Story of Samson: Samson and the Lion – bee-hold!on June 30, 2014 at 11:38 pm
The Story of Samson – Book of Judges: Chapter 14
as re-told & illustrated by Nick Dupree
Notes: For centuries, the scene of Samson “rending” the mighty lion has captivated artists, particularly sculptors—and especially Renaissance sculptors who chiseled hyper-realistic Adonis-type physiques out of marble—who loved depicting Samson as caveman Hercules, a Biblical version of Hercules slaying the Nemean lion acceptable to (and readily $ponsored by) the noble houses of European Christendom. These Samsons, glorifying a distinctively unJewish Greco-Roman image of the male physique, are too numerous to list here… but one of the most famous is this one: Samson and the Lion by Cristoforo Stati (early 1600s).
I did a lot of research on how to depict the fight with the lion, and everyone throughout art history (with few exceptions) has Samson attempting to separate the lion’s top and bottom jaws. I’m the first, as far as I know, to depict Samson snapping off the lion’s jaw-bone.
3. “rends his jaws asunder” – A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Joshua, Judges, Ruth (p, 195, Johann Peter Lange, 1872)
4. “‘as one rends a kid,’ does not imply that it was customary always to rend kids in this manner, but simply means that a kid could not have been more easily overcome than this powerful lion was.” (ibid)
5. The Tosefta (supplement to the Mishnah) cites these moments of “pleasing his eyes” as Samson “‘rebell(ing) using his eyes,'” for which, the punishment is the Philistines later gouging his eyes out, “‘measure for measure.'” – Rabbinic Discourse on Samson: Continuity and Change Between the Tannaitic Culture and the Amoraic (p. 106, Ronit Nikolsky, 2013)
Panel 1: 14.6 And there rested on him a spirit of the Lord, and he rent it³
Samson and the lion in profile, facing off, vineyard behind them throughout…
Panel 2: Samson’s powerful hand blocks the lion’s bite
Panel 3: 14.6 Samson, more like a Renaissance sculpture, juxtaposed with cartoony lion (not wholly intentional) forces his hands into the lion’s mouth…
Panel 4: and Samson breaks the lion’s jaw off! KRA-KRAK!! as one would rend a kid⁴ although he had nothing in his hand, 14.6
Panel 5: wide angle landscape in the background with verdant orchards around a distant villa and a focus box and zoom panel highlighting the bloodied lion corpse at the vineyard’s edge, now far away from Samson, who strides toward his parents/their donkey transportation in the foreground.
but he did not tell his father and mother what he had done. 14.6
probably because contact with dead animals, and even moreso fresh-killing this lion barehanded, was violative of Nazirite restrictions in the extreme.
Panel 6: 16.7 And he went down, and he talked concerning the woman, and she was pleasing in Samson’s eyes.⁵
Before a backdrop of fiery reds and violets, we have a tight close-up of Samson’s face. Samson sees the woman from Timnath as pleasing, literally IN his eyes. This is when he purportedly “jumps the shark” in terms of following his eyes, his point of no return lechery-wise…
Panel 7: 14.8 And he returned after a few days… and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, a beehive was in the body of the lion, with honey.
Samson, shown from the neck up in a panel-within-a-panel, reacts with horrified shock to the primary scene, the graying lion’s carcass, partially decomposed with lower jaw detached and a beehive grown-up in the shadow of its upper jaw. Meanwhile, a pink vulture with goldish streaked brown wings pulls some lion corpse bwains for an opportunistic snack.