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More to the Eye than Meets the Eye

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A Protest against Empire in Samson’s Death?

image of Biblical Interpretation

The patriarchal authority is undermined from the beginning of Samson’s story when Manoah is depicted as playing no role in Samson’s birth. The erosion of patriarchal authority is augmented by an assault on male identity when Samson is forced to play the role of a woman, or rather to become one. Samson’s story thus far may reflect anxiety and fear among men who have lost their male identity and authority in the exile. But the story takes an intriguing and unexpected turn when it questions whether it is fair for the Philistines to gauge both of Samson’s eyes. Perhaps the Philistines meted out more than what Samson deserves. If so, how do we account for the extra suffering he endured? The unnecessary violence to Samson’s other eye attests to the empire’s cruelty and abuse. In Samson’s death, the victims have their say. The people acknowledge their sins but also protest against the collective violence of empire. 

Affiliations: 1: Hartford Seminary,


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