A small circular stone seal may be the first archaeological evidence of Samson.
(Staff) SCHOLARS IN ISRAEL say they may have found the first archaeological evidence of Samson, the Bible’s most famous strongman. Professor Shlomo Bunimovitz and Dr. Zvi Lederman, excavation directors at Tel Aviv University, reported that while recently digging at the Tell Beit Shemesh excavation site, just outside of Jerusalem in the Judaean Hills, they found a small circular stone seal, less than an inch in diameter, which depicts a man with long hair fighting a feline figure. Archaeologists believe the find to be from the 11th century BC. The site is in the region where Samson lived. Though the Israeli discovery is not proof of the account of Samson slaying a lion in the Bible, it does “anchor the story in an archaeological setting,” said Professor Bunimovitz.
The seal was found near the River Sorekm, which served as the ancient border between Israelite and Philistine territories. The archaeologists found a plethora of pig bones on the Philistines’ territory, while they found close to none on the Israeli territory, showing the Israelites chose not to eat pork in order to differentiate themselves from the Philistines.
According to Scripture, Samson was an Israelite of the tribe of Dan, born near where the Israelite, Philistine and Canaanite borders met. As a Nazarite, Samson wasn’t allowed to cut his hair. Long-haired Samson sought a wife among the neighbouring Philistine people. On his way to secure the marriage Samson encountered a roaring lion but “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat” (Judges 14:6). The whole story of Samson’s life can be read in Judges 13-16.
At one time the Asiatic lion was found from Asia Minor throughout the Middle East and Persia to India. It is thought that these lions were exterminated from the Holy Land about the time of the Crusades. Lions were reported in Syria up until 1851, in Persia until 1900 and in parts of Iraq until the early 1920s. Today the only place in the wild where the Asiatic lion survives is in the Gir Forest of Gujarat, India. TAP