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Why Christianity Prospered
Samson And His Exploits
This Israelite hero is said to have been born at a time when the
children of Israel were in the hands of the Philistines. His mother, who
had been barren for a number of years, is entertained by an angel, who
informs her that she shall conceive, and bear a son,[62:1] and that the
child shall be a Nazarite unto God, from the womb, and he shall begin
to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines.
According to the prediction of the angel, "the woman bore a son, and
called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him."
"And Samson (after he had grown to man's estate), went down to
Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the
Philistines. And he came up and told his father and his
mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the
daughters of the Philistines; now therefore get her for me to
Samson's father and mother preferred that he should take a woman among
the daughters of their own tribe, but Samson wished for the maid of the
Philistines, "for," said he, "she pleaseth me well."
The parents, after coming to the conclusion that it was the will of the
Lord, that he should marry the maid of the Philistines, consented.
"Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to
Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath, and, behold, a
young lion roared against him (Samson). And the spirit of the
Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him (the lion) as he
would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand."
This was Samson's first exploit, which he told not to any one, not
even his father, or his mother.
He then continued on his way, and went down and talked with the woman,
and she pleased him well.
And, after a time, he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see
the carcass of the lion, and behold, "there was a swarm of bees, and
honey, in the carcass of the lion."
Samson made a feast at his wedding, which lasted for seven days. At
this feast, there were brought thirty companions to be with him, unto
whom he said: "I will now put forth a riddle unto you, if ye can
certainly declare it me, within the seven days of the feast, and find
it out, then I will give you thirty sheets, and thirty changes of
garments. But, if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty
sheets, and thirty changes of garments." And they said unto him, "Put
forth thy riddle, that we may hear it." And he answered them: "Out of
the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness."
This riddle the thirty companions could not solve.
"And it came to pass, on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson's
wife: 'Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle.'"
She accordingly went to Samson, and told him that he could not love her;
if it were so, he would tell her the answer to the riddle. After she had
wept and entreated of him, he finally told her, and she gave the answer
to the children of her people. "And the men of the city said unto him,
on the seventh day, before the sun went down, 'What is sweeter than
honey, and what is stronger than a lion?'"
Samson, upon hearing this, suspected how they managed to find out the
answer, whereupon he said unto them: "If ye had not ploughed with my
heifer, ye had not found out my riddle."
Samson was then at a loss to know where to get the thirty sheets, and
the thirty changes of garments; but, "the spirit of the Lord came upon
him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and
took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded
This was the hero's second exploit.
His anger being kindled, he went up to his father's house, instead of
returning to his wife.[64:1] But it came to pass, that, after a while,
Samson repented of his actions, and returned to his wife's house, and
wished to go in to his wife in the chamber; but her father would not
suffer him to go. And her father said: "I verily thought that thou hadst
utterly hated her, therefore, I gave her to thy companion. Is not her
younger sister fairer than she? Take her, I pray thee, instead of her."
This did not seem to please Samson, even though the younger was fairer
than the older, for he "went and caught three hundred foxes, and took
firebrands, and turned (the foxes) tail to tail, and put a firebrand in
the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he
let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burned up
both the shocks and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and
This was Samson's third exploit.
When the Philistines found their corn, their vineyards, and their olives
burned, they said: "Who hath done this?"
"And they answered, 'Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite,
because he had taken his wife, and given her to his
companion.' And the Philistines came up, and burned her and
her father with fire. And Samson said unto them: 'Though ye
have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I
will cease.' And he smote them hip and thigh with a great
slaughter, and he went and dwelt in the top of the rock
This "great slaughter" was Samson's fourth exploit.
"Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and
spread themselves in Lehi. And the men of Judah said: 'Why are
ye come up against us?' And they answered: 'To bind Samson are
we come up, and to do to him as he hath done to us.' Then
three thousand men of Judah went up to the top of the rock
Etam, and said to Samson: 'Knowest thou not that the
Philistines are rulers over us? What is this that thou hast
done unto us?' And he said unto them: 'As they did unto me, so
have I done unto them.' And they said unto him: 'We are come
down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hands of
the Philistines.' And Samson said unto them: 'Swear unto me
that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.' And they spake unto
him, saying, 'No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee
into their hands: but surely we will not kill thee.' And they
bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the
rock. And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted
against him; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon
him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax
that was burned with fire, and his bands loosed from off his
hands. And he found a new jaw-bone of an ass, and put forth
his hand and took it, and slew a thousand men with it."
