A Closer Reading Of The Bible English Literature Essay Free Essay

Biblical translators tend non to see Delilah as a female opposite number of the youthful David ; alternatively she has been immortalized as a enchantress, the femme fatal, and a prostitute. However, these personifications are found nowhere in the text and are based entirely on the thought that Delilah is as under Philistine influence. Some bookmans believe that she was likely an Israelite, as she had a Semitic name and lived in an country near the place of birth of Samson ( Zorah ) . The name “ Delilah ” is a pun on Hebrew layla, “ dark, ” as the name Samson is related to “ sun, ” shemesh. This may be important as the writer is potentially puting out the construct that Samson and Delilah are polar antonyms. It is here that the audience begins to see that Delilah will convey a shutting to the yearss of Samson. For the dark overcomes the mighty Sun However, this may non be a negative act for Israel.

A closer reading of Judges reveals that Delilah is comparable to another heroic adult female, Yael. For illustration, in Judg. 5:24-27 ( and in the parallel history in Judg. 4:17-22 ) Yael acts on behalf of the Israelites and against the Canaanite leader Sisera, but the text is clear ( in both histories ) that Yael is non an Israelite, but a Kenite. Delilah likewise, acts on behalf of the Philistines and against the Israelite hero Samson, even though nowhere is she identified as a Philistine. The text states that Delilah comes from the “ Valley of Sorek ” ( Judg. 16:4 ) , which lies between the hill state inhabited by the Israelites and the Philistine fields. Both Delilah and Yael can be envisioned as foreigners within their narratives, playing a function within an cultural struggle that is non needfully their ain.

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Both Yael and Delilah besides seem to carry on their lives independent of work forces and exterior of the patriarchal construction of their society. This is clearer in the instance of Delilah, who is ne’er mentioned in relation to a adult male other than her paramour Samson. Delilah besides seems to hold her ain house that she manages entirely ( the topographic point where Samson slumber and where the Philistines fell expecting to capture him ) . Yael ‘s residence is different, since it is a collapsible shelter, non a house which is traditionally assumed she portions with her hubby, Heber. The NRSV translates Judg 5:24:

‘Most blessed of adult females be Jael,

A A A the married woman of Heber the Kenite,

A A A of tent-dwelling adult females most blessed.

Many observers prefer an alternate interlingual rendition of this poetry, reasoning that the 2nd line describes Yael as “ a adult female of the Kenite community. ” The footing for this interlingual rendition lies in the texts from Mari, where the term hibrum is used to depict a community unit such as a kin or folk. This suggests that heber ( the Hebrew blood relation of hibrum ) should besides be translated as a common noun mentioning to a set of people. This theory additions cogency as elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, heber has such a significance. In Hosea 6:9, a company of priest is referred to as a heber. If the reader applies this apprehension to heber to Judg. 5:24, it can be understood heber to be a mention to a little group of people ( specifically the Kenites ) and non as the name of Yael ‘s hubby. Therefore, Yael like Delilah, is besides an “ other ” working outside a relationship with a hubby or other male authorization figure.

Sexual imagination is besides a subject that is present in both narrations. However, in both instances the texts are ill-defined. For illustration, while Delilah in Judg 16:4-22 is normally assumed to be a seductress, it is ne’er explicitly stated. To be certain she has her ain house where she entertains Samson: moreover, he is at that place ( as the text provinces ) because he loves her. All this could propose a brother. Delilah ‘s narrative is besides prefaced by the narrative of Samson ‘s Gazaite cocotte and this prologue might solidify Delilah ‘s association with harlotry. Nevertheless, cocottes are non the lone adult females in the Bible who are depicted as having houses of their ain. Widows besides do, and in many respects, Delilah is every bit much like a celebrated widow of the deuterocanonical tradition, Judith, as she is like the Gazaite cocotte of Judg 16:1-3 or like Rahab the cocotte of Jericho described in Josh. 2:1-24, 6:22-25 with whom Delilah is frequently compared. Like Judith, Delilah is called upon at her place by her parts aristocracy. Like Judith, Delilah sets out to prosecute an enemy warrior in a one-on-one confrontation and besides like Judith ; Delilah uses the warrior ‘s attractive force to her to derive command over him. Judith presents herself dressed in “ all her adult females ‘s finery ” so that she can pull off to be left entirely with Holofernes in order to assail him in his 10 ( Jdt 12:15 ) . Finally, Judith ‘s victory over Holofernes, decapitating him while he is passed out rummy ( Jdt 13:6-9 ) is non so different so Delilah ‘s victory in taking Samson ‘s caput of hair while he sleeps. The fact that Judith holds Holofernes ‘ hair as she beheads him ( Jdt 16:7 ) makes the connexion between these adult females peculiarly clear. Still, in the Delilah narrative, while there may non be harlotry, there is sexual imagination.

