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Samson's ministry as a judge was both colorful and tragic. This novel will teach you much about the religion of the Philistines and how their beliefs intertwined with the story of Samson. This novel covers the last 20 years of the Philistine captivity.
Category - Biblical Novels
The oak tree disappeared as soon as we stepped out of the invisible circle through the veil that separated heaven and earth. Looking around, we found ourselves in a valley between two mountains.
“It is the Valley of Sorek,” Azzah said. “My childhood home is not far from here in the town of Aphek. Beth-shemesh of Judah stands on the south ridge, and on the north ridge is Zorah in the tribe of Dan. Just up the road in that grove of trees is where I met the python, which changed my life and set me on a path I now regret. It is time to confront my past.”
“It seems to me that the python’s time has come,” Pleiades said. “We have been sent here to end its power over Israel.”
“You are right,” Sipporah said, nodding her head. “That great serpent has reached its destiny and will be crushed under the woman’s foot. 102 Azzah has been its victim, so it seems to me that she should have the honor of crushing its head.”
“Not so fast,” Azzah said. “I am not so sure I want to go anywhere near that thing. It knows me and will not be happy at my freedom.”
“We will all stand with you,” I said. “You are not alone. More important is the fact that heaven stands with you. Your natural weakness only disguises your spiritual strength, so that the enemy underestimates you until it is too late.”
“Then let us finish this work,” she said. The lions continued walking down the valley road toward the grove of trees that was the home of the remaining python. When we reached the edge of the grove, Azzah slid off the lion and stepped into the grove. “Wife of Thuban,” she called out, “come out, for I wish to speak with you.”
For a moment there was dead silence as we waited. And then we heard a faint rustle in the underbrush and knew that the python had wakened from sleep. Sippore flew through the air and landed upon Azzah’s shoulder. Then the head of the great python poked through the brush, and we heard her say with an irritated voice, “How dare you awaken me before my time, you who are a mere servant of mine?”
“I am not your servant any longer,” Azzah said. “The Creator Himself has set me free. Your spirit no longer resides in me, as you must surely know by now.”
“Once a servant, always a servant,” the python hissed. “Be a good girl and return to the good life in Ashkelon, where I sent you.”
“That was not a good life,” Azzah replied, “nor will I ever again take orders from you. I am not in agreement with you, for you were born to be a liar, 103 and I have discovered that I am a daughter of God. I have been granted authority over you, because I was once your victim. So I have come to decree that your power is hereby broken. As you have made me weak, calling me Delilah, so also do I remove your strength and call you by the name Delilah! As that name was a curse to me, so also it shall be now a curse to you!”
“You cannot do that to me!” the python hissed angrily.
“It has already been done,” Azzah said firmly. “You are Delilah!”
The python fell to the ground in its now-weakened condition, unable to move or even to lift its head. It could only stick out its tongue as it attempted to discern a way of escape. But there was no escape, and Azzah walked slowly toward it. Sippore seemed to whisper something in her ear.
“It is written,” Azzah said, “that the God of peace will soon crush the adversary under your feet.” 104 She lifted her right foot high over the python’s head and brought it down hard. In her natural strength, she might have done little damage to so large a python. But this was no natural act, nor was she any longer a weak Delilah. This was a woman set free by the power of truth and made strong by the Spirit of Joy that comes only to those who are at peace with the Source of all that is good and right and beautiful.
The python’s head was crushed, flattened, and driven into the earth, and the great snake, which had oppressed so many, finally lay dead under a woman’s heel.
For a few moments, we stood staring at the dead serpent and at each other. “It is finished,” Pegasus said. “Let us show this dead body to others as a witness to what has been accomplished today.”
One of the lions opened its mighty jaws and grasped the dead python just behind its head, while the other lion clamped its jaws around the midsection and lifted it high. The lions then dragged the python out of the grove, and we all marched down the road toward Azzah’s house. The tail of the dead python crushed the delicate flowers along the side of the road.
As we walked, Philistines working in the fields and vineyards saw a strange sight—two lions carrying the large python, two horses walking with them unafraid, and a man and two women walking confidently among them. Hardly knowing what to think, they warily kept their distance, but word spread quickly, and soon a small crowd of people were watching as we walked through the stone gate into the enclosure of Aphek 105 and made our way toward Azzah’s house.
The lions dropped the python at the doorstep of the house. Azzah was met at the door by her father and mother, but they were far too fearful of the lions to set foot outside.
“Do not fear,” Azzah reassured them. “These are my friends. I am no longer weak from the python’s spell. I have regained my strength and have returned to overcome the power of the python. No longer will you need to give it your sheep and goats, hoping that it does not eat you. We have brought it here, not to frighten you, but so that you may know that it no longer rules the Valley of Sorek. The curse that has soured the fruit of the vine in this valley has now been lifted, and it will now regain its former fruitfulness.”
“But you have killed a goddess,” Azzah’s father said. “Surely there will be vengeance for your blasphemy. Have you brought ruin upon all of us?”
“If a goddess can be killed, then how is she a goddess at all?” Azzah said. “Whatever this python is, a God that is greater and more powerful has killed her. We are children of that great God, a God of compassion who has set us free from the malevolent spell of the python. It is time to worship this great God who loves us.”
Her father remained silent, and his countenance did not change.
“Fear still rules his heart,” Sipporah said to her in a low voice. “Perhaps we should take the lions away from this place, so that the people can get back to their business. You will be able to explain these events at a later time. Right now, they need time to get over their shock and to ponder your words.”
“Yes, I see the fear,” Azzah replied softly. “No one is used to a God of love and have no way of relating to Him. That will take time, and we must continue our journey.”
“I will return later,” Azzah told her father and mother. “Have no fear; the skies will be brighter from now on. Be at peace.”
Leaving the dead python, we turned and began walking down the road once again. “Where are we going?” Azzah asked. “Now that the python is dead, what are we to do?”
“Search your heart,” Sippore replied. “What does your heart tell you to do?”
Azzah thought for a moment and then said, “Samson mentioned his family at one time. My heart is grieved for them, even in the midst of my new joy. The desire of my heart is to weep at their feet for a lost son, lost because of my misguided devotion to Atargatis.”
“Then let us go to the house of Manoah and Naamah, where you may find rest and peace,” Sippore said.
“We ourselves,” one of the lions said, “will probably not be so welcome there. I believe it is our time to leave you, but we will walk with you as far as the border. Even as we have been guardians of Atargatis, we will now be guardians of the Israelite border.”
“We once met two lions on the border at the base of the hill,” I mused. “Perhaps it is your calling to take their place.”