|Bill Clinton! What the heck are you doing in Byzantine Israel?|
By Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer | LiveScience.com – Mon, Jul 2, 2012
A glittering mosaic of colored stones once decorated an ancient synagogue floor with scenes of the Biblical hero Samson getting revenge on the Philistines.
The mosaic, which is incomplete, depicts several scenes. In one, two female faces flank a Hebrew inscription about rewards for people who perform good deeds. In the other, Samson, of the biblical story Samson and Delilah, ties torches to pairs of foxes, an event described in the Book of Judges in both the Christian and Hebrew Bibles. As the story goes, Samson falls in love with a woman of Philistine origin, a people who ruled the city-states of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath in the ancient Middle East. The Philistines are depicted as enemies of the Israelis in the Bible.
At his wedding feast with his Philistine bride, Samson taunts the Philistine groomsmen with a riddle they cannot possibly answer. [In other words, Samson is a real schmuck.] When his bride begs Samson for the solution and passes it on to her kinsmen, he kills 30 men from Askelon in a rage. When he returns home, he finds that his bride has been given to someone else. In revenge, Samson gathers pairs of foxes and ties their tails together with torches between them. He then looses 300 of the animals on the Philistines' fields, destroying their crops. [In other words, he goes running off in a snit fit, kills 30 men for no good reason other than he's a bully who thinks he is God's Gift, then comes back home and when his wife had rightfully left him, in yet another fit of rage he kills 300 foxes while simultaneously wiping out the harvest, thereby greatly offending the Goddess (who has a special connection with canines and growing crops). Is it any wonder he was rendered powerless and blinded? What an asshole!]
The synagogue would have been the only house of worship in the village, Magness said. For a village synagogue, it's very fancy, suggesting that the village was an affluent place. That's interesting, Magness said, because the area was under the rule of Byzantine Christians at the time the synagogue was in use. Usually, this is seen as a time of oppression for Jewish peoples, but it seems that the residents of this particular village were doing well.