Friday, January 13, 2012

Little Foxes Spoil the Vineyard

Recently I read the biblical account of Samson. In one part this incredibly strong man gets revenge on his enemies, the Philistines. He captures 300 “foxes,” ties them together by the tails in pairs, fastens torches to the pairs, and releases them into the Philistines standing grain to burn the crops. Sounds X-Men-ish.

I have to admit, I’ve always felt skeptical when I read that story. How can a guy catch 300 foxes, tie them in twos, burn the crops,  and still get home for Tebow’s weekly miracle? Is that possible?

The Hebrew word translated “fox” in the story means “jackal.” So it’s likely the animals were the Golden Jackals that proliferate in Southern Israel where the story occurred. They are apparently “more easily caught”[1] than foxes.  Jackals are more sociable and run in herds. They would more naturally run even bound to another.

Israel has jackals. One study shows, “From 2006 to 2009, the [Israel Nature and Parks Authority] culled the jackal population in the Golan Heights, shooting about 1,000 a year.” In spite of killing an average of 3 a day, “50 percent more need to be culled in order to significantly reduce the jackal population…”[2] In the Mateh Yehuda area each community with a dump supports about 50 jackals.

Did Samson work alone? The Bible seems to indicate this. But it’s possible he had help.

People catch jackals by baiting steel jaws, snares, or cages with food. A study that required the Golden Jackal to be trapped in the Modiin area of Israel reported a “high success rate in trapping”[3] 21 jackals. On average two nights with a trap set to capture each animal. New Hampshire trapper G. Malcolm Locke caught 200 foxes in 26 days in 1945.[4] If there is a record, it might be Pete Leggett of Maryland who took 1220 red foxes over 53 days in 2003.[5] That’s 23 a day. Less than two weeks to bag Samson’s quota.

Tying the tails together would have required restraining the jaws. Samson was pretty good with jaw bones.

In order to destroy the Philistine crops they must have been released over a wide area. The Palestine of today is more than 2400 square miles. Burning one or two fields wouldn’t have made much of a stir. The torches would have burned out soon, so the 150 pairs could not have been released all at once. I think it took time, but the Bible leaves us guessing.

In the movie “Evan, Almighty,” the animals just showed up at Noah’s Ark. God made it happen.

That’s the supernatural element.

In Samson’s case, God could have brought the jackals. He’s God.

But one thing we do know, there's nothing about the conditions in Israel or the ability to trap animals that rule out the biblical account.

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Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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I've served as a life-long missionary in Samoa, the Pacific region, India, and now in Pennsylvania. The Christian faith is reasonable and works in real life. It is true to the facts. Hope you enjoy some of the thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

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