Remembering Samson in a Hellenized Jewish Context (Judges 13–16)
Leadership, Social Memory and Judean Discourse in the Fifth - Second Centuries BCE - Diana V. Edelman
Diana V. Edelman [+]
University of Oslo
Whatever the originating context and desired impact of the Samson story in Judges 13–16, for Jews versed in Hellenistic culture, literature, and worldview, it is likely that the story called to mind in varying degrees the Greek hero Herakles and King Alexander, who was depicted widely on Greek coinage in the guise of Herakles, wearing the skin of the Nemean lion. These associations likely would have represented a value assigned by a subsection of the larger religious community only, but shared social memories can bear different meanings and messages within a society. Samson's negative evaluation in the biblical text could have been understood by Hellenized Jews to have been a rejection of the idea of the Greek semi-divine hero and of tyranny, exemplified by Alexander, as a form of leadership.