As I've explained (at great length) in this blog, there is a lot in the bible that I have difficulty accepting as being historically accurate, or even true. Some stories seem to me to simply be myths, legends, or so embellised with false details that it is hard to tell what the original, true, story might have been.
The story of Samson (Judges 13-16) is one of those highly mythological stories which makes me wonder if there is any truth hiding under there at all.
The compiler of the book of Judges lived many hundreds of years, perhaps a thousand years later than the time of the alleged events. His view of the world was very much defined by the world around him. It was alsmost certainly a completely different world view to the originator of the Samson story, hundreds of years earlier. Crucially, if the story was of mythological origin, the compiler may not have known this and simply shoe-horned it in to the historical record at a point where he thought it fitted.
The story of Samson sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of the book of Judges. Most of the 'Judges' were leaders of the people of Israel and had at least some redeeming features. Samson on the other hand is a selfish, violent, lusty brute who does everything on his own.
One school of thought goes like this: the story is included there, simply because it happened and was recorded. Just because something is odd, doesn't mean that it is untrue. This is fair enough.
However, another school of thought about Samson connects the story to similar astrological stories from other cultures. Here Samson (which more-or-less means 'Sun') is either the sun god or, in some other variations, Orion. The incident with the lion relates to the story of Orion defeating Leo. The whole 'jawbone of an ass' bit (which is perhaps the most odd part of the entire story) makes sense if you look at the constelations near to Orion - in astrological terms, the jawbone is actually the Hyades star cluster. This crops up in other myths from other groups in around the same era or earlier. For example, in Babylonian myth, Marduk used the Hyades (jawbone) as a weapon and killed thousands.
So what's with Samson's hair? Well, in these astrological stories, the hair of the sun god represents the rays of the sun. The story of Samson having his hair cut and losing his power, only to have it return when the hair regrows is alegorical of winter and the return of the sun in spring. Indeed, Delilah, who is instrumental in that 'death and rebirth' story is either Aquarius or the moon, depending on which interpretation you go for.
From what little I've heard and read, there is quite a good case to be made for believing the story of Samson to be nothing other than an astrological myth turned into a historical account by a compiler who simply didn't know better. But I'll need to read and think more on this...