NOT YOUR CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORY
The Nazarite spins the tale of the great strongman and biblical hero—Samson. Able to slay a lion with his bare hands, defeat an army of one-thousand strong with the jawbone of an ass, lift the mighty Gates of Gaza, plus many more captivating triumphs. It’s a fantastic story of great and outrageous feats, accompanied with an intriguing love affair between Samson the Israelite and Delilah the Philistine. It was this compelling relationship that has raised many brows and questions.
Why did Samson share his sacred secret with the vixen—Delilah? A secret so dear, that his life depended upon keeping it private. Yet he confides to Delilah, and by doing so is taken captive by his people’s existential enemy. His eyes are gored out and is sentenced to be sacrificed to the Philistine god—Dagon.
Can we imagine Delilah, armed with nothing more than her exquisite beauty, and cunning deceit, enticing the lustful Samson by luring him beyond the boundaries of their intimacy? Why else would the Nazarite give up the key to his great strength, unless enticed by forbidden, erotic desires?
The novella is written through the eyes of Samson, and a Philistine scribe—Mizar, who’s given the task of writing upon parchment the events of Samson's incredible life.
In Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, a two volume set published in 1988, the legendary author, Isaac Asimov wrote: …Samson is not a leader of an army, like Barak, Gideon, or Jephthah. He is, instead, a kind of a Robin Hood or Superman, conducting a one-man campaign against the enemy and winning his way by brute strength, rather than by skill or intelligence…
My intention in taking on this exciting bible story, was to add a sense of plausibility to the miraculous feats performed by the heroic Samson. I attempted this by providing him with an ability of secreting, upon demand, the hormone—epinephrine. This natural occurrence in the human body becomes stimulated under conditions of external stress, which in turn stimulates the circulation of the blood, capacity of the lungs, and carbohydrate metabolism, while it prepares the muscles and mind for extreme exertion and reaction.
This became an effective way of legitimizing Samson’s magnificent strength and catlike quickness, along with his sixth sense of observing his opponents sudden movements in slow motion. How else could one man effectively fight so many soldiers, or kill a ferocious lion with his bare hands?
In addition to striving for real-life credibility in the story telling, I wanted to examine why Samson divulged his secret to the vixen—Delilah. A secret so dear, his life depended upon keeping it from being shared. Yet he divulges it to Delilah, and by doing so, is taken captive, his eyes are gored out, and is sentenced to be ceremonially sacrificed to the Philistine god—Dagon.
I imagined Delilah, armed with nothing more than her exquisite beauty and cunning deceit, enticing the lustful Samson, by pushing him beyond the normal boundaries of love making. Why else would the Nazarite give up the key to his great strength, unless lured by forbidden, erotic desires?
I mostly remained true to the bible story, though there were several accounts that seemed too fanciful. One in particular was a passage in Judges 15:4, where is it written—And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned tail to tail, and put a torch in the midst between every two tails. I couldn’t imagine, even with his array of extraordinary skills, how Samson could have possibly performed such a feat without asking too much leeway from the reader. Instead, in his quest for revenge, I had him simply set their crops ablaze, without the aid of the foxes.
In Judges 15:15, it is written—And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and smote a thousand men therewith. Here I replaced the animal bone with a soldier’s sword. Though this detail hardly diminishes the miraculous outcome.
Regardless, there are plenty of heroic feats where Samson exploits his God-given gifts, requiring the reader to swallow a healthy dose of the metaphysical, a common expectation in bible stories.
Peter Paul Rubens
James Jacques Joseph
José Etxenagusia Errazquin
José Salomé Pina