Suicide Attack in Gaza

Today’s reading from the Office of Readings is the story from the book of Judges of Samson pulling down the temple of Dagon on the heads of the Philistines. It could be yesterday’s headline: Israeli Suicide Attack on Palestinian Mosque…

Except that the Jews seem to have learned a few lessons since Samson’s time, and it is now mostly the Philistines (the word ‘Palestine’ descends from the word ‘Philistine’) or Palestinians who do the suicide attacks.

I don’t know about you, but I was brought up to respect and admire the Jews. I hadn’t heard of anti-Semitism at all growing up until I learned about the Nazis. In my Evangelical home we were taught that the Jews were God’s chosen people, and that they continued to be so, and the subtext was that it wasn’t a bad idea to be on the side of God’s chosen people. I mean, choose your allies and all.

I’m still trying to glean something edifying from the story of Samson. He seems to be the typical jock who falls for the cheerleader and makes a mess of his life. I like him killling the lion with the jawbone of an ass. There’s some symbolism there somewhere, but can Samson be a hero? He ends his life with a move of despair–killing himself and his enemies in an act of revenge.

There is s seed of hope there however. At the end of the final stage of the story Samson prays for God’s help. Even the smallest cry of sorrow for sin and a plea for God’s help engages the soul with grace. If you’re in despair and darkness, if you’re blind and can’t see, the smallest act of turning is enough to keep you on the right track.

  • Iyov

    “Israeli” is hardly the same thing as “Jew”. Saying the “Jews seem to have learned a few lessons” is as offensive as saying “Blondes seem to have learned a few lessons” or “The African-Americans have learned a few lessons.”In terms of the moral content of the the story of Samson, you might find this brief account useful. Samson was a man of action, not of learning. There is room for both types in the service of God.

  • John Seymour

    iyov,”Blondes seem to have learned a few lessons” strikes me as not so much offensive as curious, indeed almost oxymoronic. And while “The African-Americans . . .” does strike me as somewhat offensive, it is the way all cultures speak, both of themselves and of others. To be strictly fair, a better parallel to an ethnic identity might be to say “the Tutsi have learned a few lessons,” which curiously doesn’t seem as offensive.Take a look at the link you provided, for example. Doesn’t it essentially describe the Jewish people “learning” a new paradigm of strength and virility?God Bless

  • Tom S.

    No matter how dark it gets, I have learned, through personal experience, that all God needs is one look to Him for help, and he will be there for you. He’s just waiting for you to ask.

  • Eric

    I’ve always seen Samson’s last effort as a sacrifice, not an act of despair. I guess I can see how you get there from here, but to me, it was a last-minute sort of awakening to his true position, at which point there wasn’t much else he could do– he’d surely be killed if he tried to escape, so if he was going to die anyway, he might as well make it count for something.