This was Samson's fifth exploit.
After slaying a thousand men he was "sore athirst," and called unto the
Lord. And "God clave a hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came
water thereout, and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he
"Then went Samson to Gaza and saw there a harlot, and went in
unto her. And it was told the Gazites, saying, 'Samson is come
hither.' And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all
night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night,
saying: 'In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.'
And Samson lay (with the harlot) till midnight, and arose at
midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the
two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them
upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of a hill
that is in Hebron."
This was Samson's sixth exploit.
"And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the
valley of Soreck, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the
Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her: 'Entice him,
and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we
may prevail against him.'"
Delilah then began to entice Samson to tell her wherein his strength
"She pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that
his soul was vexed unto death. Then he told her all his heart,
and said unto her: 'There hath not come a razor upon mine
head, for I have been a Nazarite unto God 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.' And when
Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she went and
called for the lords of the Philistines, saying: 'Come up this
once, for he hath showed me all his heart.' Then the lords of
the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their
hands (for her).
"And she made him (Samson) sleep upon her knees; and she
called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven
locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his
strength went from him."
The Philistines then took him, put out his eyes, and put him in prison.
And being gathered together at a great sacrifice in honor of their God,
Dagon, they said: "Call for Samson, that he may make us sport." And they
called for Samson, and he made them sport.
"And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand.
Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house
standeth, that I may lean upon them.
"Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords
of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof
about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson
"And Samson called unto the Lord, and said: 'O Lord God,
remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only
this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the
Philistines for my two eyes.'
"And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the
house stood and on which it was borne up, of the one with his
right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said:
'Let me die with the Philistines.' And he bowed himself with
all his might; and (having regained his strength) the house
fell upon the lords, and upon the people that were therein. So
the dead which he slew at his death, were more than they which
he slew in his life."[66:1]
Thus ended the career of the "strong man" of the Hebrews.
That this story is a copy of the legends related of Hercules, or that
they have both been copied from similar legends existing among some
other nations,[66:2] is too evident to be disputed. Many churchmen have
noticed the similarity between the history of Samson and that of
Hercules. In Chambers's Encyclopaedia, under "Samson," we read as
"It has been matter of most contradictory speculations, how
far his existence is to be taken as a reality, or, in other
words, what substratum of historical truth there may be in
this supposed circle of popular legends, artistically rounded
off, in the four chapters of Judges which treat of him. . . .
"The miraculous deeds he performed have taxed the ingenuity of
many commentators, and the text has been twisted and turned
in all directions, to explain, rationally, his slaying
those prodigious numbers single-handed; his carrying the gates
of Gaza, in one night, a distance of about fifty miles, &c.,
That this is simply a Solar myth, no one will doubt, we believe, who
will take the trouble to investigate it.
Prof. Goldziher, who has made "Comparative Mythology" a special study,
says of this story:
"The most complete and rounded-off Solar myth extant in
Hebrew, is that of Shimshon (Samson), a cycle of mythical
conceptions fully comparable with the Greek myth of
We shall now endeavor to ascertain if such is the case, by comparing the
exploits of Samson with those of Hercules.