Before being shaved, Samson sleeps between Delilah ‘s articulatio genuss, with “ articulatio genuss ” perchance mentioning to female genital organ, which in this regard, is similar to Yael ‘s “ pess ” which is besides inoffensive for genital organ, between which Sisera collapses in Judg 5:27 after he has been pierced. However, Yael is non automatically identified as a cocotte, though Delilah is. What underlies this titillating imagination of both of these transitions appears to be motherhood non harlotry. Samson lays shaved between Delilah ‘s “ articulatio genuss ” in the same manner he lay as a newborn -bald and helpless. This reading of maternity besides applies to Yael as instantly following the description of Sisera puting between Yael ‘s legs in Judg 5:27 is a poetry that describes his female parent. This Maternal imagination downplays the sensed gender of both sense and helps to rebut the thought that Delilah is a cocotte.

However, no affair how like Yael Delilah seems to be -in footings of an “ outside ” ethnicity, in footings of standing outside patriarchal norms, and in footings of uniting a victory over an enemy with sexual imagination -there is still the fact that Delilah betrayed Samson for money and this “ merchandising ” of herself might show a job to laud Delilah in a Yael-like mode. However, this possible treachery can be explained in many ways. One such account is that the texts province, “ At that clip the Philistines had rule over Israel, ” ( Judges 14:4 ) which could explicate that Delilah accepted the payoff out of concern for her ain well being -knowing the Philistines had the power in the state of affairs. Regardless, Yael may besides be considered a treasonist by her ain people. In Israelite tradition, the poetry of the “ Song of Deborah ” that describe Yael offer no ground to explicate why she, a Kenite, would move on behalf of the Israelites and against the Canaanites by killing the Canaanite leader Sisera. The prose history of the same episode in Judg. 4:17-22 likewise offers no account of Yael ‘s actions. But the prose do offer a powerful statement against Yael ‘s killing act in v. 17: it assumes that there was a peace pact between King Jabin of Hazor, for whom Sisera was said to be contending, and Yael ‘s kin. Here Yael has endangered her community by interrupting the peace. In the logic of Judges 4 -Yael is merely every bit much a informer as Delilah is in Judges 16, “ selling out ” her Kenite family even without a distinct motive ( like money ) . Yet in the scriptural tradition as it has been passed down, Yael is still considered a hero despite her apparently uncoaxed treachery because she “ sells out ” on Israel ‘s behalf.

By associating Delilah to Yael and seeing how her actions mirror another adult females that is acclaimed earlier in the book of Judges, an audience could reason that Delilah is either a treasonist to her people or she is moving in the best involvement of Israel. Chapter 15 of Judges can certify to this thought as the work forces of Judah inquiry Samson with “ Do you non cognize that the Philistines are swayers over us? What so have you done to us? ” ( Judg 15:11 ) Delilah appears to be in good company if her motives were inspired by the thought of restricting the injury caused by Samson. This statement is merely strengthened as the Hebrew work forces bind Samson ( with his permission ) and turn him into the Philistines -almost in the same mode that Delilah does subsequently in the saga. It is logical to deduce that ( given Samson ‘s questionable position as a justice and his actions ) Delilah is the hero of Judges 16 as she brings down the aggressive character, who is harming Israel. While the statement can be made that Samson should be viewed as a positive figure due the fact that he killed many Philistines, it is of import to maintain in head the words of YHWH when talking to Jonah ( Jonah 4:9-11 ) :

But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the shrub? ‘ And he said, ‘Yes, angry plenty to decease. ‘ Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the shrub, for which you did non labour and which you did non turn ; it came into being in a dark and perished in a dark. And should I non be concerned about Nineveh, that great metropolis, in which there are more than a 100 and 20 thousand people who do non cognize their right manus from their left, and besides many animate beings? ‘

The Hebrew Bible does non ever incorporate black and white issues and the enemies of Israel are non ever the enemies of YWHW. In that visible radiation, Samson ‘s actions can non be considered heroic based entirely on the fact that Philistines died. Likewise, the heroic position of Delilah should non be diminished, as her actions mirror other characters labeled “ heroic ” in other scriptural text. In Cecil B. De Mille ‘s movie “ Samson and Delilah ” , the last words Samson speaks to Delilah before he is blinded by the Philistines are, “ The name Delilah will be an ageless expletive on the lips of work forces ” but this ennobled word picture of Samson and his everlasting expletive of Delilah is all a affair of position. If Delilah is in fact an Israelite, it might be Delilah who would bear the name given to Yael in Judg 5:25, “ most blessed of adult females. ”

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