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Chapter 18: Azzah’s Story

“I was born in the Valley of Sorek,” 87 Azzah began. “A few years ago, I encountered a great python, which wrapped its body around me. I thought I was going to die, but instead of squeezing me, it looked into my eyes and pierced my soul with its power, leaving me weak and helpless. It spoke to me—with or without words, I cannot say—and told me that I was to go to Ashkelon and present myself as a harlot-priestess at the temple.”

“So I came here in the flower of my youth. The high priestess saw a powerful spirit in me and accepted me immediately. But my own will had been taken over by the spirit of the python, leaving me weak inside, too weak to resist. So I was called Delilah, derived from the word dalal, to bring low, or to weaken. My name was changed from strength to weakness, not because I was weak, but because I was to remove the strength of men and make them weak, according to our teachings.”

“At the temple, I learned the teachings of Atargatis, and I became highly successful as a harlot. No man could resist the charm of the python spirit within me, and I even recruited many men, inducing them to emasculate themselves for the sake of the goddess.”

“Last year, Ben Rosh, the giant who rules Ashkelon, 88 heard of my power and sent men to hire me to seduce the Israelite judge whose power they were unable to defeat in battle. They had tried to defeat him by the power of Dagon, but failed, for Samson’s strength was too much for them. But they had seen that he had a weakness for harlots, 89 so they paid me eleven hundred shekels of silver 90 to seduce him and to discover the source of his strength.”

“I succeeded,” Delilah said, “for he loved me and finally told me that he had been a Nazirite from birth. That was his source of strength, and that if the seven braids of his hair were to be cut, he would lose his strength. 91 I took his strength and imparted my weakness to him. It was a great victory for the temple of Atargatis, for it proved once again that the power of a harlot’s seduction is stronger than a man’s domineering strength. Where Dagon failed, Atargatis succeeded.”

“Where is Samson now?” I asked.

“They took him to Gaza 92 in my honor,” she said, “for Azzah and Gaza are the same name in our language. They put out his eyes and sent him to grind wheat at the Wheel of Omphale 93 near Gaza. They have sentenced him according to the story of the strong man among the Greek gods, Heracles, who was sentenced to a wheel having the same name. Just as Omphale was Heracles’ mistress, so also was I the mistress of Israel’s strong man, Samson.”

“I have heard also,” Azzah continued, “that the temple of Dagon in Gaza has asked us to allow Samson to perform for worshipers at their summer solstice festival in a few days. Since Samson is the slave of Atargatis, the high priest of Dagon has negotiated a large fee for the privilege of seeing the strength of Israel submit to the power of Dagon.”

“The power of Atargatis is fading now,” I said to Azzah. “Perhaps the high priestess even now senses that something is wrong, for the spirit of the python is fading. Thuban, her male counterpart from the Valley of Sorek, was killed many years ago by Samson when he was just a child. We were there to witness it, and that python’s skin was stuffed with nonsense to create a shrine in Timnah.” 94

“Samson conquered the male python that empowered Dagon,” I continued. “For this reason, the Philistine army was unable to conquer him by the power of Dagon. But now the power of the female python is being destroyed as well. This tells me that the time is near for many changes to take place. Samson was taken in the thirty-eighth year of Israel’s captivity, which was also the eighteenth year of his office as judge in Israel. It is now thirty-nine years into the captivity, and the forty-year Philistine dominance over Israel is drawing to a close.”

“What do you mean?” Azzah asked.

“You will see many changes soon,” I replied. “Samson’s time of blindness will soon end, and his pain will cease. His toil at the Wheel of Omphale has come to an end. He yet has one more great deed to do that will manifest the power of repentance. It may comfort you somewhat to know that God gave Samson into your hands, not because Atargatis was strong, but because there was a weakness in Samson’s relationship with the God of Israel. God used you to expose this weakness, so that he might see it and repent. It will all work out for good in the end.”


  1. Judges 16:4
  2. Ben Rosh is mentioned in chapter 15 of Through Timeless Mountains.
  3. Judges 16:1
  4. Judges 16:5
  5. Judges 16:19.
  6. Judges 16:21
  7. In Greek mythology, Heracles (Hercules) was the strong man who was sentenced to grind at the Wheel of Omphale. The Greeks retained remnants of the truth through their knowledge of the original Gospel proclaimed in the stars (constellations). Hence, their mythology resembled in many ways the story of Samson, even in the fact that Samson was sentenced to grind wheat in Gaza at the wheel (millstone). Hence, I call that millstone the Wheel of Omphale. In Greek, omphalos was the world-naval, the center of the earth.
  8. See chapter 3 of My Father’s Tear.