The episode begins with Joshua praying in front of the Ark of the Covenant. He gives a speech pronouncing the land to be theirs. Joshua then sends spies into Jericho to check out the city’s defenses. The spies are seen by a woman who cries out in surprise. They flee from the woman and fight off the city guards before hiding in the prostitute Rahab’s home.
Rahab acknowledges that Israel is too powerful and that the people of Jericho are afraid of them. She helps them escape, and in return, the spies promise to protect her when they return.
The men go back to the Israelite camp and tell Joshua that the city wall is difficult to breach, but they also pass along the information Rahab gave them about the people of Jericho. Joshua prays and an angel of God appears to him.
The angel tells Joshua to have his army march around Jericho once a day for six days, then on the seventh day, his army is to march around the city seven times. Finally, the priests are to blast their horns, and as soon as they hear the trumpets sound, the Israelites are to shout. At that point, God will bring down the walls of Jericho, which is exactly what he does. The angel also commands that the people save Rahab as promised. The Israelites do this and emerge victorious.
“The Bible” moves 100 years into the future. Here we’re introduced to the judges of the Old Testament as they deal with the Israelites’ mortal enemies, the Philistines. Samson takes over as judge and marries a Philistine. Meanwhile, the Philistines plot against Samson by burning his wife and her father to death. Enraged, Samson goes on a rampage and kills multiple Philistine guards.
The Philistines respond by promising to kill one Israelite every day until Samson is brought to them. The Israelites go to Samson and convince him to turn himself in to the Philistines. Moments after being sentenced to death, Samson breaks his chains, picks up a donkey’s jawbone, and destroys the Philistine guards who were trying to kill him.
Samson then meets Delilah, who distracts him from his mission to destroy the Philistines. Meanwhile, the Philistine commander offers Delilah riches in exchange for finding out the secret of Samson’s strength. She convinces Samson to tell her his secret: if he cuts his hair, he will be as weak as everyone else.
Delilah waits until Samson falls asleep and cuts his hair. The Philistines arrive and subdue him in front of her. He looks on as the Philistines pay her for betraying him, and then they put out Samson’s eyes.
The Philistines take him to a hall and throw a party celebrating Samson’s defeat. Here Samson claims a final victory by pushing over the hall’s pillars and collapsing the building, which results in the deaths of over a 1,000 Philistines. Samson also dies under the weight of the fallen building.
The story moves forward to Samuel, Israel’s final judge. The Israelites ask Samuel to crown a king over them. He refuses at first, but Samuel does crown Saul as king after praying to God.
Later, Saul grows impatient while waiting for Samuel to arrive prior to a battle. It is a Hebrew tradition that the priest must offer a sacrifice before the Israelites go off to war. Saul grows tired of waiting and takes on the duties of the priest himself. This draws Samuel’s ire. The prophet admonishes the king, and he warns Saul that he must kill every enemy in the camp and take no plunder.
Instead, Saul takes the enemy king prisoner and loots the camp. Samuel sees this and tells Saul that God has forsaken him. God will supply Israel with a king after his own heart.
Samuel finds a shepherd named David and anoints him as the future king of Israel. David then becomes a member of Saul’s court. One day, the Philistines’ greatest champion, Goliath, approaches the Israelite camp. Goliath offers the Israelites a deal: he will face Israel’s chosen fighter in battle. If the Israelite wins, then the Philistines will become their slaves. If Goliath wins, then the Israelites will become the slaves of the Philistines.
David is the only person who takes the challenge. Saul tries to give him armor, but David refuses it. Instead, David picks up some stones and prays as he heads into battle. Goliath laughs and mocks the boy, but David refuses to back down. He kills Goliath by slinging one of the stones into the giant’s head, which leads to a massive Israelite victory.
Years later, a jealous Saul offers David his daughter in exchange for 100 dead Philistines. Saul hopes that David will be killed in his quest, but his soon-to-be son-in-law returns with proof of his deeds. Saul awards him his daughter and then hurls a spear at David. The spear misses, and David flees from Saul.
The King’s obsession with David is so strong that he kills God’s priests for sheltering the fugitive. Saul pursues David across the country, but he’s unable to find him. Instead, it’s David who passes on his opportunity to kill Saul and lets him live. Saul later dies by his own hand in battle after watching his son, Jonathan, impaled by a Philistine arrow.
A messenger delivers the news of Saul and Jonathan’s deaths. David becomes King of Israel and leads an expedition to take Jerusalem. Israel is successful, and Jerusalem becomes the capital of David’s kingdom.
Later, David sees Bathsheba bathing and is tempted by her. The prophet Nathan shows up and tells David that his son will build the temple and his family line will rule over Israel. However, David can’t get Bathsheba out of his mind. He has her brought to him and makes love to her. As a result, Bathsheba becomes pregnant.
David tries to cover his sin by calling Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, back from the front lines. David tells him to go home and spend time with his wife, but Uriah refuses to do so while his fellow soldiers are at war. Desperate to cover his sin, David tells his commander, Joab, to abandon Uriah on the battlefield so that he will be killed.
After his child’s birth, Nathan goes to David and pronounces God’s judgment for his sin. Nathan tells David that the child will die, and he does. The episode ends with David, Bathsheba, and Solomon playing with a model of the future Temple of God.
This episode of “The Bible” was a thorough and mostly accurate depiction of the stories it presented. The acting was actually stronger than it was in the first installment of the series, and the effects were just as good. I was particularly impressed with the fall of Jericho. The entire story was biblically accurate and well-produced.
That said, there were a couple of issues with the Samson story. First, Samson’s first wife was killed after her father gave her to another man, not because the Philistines were angry with her. Second, the story of Samson and Delilah skipped a few facts as well. The episode also took some minor creative shortcuts with the David and Bathsheba story. These aren’t story-killers, but they do have a slight impact on the interpretation.
Despite these inaccuracies, this episode was a worthy reproduction of three famous stories in the Bible. Few cable channels have ever managed to successfully create a miniseries on the Bible, but the History Channel is doing just that.