Eglah Given to Baasha
The ripple of time took Rebekah and Eleazar to their home, but Sipporah and I again found ourselves at the crossroad just outside of Timnah. Dogma was awaiting our arrival, for his discerning nose, through which the Creator often communicated, was keen.
When we appeared, he got up from the spot where he had been resting. “Shalom!” he said. “I trust you are well.”
“Yes, we are well,” Sipporah answered. “What news is there today? In fact, what is today?”
It was late in the day, and the sun hung low on the horizon over the western sea.
“It is the fourth day of the third month on Israel’s calendar,” Dogma replied. “The feast of harvest approaches,” he said, pointing with his nose toward the golden fields, some with standing grain and others with standing shocks drying in the sunshine. These are the days of the bounds,” he explained further, “when Israelites are permitted to have marriage ceremonies once again.” 54
“We have been to the mountain to see the Lion,” I explained. “He called us into his presence for a time and then sent us here. He said that we were to observe Samson.”
“He has already arrived,” Dogma said. “He was leading a she-goat, which appeared to be an apology of some kind. He does not realize that Avoda betrothed Eglah to Baasha after Samson did not claim his bride. Avoda waited a month, but finally, he gave up hope. He then promised her to Baasha, and the dowry was paid a week ago.”
“So now Samson has returned,” I mused. “His anger has subsided over the original incident, but what will he do when he discovers that Eglah is betrothed to Baasha? But wait—I see him coming our way, and he is alone. Brace yourselves!”
We waited for Samson, and as he approached at a rapid pace, we could see that he was enraged. “Shalom!” I said when he drew near.
“Shalom yourself!” Samson shot back. “What peace is there in this ungodly land? I tried to befriend the Philistines, but in the end, they have taken advantage of my kindness. Eglah has been promised to Baasha. Avoda would not even allow me to see her or talk to her, so that I might know if she still loves me. Then he insulted me further by offering me her sister. 55 Does he think that I care not who I marry, as long as she is beautiful? I am not a Philistine!”
“Suffering injustice is often the price one pays when mingling with unbelievers,” I said. “The Philistines do not know God, nor is love the cornerstone of their religion. It is our lot to rise above their ways, and this often means giving up our own rights for the sake of others. It is called grace. When we become victims of injustice, we have the right not only to receive recompense, but also the right to forgive.”
“This is unforgivable!” Samson said angrily. “Neither do they deserve grace. In their way of thinking, grace is weakness, and if you forgive, they will only rob you the more. No, I am called as God’s Judge, and I will give these ungodly people the justice they deserve! Besides, did you not say yourself that my calling is to deliver Israel? I believe that time has now begun.”
“Yes, you will indeed begin to deliver Israel,” I assured him. “But remember and learn from Moses’ example.” 56
“I will indeed bring a plague upon the Philistines, 57 even as God did to the Egyptians in the time of Moses,” Samson declared. “However, the sun is setting. Will you come with me?”
“No, we have business in Timnah,” I replied. “We will see you later.”
“Shalom, then!” Samson said. He turned his face toward the hill in the east, while Sipporah and I turned toward the bridge to go to Timnah. Perhaps we will see you tomorrow, Master Dogma,” I said. “We must go before the darkness comes.”
“Shalom,” Dogma said. He trotted down the road toward his house.
We crossed the bridge and passed through the gate just before it closed at sundown. Greeting the gatekeeper, we made our way to the tavern, gave the horses to the eager stable boy, and paid for a room for one night. When we were settled in the room, Sipporah heard a light tap on the window. She opened it to find Sippore. “It seems that Samson has decided not to return home tonight,” she said.
- By Jewish tradition, many get married at the time of Pentecost.
- Judges 15:1, 2
- Referring to Exodus 2:11-14
- Referring to the ten plagues in Exodus 6-13.