The first wonderful act performed by Samson was, as we have seen, that
of slaying a lion. This is said to have happened when he was but a
youth. So likewise was it with Hercules. At the age of eighteen, he slew
an enormous lion.[66:4]
The valley of Nemea was infested by a terrible lion; Eurystheus ordered
Hercules to bring him the skin of this monster. After using in vain his
club and arrows against the lion, Hercules strangled the animal with his
hands. He returned, carrying the dead lion on his shoulders; but
Eurystheus was so frightened at the sight of it, and at this proof of
the prodigious strength of the hero, that he ordered him to deliver the
accounts of his exploits in the future outside the town.[67:1]
To show the courage of Hercules, it is said that he entered the cave
where the lion's lair was, closed the entrance behind him, and at once
grappled with the monster.[67:2]
Samson is said to have torn asunder the jaws of the lion, and we find
him generally represented slaying the beast in that manner. So likewise,
was this the manner in which Hercules disposed of the Nemean lion.[67:3]
The skin of the lion, Hercules tore off with his fingers, and knowing it
to be impenetrable, resolved to wear it henceforth.[67:4] The statues
and paintings of Hercules either represent him carrying the lion's skin
over his arm, or wearing it hanging down his back, the skin of its head
fitting to his crown like a cap, and the fore-legs knotted under his
Samson's second exploit was when he went down to Ashkelon and slew
Hercules, when returning to Thebes from the lion-hunt, and wearing its
skin hanging from his shoulders, as a sign of his success, met the
heralds of the King of the Minyae, coming from Orchomenos to claim the
annual tribute of a hundred cattle, levied on Thebes. Hercules cut off
the ears and noses of the heralds, bound their hands, and sent them
Samson's third exploit was when he caught three hundred foxes, and took
fire-brands, and turned them tail to tail, and put a fire-brand in the
midst between two tails, and let them go into the standing corn of the
There is no such feature as this in the legends of Hercules, the nearest
to it in resemblance is when he encounters and kills the Learnean
Hydra.[67:7] During this encounter a fire-brand figures conspicuously,
and the neighboring wood is set on fire.[67:8]
We have, however, an explanation of this portion of the legend, in the
following from Prof. Steinthal:
At the festival of Ceres, held at Rome, in the month of April, a
fox-hunt through the circus was indulged in, in which burning torches
were bound to the foxes' tails.
This was intended to be a symbolical reminder of the damage done to the
fields by mildew, called the "red fox," which was exorcised in various
ways at this momentous season (the last third of April). It is the time
of the Dog-Star, at which the mildew was most to be feared; if at that
time great solar heat follows too close upon the hoar-frost or dew of
the cold nights, this mischief rages like a burning fox through the
He also says that:
"This is the sense of the story of the foxes, which Samson
caught and sent into the Philistines' fields, with fire-brands
fastened to their tails, to burn the crops. Like the lion, the
fox is an animal that indicated the solar heat, being well
suited for this both by its color and by its long-haired
Bouchart, in his "Hierozoicon," observes that:
"At this period (i. e., the last third of April) they cut
the corn in Palestine and Lower Egypt, and a few days after
the setting of the Hyads arose the Fox, in whose train or
tail comes the fires or torches of the dog-days, represented
among the Egyptians by red marks painted on the backs of their
Count de Volney also tells us that:
"The inhabitants of Carseoles, an ancient city of Latium,
every year, in a religious festival, burned a number of foxes
with torches tied to their tails. They gave, as the reason
for this whimsical ceremony, that their corn had been formerly
burnt by a fox to whose tail a young man had fastened a bundle
of lighted straw."[68:4]
He concludes his account of this peculiar "religious festival," by
"This is exactly the story of Samson with the Philistines, but
it is a Phenician tale. Car-Seol is a compound word in that
tongue, signifying town of foxes. The Philistines,
originally from Egypt, do not appear to have had any colonies.
The Phenicians had a great many; and it can scarcely be
admitted that they borrowed this story from the Hebrews, as
obscure as the Druses are in our own times, or that a simple
adventure gave rise to a religious ceremony; it evidently can
only be a mythological and allegorical narration."[68:4]
So much, then, for the foxes and fire-brands.
Samson's fourth exploit was when he smote the Philistines "hip and
thigh," "with great slaughter."
It is related of Hercules that he had a combat with an army of
Centaurs, who were armed with pine sticks, rocks, axes, &c. They flocked
in wild confusion, and surrounded the cave of Pholos, where Hercules
was, when a violent fight ensued. Hercules was obliged to contend
against this large armed force single-handed, but he came off
victorious, and slew a great number of them.[69:1] Hercules also
encountered and fought against an army of giants, at the Phlegraean
fields, near Cumae.[69:2]
Samson's next wonderful exploit was when "three thousand men of Judah"
bound him with cords and brought him up into Lehi, when the
Philistines were about to take his life. The cords with which he was
bound immediately became as flax, and loosened from off his hands. He
then, with the jaw-bone of an ass, slew one thousand Philistines.[69:3]
A very similar feature to this is found in the history of Hercules. He
is made prisoner by the Egyptians, who wish to take his life, but while
they are preparing to slay him, he breaks loose his bonds--having been
tied with cords--and kills Buseris, the leader of the band, and the
On another occasion, being refused shelter from a storm at Kos, he was
enraged at the inhabitants, and accordingly destroyed the whole
Samson, after he had slain a thousand Philistines, was "sore athirst,"
and called upon Jehovah, his father in heaven, to succor him,
whereupon, water immediately gushed forth from "a hollow place that was
in the jaw-bone."
