Archive for Delilah

Samson and Delilah Myth

Posted in Atheist, Bible, faith, Hebrew scripture, random, religion with tags , , , on March 8, 2012 by chouck017894

The twelfth and last “Judge” of Israel is alleged to have come into the judge lineup as civil war loomed upon the horizon, and his name was Samson, according to priest-written “history” (Judges 13:16).  The name of this “Judge” is derived from the word for the sun, and the revealing number twelve provides another clue that this is but another mythic tale. In typical mythic form, Samson’s birth was predicted to his barren mother (Judges 13), and barren women throughout any holy account always symbolizes the void out of which all Creation seems to become manifest.

As a personification of the sun, Samson is depicted as possessed with a powerful libido (just as was King Solomon, whose name was also derived from words for sun).  The character of Samson, however, falls outside the usual behavioral customs of Israelite society and is flaunted in questionable morality and swaggering vengeance which brings neither intercession for, nor delivery of his people.  In this portrayal, the Samson tale resembles the older Sumerian Gilgamesh myth, Homer’s account of Mycenaean Greeks, and motifs of Indo-European tales.  And from other sources it is revealed that Samson had another distinctiveness that other ancient cultures gave to their fire gods; he was said to be lame.  That is consistently ignored.

Samson loved three women, all of whom betrayed him (they represent creative energy involving as substance).  One sought to lure him through their intimate relationship into revealing the answer to his riddle of a beehive in the carcass of a lion; that information was vital to the Philistines who planned to kill him.  Another woman also attempted to use her sexual wiles as a means of learning the secret of Samson’s strength.  But it is the deception and betrayal of Samson by Delilah that has always held most interest in this myth.

The character of Delilah is derived from the name Lilith (from Babylonian Lilitu, an evil night spirit), a well-known character in earlier myths who was portrayed as Adam’s first wife.  The priests of Yahweh, writing in Jerusalem in the 8th century BCE, discarded this in the corpus of their religious myths but utilized aspects from the older myth.  The name Delilah linked two meanings in one word; the Hebrew letter D (daleth) means “door,” and the  word lilah means “darkness.”  Delilah thus represents the door into darkness.  The letter D also happens to have Qabalah (Cabala) association with resistance, coming from the letter dallet, which represents resistance.  It is from the association with dallet that biblical tales also acquired the character of the Devil to alibi the resistance which mortals feel toward the infinite creative powers.  From this association, therefore, various degrees of resistance can then be excused as works of devils, daemons, demons, and Diablo—the damned D words.

Delilah, who lived “…in the valley of Sorek,” eventually coaxed the secret of Samson’s strength from him after a prolonged affair, and the secret was that his strength resided in his hair, which had never been shorn.  Physically this is absurd; symbolically it makes sense when we remember that the name Samson is derived from the word for sun.  The hair in this myth therefore alludes to the rays of the sun, and if these radiant energies are lost the sun becomes extinct.  Samson reveals to Delilah, “…If they bind me with seven green withes that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.”  (Withes: tough, supple twigs, especially from the willow.)

Use of the number seven is another strong clue that this is but myth.  Hinted here is that the unshorn hair consists of seven strands, and these refer to the seven prismatic colors within the sun’s rays.  The number seven also holds cosmological implication as well, hinting of the seven periods of Creation (ala Genesis).  The climax of the Samson saga has the hero blinded, and brought down to Gaza (which symbolizes the creative energies brought down to the matter plane of Creation activity), and there Samson is compelled to grind in the mill with slaves.  Samson being depicted as harnessed to the millstone (at Gaza) symbolizes the revolving heavens, an illusionary condition that is caused by Earth’s rotating motion about the sun.

Samson’s dramatic exit from this lowly condition was placed at the pillars of the Philistine temple of Dagon, which is representative of the pulling down of creative power upon himself.  Rightfully this “pulling down” symbolizes creative energy being pulled down into material manifestation, but holy myth-writers often reversed the progressive steps of Creation to disguise the true source of their “revealed” wisdom.  Samson’s story is a great tale of action, seduction and intrigue, but how could his escapades ever be interpreted as the delivery of Israel out of the hands of the Philistines?

Conclusion:  The book of Judges, following the book of Joshua, is a composite of war stories, accounts of heroism, and battles between Israelites and their neighbors—violence indulged in to keep and maintain a land that god had allegedly promised to them alone.  It was a strange covenant, to say the least, promising a land which had to be forcibly taken away from established dwellers.  Couldn’t the omniscient Creator have provided his chosen ones with virgin territory?  And that covenant, according to the priest-authors, carried even weirder provisions which stated that the Hebrew-Israelites had to remain apart from that indigenous population—or else!  That is typical regulations demanded by neurotic cult founders. To absorb the native people, it was implied, would invoke divine punishment.  Evidently the invading people were not as hard-hearted as the Lord, and allegedly their willingness to commingle angered the Lord.  Consequently, there arose divinely inspired leaders to intervene on Israel’s behalf, and these are the ones who are  listed in scripture as “judges.”

The historical reliability of the Hebrew scriptures has come under serious scrutiny with the science of archaeology.  For well over one hundred and fifty years of serious study in areas such as Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, archaeologists have found no evidence whatsoever that the Exodus saga ever took place; no evidence of Joshua’s take-over of Canaan; and nothing has ever been found to prove that there  ever was a David/Solomon unified monarchy.  And there is yet to be found any archaeological evidence that would support the claim that righteous Israelite “judges” once safeguarded the “Promised Land.”  Obviously, history is not the central objective of these tales; it was a literary project designed for political authority under the guise of godly guidance.

