Judges 15:14:

וַתִּצְלַ֨ח עָלָ֜יו ר֣וּחַ יְהֹוָ֗ה וַתִּהְיֶ֨ינָה הָעֲבֹתִ֜ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר עַל־זְרוֹעוֹתָ֗יו כַּפִּשְׁתִּים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בָּעֲר֣וּ בָאֵ֔שׁ וַיִּמַּ֥סּוּ אֱסוּרָ֖יו מֵעַ֥ל יָדָֽיו׃ Thereupon the spirit of GOD gripped him, and the ropes on his arms became like flax that catches fire; the bonds melted off his hands.

Notice the structure of the verse. 1) It relatively describes the rope/object as being akin, in this case, to an easier object and 2) describes what he did to that object. Here is a similar structure: Judges 16:9

וַתֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֔יו פְּלִשְׁתִּ֥ים עָלֶ֖יךָ שִׁמְשׁ֑וֹן וַיְנַתֵּק֙ אֶת־הַיְתָרִ֔ים כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר יִנָּתֵ֤ק פְּתִֽיל־הַנְּעֹ֙רֶת֙ בַּהֲרִיח֣וֹ אֵ֔שׁ וְלֹ֥א נוֹדַ֖ע כֹּחֽוֹ׃ She said to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” Whereupon he pulled the tendons apart, as a strand of tow comes apart at the touch of fire.

Once again (16:12):

וַתִּקַּ֣ח דְּלִילָה֩ עֲבֹתִ֨ים חֲדָשִׁ֜ים וַתַּאַסְרֵ֣הוּ בָהֶ֗ם וַתֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ פְּלִשְׁתִּ֤ים עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ שִׁמְשׁ֔וֹן וְהָאֹרֵ֖ב יֹשֵׁ֣ב בֶּחָ֑דֶר וַֽיְנַתְּקֵ֛ם מֵעַ֥ל זְרֹעֹתָ֖יו כַּחֽוּט׃

So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, while an ambush was waiting in a room. And she cried, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he tore them off his arms like a thread.

Again (14:6):

וַתִּצְלַ֨ח עָלָ֜יו ר֣וּחַ יְהֹוָ֗ה וַֽיְשַׁסְּעֵ֙הוּ֙ כְּשַׁסַּ֣ע הַגְּדִ֔י וּמְא֖וּמָה אֵ֣ין בְּיָד֑וֹ וְלֹ֤א הִגִּיד֙ לְאָבִ֣יו וּלְאִמּ֔וֹ אֵ֖ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָֽׂה׃

The spirit of GOD gripped him, and he tore him asunder with his bare hands as one might tear a kid asunder; but he did not tell his father and mother what he had done.

BUT the verses are not always consistent (14:19:

וַתִּצְלַ֨ח עָלָ֜יו ר֣וּחַ יְהֹוָ֗ה וַיֵּ֨רֶד אַשְׁקְל֜וֹן וַיַּ֥ךְ מֵהֶ֣ם ׀ שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים אִ֗ישׁ

The spirit of GOD gripped him. He went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of its men.

Notice that it does not say, i.e., "and killing those thirty men was like killing a lad."

This one too (16:14):

וַתִּתְקַע֙ בַּיָּתֵ֔ד וַתֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֔יו פְּלִשְׁתִּ֥ים עָלֶ֖יךָ שִׁמְשׁ֑וֹן וַיִּיקַץ֙ מִשְּׁנָת֔וֹ וַיִּסַּ֛ע אֶת־הַיְתַ֥ד הָאֶ֖רֶג וְאֶת־הַמַּסָּֽכֶת׃

And she pinned it with a peg and cried to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” Awaking from his sleep, he pulled out the peg, the loom, and the web.

Again, no mention of how, relatively speaking, it was easy for samson to pull out the peg!

And what about this (16:3):

וַיִּשְׁכַּ֣ב שִׁמְשׁוֹן֮ עַד־חֲצִ֣י הַלַּ֒יְלָה֒ וַיָּ֣קׇם ׀ בַּחֲצִ֣י הַלַּ֗יְלָה וַיֶּאֱחֹ֞ז בְּדַלְת֤וֹת שַֽׁעַר־הָעִיר֙ וּבִשְׁתֵּ֣י הַמְּזֻז֔וֹת וַיִּסָּעֵם֙ עִֽם־הַבְּרִ֔יחַ וַיָּ֖שֶׂם עַל־כְּתֵפָ֑יו וַֽיַּעֲלֵם֙ אֶל־רֹ֣אשׁ הָהָ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י חֶבְרֽוֹן׃ {פ}

But Samson lay in bed only till midnight. At midnight he got up, grasped the doors of the town gate together with the two gateposts, and pulled them out along with the bar. He placed them on his shoulders and carried them off to the top of the hill that is near Hebron.

There is no mention of how effortless it was to lift those gates (i.e. lifting those gates was like lifting a stone)!

Surely, Samuel the Prophet, the author of Judges (See Bava Batra 14b) purposefully chose to either discuss these objects in comparison to other objects or to not do so. Why? Relatedly, the verse sometimes states that the Spirit of God descended upon Samson when performing a feat; sometimes the verse omits this fact ... why?

  • 1
    maybe he had good days and bad days? Jan 10 at 12:16
  • Keeps it narratively interesting.
    – Shalom
    Jan 10 at 12:52
  • 1
    And it makes sense to give me a frame of reference to do easy things; to the Bible-era reader, butchering a lamb was easy, so "he killed the lion as easily as a lamb" makes sense. But I am quite glad the Navi does not try to say "killing people was as easy as ___" ... it should never be described as easy.
    – Shalom
    Jan 10 at 13:44


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