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thou say, I love thee, when thy heart is not with me? Thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lies. The rich reward which the princes of the nation had promised for her treachery incited her to repeat the request again and again; she allowed Samson no peace and no rest, "until his soul was vexed to death. Too self-confident to flee from this evil woman, and too weak to resist her, he at last poured out his whole heart; he told her that the mystery of his power lay in his hair, which no razor had touched from the day of his birth, and that as long as he was truly and faithfully a Nazarite to the Lord, he would remain invincible. Delilah felt that this time he had spoken the truth; she called the Philistine chiefs, and informed them that at last she had Samson indeed in her hands. With well-feigned affection, she watched beside her unfortunate victim till he slept, and then she softly bid a man cut the long and carefully preserved locks from his head. When the fatal work was finished, she cried out, • The Philistines are upon thee!' Samson awoke, unconcerned as before, trusting that he would rid himself of his enemies as he had done so often-but his strength was gone.
The Philistines fell upon him, made him their prisoner, cruelly put out his eyes, and brought him to Gaza, where they loaded him with iron chains, and made him grind wheat in the prison-house.
The Philistine people rejoiced over the fall of the mighty Hebrew champion; they held public festivals and revelries, and offered sacrifices and thanksgivings to their god Dagon. It was during one of these feasts of wild merry-making that they brought out their captive, cruelly to make sport of him in his misery and blindness. The temple of the god Dagon was filled with vast numbers of people; three thousand were on the roof alone, whilst the inner part of the building was thronged to excess. Samson
was led out of his prison, and his inhuman masters bid him sing and dance before them. A boy was leading him by the hand, and placed him between two of the pillars that supported the colossal building. In the midst of his toil and degradation, his hair had begun to grow, and his strength had imperceptibly returned. He felt it; a great resolve flashed upon his mind, and at once matured into deed. He said to the lad, “Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereon the house stands, that I may lean upon them. Then he poured out a fervent prayer from the depth of his soul: 'O Lord God, remember me, I pray Thee, and strengthen me, I pray Thee, only this once, O God, that I may take one revenge upon the Philistines for my two eyes.' And now, grasping both pillars, one with each hand, he exclaimed, Let me die with the Philistines !' As he bent down the pillars with all his might, the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein; and the dead whom he slew at his death were more than those whom he slew in his life.'
The consternation which this fearful event caused among the Philistines, enabled Samson's brothers and relations to rescue the body of their great kinsman from the land of the heathen, and to bury it in the territory of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol, in the grave of his father Manoah.
75. THE STORY OF RUTH.
[Book of Ruth.]
The stormy period, the events of which we have just related, is relieved by a glimpse of bright sunshine, all the more cheering for the surrounding darkness. It is a beautiful episode in the lives of two women, a Hebrew and a Moabitess; and it is told so sweetly and so charmingly, that the story of Ruth and Naomi may well be called
the great Idyl of the Bible. It is a refreshing interlude between the history of the Judges and the labours of Samuel, between the old times of lawlessness and the age of the new kingdom.
There are but few women whose destinies and deeds are narrated in the Bible with some fulness, and those few are principally conspicuous for energy and courage, like Deborah, Jael, and Esther. But the memory of Ruth is rich with affection and gentleness, devotion and filial attachment, unselfish and pure-minded simplicity. The very sound of her name conjures up before our eyes busy harvest scenes in the land of Palestine, the young men reaping, the maidens gleaning, and the stately yet kindly figure of Boaz moving among his sheaves. It is the one peaceful page snatched from the turbulent lives of the Hebrews of that time; not fanciful, like the feats of Samson, not fierce and inspiring like the work of Deborah, but homely and winning in its details, simple yet picturesque.
We can do no better than give the story as much as possible in the very words of the Bible, inimitable in their beauty and childlike plainness.
“It happened in the days when the Judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. And they came into the country of Moab, and stayed there. And Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. And they took to themselves wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth; and they dwelt there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them, and thus Naomi alone was
left of her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law, and returned from the country of Moab, for she had heard that God had looked upon His people and given them bread. And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother's house ; the Lord deal kindly with you and with me; the Lord grant you, that you may find rest each of you in the house of her husband." Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voice and wept. But they said to her, “Surely we will return with thee to thy people.” And Naomi replied, “Return home, my daughters, go your way
my lot is much bitterer than yours, for the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.” And they lifted up their voice and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law [and departed]; but Ruth clung to her. And Naomi said, “Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back to her people and to her gods, return thou after thy sisterin-law.” And Ruth said, “ Entreat me not to leave the and to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go, and whither thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried; the Lord do so to me and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." When Naomi saw that Ruth was steadfast in her purpose, she left off persuading her. So they two went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they arrived at Bethlehem, all the city was in excitement about them; and they asked, “Is this Naomi ?" And she replied to them, “ Call me not Naomi (gracefulness), but Mara (afflicted), for the Almighty has afflicted me very much : I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty” .... So Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley-harvest.
And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, and his name
And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “ Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after any one in whose sight I may find grace.” And Naomi said to her, “Go, my daughter.” And she went and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and it so chanced that the portion of the field belonged to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, “ The Lord be with you," and they answered him, “ The Lord bless thee.” Then Boaz said to his servant who was set over the
reapers, “ To whom does this young woman belong ?” And the servant who was set over the reapers answered, “ It is the Moabitish young woman that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab; and she said, “I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves ;' so she came, and has continued from the morning until now; it is but littie that she rested in the house.” Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, nor go from hence, but abide here close by my maidens ; let thy eyes be on the field that they reap, and go thou after them; behold, I have charged the men that they shall not touch thee; and when thou art thirsty, go to the vessels and drink of that which the men have drawn.” Then she fell on her face, and bowed down to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found grace in thy eyes, that thou shouldst take notice of me, seeing I am a stranger ?” And Boaz answered and said to her, “I have been fully told everything that thou hast done to thy mother-in-law since the death of thy husband, that thou hast left thy father, and thy mother, and the land of thy birth, and art come to a people which thou knewest not heretofore: the Lord recompense thy work, and thy reward be complete from the Lord God of Israel, to whose wings thou art come to seek refuge.” Then Ruth said, “Let me find favour in thy