Hercules, departing from the Indies (or rather Ethiopia), and conducting
his army through the desert of Lybia, feels a burning thirst, and
conjures Ihou, his father, to succor him in his danger.
Instantly the (celestial) Ram appears. Hercules follows him and arrives
at a place where the Ram scrapes with his foot, and there instantly
comes forth a spring of water.[70:1]
Samson's sixth exploit happened when he went to Gaza to visit a harlot.
The Gazites, who wished to take his life, laid wait for him all night,
but Samson left the town at midnight, and took with him the gates of the
city, and the two posts, on his shoulders. He carried them to the top
of a hill, some fifty miles away, and left them there.
This story very much resembles that of the "Pillars of Hercules," called
the "Gates of Cadiz."[70:2]
Count de Volney tells us that:
"Hercules was represented naked, carrying on his shoulders
two columns called the Gates of Cadiz."[70:3]
"The Pillars of Hercules" was the name given by the ancients to the
two rocks forming the entrance or gate to the Mediterranean at the
Strait of Gibraltar.[70:4] Their erection was ascribed by the Greeks to
Hercules, on the occasion of his journey to the kingdom of Geryon.
According to one version of the story, they had been united, but
Hercules tore them asunder.[70:5]
Fig. No. 3 is a representation of Hercules with the two posts or pillars
on his shoulders, as alluded to by Count de Volney. We have taken it
from Montfaucon's "L'Antiquite Expliquee."[70:6]
J. P. Lundy says of this:
"Hercules carrying his two columns to erect at the Straits of
Gibraltar, may have some reference to the Hebrew story."[71:1]
We think there is no doubt of it. By changing the name Hercules into
Samson, the legend is complete.
Sir William Drummond tells us, in his "OEdipus Judaicus," that:
"Gaza signifies a Goat, and was the type of the Sun in
Capricorn. The Gates of the Sun were feigned by the ancient
Astronomers to be in Capricorn and Cancer (that is, in
Gaza), from which signs the tropics are named. Samson
carried away the gates from Gaza to Hebron, the city of
conjunction. Now, Count Gebelin tells us that at Cadiz, where
Hercules was anciently worshiped, there was a representation
of him, with a gate on his shoulders."[71:2]
The stories of the amours of Samson with Delilah and other females, are
simply counterparts of those of Hercules with Omphale and Iole.
Montfaucon, speaking of this, says:
"Nothing is better known in the fables (related of Hercules)
than his amours with Omphale and Iole."[71:3]
Prof. Steinthal says:
"The circumstance that Samson is so addicted to sexual
pleasure, has its origin in the remembrance that the Solar
god is the god of fruitfulness and procreation. We have as
examples, the amours of Hercules and Omphale; Ninyas, in
Assyria, with Semiramis; Samson, in Philistia, with Delila,
whilst among the Phenicians, Melkart pursues Dido-Anna."[71:4]
Samson is said to have had long hair. "There hath not come a razor upon
my head," says he, "for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's
Now, strange as it may appear, Hercules is said to have had long hair
also, and he was often represented that way. In Montfaucon's
"L'Antiquite Expliquee"[71:5] may be seen a representation of Hercules
with hair reaching almost to his waist. Almost all Sun-gods are
Prof. Goldzhier says:
"Long locks of hair and a long beard are mythological
attributes of the Sun. The Sun's rays are compared with locks
of hair on the face or head of the Sun.
"When the sun sets and leaves his place to the darkness, or
when the powerful Summer Sun is succeeded by the weak rays of
the Winter Sun, then Samson's long locks, in which alone his
strength lies, are cut off through the treachery of his
deceitful concubine, Delilah, the 'languishing, languid,'
according to the meaning of the name (Delilah). The Beaming
Apollo, moreover, is called the Unshaven; and Minos cannot
conquer the solar hero Nisos, till the latter loses his
Through the influence of Delilah, Samson is at last made a prisoner. He
tells her the secret of his strength, the seven locks of hair are
shaven off, and his strength leaves him. The shearing of the locks of
the Sun must be followed by darkness and ruin.
