Fire from the Rock

When Moses strikes the rock in the wilderness, it pours out water. When the Angel of Yahweh strikes a rock in Gideon’s presence, it bursts into flame and eats up the sacrificial meat and bread (Judges 6:21). In both cases, we can say with Paul “the Rock was Christ.” That’s . . . . Continue Reading »

Loving Life

The saints who overcome the dragon do so because of the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and because “they did not love their life even to death” (Revelation 12:11). Martyrs don’t care enough about their own lives to preserve them in the face of threats. This is the . . . . Continue Reading »

Joy, Sweetness, Fatness, Fire

Jotham’s parable in Judges 9 compares men with plants. Fruitful trees and plants represent productive men who don’t have time to seek power and “wave over the trees.” Abimelech is a thorn bush, who has all the time in the world since he produces nothing. Each of the trees . . . . Continue Reading »

Jephthah’s vow

Jephthah did not, Edwards argues, slaughter his daughter on an altar. That would have been unlawful, just as offering an unclean animal on the altar was unlawful. What he did was what he could lawfully do, dedicate her to the Lord - just as an unclean animal could be dedicated to holy service. A . . . . Continue Reading »

Branches against Shechem

The men of Shechem betray Abimelech, and so Abimelech attacks and burns the city to the ground. He does it by cutting a branch and carrying it to the inner chamber of the tower of Shechem. The rest of his men do the same, and they set the branches on fire, which kills a thousand of the men of . . . . Continue Reading »


In Contra Faustum , Augustine glosses Exodus 15:27 with this: “the twelve sources watering the seventy palm trees prefigure the apostaolic grace that waters the people in the number seven times ten, so that the ten commandments of the law my be fulfilled by the svenfold gift of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Politics of brotherhood

Abimelech gains the support of the Shechemites by emphasizing his kinship through his mother - “I am your bone and your flesh” (Judges 9:2). The Shechemites resonate to the rhetoric: “He is our brother,” they say (9:3). It’s not a stable partnership. Kinship . . . . Continue Reading »


Perhaps it’s the JPS Tanakh translation, but it struck me that the Samson narratives manifest the broad comedy of a Babylonian myth or the legends compiled by Levi-Strauss. He goes about tearing lions like lambs, posing riddles, lighting foxes on fire, and so on and on. Only moralistic . . . . Continue Reading »