RELG 203: Bible and Western Culture
Unit Five Reading Assignment
1.) Several scenes in Judges 13 are similar to scenes which you have already encountered in the
Pentateuch. Identify one such scene in Judges 13. What story or stories from the Pentateuch
does it evoke? In what ways is it similar or different than its antecedent(s)?
One story from the Pentateuch that is recollected while reading Judges 13 is specifically
accounted in Genesis 17. This passage conveys the story of Abraham and Sarah, and their
covenant of circumcision with God. These scenes are similar because they both feature
the problem of a barren wife, and in both cases the solution is found through an
appearance or representation of God. As well, both solutions come with conditions, as the
sons and male servants of Abraham and Sarah must be circumcised and Manoah’s barren
wife must not consume alcohol or “unclean” meats. Another similarity is that in both
cases the first sons born to them are promised to be great holy men who will accomplish
great things. However these stories do differ, as in Genesis 17 the covenant established is
everlasting, guaranteeing the power and sustainability of future generations as far as
forever. On the other hand, the scene in Judges 13 conveys more of a prophecy than a
covenant, and it is valid only for one son, rather than infinite generations.
2.) How would you describe the character of Samson? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Is
the biblical portrayal of Samson positive, negative, or neutral? Briefly explain your answer.
Samson is characterized as a strong, Herculean figure that engages in violent slaughters
that while are apparently justified by God, are brutal to the reader. Despite his constant
brutality, Samson is conveyed typically in a neutral way, as his slaughter was intended to
deliver the Israelites from the Philistines. As the biblical texts are written so that the
reader sympathizes with the Israelites, Samson’s neutrality despite cruelty is achieved.
One of his personal strengths is intellect, as he concocts the riddle that cannot be fairly
solved by thirty men, but his defining characteristic is his immense physical strength. His
ultimate weakness, a common theme in the biblical texts, is Delilah, and his love for her.
He mistakenly trusts her, a error which leads to his blinding, imprisonment, and ultimate
3.) Describe the portrayal of women in the Samson story. How are they characterized? How does
this characterization compare with that of other women in the Bible (you may choose a
specific example to narrow your answer)?
The two women described in the Samson story are his Philistine wife and Delilah. Both