From the shoulders of Phoibos Lykegenes flow the sacred locks, over
which no razor might pass, and on the head of Nisos they become a
palladium, invested with a mysterious power.[72:2] The long locks of
hair which flow over his shoulders are taken from his head by Skylla,
while he is asleep, and, like another Delilah, she thus delivers him and
his people into the power of Minos.[72:3]
Prof. Steinthal says of Samson:
"His hair is a figure of increase and luxuriant fullness. In
Winter, when nature appears to have lost all strength, the god
of growing young life has lost his hair. In the Spring the
hair grows again, and nature returns to life again. Of this
original conception the Bible story still preserves a trace.
Samson's hair, after being cut off, grows again, and his
strength comes back with it."[72:4]
Towards the end of his career, Samson's eyes are put out. Even here, the
Hebrew writes with a singular fidelity to the old mythical speech. The
tender light of evening is blotted out by the dark vapors; the light of
the Sun is quenched in gloom. Samson's eyes are put out.
OEdipus, whose history resembles that of Samson and Hercules in many
respects, tears out his eyes, towards the end of his career. In other
words, the Sun has blinded himself. Clouds and darkness have closed in
about him, and the clear light is blotted out of the heaven.[72:5]
The final act, Samson's death, reminds us clearly and decisively of the
Phenician Hercules, as Sun-god, who died at the Winter Solstice in the
furthest West, where his two pillars are set up to mark the end of his
Samson also died at the two pillars, but in his case they are not the
Pillars of the World, but are only set up in the middle of a great
banqueting-hall. A feast was being held in honor of Dagon, the
Fish-god; the Sun was in the sign of the Waterman, Samson, the Sun-god,
The ethnology of the name of Samson, as well as his adventures, are
very closely connected with the Solar Hercules. "Samson" was the name
of the Sun.[73:2] In Arabic, "Shams-on" means the Sun.[73:3] Samson
had seven locks of hair, the number of the planetary bodies.[73:4]
The author of "The Religion of Israel," speaking of Samson, says:
"The story of Samson and his deeds originated in a Solar
myth, which was afterwards transformed by the narrator into a
saga about a mighty hero and deliverer of Israel. The very
name 'Samson,' is derived from the Hebrew word, and means
'Sun.' The hero's flowing locks were originally the rays of
the sun, and other traces of the old myth have been
Prof. Oort says:
"The story of Samson is simply a solar myth. In some of the
features of the story the original meaning may be traced quite
clearly, but in others the myth can no longer be recognized.
The exploits of some Danite hero, such as Shamgar, who 'slew
six hundred Philistines with an ox-goad' (Judges iii. 31),
have been woven into it; the whole has been remodeled after
the ideas of the prophets of later ages, and finally, it has
been fitted into the framework of the period of the Judges, as
conceived by the writer of the book called after them."[73:6]
Again he says:
"The myth that lies at the foundation of this story is a
description of the sun's course during the six winter months.
The god is gradually encompassed by his enemies, mist and
darkness. At first he easily maintains his freedom, and gives
glorious proofs of his strength; but the fetters grow stronger
and stronger, until at last he is robbed of his crown of rays,
and loses all his power and glory. Such is the Sun in
Winter. But he has not lost his splendor forever. Gradually
his strength returns, at last he reappears; and though he
still seems to allow himself to be mocked, yet the power of
avenging himself has returned, and in the end he triumphs over
his enemies once more."[73:7]
Other nations beside the Hebrews and Greeks had their "mighty men" and
lion-killers. The Hindoos had their Samson. His name was Bala-Rama, the
"Strong Rama." He was considered by some an incarnation of
Captain Wilford says, in "Asiatic Researches:"
"The Indian Hercules, according to Cicero, was called
Belus. He is the same as Bala, the brother of Crishna, and
both are conjointly worshiped at Mutra; indeed, they are
considered as one Avatar or Incarnation of Vishnou. Bala is
represented as a stout man, with a club in his hand. He is
also called Bala-rama."[74:1]
There is a Hindoo legend which relates that Sevah had an encounter with
a tiger, "whose mouth expanded like a cave, and whose voice resembled
thunder." He slew the monster, and, like Hercules, covered himself with
The Assyrians and Lydians, both Semitic nations, worshiped a Sun-god
named Sandan or Sandon. He also was believed to be a lion-killer, and
