Thursday, February 08, 2007

Suicidal Terrorist Kills 3000!

I am referring, of course, to the Biblical story of Samson in the Book of Judges. Samson, who the Philistines called a terrorist, was captured by them using his lover Delilah as honey-trap, in a ruse reminiscent of the capture of the nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu using an attractive Mossad agent, but I get ahead of myself.
This is how Samson's story ends (Judges XVI, 21-30):
But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house. ... Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand. And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us. And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars. And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them. Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines [were] there; and [there were] upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with [all his] might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that [were] therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than [they] which he slew in his life.

It is important to point out the positive attitude the Judeo-Christian tradition places on this extreme act. The killing of 3000 men, women and children, including the poor lad who tended to him, by a blinded and humiliated Samson, is taught approvingly to present-day Israeli children, where the protagonist is conventionally referred to as "Samson the Hero," or Shimshon Haggibor.

I don't know what started the feud between the Israelites and the Philistines, but I could bet it was over land. What ever became of an eye for an eye? Such disproportionality was again on display in Lebanon last summer. I am struck by the symbolism of the Trade Towers as surrogates for the two columns, with the astounding match to both death tolls. I'll leave you with some first-person Samson doggerel

O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious!
Living or dying though hast fulfill'd
The work for which thou wast foretold
To Israel, and now ly'st victorious
Among thy slain, self-killed;
Not willingly, but tangled in the fold
Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoin'd
Thee with thy slaughtered foes, in number
Than all thy life hath slain before.

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