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Samson is Upon you / "שמשון עליכם..."

שמאי גלנדר and Shamai Gelander
Beit Mikra: Journal for the Study of the Bible and Its World / בית מקרא: כתב-עת לחקר המקרא ועולמו
כרך נא‎, חוברת א (קפד‎) (תשרי-כסלו תשס"ו), pp. 63-71
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23509666
Page Count: 9
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Abstract

In his dealing with the Oedipus myth, Erich Fromm, in The Forgotten Language, proposes his understanding of the sphinks' riddle. According to him, the sphinks' question should be understood in symbolic terms, rather than verbatim. Thus, instead of asking "what is it which first goes on four, then on two, and eventually on three", a question which could easily be solved by any clever child of twelve, one should understand it as if he had been asked "what is Man". Following this attitude, the author in this short study, proposes an understanding of Samson's riddle as consisting of metonymic expressions. Thus, just as the Philistines choose to reply by another riddle, by asking, "What is sweeter than honey, And what is stronger than a lion", the answer to which being love, such should also be the answer to Samson's riddle, namely love. For it is love which is sweeter than honey and stronger than a lion, and it is love which turns the "eater" into something to eat, and which turns the strong into something sweet. Therefore, it seems that the participants of the feast competed with each other in riddles about love and its nature, as is appropriate in wedding feasts, rather than dealing with an unfair private riddle, which cannot be solved by anyone who has not witnessed the scene with the lion. The incident with the lion should be understood merely as Samson's source of inspiration rather than the contents of the entire riddle. This seems to commensurate with Samson's characteristics as displayed in all the other scenes: His typical acts are unexpected improvisations, inspired by constituents of the various situations he has met. From here, the author proceeds in arguing against tendencies in modern critical research where they relate to the Deuteronomistic redactor an encompassing negative evaluation of Samson's figure, seeing him mainly as a representation of disappointing leadership. By using a variety of examples from both early and late biblical historiography, the author maintains that one should sharply discern between the general concept of the editors, with its implicit reservations and criticism towards the historical leaderships preceding the rise of kingdom, and their attitude towards the personality of the former leaders, mainly the judges, who in the early strata of the narratives are depicted as model figures, notwithstanding various intimations of ironic criticism against them..

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