frequently figured struggling with the lion, or standing upon the slain
Ninevah, too, had her mighty hero and king, who slew a lion and other
monsters. Layard, in his excavations, discovered a bas-relief
representation of this hero triumphing over the lion and wild
The Ancient Babylonians had a hero lion-slayer, Izdubar by name. The
destruction of the lion, and other monsters, by Izdubar, is often
depicted on the cylinders and engraved gems belonging to the early
Izdubar is represented as a great or mighty man, who, in the early days
after the flood, destroyed wild animals, and conquered a number of petty
Izdubar resembles the Grecian hero, Hercules, in other respects than as
a destroyer of wild animals, &c. We are told that he "wandered to the
regions where gigantic composite monsters held and controlled the rising
and setting sun, from these learned the road to the region of the
blessed, and passing across a great waste of land, he arrived at a
region where splendid trees were laden with jewels."[74:7]
He also resembles Hercules, Samson, and other solar-gods, in the
particular of long flowing locks of hair. In the Babylonian and
Assyrian sculptures he is always represented with a marked physiognomy,
and always indicated as a man with masses of curls over his head and a
large curly beard.[74:8]
Here, evidently, is the Babylonian legend of Hercules. He too was a
wanderer, going from the furthest East to the furthest West. He
crossed "a great waste of land" (the desert of Lybia), visited "the
region of the blessed," where there were "splendid trees laden with
jewels" (golden apples).
The ancient Egyptians had their Hercules. According to Herodotus, he was
known several thousand years before the Grecian hero of that name. This
the Egyptians affirmed, and that he was born in their country.[75:1]
The story of Hercules was known in the Island of Thasos, by the
Phenician colony settled there, five centuries before he was known in
Greece.[75:2] Fig. No. 4 is from an ancient representation of Hercules
in conflict with the lion, taken from Gorio.
Another mighty hero was the Grecian Bellerophon. The minstrels sang of
the beauty and the great deeds of Bellerophon throughout all the land of
Argos. His arm was strong in battle; his feet were swift in the chase.
None that were poor and weak and wretched feared the might of
Bellerophon. To them the sight of his beautiful form brought only joy
and gladness; but the proud and boastful, the slanderer and the robber,
dreaded the glance of his keen eye. For a long time he fought the Solymi
and the Amazons, until all his enemies shrank from the stroke of his
mighty arm, and sought for mercy.[75:3]
The second of the principal gods of the Ancient Scandinavians was
named Thor, and was no less known than Odin among the Teutonic nations.
The Edda calls him expressly the most valiant of the sons of Odin. He
was considered the "defender" and "avenger." He always carried a
mallet, which, as often as he discharged it, returned to his hand of
itself; he grasped it with gauntlets of iron, and was further possessed
of a girdle which had the virtue of renewing his strength as often as
was needful. It was with these formidable arms that he overthrew to the
ground the monsters and giants, when he was sent by the gods to oppose
their enemies. He was represented of gigantic size, and as the stoutest
and strongest of the gods.[76:1] Thor was simply the Hercules of the
Northern nations. He was the Sun personified.[76:2]
Without enumerating them, we can safely say, that there was not a nation
of antiquity, from the remotest East to the furthest West, that did not
have its mighty hero, and counterpart of Hercules and Samson.[76:3]
[62:1] The idea of a woman conceiving, and bearing a son in her old age,
seems to have been a Hebrew peculiarity, as a number of their remarkable
personages were born, so it is said, of parents well advanced in years,
or of a woman who was supposed to have been barren. As illustrations,
we may mention this case of Samson, and that of Joseph being born of
Rachel. The beautiful Rachel, who was so much beloved by Jacob, her
husband, was barren, and she bore him no sons. This caused grief and
discontent on her part, and anger on the part of her husband. In her old
age, however, she bore the wonderful child Joseph. (See Genesis, xxx.
Isaac was born of a woman (Sarah) who had been barren many years. An
angel appeared to her when her lord (Abraham) "was ninety years old and
nine," and informed her that she would conceive and bear a son. (See
Samuel, the "holy man," was also born of a woman (Hannah) who had been
barren many years. In grief, she prayed to the Lord for a child, and was
finally comforted by receiving her wish. (See 1 Samuel, i. 1-20.)
