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Samson

What Is a Nazir, and Why the Wild Hair?

Like many prophets, a nazirite once characterized holy people living on the periphery of society, with wild flowing hair to mark their separate status. Some were divine messengers, like the prophets Elijah and Samuel. Others were warriors, like Samson, a wild-man warrior reminiscent of the Sumerian hero Enkidu. The priestly legislation neutralizes the nazir, making the hair itself the focus.

Dr.

Richard Lederman

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Judah Meets Tamar “On the Road to Timnah”

Samson also meets a woman of questionable status in ​Timnah. Why do sexual encounters with foreign women take place in Timna?

Dr.

Mahri Leonard-Fleckman

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Samson the Demigod?

Samson’s conception story may be read subversively as the result of a union between a divine being and a mortal woman, making Samson a demi-god with superhuman characteristics. At the same time, the text keeps open the more mundane possibility that his father is Manoah and his powers are simply a gift from God.

Dr.

Naphtali Meshel

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Naso: Alleviating Intense Emotions

A New Look at the Meaning of the Sotah and Nazir Rituals

Prof. Rabbi

Stephen A. Geller

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Honoring the Death of Soldiers

The concept of heroic death is conspicuously absent in Bible. This sharply contrasts with ancient Near Eastern and Greek tropes, as well as with the book of Maccabees and modern day commemorations such as Israel’s Yom Hazikaron and America’s Memorial Day. How should we understand this difference?

Prof.

Jacob L. Wright

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The Rape of Dinah, Added as a Motive for the Sack of Shechem

Originally the sons of Jacob saw the interest Shechem took in marrying their sister as an opportunity to plunder Shechem. A later editor, uncomfortable with this story, blamed the carnage on Simeon and Levi, and added the rape of Dinah as a motivation for their actions.

Prof. Rabbi

David Frankel

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Retribution: Divine and Human

“When Your Enemy Falls Do Not Exult” (Prov 24:17)

Rabbi

Yuval Cherlow

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Yael and the Subversion of Male Leaders in Judges

The Canaanite general Sisera is killed by Yael in her tent but in an older version of the story, he died in battle at the hands of the Israelite general, Barak. The story was revised as part of a broader theme in Judges, to weaken the image of male military heroes through women and give the power to God.

Prof.

Jacob L. Wright

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Who Was Samson’s Real Father?

Samson’s birth story deprecates Samson’s father, Manoah; this serves to highlight the identity of his real father: The angel of YHWH did more than announce Samson’s birth to Manoah’s wife.

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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