The affable Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson–former WWF wrestler-muscle man turned movie star actor–doesn’t let anything get in his way. Yesterday, he showed a photo on Instagram of a steel gate at the driveway of his house that he literally ripped off its hinges with his bare hands and tossed to the side so he could drive his vehicle to work and therefore not be late for some filming with hundreds of people involved. He did it because the electrical system of his house became jammed due to a severe storm in the area. He said on Instagram, “Not my finest hour, but a man’s gotta go to work.”
The Rock further explained, “I pushed, pulled and ripped the gate completely off myself. Tore it out of the brick wall, severed the steel hydraulics and threw it on the grass.” He added that when the technicians and welders later arrived, “they were apparently in disbelief and equally scared.”
In the media reports about this humorous event, I didn’t notice anyone comparing Johnson’s physical feat of ripping a steel gate off the wall with a similar episode committed by the biblical strongman Samson.
The Hebrew man Samson is one of the most amazing and spiritually-conflicted characters recorded in the Bible. And his feats of strength are the core of his fame. For example, when a lion roared and attacked him, this muscle-man (?) grabbed its jaws with his bare hands and tore it apart (Judges 14.5-6).
Another time, in a fight with the Philistines, Samson took the jaw of a dead donkey and killed a thousand Philistine warriors who attacked him simply by constantly swinging it at them. Then this ladies-man, who loved to keep people guessing with his riddles and poems, said, “With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps, with a jawbone of a donkey I have slain a thousand men” (Judges 15.15).
And in a final episode of Samson’s life, the Philistines seized him, put out his eyes, chained him to two giant pillars, and rejoiced on the floor above with wine and much drink. Samson then pulled the chains together, causing the pillars to collapse and the floor above to fall down upon Samson, killing 3,000 Philistines as well as himself (Judges 16.21-30). This has been called “the Samson Option.”
But early in Samson’s conflicts with the Philistines we read, “Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute and went in to her. The Gazites were told, ‘Samson has come here.’ So they circled around and lay in wait all night at the city gate. They kept quiet all night thinking, ‘Let us wait until the light of the morning; then we will kill him.’ But Samson lay only until midnight. Then at midnight he rose up, took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two posts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that is in front of Hebron” (Judges 16.1-3 NRSV).
Of course, when the Philistines saw their city gate, its doors, and posts were gone, and they learned that they were on top of a hill before Israel’s city of Hebron, they surely knew who must have done it. Maybe this feat of Samson’s strength as like The Rock pulling off his steel gate. But he never carried it on his shoulders many miles away to toss in on a hill. So, I think The Rock, as muscled and tough as he is, doesn’t measure up to the biblical Samson. How would they have tumbled against each other in the ring, trying to pick each other up to toss over the ropes? We can only imagine.