John the Baptist was also a miraculously conceived infant. His mother,
Elizabeth, bore him in her old age. An angel also informed her and
her husband Zachariah, that this event would take place. (See Luke, i.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was born of a woman (Anna) who was "old
and stricken in years," and who had been barren all her life. An angel
appeared to Anna and her husband (Joachim), and told them what was
about to take place. (See "The Gospel of Mary," Apoc.)
Thus we see, that the idea of a wonderful child being born of a woman
who had passed the age which nature had destined for her to bear
children, and who had been barren all her life, was a favorite one among
the Hebrews. The idea that the ancestors of a race lived to a fabulous
old age, is also a familiar one among the ancients.
Most ancient nations relate in their fables that their ancestors lived
to be very old men. For instance; the Persian patriarch Kaiomaras
reigned 560 years; Jemshid reigned 300 years; Jahmurash reigned 700
years; Dahak reigned 1000 years; Feridun reigned 120 years; Manugeher
reigned 500 years; Kaikans reigned 150 years; and Bahaman reigned 112
years. (See Dunlap: Son of the Man, p. 155, note.)
[64:1] Judges, xiv.
[65:1] Judges, xv.
[66:1] Judges, xvi.
[66:2] Perhaps that of Izdubar. See chapter xi.
[66:3] Hebrew Mythology, p. 248.
[66:4] Manual of Mythology, p. 248. The Age of Fable, p. 200.
[67:1] Bulfinch: The Age of Fable, p. 200.
[67:2] Murray: Manual of Mythology, p. 249.
[67:3] Roman Antiquities, p. 124; and Montfaucon, vol. i. plate cxxvi.
[67:4] Murray: Manual of Mythology, p. 249.
[67:5] See Ibid. Greek and Italian Mythology, p. 129, and Montfaucon,
vol. i. plate cxxv. and cxxvi.
[67:6] Manual of Mythology, p. 247.
[67:7] "It has many heads, one being immortal, as the storm must
constantly supply new clouds while the vapors are driven off by the
Sun into space. Hence the story went that although Herakles could burn
away its mortal heads, as the Sun burns up the clouds, still he can
but hide away the mist or vapor itself, which at its appointed time must
again darken the sky." (Cox: Aryan Mytho., vol. ii. p. 48.)
[67:8] See Manual of Mytho., p. 250.
[68:1] Steinthal: The Legend of Samson, p. 398. See, also, Higgins:
Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 240, and Volney: Researches in Anc't History, p.
[68:3] Quoted by Count de Volney: Researches in Ancient History, p. 42,
[68:4] Volney: Researches in Ancient History, p. 42.
[69:1] See Murray: Manual of Mythology, p. 251.
"The slaughter of the Centaurs by Hercules is the conquest and
dispersion of the vapors by the Sun as he rises in the heaven." (Cox:
Aryan Mythology, vol. ii. p. 47.)
[69:2] Murray: Manual of Mythology, p. 257.
[69:3] Shamgar also slew six hundred Philistines with an ox goad. (See
Judges, iii. 31.)
"It is scarcely necessary to say that these weapons are the heritage of
all the Solar heroes, that they are found in the hands of Phebus and
Herakles, of OEdipus, Achilleus, Philoktetes, of Siguard, Rustem, Indra,
Isfendujar, of Telephos, Meleagros, Theseus, Kadmos, Bellerophon, and
all other slayers of noxious and fearful things." (Rev. Geo. Cox: Tales
of Ancient Greece, p. xxvii.)
[69:4] See Volney: Researches in Ancient History, p. 41. Higgins:
Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 239; Montfaucon: L'Antiquite Expliquee, vol. i.
p. 213, and Murray: Manual of Mythology, pp. 259-262.
It is evident that Herodotus, the Grecian historian, was somewhat of a
skeptic, for he says: "The Grecians say that 'When Hercules arrived in
Egypt, the Egyptians, having crowned him with a garland, led him in
procession, as designing to sacrifice him to Jupiter, and that for some
time he remained quiet, but when they began the preparatory ceremonies
upon him at the altar, he set about defending himself and slew every one
of them.' Now, since Hercules was but one, and, besides, a mere man, as
they confess, how is it possible that he should slay many thousands?"
(Herodotus, book ii. ch. 45).
[69:5] Murray: Manual of Mythology, p. 263.
[70:1] Volney: Researches in Anc't History, pp. 41, 42.
