Monday, April 02, 2007

Samson as a suicide bomber

I guess in the age of reader response, deconstruction of the text and moral equivalence, we shouldn't be surprised by this reworking of the tale of Samson:

The Victoria Philharmonic Choir is creating a stir with its version of Handel's Samson oratorio.


Samson is an examination of a political and personal struggle, but updated to make it more relevant to modern audiences by drawing parallels with ongoing conflict in the Middle East, he said.

"Samson could be any 'freedom fighter'," Capet said.

The biblical story tells of a man with superhuman strength, who is caught by his enemies in a moment of weakness over the woman Delilah.

He is chained in the temple by the Philistines and forced to witness a sacreligious act. He pulls down the temple, killing himself and thousands of others in the process.

Capet has moved the story to 1946 Palestine, when ultra-Zionist bombers were battling the British on land that would later become Israel.

In this version, Samson doesn't pull down a temple, but does bomb the King David Hotel, an actual attack by militant Zionists that took place in 1946.

I've posted a Bible study of Samson and Delilah here and in that study I make the case that you really can't understand Samson's story without the context of Israel's story. I fear that the director of this piece did not realize that (nor did the writer of this article). Samson is not a freedom fighter, he was called by God as a judge (leader) of Israel. At this stage in Israel's history, all they wanted to do was get along with their enemy (sound familiar?) and not engage in war. But Samson keeps engaging in battles against the Philistines out of revenge (go read the study for the details -- or your Bible :-), not to free the nation (though God uses these incidents to cause strife between Israel and the Philistines). Check out what Samson prays to God in the temple:
Judges 16:28 Then Samson called to the LORD and said, "O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes."
Sounds like someone who's out for revenge, not a jihadist waging holy war against the infidels.