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Archive for September, 2018

Reasons for Samson’s tragedy!


It has been the general opinion of interpreters of the Old Testament to blame Samson’s weakness for women as the sole reason for the tragic end of Samson.
My understanding of Samson is significantly different from this general opinion, which is a Trojan horse for smuggling the pet theories of the moralists.
Being Moral is entirely different from being a Moralist. A Moralist is one who goes around prescribing standards of ‘desirable’ behaviour for others to follow.
Samson’s association with Delilah, and before that with that woman from Timnath, whom he married; and the Harlot from Gaza are bandied about as reason for his tragic end. No doubt Samson’s choice of women were mostly Philistine women, who were the “Rulers” of the Jews then.
A necessary parallel has to be drawn to King David, who was no less active in the same field as Samson, but King David’s choice starts with Mehrab as the trophy for having defeated Goliath. When Mehrab was not too keen on becoming the spouse of David, a single swallow making the summer then, settles down for Michal, who according to the Bible was in love with this young hero, more as a compromise to gain access to be counted as a member of the King’s family. Then David marries Abigail, who had met him the previous night and conveniently for David, Abigail’s husband dies the next morning putatively out of a broken heart for his indiscreet words to David’s men the previous day‼️ David’s other women were Maacah, a Princess of Geshur. All these women gave David access to the princely power through Michal; economic resources through Abigail; another Princely cohabitation with Maacah. As regards Ahinoam and Haggith, except that the latter was the mother of Adonijah, very less is known of them. Lastly, Bathsheba, who was the mother of Solomon through David and the one who was involved in the accession politics after David became incapacitated in his last days. But the thread which runs through the choice of the women of David is that his priorities as a Ruler never took a backseat. More than that David never succumbed, except in his last leg, to the charms of these women so as to risk his Life.
But Samson played with fire right from that woman from Timnath; the harlot at Gaza; and finally with Delilah. Samson’s behaviour and association was risky from the outset.
But is that all there was to Samson? I guess not.
Samson was from the tribe of Dan. Dan as a tribe was the last tribe to receive its territory from Joshua, just over Philistia and West of Ephraim and Northwest of Judah and South of West Manasseh. Dan was a small enclave East of the Mediterranean. Therefore a tribe hemmed in on all sides. Surrounded by the big boys like Ephraim, Manasseh and Judah.
Let us get back to the origins of this tribe. Dan was one of the sons of Bilah, maid of Rachel.
Not a very bright prospects for a person born to one of those handmaiden Tribes of Israel. Even this territory was divested and in time Dan ended up in the North along with those tribes, not of stature. But at least they escaped the slings & arrows of their supercilious half-brothers.
Even Gideon of Manasseh had to say : “Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?” to Ephraimites to palliate their hurt pride, as Gideon had not included them at the beginning of his campaign against the Midianites. Such was the hierarchy of the tribes. Uterine brother Ephraim was above Manasseh, how much worse would have been Dan’s position with Ephraim, Judah and Manasseh encompassing Dan and a common border with Philistia, to boot!

If I should exemplify with another example, Jephtha, the Gileadite had trouble with the Ephraimites even after his victory over Ammonites and had to encounter the wrath of the ‘superior’ Ephraimites thus:
Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.”

When such was the case, what would have been the plight of a brilliant hero Samson, from Dan?
If the reader thinks I am imagining please read the attitude of the tribe of Judah, when Samson was on the rock of Etam after he had set the fields of the philistines afire.

Judges 15

Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.

Here was a strong man Samson who should have been assisted and his lack of tact should have been supplemented by others, but Alas, Judah is trying to educate the irrepressible Samson into subjugation by teaching Samson who their masters were‼️
I pity that generation of Judah, which had not only become servile but were without the spirit of resistance when they had a hero like Samson around.
Judah saw the Danites as lowborn and wouldn’t aid his attempts.
I don’t say that Samson was a great man manager, but those are skills which could be supplied through advice and mentoring. Till Danites captured Laish and renamed it as Dan in the Northern tip, they were hemmed in between half-brothers who were intent on suppressing and stifling Danites and I feel that this also contributed greatly to the downfall of Samson.

Vincent Van Gogh & ‘At Eternity’s Gate’


Art is to be relished and not to be explained, the reason according to me is that there is a certain internal ambience at the point of reception of a work of Art. That ‘internal ambience’ is made up of one’s knowledge, feelings, mood, proclivity and the serotonin levels of circulation in one’s brain.
But there are works of art which not only startlingly attract us, but keep us occupied with the associative thoughts related to that work of art or that of the artist’s.
Very few artists have had their feelings expressed in words like Vincent Van Gogh. His epistolary saga with his brother Theo is intense, sincere and open to the point of raw vulnerability.
His paintings in ‘China blue’, those bright yellows, twirling strokes and day-to-day themes are his trademark but there was something more to his works. Those were the stories which were built around his Life. A Life, not merely reduced to the somber ending – which is the case with most humans, but lived VIBRANTLY and INTENSELY. Who could have had a distraught moment with another posthumously exalted great artist like Paul Gauguin which led to Vincent’s earlobe being chopped off by Gauguin and yet never implicated another genius to the objectives of the Arles criminal justice system?
How about that myth that Van Gogh presented his chopped off lobe to a prostitute with whom he was in love‼️
All these facts which the art historians are floating from time to time cannot be verified and proven with indelible accuracy. They were lost without a trace and yet we are weaving our ‘facts’ and our earlier generations had woven their ‘facts’ too; and when we were naive we believed as if they knew best and we learnt it from them.
Despite all these vortices of facts there is a painting of Van Gogh with a bandaged ear with a look in his face, which I wonder how a self portrait painter could have captured and reproduced.
Was that traumatic look in his eyes and the wrinkles on his face the pain of the ear or was it the loss of his friend Gauguin, is left for our imagination.
Van Gogh made me see art in the common things of life. His ‘infatuator’ Gauguin had rightly said that all art was either plagiarism or a revolution. Van Gogh’s paintings are a Revolution. They elevated common things and people around us and brought out that ‘timbre’ or that ‘thisness’ to each item or person he painted.
How can we abandon the myth that Van Gogh cut off his own ear and presented it to a woman whose profession did not allow her to be ‘chaste’ to his love?
How can we allow facts that Van Gogh did not commit suicide but was murdered? That takes away the heroism of a man who had been burdened with oscillating sanity. To be murdered as an ending to an artist like Van Gogh is not befitting. Caravaggio, yes. A street brawler, yes- but a sincere, sensitive and intense soul should be given the power over his own life.
How can a movie like “At Eternity’s Gate” destroy such a powerful ‘fact’ which I believe?
The movie is supposed to have opened to excellent reception in Venice and due in the USA in mid November.
I’d hate to see a movie with that ending. What a pity, that the factmakers want to destroy Vincent even after his death. Allow the dead man his dignity of having taken his own life and let us keep him in the company of the Alpha males like Hemingway.

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