In Bell's "Pantheon of the Gods and Demi-Gods of Antiquity," we read,
under the head of Ammon or Hammon (the name of the Egyptian Jupiter,
worshiped under the figure of a Ram), that: "Bacchus having subdued
Asia, and passing with his army through the deserts of Africa, was in
great want of water; but Jupiter, his father, assuming the shape of a
Ram, led him to a fountain, where he refreshed himself and his army;
in requital of which favor, Bacchus built there a temple to Jupiter,
under the title of Ammon."
[70:2] Cadiz (ancient Gades), being situated near the mouth of the
Mediterranean. The first author who mentions the Pillars of Hercules is
Pindar, and he places them there. (Chambers's Encyclo. "Hercules.")
[70:3] Volney's Researches, p. 41. See also Tylor: Primitive Culture,
vol. i. p. 357.
[70:4] See Chambers's Encyclopaedia, Art. "Hercules." Cory's Ancient
Fragments, p. 36, note; and Bulfinch: The Age of Fable, p. 201.
[70:5] Chambers's Encyclo., art. "Hercules."
[70:6] Vol. i. plate cxxvii.
[71:1] Monumental Christianity, p. 399.
[71:2] OEd. Jud. p. 360, in Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 239.
[71:3] "Rien de plus connu dans la fable que ses amours avec Omphale et
Iole."--L'Antiquite Expliquee, vol. i. p. 224.
[71:4] The Legend of Samson, p. 404.
[71:5] Vol. i. plate cxxvii.
[71:6] "Samson was remarkable for his long hair. The meaning of this
trait in the original myth is easy to guess, and appears also from
representations of the Sun-god amongst other peoples. These long hairs
are the rays of the Sun." (Bible for Learners, i. 416.)
"The beauty of the sun's rays is signified by the golden locks of
Phoibos, over which no razor has ever passed; by the flowing hair
which streams from the head of Kephalos, and falls over the shoulders of
Perseus and Bellerophon." (Cox: Aryan Mytho., vol. i. p. 107.)
[72:1] Hebrew Mytho., pp. 137, 138.
[72:2] Cox: Aryan Myths, vol. i. p. 84.
[72:3] Tales of Ancient Greece, p. xxix.
[72:4] The Legend of Samson, p. 408.
[72:5] Cox: Aryan Mytho., vol. ii. p. 72.
[73:1] The Legend of Samson, p. 406.
[73:2] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 237. Goldzhier: Hebrew
Mythology, p. 22. The Religion of Israel, p. 61. The Bible for Learners,
vol. i. p. 418. Volney's Ruins, p. 41, and Stanley: History of the
Jewish Church, where he says: "His name, which Josephus interprets in
the sense of 'strong,' was still more characteristic. He was 'the
Sunny'--the bright and beaming, though wayward, likeness of the great
[73:3] Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 237, and Volney's Researches, p.
[73:4] See chapter ii.
[73:5] The Religion of Israel, p. 61. "The yellow hair of Apollo was a
symbol of the solar rays." (Inman: Ancient Faiths, vol. ii. p. 679.)
[73:6] Bible for Learners, vol. i. p. 414.
[73:7] Ibid. p. 422.
[73:8] Williams' Hinduism, pp. 108 and 167.
[74:1] Vol. v. p. 270.
[74:2] Maurice: Indian Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 155.
[74:3] Steinthal: The Legend of Samson, p. 386.
[74:4] Buckley: Cities of the World, 41, 42.
[74:5] Smith: Assyrian Discoveries, p. 167, and Chaldean Account of
Genesis, p. 174.
[74:6] Assyrian Discoveries, p. 205, and Chaldean Account of Genesis, p.
[74:7] Chaldean Account of Genesis, p. 310.
[74:8] Ibid. pp. 193, 194, 174.
[75:1] See Tacitus: Annals, book ii. ch. lix.
[75:2] Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 92.
[75:3] See Tales of Ancient Greece, p. 153.
[76:1] See Mallet's Northern Antiquities, pp. 94, 417, and 514.
[76:2] See Cox: Aryan Mythology.
[76:3] See vol. i. of Aryan Mythology, by Rev. G. W. Cox.
"Besides the fabulous Hercules, the son of Jupiter and Alcmena, there
was, in ancient times, no warlike nation who did not boast of its own
particular Hercules." (Arthur Murphy, Translator of Tacitus.)
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