New Publication: A Queer Reading of the Samson Narrative

Biblical InterpretationSamson is well known for his long hair and exceptional strength. Most commentators, however, have overlooked the fact that it is Samson himself who constructs a connection between his hair and his strength. He had considered his hairstyle a sign of his hypermasculine identity instead of a demarcation of his Naziriteship. Reading the Samson narrative from a queer perspective, this article shows how Samson’s “heterosexuality” is produced, appears, and dissolves back into queerness. Samson’s hypermasculinity is a covering for his queer identity and results in his construction of several interrelated dualisms (Israel/Philistines, male/female, strong/weak, etc.) and in his excessive use of violence (physical, sexual, rhetorical, symbolic) against both women and men. When he meets a woman (Delilah) who doesn’t fit in his phallogocentric ideology, he reveals his secret through a non-genital erotic play (BDSM) with her and loses his strength when she symbolically castrates him by cutting his hair.

Marco Derks, “‘If I Be Shaven Then My Strength Will Go From Me’: A Queer Reading of the Samson Narrative.” Biblical Interpretation 23, no. 4-5, 553-573. DOI 10.1163/15685152-02345p05. Click here to download the article or here to look at the journal’s special issue on “Hegemonic Masculinities in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Traditions”, edited by Jorunn Økland.

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