India Edghill
  • Review
By – October 27, 2011

The sto­ry of Sam­son and Delilah has been the theme of movies, opera, and music for cen­turies. The curi­ous ques­tion is why such a minor char­ac­ter has cre­at­ed so much buzz in the arts. The Book of Judges, from which the sto­ry is tak­en, cov­ers a time in bib­li­cal Israel when trib­al lead­ers ruled inef­fec­tive­ly and chaos reigned more than the rule of law. Samson’s tri­als and tribu­la­tions begin with the usu­al motif of the child­less cou­ple who are blessed with a son who will rise to great­ness and then fall, only to be redeemed by his loy­al­ty to God and Israel. 

The few lines that are devot­ed to Delilah form the basis for a new nov­el that por­trays her in a more sym­pa­thet­ic light than pre­vi­ous com­men­taries and Hol­ly­wood spec­ta­cles. She is giv­en over to a life in the pagan tem­ple as a young priest­ess in wait­ing. We see a court life re-cre­at­ed where women have lit­tle con­trol over the choic­es in their lives and must fol­low a code of obe­di­ence rather than their hearts. Was the sto­ry of Sam­son and Delilah a real love sto­ry, or polit­i­cal maneu­ver­ing? Edghill gives us the for­mer inter­pre­ta­tion, that they did love each oth­er, but the greater forces of pol­i­tics and vio­lence tore them apart. Delilah is por­trayed as repen­tant and sad­dened for the part she was to play in the down­fall of Sam­son. Or, did Sam­son fall vic­tim to his own impetu­ous­ness? A re-read­ing of the Bib­li­cal text for some his­tor­i­cal back­ground is rec­om­mend­ed before tak­ing on the novel.

Bar­bara Andrews holds a Mas­ters in Jew­ish Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, has been an adult Jew­ish edu­ca­tion instruc­tor, and works in the cor­po­rate world as a pro­fes­sion­al adult educator.

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