah did this but when she woke Samson, declaring that the Philistines were upon him (for they were hiding in the chamber), he went away with the pin, beam and web.
“This was too much for the patience of Delilah who then reverted to a woman’s supreme strategy, using the one weapon most likely to overcome a man in love with her. She complained petulantly:
“‘How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you do not trust me? Three times already you have cheated me; you have never told me why you are so strong. At last, as she pressed him every day and urged him [Ferrar Fenton translates this, ‘So when she had worn him out by talking every day’], he got tired to death and told her all the secret.’ (Judges 16:15-17, Moffatt Trans.)
“Blind to Reason
“Just why Samson should recognize the Philistine men as ene- mies, yet assume their womenfolk could be trusted is a mystery except that love had completely blinded his eyes to the truth. It would also seem that after Samson’s earlier experience with the woman he was to marry, who betrayed the secret of his riddle, that he would have learned his lesson. But evidently his strong love prevented him from reasoning correctly, or else he would have refused to divulge his secret to Delilah. There is no doubt but that she played the part of an expert actress and led him on to the conclusion that he could trust her. So Samson finally explained truthfully:
“‘... There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto the Almighty from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.’ (Judges 16:17.)
“Philistines Take Samson
“Delilah made her report to the Philistine lords, stating that Samson had at last told her his heart’s secret. They came, then, to her apartment, bringing the bribe money with them. Evidently she was shrewd enough to get her pay before revealing the secret of Samson’s strength to his enemies. Since this early record of the enemy using a woman to beguile a man into telling secrets which would enable the foes to overcome him or his people, nations have resorted to this method of sabotage with profitable results. This was much in evidence in the spy activities during both World Wars I and II.”
This would be a timely place to pause at “Samson The Nazarite”,chapter VII of XXIV of “The Book Of The Kingdom”,Destiny, August 1949, which will be continued in WTL #228.