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Deuteronomy 7:1-4

New American Standard Bible 1995 Warnings

7 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, 2 and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you [a]defeat them, then you shall [b]utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. 3 Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your [c]daughters to [d]their sons, nor shall you take [e]their daughters for your [f]sons. 4 For [g]they will turn your [h]sons away from [i]following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.

Judges 14:1-4

New American Standard Bible 1995 Samson’s Marriage 14

Then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 So he came [a]back and told his father and [b]mother, “I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” 3 Then his father and his mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your [c]relatives, or among all [d]our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she [e]looks good to me.” 4 However, his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines were ruling over Israel.

In the Deuteronomy 7:1-4 bible passage, God explicitly tells the Israelites Not to intermarry with the Unbelieving Gentile ethnic people groups.

Therefore, how can we reconcile God's command in Deuteronomy 7:1-4 bible passage with God enticing Samson to intermarry with the Philistine woman from Timnah?

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    Does this answer your question? Did God want Samson to violate a statute of Moses?
    – Dottard
    Mar 14 at 20:25
  • @Dottard Would the following be a good analogy? God is like the rodeo cowboy who rides the wild rodeo bull named Samson. Samson the bull is wild, and untamed which is sinful. However, incidentally, lets say that God has a personal goal that involves getting from from side of the rodeo stadium to the other side. God can still accomplish His goal of getting to the other side of the rodeo stadium by being the rodeo cowboy who rides the bull called Samson. Mar 16 at 20:54
  • What the story of Samson demonstrates (among other things) is that God can use imperfect humans to accomplish His purpose. Samson, despite his shortcomings, still began the liberation of Israel from the Philistine oppression.
    – Dottard
    Mar 16 at 20:57
  • Thanks. However, would my analogy be reasonably suitable in terms of how it relates to the Bible's Samson story? Mar 16 at 21:00
  • If your analogy is helpful to you, then run with it.
    – Dottard
    Mar 16 at 21:01

2 Answers 2

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The traditional view of Samson's sin of marrying the gentile from Timnah is that Samson indeed sinned by violating the numerous injunctions in the Torah against intermarriage, but G-d's will was still carried out since G-d planned for Samson to take vengeance on the Philistines later on, saving klal yisrael. Mishnah Sota teaches that since Samson followed his eyes and intermarried, therefore he lost his eyes at the hands of the Philistines:

שִׁמְשׁוֹן הָלַךְ אַחַר עֵינָיו, לְפִיכָךְ נִקְּרוּ פְלִשְׁתִּים אֶת עֵינָיו

Mishnah Sota 1:8

Samson’s parents warned him after they saw the vineyards of Timnah were planted with kilayim (mixed species planted together, which is forbidden in Lev. 19:19). They told Samson: “Just as their vineyards are planted with kilayim, their daughters, too, are the result of intermingling”. This shows that Samson was warned specifically about his intermarriage but he chose to sin.

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  • Would the following be a good analogy? God is like the rodeo cowboy who rides the wild rodeo bull named Samson. Samson the bull is wild, and untamed which is sinful. However, incidentally, lets say that God has a personal goal that involves getting from from side of the rodeo stadium to the other side. God can still accomplish His goal of getting to the other side of the rodeo stadium by being the rodeo cowboy who rides the bull called Samson. Mar 16 at 17:59
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As @Avi Avraham points out, the traditional explanation is that God used Samson's sin for his purpose. To quote the OP: "it was of the Lord, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines." Samson's falling for forbidden women is a recurring theme in his story, but it every case the outcome is that he ends up either shaming or killing many Philistines as a result. His narrative concludes:

29 Samson grasped the two middle columns... saying, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Samson pushed hard, and the temple fell upon the lords and all the people who were in it. Those he killed by his dying were more than those he had killed during his lifetime... He had judged Israel for twenty years.

This is hardly a glowing endorsement. In fact Samson never led Israel in battle as several other judges did, nor did he wisely decide legal cases as Deborah did. Nor does his story conclude with a positive statement such as "the land had rest" as a result of his work, as in the case of several other judges. The text only notes that "he judged Israel for 20 years."

According to Amy-Jill Levine, one of the themes of the Book of Judges is the "increasing instability of the judge as political leader and the descent of Israel's tribal confederation into moral and political chaos." Samson is perhaps the par-excellence example of this principle.

Judges 17:6

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.

Conclusion: Samson's course raises a serious questions as to his moral character. The narrative affirms that God used his sinful behavior for a providential purpose, but it stops far short of endorsing him as an example others should follow. His story demonstrates that the Israelite tribal confederation, led by occasional powerful deliverers like Samson, was insufficient to God's purpose: to establish a kingdom, where a monarchical ruler cooperated with the priesthood to create a national-level society centered on God's law.

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  • Would the following be a good analogy? God is like the rodeo cowboy who rides the wild rodeo bull named Samson. Samson the bull is wild, and untamed which is sinful. However, incidentally, lets say that God has a personal goal that involves getting from from side of the rodeo stadium to the other side. God can still accomplish His goal of getting to the other side of the rodeo stadium by being the rodeo cowboy who rides the bull called Samson. Mar 16 at 15:12

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