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.
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.
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.
Those who do not want Religion to be mixed with governance and politics propagated Secularism.
This kind of Secularism was interpreted by the Theists as Atheism.
The Tamil Secularists, as an assertion denied the factoring in the role of God or the use of religion in political matters. This was interpreted by the Religious/ Theists as a Denial of the existence of God.
Just as kids in the primary classes are taught that the THE SUN RISES IN THE EAST, THE SECULARISTS LEADERS TAUGHT THEIR CADRES THAT GOD DOESN’T EXIST. What they wanted their cadres to learn was THAT RELIGION SHOULD NOT BE MADE A BASIS OF POLITICAL DECISION MAKING in a Democratic society.
Now when people go to Kalignar’s resting place and conduct religious ceremonies, those Believers/ Theists are contemptuous of the Atheists turning to God, after the death of their leader. The Theists probably believe that those Secularists should continue to say that THE SUN RISES IN THE EAST and not that THE EARTH ROTATES TOWARDS THE EAST ON ITS OWN AXIS WITH THE SUN IN THE CENTRE, even though they have come of age!
How ridiculous, that a Believer / Theist instead of being happy that an erstwhile unbeliever has turned to God, are contemptuously looking down on them for backsliding from the earlier beliefs held by those Secularists! Probably even gloating that finally “they succumbed to Religion – like us”!
Why not we look at it like this: After all, in Death no one can be certain as to what happens thereafter.
There were these Pharaohs who were interred with their personal belongings, in the hope that they may need those belongings; there was this Alexander the Great who piled gold coins in his father Philip’s grave – so in Death, why take a chance? At least in the life after, the man may not be assigned a not so convenient place for the sake of not having asked some Cosmic consciousness! It is a practice In Catholicism for the relatives of the dead to pray for the dead for mitigation of the punishment in the afterlife, called “indulgences” even without the consent, when alive, of the dead.
Therefore, I am of the firm belief that the Belief of a follower ‘following rituals and practices’ in the grave for the benefit of the dead, need not be in keeping with the beliefs of the dead.
Therefore, the clamour of those Theists who want to hold those Secularists responsible for their word, in the literal sense, is neither reasonable nor giving them the Liberty to change their minds and beliefs.
No Mortal can be a Custodian of any belief in God, as any Mortal has the Liberty to assert/affirm his own beliefs, but can never “rule out” any other mortal’s beliefs. All mortals are limited by Time and for all we know, may not carry his consciousness beyond his Death.
In a gist, Secularism is merely not mixing Religion in politics & governance and has nothing to do with their personal practices in their Private lives.
Let us be sane enough NOT TO JUDGE THE DEAD. They are beyond the grasp of the Living.
Even when I was a boy, whenever I read Esther 7, I was fascinated by Harbonah.
The interesting part evolved from a situation from my home. It was routine for us to read the Bible on Sundays after lunch and my father would vividly explain those doubts which I raised as a boy of 12 years or so.
I couldn’t understand as to why Harbonah covered the face of Haman, when Ahaseurus asked rhetorically: Will he(Haman) force Esther in my presence in the house?
My father had to explain the context picturesquely and he said, “do you know that when I inspect prisoners and ask their grievances on Tuesdays I go on rounds to every block of the prison and all the prisoners would be lined up in front of their respective blocks and I would lead a posse of prison officials and with me would be the District Medical Officer too?”
I said yes, I do.
Dad said:” But do you know that the convict warder Khader would be to my right, just a step behind me but between me and the closest prisoner, as I pass by?”
I said: so?
Dad said: “Those prisoners are criminals and I am the head of the Central prison and have to behave in a dignified manner. Yet, if any of those prisoners were to attack me or anyone, the first line of defence would be Khader. Khader would not mind his life but would do everything within his powers to stave off any assault to me and I could still remain composed, even in an ugly situation.”
He added: Even if a Prison Superintendent was so powerful that there were officials to give their lives, can you imagine the power of a ruler who ruled 127 provinces from Ethiopia to India?
That Harbonah was like our Khader. I got his point in my own juvenile way.
I have to describe Khader, otherwise this piece would have no meaning. He was a lifer, convicted of murder and serving life term. When a convict gets upgraded, he becomes an overseer first and thereafter he could become a CONVICT WARDER.
Khader used to be in white shirted like police with half trousers and a leather belt with a brass buckle. He must have been 5’8” and sticky with no smile on his face. There was a sternness to his demeanour and a sense of decisiveness to his stride. He was also adept at electrical work and he used to have a plier slung with one handle in his right pocket. He could leave the jail unescorted anytime and he would get back for sure. He was the most powerful person inside the prison. He had his cell open in one corner of the jail and he was raising wild pigeons. It was reported that he would feed those pigeons with generous amounts of corn, supplied as per his requirements by the store in- charge. It was also reported that he ate pigeons for dinner, which were cooked inside the jail by those flunkeys, mostly remand prisoners who had come under his ‘keep’!
Khader was a man with a purpose, he looked the type who had forgotten that he was a convict, yet absolutely loyal to only one person – the Jail Superintendent.
