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Samson or Sampson

            Growing up I remember being corrected on the spelling of Samson.  “No ‘p’ in his name!” I would be told over and over.  The interesting thing is not in that I was spelling the name incorrectly, but that so many people spell the name incorrectly.  In addition, there are many people in our culture today whose surname is Sampson, which seems to reinforce the use of the letter “p” in the middle of the name. 

            This year, as I have been teaching through the book of Judges, I posed the question as to what is the cause for this phenomenon?  Is this but a dialectical thing, or is there something in the original text that is not being carried over into our English transliteration?  What I found was quite interesting.

            The Hebrew spelling of Samson’s name is !Avm.v. (Shemshon).  While there is some debate over the source of his name, it seems that it is derived from vm,v, (shemesh), which means “sun.”  Since the Philistines worshiped the sun as one of their gods (the Mesopotamian god “Samsu” was revered as god of the sun), this seems to be a direct attack on their deity, much in the same way that the plagues in Egypt are attacks on the Egyptian gods of that day.  Yet, this does not help us solve the mystery of the “p” in his name.

            The “p” actually arrives from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.  About 300 years before the birth of Christ, the Hebrews began translating the Bible into Greek.  Greek was the “lingua franca” of the day and many Jewish people in the dispersion could no longer read Hebrew well.  In addition, the Greek mind likes to engage in dialogue with other schools of thought and such a translation provided a medium for that discussion.  This translation is referred to as the “Septuagint” or the “LXX.”

            When the translators of the Book of Judges approached the name of Samson, they transliterated it as follows: Samyw/n (Sampson).  This transliteration not only explains how the “Sh” transformed into a “S,” but also explains the importation of the letter “p” into the center of the word.  Now, why they opted to use a psi (y) instead of a pi (p) is still clouded by the shadows of history, perhaps it was simply seen as an easier way to pronounce his name—there are a number of names that have been transliterated oddly both in the Septuagint and in our English translations.

            Thus, the next time you happen to slip, and pronounce or spell Samson’s name with a “p,” and someone curtly corrects you, all you have to do is to put on as serious and scholarly a face as you are able and inform them that you simply favor the Greek spelling over the English one.  That ought to get them scratching their heads for a while.  :8)

 

 

Outline of Judges

Book of Judges Outline

 

          I.     The Crisis and Conquest after Joshua’s Death (1:1-36)

a.     Who shall go up to fight for us?  (1:1-2)

b.     Judah and Simeon go up & defeat the Canaanites (1:3-7)

c.     Judah fights and takes the city of Jerusalem (1:8-10)

d.     Continued conquest (1:11-20)

e.     Benjamin fails to drive out the Jebusites (1:21)

f.      Joseph takes Bethel (1:22-26)

g.     Manasseh) fails to drive out Canaanites (1:27-28)

h.     Ephraim fails to drive out Canaanites (1:29)

i.      Zebulun fails to drive out Canaanites (1:30)

j.      Asher fails to drive out Canaanites (1:31-32)

k.     Naphtali fails to drive out Canaanites (1:33)

l.      Dan pushed back by the Amorites (1:34)

m.   Joseph halts Amorite advance (1:35-36)

        II.     First cycle of Sin

a.     The Angel of the Lord pronounces judgment for not breaking down pagan altars (2:1-5)

b.     The people return to their homes under Joshua’s leadership and lived in peace all of the days of Joshua’s life and of the lives of those who knew him (2:6-10)

c.     The people did “The Evil” (2:11-13)

d.     God gives them up to their enemies (2:14-15)

e.     The Summary of the Book (2:16-3:6)

      III.     Second Cycle of Sin

a.     The people did “The Evil” (3:7)

b.     The people served the Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia for 8 years (3:8)

c.     God raised up Othniel as a deliverer (3:9-10)

d.     The land  had “rest” 40 years (3:11)

      IV.     Third cycle of Sin

a.     The people did “The Evil” (3:12)

b.     The people served the Eglon, king of Moab for 18 years (3:12-14)

                                               i.     Possible setting for the book of Ruth?

c.     God raised up Ehud as a deliverer (3:15-29)

d.     The land had “rest” for 80 years (3:30)

e.     God raised up Shamgar as deliverer against the  Philistines (3:31)

        V.     Fourth cycle of Sin

a.     The people did “The Evil” (4:1)

b.     Jabin, King of Canaan & Sisera conquered for 20 years (4:2-3)

c.     God raised up Deborah as deliverer (4:4-24)

d.     The Song of Deborah (5:1-31)

e.     The land had rest for 40 years (5:31)

      VI.     Fifth cycle of Sin

a.     The people did “The Evil” (6:1)

b.     Midian conquered for 7 years (6:2-6)

c.     God sends a prophet to speak warning to the people (6:7-10)

d.     God raises up Gideon as deliverer (6:11-8:21)

e.     The people seek to make Gideon king (8:22-27)

f.      The land had rest for 40 years (8:28)

    VII.     Interlude:  Abimelech’s reign

a.     The people enter into idolatry (8:29-35)

b.     The rise of Abimelech to power (9:1-6)

c.     The Parable of the Trees (9:7-15)

d.     The Judgment of Jotham (9:16-21)

e.     Abimelech reigns for 3 years (9:22)

f.      The fall of Abimelech (9:23-57)

g.     God raised up Tola as judge for 23 years (10:1-2)

h.     God raised up Jair as judge for 22 years (10:3-5)

  VIII.     Sixth Cycle of Sin

a.     The people did “The Evil” (10:6)

b.     The Philistines conquered for 18 years (10:7-9)

c.     The people repent and the Lord rebukes them (10:10-16)

d.     Who will go up for us? (10:17-18)

e.     God raises up Jephthah as deliverer (11:1-33)

f.      The result of Jephthah’s hasty vow (11:34-40)

g.     Jephthah leads the people of Gilead against the people of Ephraim (12:1-6)

h.     Jepthah judged Israel for 6 years (12:7)

i.      God raised up Ibzan as judge for 7 years (12:8-10)

j.      God raised up Elon as judge for 10 years (12:11-12)

k.     God raised up Abdon as judge for 8 years (12:13-15)

      IX.     Seventh Cycle of Sin

a.     The people did “The Evil” (13:1)

b.     The Philistines conquered for 40 years (13:1)

c.     God raises up Samson as deliverer (13:2-15:19)

d.     Samson judges Israel for 20 years (15:20)

e.     Samson and Delilah (16:1-22)

f.      Samson’s Faithful Death (16:23-31)

        X.     Interlude:  Micah, two Levites, the Tribe of Dan, and the Concubine

a.     Micah and the Levite (17:1-13)

b.     Micah’s Idol and Levite taken by the Tribe of Dan (18:1-31)

c.     The Levite and his Concubine (19:1-30)

d.     The people of Israel avenge the Levite against Benjamin (20:1-48)

e.     Wives for the men of the tribe of Benjamin (21:1-24)

      XI.     Close of the Book

a.     “There was no king in Israel and everyone did what is right in their own eyes”