Samson and the Politics of Riddling

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Abstract: Samson is often taken to be no more than an oversexed strongman. His inclusion among the judges of the Israelites in the pre-monarchical era seems to be an error of misplaced judgment, or at least of overzealous partisanship. This article offers a fresh look at Samson as a political leader. Through an analysis of Samson’s riddling, this article demonstrates that the intellectual estrangement manifest in the riddle serves as a metaphor for Samson’s presentation of the inherently alienating paradoxes of power and the challenges he faces in enabling a national discourse for his people.

Biography: Mira Morgenstern received her PhD from Princeton University in political theory. Her published works include Rousseau and the Politics of Ambiguity (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996) and numerous articles that explore the contribution of eighteenth-century political theory to the challenges of modern politics. Her work in biblical political theory focuses on the role of political discourse in the development of a robust national identity. This article is part of a larger work that fleshes out the complexities of national identity within the Hebrew Bible.

Volume 1, Number 3 (Spring 2006) pp. 253-285