The plier on his right trouser pocket looked like the jawbone of an ass in the hands of Samson. His sheer presence could dissipate crowds of prisoners. No small talk; no banter; no smile; always purposeful and always busy. His lunch was the food sent to the Jail Superintendent for tasting, every afternoon. I am sure, that must have been tweaked to ensure that the Superintendent is not appalled by the food dished out to the general prisoners by tasting that food, which came in a tray in stainless steel cups and bowls. The food might be from the same cauldron, but additives to give flavour and taste might have been added. I’ve tasted that a couple of times, myself, to my utter disgust – even with all that tweaking.
This Khader who lived on royal jelly and pigeon meat, no wonder was stocky, muscular and loyal – how else could he keep his supplies thus.
The prisoners on Tuesdays could lift their hands up to 30 degrees from their elbows and if the Superintendent deigned to stop, Khader would be so alert that he would not only look into the eyes of that prisoner with a grievance but also circumspect that no other jailbird pounced on his master. His role was self-exalted by presumed threats and his assumed role as a protector of the body of the most powerful person.
Such was Harbonah.
I got it, I’m sure you as a reader must have got it too.
So, Haman, the Chief Minister of the Emperor Ahaseurus, had also been invited along with the emperor, by Esther for a dinner running the second day on the trot.
When the king asked Esther what she wanted, Esther begs for her life. Ahaseurus is aghast, as to who could threaten his Queen and promptly she says that it was the “wicked Haman”. The emperor is furious and walks out and when he returns he finds Haman fallen on the bed/couch of Esther. Freeze.
In that instant the emperor says : Will he(Haman) force Esther in my presence in the house?
The Bible says:Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.
This Harbonah advises the method of disposal of Haman, by informing the Emperor that Haman had raised a gallows at his own house to hang Mordecai, cousin/uncle of Esther, because of their pre-existing enmity.
Haman, the hen-pecked, had raised the gallows in his own house at the behest of his wife Zeresh, who advised him to set up and hang Mordecai in that gallows.
Haman, who knew that Mordecai was a Jew failed to know that the Queen was not merely any Jewess, but the foster daughter of Mordecai!
All these pale into insignificance when we see Harbonah covering the face of his own Chief Minister and dragging him out no sooner had he heard the displeasure of the king Ahaseurus.
“But where was Harbonah, when Vashti had refused to come to the banquet when the same Ahaseurus had invited her for showcasing her before the emperor’s princes and nobles?” Asked I.
Dad said: There was one Harbona then, who probably was the same Harbonah. But there were six other chamberlains who were dispatched by Ahaseurus to fetch Vashti. But Vashti did not go at the invitation of the Emperor.
My curiosity got the better of me and I said after all Harbonah had access to the king’s harem too, further if Harbonah had no qualms about covering the face of the Chief Minister, why didn’t he lift Vashti and present her before the Emperor?
Being a juvenile then and not understanding the dynamics of a man woman relationship I had asked that indiscreet question.
But without getting into that, my father said something which reverberates even today in my mind: Had Harbonah got Vashti before the emperor, the Jews would not have had Purim to celebrate. Reminds me of the Verger of Somerset Maugham.😄
Divine ways to have the Festival of Lights.
“Whether authors ever live to see the dawn of their fame depends upon the chance of circumstance; and the higher and more important their works are, the less likelihood there is of their doing so. That was an incomparable fine saying of Seneca’s, that fame follows merit as surely as the body casts a shadow; sometimes falling in front, and sometimes behind. And he goes on to remark that though the envy of contemporaries be shown by universal silence, there will come those who will judge without enmity or favor. From this remark it is manifest that even in Seneca’s age there were rascals who understood the art of suppressing merit by maliciously ignoring its existence, and of concealing good work from the public in order to favor the bad: it is an art well understood in our day, too, manifesting itself, both then and now, in an envious conspiracy of silence.”
The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer: the Wisdom of Life
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When Bartimaeus’ eyes were opened, he realised that he had shouted out to the Son of David while he was still oblivious of the milling crowd outside Jericho, following Jesus.If only had Bartimaeus SEEN the crowd, he’d NOT have called out to Jesus, being afraid to draw attention to himself and having become overawed.Our faith remains stifled and unarticulated because we feel others are watching!Turn a blind eye and call out, the Redemption maybe in our calling to attention the Saviour passing by.
The Cheetah which had through circumstances lost the symbiotic forays with the Lion, wizened – not with age – but lack of nutrition, and realised how unequal relationships, though might work fabulously for a while, wouldn’t change the script of his Life structured by the cosmic force which had made him a creature of Speed and not Strength.Having reconciled with his genetic script, took to hunting smaller animals for his sustenance.His Expectation of pining for the Lion coming back had wasted a few months of his Life. Our Cheetah was finding it difficult to generate those unleashing leaps of a compressed spring. He took to scavenging, but even out of that false Expectation sprang Hope. He built his skills of guile, he would stealthily crawl up to less swift smaller animals and take them. This not just kept him going, but unconsciously built up his strength to become the Cheetah that he was genetically designed to be.The Cheetah’s confidence in himself grew with time. He learnt one of the biggest lessons of life: never ever build alliances with those who rely on your skills but give you an impression of favouring you by sharing pittance out of your own Labours. Better to be your Creator’s servant than serve another mortal Creature for a morsel. Better to live with the insecurity of a mortal than be secure in the shadow of another mortal‼️The Cheetah now has his lair on top of a flinty hillock overlooking a meadow, where he could see and choose his prey. The Cheetah thought to himself: Thou preparest a table before me – in the presence of Lions, which are nothing but creatures competing for the same stuff😎