The most well known Greek God-hero was the one known as Hercules (the Latinised form of the Greek "Heracles"), whose most distinguishing characteristic was immense physical strength. Interestingly enough, the "Encyclopedia of the Classical World, " states, " The tales of his heroic deeds lend to the supposition that Hercules was originally an historic figure." Who do we know in the Bible that exhibits a like characteristic? The answer, of course, is the Israelite hero known as Samson, whose life was detailed in the Bible in Judges chapters 13 through 16.
One important event in Hercules' life involved his escaping from the clutches of a symbolic woman, who is called "Pleasure." This corresponds directly to the troubles Samson got himself involved in with the harlots of Canaan.
But the most celebrated event in the life of Hercules involved the labours he was ordered to perform by God through the Oracle of Delphi. (Incidently, "12" was an important divine number in Hebrew religion.) What do you suppose was the very first labour Hercules had to perform? You might have guessed it! He had to slay a lion with his bare hands! Let's read a paragraph from the book, "God 's Heroes and Men of Ancient Greece " by W.H.D.Rouse:
Heracles threw down his bow and arrows and leapt upon the lion's back ... while he put his hands round the lion's neck ... gripped the lion's throat with his two hands, and bending him backwards, throttled him. There lay the lion dead on the ground. " (p. 59). In our Bible, Judges 13:6 says that Samson actually tore the lion in two, but the ancient historian Flavius Josephus in his "Antiquities of the Jews " also tells us that Samson first strangled the lion, which is exactly as Hercules is said to have done. I don't even know if there ever were any lions in Greece. The Biblical Archaeologist Magazine somewhat tersely comments, "Lions, we may remark are not frequent in Greece." (59:1,p.17). In fact, the Greek myths explain this one away as the offspring of a monster! But whether there were lions in Greece is not important; Hercules needed to find one anyway. Why? Simply because the Biblical Samson inspired the Greek legend called Hercules, and provided the basis for his life!
Another of Hercules' labours involved his live capture of a wild animal, which he brought home and threw at the feet of Eurystheus. In Judges 15:4, Samson is said also to capture live wild animals, which he released in the cornfields of the Philistines.
A fascinating bit of additional information regarding Hercules is his connection with the Biblical tribe of Dan. The Bible Samson was born of the tribe of Dan. (Judges l3:2-25) Greek history tells us that a people called 'Danioi' came to trade and colonise Greece in ancient times, settling in a region called 'Argos.' The word Hercules in Greek is, 'Heracles,' which is virtually identical with the Hebrew plural word for traders,'Heraclim,' and Heracles is said to have come from 'Argos,' himself. The Greek myths tell that the Danioi were descended from a patriarch 'Danaos' who was the son of 'Bel,' and sailed from Egypt. In the Bible, the Hebrew patriarch Dan was the son of the concubine 'Bilhah'(Genesis 30:3-6), and the Israelites were in Egypt at the time that 'Danaos' set sail to Greece from there! Heracles, further, is said to marry a girl named 'Hebe,' an obvious and well-known short form of the word, Hebrew! Since the tribe of Dan were traders and colonists who did so much sailing that they "stayed in their ships " (Judges 5:17), it is not surprising to find such connections with ancient Greece.
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." -Mark Twain