"Why did God enable Samson to kill so many people with his miraculous strength?"

Judges 16:27-30 Now the house was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about 3,000 men and women, who looked on while Samson entertained. Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.

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These 3,000 people were all killed in a singular event, which by today's standards could easily be described as a religious suicidal terrorist attack. Samson pleaded to God to give him strength, and then proceeded to kill thousands of people in an act of self-sacrificial retaliation for the Philistines gouging out his eyes. If this act was committed by Samson without God's approval would we still applaud his actions? Or would we condemn such heinous vengeance? And these were far from the only people he killed. In another tale, Samson brutally murders one thousand men... with the jawbone of a donkey.

Why do these stories sound so massively exaggerated? They have many elements that seem to indicate they are parables or fables. Why are there many similarities between the story of Samson and that of the Greek demigod Heracles (Hercules) for example? Was Samson a real person and did these stories actually take place, or was he an ancient version of a "superhero" like many stories we still enjoy today?

Christian Answers:

Secular Answers:

  • Samson was a mythological figure in Jewish lore who bore many resemblances to the Greek Heracles (Hercules). Both fought and killed a lion with their bare hands. Both wielded simple, blunt weapons. Both were betrayed by a woman. And both ended their own lives. (Wikipedia: Samson Interpretations)

  • The historical evidence for Samson is not conclusive. "[The evidence] does not show that Samson was a real person any more than ancient artifacts showing the heroic figures of Hercules or Horus, etc., prove they were real people." (Freethought Nation: Have archaeologists found evidence of the Israelite hero Samson?)

Referenced Verses:
Judges 16:27, Judges 16:28, Judges 16:29, Judges 16:30