Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Samson and astrology

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...


Chris Hamer-Hodges said...

Hi Ricky,
I don't think the account of Sampson sticks out in the book of Judges. He is a tragic-hero, but so are some of the others like Gideon and Jephthah.

In many ways his life is typical of the nation of Israel itself at that time. Oscillating between compromise with the idolatrous nations, and driving them out in the power of the Spirit.

An alternative to interpreting the story of Samson through astrology, is to interpret it through typology:

Samson was one of the Judges and thus was a saviour for his people. His birth was announced by angels, and he was conceived as a result of a miracle. He was driven by passion for his bride, even to the point of surrendering his life, and through his death he brought about a mighty victory for God's people.

His story may well be in the stars, but who placed the stars? And who did the star ultimately lead to?

Ricky Carvel said...

Hmmm, just because a story contains several motifs or elements of the Jesus story, doesn't mean that it is true and not mythological. Indeed, some might say that the opposite is more likely to be the case.

Chris Hamer-Hodges said...

...equally, because the story contains several motifs from astrology or mythology, does not make it false.

Anonymous said...

The Marduk link is I think the only really useful bit in there, as there were lions all over the place at that time, so the link between lions and the constillation leo is a little forced, it seems like your saying that because a story mentions twins it must relate to gemini! I don't think it cuts water so I'll skip to the bit that seems to have a point: What is the likelyhood of someone using a donkey jawbone as a weapon, assuming they haven't seen 2001? Actually that occurs to me as a ready explanation; a donkeys jawbone is probably quite tough and has a built in handle, a few quick scans of the internet suggest that people thinking of it as a weapon was actually quite widespread at some times, and so perhaps it was just considered old-school. Anyway, what do garments have to do with moden constilations, if yourgonig to avoid positive bias?

Unknown said...

It is a myth based on the sun much like the many other stories in the bible copied from the many religions before it who worshipped the sun. Jonah and the whale, noahs ark, Daniel in the lions den, David and goliath, the birth and crucifixion of jesus, how does a virgin have a baby before invetero? When she's a virgin constellation. You can watch every bit of this in the stars. A human cant fit down a whales throat and two of every animal would not fit on a boat which by logistics could also not have stayed afloat. You can see further into the myth when you see the Hercules myth play out in the heavens also and many other non biblical myths. So many myths and falsehoods in the bible it is no longer able to be considered any kind of accurate account of history. I've studied this for more than two decades and cannot find any other verifiable truth.