Sunday, September 30, 2012

Modern-Day Recounts of Bible Stories: Samson and Delilah

Samson, drained of his man-seed (not shown) enjoys a satisfying nap in the garden.

Back in the day, before the Jews had a city of their own, they spent a lot of time hanging out in the hills of Israel trying to keep a bunch of Canaanites and Sidonians and Perizzites and Hivites and Jebusites and Moabites off their land, so they were always getting into fights and slaying a bunch of enemy soldiers they had to cart away after every battle.  Because they were God’s chosen people, it was pretty much a guarantee that they would win every time, but sometimes they got cocky and decided to worship other gods like Baalim and Ashtaroth that had more interesting names and fewer rules—plus, the people worshipping those gods were usually beautiful, large-breasted women.  (Back then, the Israelites were always getting cozy with other gods as an excuse to sleep with women from other tribes. They were pretty clever that way.)  So the Isarelites met some heathen women through the pink-light classifieds and started visiting pay-by-the-hour hotels and getting drunk on weeknights even though they weren’t supposed to.  God (as you might expect) didn’t like that very much, and lo and behold, the Israelites get royally fucked when the Philistines (and the Gazites, who pledged with most of the same fraternities as the Philistines) rolled in, and soon, no Israelites were going out to sleep with anyone.

Around this time, out comes this dude Samson from the hills and rips a lion in half with his bare hands.  He didn’t want anybody to know he did it, so he turned the whole thing into a riddle and tried to swindle the Philistines overlords out of a whole bunch of sheets and changes of garments (which were basically like money back then).  This doesn’t go so well, so Samson catches three hundred foxes, ties flaming torches to their tails, and sets them loose in the Philistine’s cornfields.  Then the fire spreads to the vineyards, which makes the Philistines really mad.

After the flaming foxes incident, the Philistines had it out for this Samson guy, though they still didn’t know about that whole ripping a lion in half thing.  They got revenge by killing Samson’s wife and father-in-law (which was kind of a good thing, because the father-in-law sometimes wouldn’t let Samson go in unto his own wife), but then Samson came right back and slew a bunch of them hip to thigh (think about this for a second).  For revenge, the Philistines tricked the Israelites into tying Samson up, but of course he escapes, grabs an ass’s jawbone (no other weapons being available) and slays a thousand dudes by himself at Ramathlehi because he’s so freakin’ strong.

That’s when the Philistines went to Delilah, Samson’s new girlfriend from the valley of Sorek, and offered her eleven hundred silver pieces each if she could figure out the secret of Samson’s crazy strength. (In comparison, all Judas got for betraying Jesus was enough to buy a measly field.)  Samson, having recently carried off the main gates of Gaza on his back, was pretty tired and wanted to spend some time in bed with his girl, who immediately got on his case about where his strength came from.  To make her happy and get her on her back, Samson told her that if he was ever tied with seven undried withs, he would lose his strength.

Delilah was pretty confused about what a with was, but went out and bought some undried ones to tie Samson up with.  Samson woke up from his post-coital reverie the next morning to find himself tightly bound, but he snapped the withs like dental floss because that wasn’t really the secret.

So Delilah tried again, and Samson told her that if he was ever bound fast with brand-new ropes, he would lose his strength.  Ropes were more expensive than withs back then, but Delilah went out and bought some to tie Samson up with the next time he spent the night, but of course that didn’t work either.

Now Delilah really wants those silver pieces, so she puts on this huge sob act and tells Samson that he if he honestly and truly loved her he’d tell her the secret.  Samson really wants Delilah to sleep with him, so he makes up another cock and bull story about putting his long Fabio-hair through the loom and weaving it into seven locks to get rid of his strength.  You’d think, that when Samson woke up the next morning with his hair in a loom and a closetful of Philistines to contend with, he would recall the previous two incidents and realize that something’s up.  But Samson apparently doesn’t realize this, and the next night tells Delilah that his strength actually comes from his long Fabio-hair.  Why does Samson tell her the truth?  I have a few theories:
1. He was so comically stupid that he just couldn’t figure out what was going on.
2. He loved and trusted Delilah so much that he wanted to tell her his secret, like when people play that game where one person fall backwards and the other person catches them.
3. Delilah wouldn’t have sex with him unless he told her, and he’d run out of stories about ropes and withs.
I don’t have any proof, but I’m guessing it was that third one.

After Delilah promptly shaved off all of Samson’s hair during the night, of course the Philistines popped out of the closet again (internet porn hadn’t been invented yet, so there was a pretty long line for who got to hide in the closet all night listening to Samson and Delilah do it) and beat him senseless.   Instead of killing him, they tore out his eyes and dragged him back to the Philistine palace, where they got really drunk and brought the now-blind Samson out to make fun of.  Unfortunately for them, a few weeks had passed, Samson’s hair had started to grow back, and he’d recovered enough of his crazy strength to knock down the pillars of the Philistine palace and kill everyone inside.  This was more people than he’d slain in his whole life—pretty impressive if you recall that thousand men with an ass’s jawbone thing.

Apart from the timeless lessons that Samson and Delilah have to teach us about trust and honesty in relationships, the story’s ending has roused much debate among Biblical scholars over the precise correlation between hair growth and Herculean strength, as well as the maximum occupancy levels of Phillistine palaces during the Mesopotamian era.

Click here for an all ages-appropriate version of this story.

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