Daily Archives: July 1, 2013

Samson mosaics discovered at Huqoq

A Late Roman (fifth century) synagogue is being excavated at Huqoq a few miles northwest of the Sea of Galilee under the direction of Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina and Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The University of North Carolina News reports on the discovery here.

Last summer, a mosaic showing Samson and the foxes (as related in the Bible’s Judges 15:4) was discovered in the synagogue’s east aisle. This summer, another mosaic was found that shows Samson carrying the gate of Gaza on his shoulders (Judges 16:3). Adjacent to Samson are riders with horses, apparently representing Philistines.Although he is not described as such in the Hebrew Bible, Samson is depicted as a giant in both scenes, reflecting later Jewish traditions that developed about the biblical judge and hero.

Samson carrying the gate of Gaza. Discovered at Huqoq.

Mosaic showing Samson carrying the gate of Gaza. Discovered at Huqoq. Photo by Jim Haberman, University of North Carolina.

The book of Judges records the visit of Samson to Gaza, one of the cities of the Philistines. Samson’s conduct is not exemplary. When the Gazites laid a plan to kill him, he carries out his own plan.

 But Samson lay till midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two posts, and pulled them up, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that is in front of Hebron. (Judges 16:3 ESV)

The mosaics from Huqoq illustrate that the members of the synagogue there knew the exploits of Samson.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer