Book review: Lion’s Honey, the Myth of Samson

by David Grossman


I never liked Samson. I’ve said before that if the two of us meet someday in heaven, there will probably be a personality clash to end all clashes. I’m hoping that my new heavenly body won’t be quite so easy to beat up.

Then I read David Grossman’s little book. David carries us deep into the mind–nay, the very heart–of this ancient hero, to uncover what makes him tick. Sampson has been transformed from a turbulent, macho man into a needy, troubled misfit. A muscle-bound one, no less, which makes for an explosive combination.

I like him even less this way. I would shake Delilah’s hand for uncovering his secret. No, not his long hair, but the inner child that longs to be normal, which she then carefully and deliberately manipulates.

Yeah, I’m fine with the tragic ending, Samson deserved it. Nevertheless, David’s clever retelling succeeds in adding life to the myth. Kudos! David draws upon various Hebrew traditions to spice up Samson’s twisted personality, then leaves the poor man without even a decent shrink. How else could the story end?

Sorry, David, I never did feel any sympathy for your guy. But I absolutely loved reading your story.

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