Related post: Fables From the Book of Judges, August 2010.

Fables From the Book of Judges

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, faith, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , on August 21, 2010 by chouck017894

There is no lack of blood and guts in the Old Testament.  Exodus gives us Godly plagues cast for the benefit of the Israelites, and God mercilessly drowned the pharaoh’s army for daring to pursue God’s alleged favorites.  Leviticus lists twenty-eight alleged God-approved methods for killing any persons who did not knuckle-under to priestly judgement.  Joshua is praised for being the instigator of a grand-scale holocaust extermination of the inhabitants of Canaan.  And the book of Judges is primarily a collection of war stories that focus on Israelite personalities who felt driven to eliminate their neighbors.  The book is commonly defined as containing the “history” of the Israelites during the rule of the Judges.

What is never explained is why God should have neurotic need for mortals’ militant devotion, or why he would feel so much prejudice for everyone in the world except the Israelites.  If he is the omniscient Creator of everything as presented in Genesis, then this claim fails to ring true.  Certainly the assertion provides absolutely no spiritual enlightenment for seekers, for it dwells totally on material acquisitions.  (This may, perhaps, explain why the radical right-wing religionists campaign so shamelessly for a “God-based government” in the US.)

It should be remembered that these bloody biblical stories were written in Jerusalem in the 7th century BCE.  In considering the book of Judges as revealed history, a careful reader will ponder over the fact that the time span that is presented is much too long if it is supposed to cover events from instituting the rule of Judges to the anointing of Saul in the mid-eleventh century BCE.  The book of Judges does not coordinate the savior-judges to each other for the simple reason that the book is a collection of stories that circulated about separate tribal heroes.  And there is the typical editorial contrivance of having the traditional twelve starring characters.  The actual featuring of individual “judges” is not taken up until Judges 3:7, and the tales conclude at 16:31; but the alleged bloody events were all said to have been carried out “in the spirit of Yahweh.”

The book of Judges is part of the Deuteronomists collection assembled by priest-authors in 7th century BCE Jerusalem.  The intent, more political than spiritual, was to present a version of heritage for the people of Israel that would inspire and unite the people.  But the stories in Judges cannot be taken as factual history of Canaan in the earlier timeframe of the 12th or 11 centuries BCE.  For one thing, the chronological order can only be described as surreal; if taken at face value the events cover approximately 400 years.  Tradition place the Exodus events in the 13th century BCE; the exploits of the savior-judges, therefore, would have only 200 years to play out all their heroic parts.

The  reason for the distorted time line is to imply that the various tribal myths took place as a continuous history involving persons who arose out of obscurity to perform heroic deeds to save the dream of Israel.  The priestly rewrite of tribal myths never failed to place the blame for Israel suffering under the assaults of oppressors as being the result of the people having repeatedly backsliding in their worship of Yahweh.

Among the traditional twelve Judges of Israel there are listed:  Othniel (Judges 3:7-11), of the Caleb tribe, who supposedly beat back a Mesopotamian foe named Cushanrishathaim;  Ehud (3:12-30), of the Benjamin tribe, who assassinated the Moab king Eglon;  Smamgar (3:31), portrayed as having slain 600 Philistines with an ox goad.  Then there is Yael, the wife of Herber, a Kenite, who is glorified for killing a Canaanite general named Sisera by driving a tent stake through his skull while he slept.  Deborah and Barak shine in Judges 4:1-23, but Barak is said to have killed Jabin, the king of Hazor, which is weird, for it is said in the book of Joshua that Joshua did the bloody deed.  Another judge was Gideon (6:1-8.35), who summoned the Israelites to attack the Midianites and pursued them to the river Jordan.  He was offered a crown for his leadership, but refused, asking only for the many gold earrings captured from the enemy, from which he is said to have fashioned an ephod (for the meaning of ephod see post Sex in Sacred Disguise, March 2009).  Gideon then sacrificed his loving daughter in appreciation of victory over the Ammonites (11:34-40).  And we must not forget Samson (13:1-16.31), and the hair-raising story of his killing 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of and ass.

Samson is something of a misfit as a “judge” for he is not portrayed in any leadership action against enemies of the Israelites; his are personal battles with the Philistines.  His inclusion in the book of Judges is based solely on his alleged bringing down the Philistine temple, thus implying the superiority of the god Yahweh.  Samson is the Hebrew version of the Greek Heracles (Hercules), mixed with Apollo.  The name means “man of the Sun,” so what we are offered is really an allegory of the sun’s power.  That it is myth, not history, is also revealed in the style of story development.  All Pagan and scriptural myths depict only briefly a demigod’s or hero’s birth.  As are some other biblical heroes, Samson’s mother had been barren, but an angel of the Lord told her that she would bear a son, and then the story leaps to his adult life.   The secret of Samson’s strength was in his hair; in other words, the sun’s rays.  It is a Hebrew myth mimicking of the Apollo myth, the Greek sun god, of whom Homer said, “…he of unshorn hair.”  The Philistine vixen, Delilah, is said to have discovered the secret of Samson’s strength, and while he slept she cut off his “seven locks” of hair.  Embedded in the name of the villainess is the Hebrew word lilah, which means “darkness” or “night.”  Prefacing lilah with D, the Hebrew daleth, which means “door,” indicated that De-lilah personified darkness, which in all mythological tales always symbolized the underworld. 

The Deuteronomists examples of God’s alleged favoritism of the Hebrew/Israelites continue in the books of Samuel, the alleged king-maker.