Samson Narrative in Judges may be in Two Halves

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Aristaeus, the Pelasgian/Philistine Samson



The motifs in the myth of Aristaeus, and also of Herakles, that seem to parallel the Hebrew story of Samson, do so only up to a point. That is from the annunciation of his birth only until the incident of the ass jaw, or in other words until just after the episode of the maiden and the bees. This would seem to suggest that the second half of the Scriptural story, that of Delilah through the temple incident (Judges 16:4-16:31), may be a “doublet” of the first half of the story (Judges 13:1-15:20) arranged as if it were a subsequent episode. And that the two halves of the story were but two different and diverse narrative accounts of the same ill-defined event. Both of the women, the bride (who is not named) and Delilah were, as we have said, from the Valley of Sorek (the bride is specifically localized at the Sorek Valley city of Timnah); Both nag Samson in an attempt to entice him to tell his secret; both do so in order to betray him to the Philistines; Samson is ultimately bound and turned over to the enemy in both instances; his capture results in him committing a mass killing of Philistines in each case. In summing up the first half, the Scriptures say; “And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.” (Judges 15:20). And then again at the end of the last half it says; ” … And he judged Israel twenty years.” (Judges 16:31). The fact that this concluding statement occurs twice, once in the middle and then again at the end of the same account, is a fair indication that this story is a fusion of unrealized duplications, being joined end to end. Arguably the balance of his story (Judges 16:1-3), where he is enticed into an ambush by a prostitute, but outsmarts the bushwhacking Philistines of Gaza (Samson’s temple scene was also at Gaza), by dislodging the door “posts” (pillars again?), is only a, much shorter, triplet of the same story, inserted between the two accounts (In this event, the adjacent walls may have collapsed about the men who were laying in wait, as we are told, at the supports of this gate, thus approximating the episode in the Dagon temple.). In an apparent confirmation of this “doublet hypothesis” we have the merging of the paramours of Samson in the corresponding Pelasgian account (The Pelasgians were perhaps relying upon a version of the story where some of the various elements from the two halves of the Scriptural narrative were included in the same story.). Aristaeus has tearful entreaties to the maiden, (his mother,) Cyrene in the Greek myth, when she gives him the bee solution, and teaches him to bind Proetus; while these themes are separated in Samson’s parallel episodes, one in the first half of his story, with the un-named bride of Timnah weeping over the bee problem, and then the next theme appears in the last half, with the nagging Delilah in her quest to learn how the hero could be bound.



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