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Monday, December 18, 2017

M³ Not a Hero

            I know I already answered the question as to whether Samson is a hero (he’s not), but it bears more explanation as to why. Mostly it comes down to how he goes about things. Yes he killed a mighty number of Philistines, who were enemies of the Israelites, but he hardly dented them. It’s not until much, much later when King David is around that they finally rout the Philistines completely.
The absolute best that can be said of Samson is that he would have made the Philistines think twice about going into Israel for fear that there were more like him. But at the same time, they had never before encountered a single one like Samson, so there was no reason to fear there would be more.
And we also have to examine Samson’s qualities as a hero. Abraham and Moses are our two templates, and they both tick off the same boxes. They are humble. They’re respectful to God. They’re family men. They pray and communicate with God often. They make a lasting difference to all of Israel. They were pretty selfless, thinking of serving God first, never themselves.
Samson, though, is all about himself. I’m sure he would fit in well on Facebook, posting his riddle about honey (though he’d probably kill the riddle with a selfie of him eating the honey out of the lion’s corpse). He has womanized, murdered, stolen, murdered some more, sought revenge, slept with prostitutes, and just been an absolute jerk overall. Oh, and he’s complete and total dumbass. Seriously, I think only Siegfried shows less intelligence than Samson, but it would be a photo-finish.
This story should never be looked at as one where Samson is a role model. He’s not! He’s breaking commandments and acting more like a savage than an Israelite. In fact, Samson is probably a message of what not to be. The warrior hero of the Greeks may work for them, but it’s a poor fit for an Israelite. Samson can hurt the Philistines, but he can’t do anything good for the Israelites, nor does he care about anyone other than himself.
            Israelite heroes have always followed a specific pattern, which is conspicuously absent from Samson’s character. He just is ineffective because he doesn’t have those traits. Moses, Abraham, Joseph, and Joshua are all phenomenal Israelite heroes who don’t abuse the power they have, but use it to help their people.
            Samson, if anything, is a message of how physical strength corrupts. The strongest warrior is nothing more than a bully who doesn’t even respect God.

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