[Marxism] The Samson story

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jan 9 10:30:44 MST 2009

Of the Samson story, Mary Joan Winn Leith writes in The Oxford Companion 
to the Bible, “It’s one of the most artfully composed tales in the 
Bible…A subtle study of deception and betrayal, by humans and by god, 
for good and for ill.”

On the other hand: what a horrible story! There are few redeeming 
qualities in this selfish, oversexed, vicious brute who abuses animals 
by setting their tails on fire and doesn’t even have the good sense to 
figure out that Delilah’s working with the enemy.

Now, this of course is a text probably written between 2600-2800 years 
ago. Its unknown author(s) have nothing to do with any contemporary 
political disputes, and we can’t expect the text to give us much insight 
about the thinking of the Zionists in relation to this present 
blitzkrieg on Gaza.

Still, there are some passages to think about:

     (1) “…all this came from Yahweh, who was seeking grounds for a 
quarrel with the Philistines, since at this time the Philistines 
dominated Israel” (New Jerusalem Bible, Judges 14:4; the New Oxford 
Bible renders this “seeking a pretext to act against the Philistines”).

The fact is, Israeli leaders have indeed sought grounds for war with the 
Palestinians, repeatedly. They have manufactured pretexts for decades. 
In 2006 they used a Hezbollah attack on an Israeli border patrol station 
that killed six and resulted in two Israeli soldiers being taken hostage 
as the pretext for a massive assault on Lebanon, killing over 1000.

The author of this fictional work, writing perhaps 2600-2800 years ago, 
states that Yahweh himself was looking for a fight. The secular humanist 
might interpret the passage to mean that the worshippers of Yahweh were 
spoiling for a fight with the Philistines, whose land they coveted.

     (2)  “Then the spirit of Yahweh seized on him. He went down to 
Ashkelon, killed thirty men there, took what they wore and gave the 
festal robes to those who had answered the riddle…” (Judges 14:19)

Ashkelon, the former Palestinian town taken over by Zionist settlers 
since 1948, has been in the news lately. We have heard a lot about the 
indiscriminate Palestinian bombardment of the town which is occasionally 
hit by homemade rockets from Gaza. Here in the Samson story we have the 
Israelite hero indiscriminately killing thirty men there. But he does so 
filled with the spirit of God!

You can be sure that this Sunday preachers from pulpits across the U.S. 
will endorse the Israeli invasion of Gaza as a godly act of 
self-defense. (They’ll be responding to Israel’s slick PR campaign of 
nauseating righteousness.) Will such ironies be lost upon them?

     (3) “Let me die with the Philistines!” Samson cries as he causes 
the feasting-hall to collapse from its foundations (Judges 16:29).

Doesn’t this strike you as the mentality of the suicide bomber? We’re 
told Samson killed more at the banquet party that he had during his life 
(16:31) and that his brothers came to take his body away. (But he 
probably didn’t expect to be reborn into a Paradise; that Persian notion 
hadn’t yet really pervaded Judaism. It was probably a product of the 
Babylonian Captivity----of Iran’s contribution to the Jewish experience.)

Thus Samson the judge of Israel destroys himself and thousands of 
Philistines in Gaza. Definitely a Bible story worth rereading at this 
particular time.

* * *

Many Israelis like to present their nation to the world as little David, 
the shepherd boy who will be king, confronting Goliath of Gath, the 
Philistine giant, through the grace of God felling him with a stone from 
a slingshot.

I suggest another image: Israel as Samson.  Wild, irrational, thuggish, 
untamed, covetous, given to religious obsessions, the incredible hulk 
able to carry away the city gates of Gaza but ultimately vulnerable. The 
really scary thing about Samson is that, filled with self-pity and 
self-righteousness even after committing atrocities against so many 
Philistines, he’s prepared to kill an additional 3000 and himself by 
bringing down the great hall on top of everyone’s head.

full: http://www.counterpunch.org/leupp01092009.html

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