11. Three Hundred Foxes

Samson had the worst ‘best man’. Stealing the solution to Samson’s riddle wasn’t enough, he would steal his wife too. The companion of the groom is supposed to be a close friend, someone who rejoices greatly at the sound of the bridegroom’s voice (John 3:29). When Samson returned once again to Timnah, his voice would have been far from welcome. Samson’s return to his wife and this difficult situation highlights our own attraction to trouble. How many times have you returned to a situation knowing well the pain it will bring?

Despite all he had been through, Samson would return with a goat as a gift and the hope of igniting the embers of his damaged marriage. He returned to his wife to find she was no longer his.

It is true that sometimes silence speaks louder than words. In the next episode in Samson’s life it is very important to note that God is not mentioned. There is no Spirit stirring or rushing upon Samson. The actions can be attributed solely to Samson. It is suggested that with the foxes and the firebrands Samson was reacting of his own volition.

This time I shall be innocent in regard to the Philistines, when I do them harm.

Judges 15:3

Samson’s frustration in finding his wife married to another would contribute to the escalation of events between him and the Philistines. The words that he spoke may hint of an almost regretful view of his previous assault on Ashkelon. It suggests that he was not willing to personally shed blood again, in his act of revenge he was seeking indirect retribution. He wanted to retaliate but not bring about a slaughter with his own bare hands.

His new attack against them was going to be detached yet just as devastating. It is one those peculiar events in Samson’s life that contributes to his unique, eccentric character – another jagged edge on the jigsaw piece.

So Samson went and caught 300 foxes. Judges 15:4

Fire FoxThis is a rather simple description of a complicated task. The fox of the Old Testament was a jackal-like wild dog (not the foxes we are used to – pictured above). Although the wild dogs lived in packs they were not easily herded.

We can only begin to fathom how Samson went about this task. The location for this mission would be carefully selected. It was either enacted in secret or openly at the bemusement of the locals. We can hear the laughter as Samson amassed his herd of foxes. His techniques are a mystery to us, but skillfully Samson developed a way to capture and contain 300 of these creatures.

The number three appears, amplified, throughout the Samson story. There were three women that would woo Samson, thirty groomsmen gleaning his puzzle’s solution, three hundred fire foxes fuelling destruction and three thousand Israelites betraying their brother to a band of baying Philistines.

It was about three thousand Philistines that Samson slew when he brought down the temple of Dagon and ended his own life.

We wonder how many hours, days or weeks it took for Samson to bring about this unusual fox-strike? It would appear that he would process each pair of foxes alone, tying their tails together and attaching a firebrand.

Why not send out 300 individual foxes? Why did they have to be tied together in pairs and sent out ablaze? Certainly individual animals may have more easily run for cover. But chained beasts, wrestling this way and that, would be locked into a struggle causing considerably more damage to the crops in Samson’s target.

And he turned them tail to tail… Judges 15:4

The foxes were tied tail to tail. What, if any, significance can we find in this imagery? It gives us a striking image of two forces in opposition, each struggling to survive.

Maybe it speaks of that battle inside each of us.

A tension and jarring in our own hearts.

The apostle Paul best described this kind of dissonance when he wrote to the Romans of our internal warfare (Romans 8:7-25). That which is spiritual, from God, battles against our fleshly, human motives. Disturbing us like the violent jolt in the rope between Samson’s foxes.

Who will deliver us from the war within?

Images: Fox

This entry was published on December 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm and is filed under Samson. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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