THE LEGEND OF SAMSON

by

H. STEINTHAL

(Extracted from Goldziher's Mythology of the Hebrews, appendix, pp. 392-446)

 

WHEN an author can presume that his readers share his views on things in general, and also accept like principles respecting the special sphere to which his subject belongs, it may be fitting to descend from the general to the particular. But when, as is now more frequently the case, no such assumption can be made, the opposite course, from the particular to the general, is preferable for the [393] sake of both the matter and the manner of the investigation itself. I shall therefore adopt it.

I shall, therefore, at the outset leave out of the question what view it is possible to hold respecting the growth of the people of Israel, and especially of their monotheism. I shall not proceed on the assumption that any particular view is proved true, but try whether, after the consideration of our subject in its details, any result affecting general questions is reached. I also for the present leave undetermined the value of the Biblical Books as sources of history, the period of the composition of the separate books, and even their relative age i.e. the earlier or later compilation of one with reference to others. For all these are still disputed points ; and I desire not to build upon any unproved assumption, but to see how much can be contributed to the solution of the questions that arise. Even the question, whether, and how far, we are justified in treating the history of Samson in the Bible as legend,1 may be left to be answered only from the result of the following enquiry. If, on comparing these stories with other nations stories, similarities are discovered alongside of much that is dissimilar, nothing shall, in the first in stance, be decided about the cause and significance of such similarities, but new investigation shall be made on the subject.

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I. THE ADVENTURE WITH THE LION, AND THE RIDDLETHE FOXES

I pass over the narrative of the birth of Samson for the present, intending to come to it only after the contemplation of his actions. The reason for this arrangement will then become apparent. I therefore commence with Samson's first action.

[394] It is narrated (Judges XIV) that Samson was attacked by a lion when on the way to see his bride, and killed him. When he went by the same road to his wedding, he looked at the carcase of the lion, and found a swarm of bees and honey in it. This occurrence suggested the following riddle, which he put forth at the wedding-feast: Out of the Eater came forth Meat, and out of the Strong [Wild] came forth Sweetness. By his bride s treachery the riddle was solved: What is sweeter than honey? and what stronger than a lion?

Samson's riddle is still a riddle even to us now. It has never yet been solved, as far as I know; certainly not in the Bible itself, for the answer there given is a still greater riddle than the riddle itself, which seems not to have been observed. Only look closely at the pretended solution. It looks as if the question had been: What is the sweetest, and what the strongest? But the actual problem was: Out of the wild eater comes sweet food; how that came to pass, was the question and still is a question. For even the story of the slain lion and the honey found in his carcase cannot contain the solution, because it involves a physical impossibility. Bees do not build in dead flesh; their wax and honey would be spoiled by putrefaction. In no such wise can honey come out of the lion. Besides, Samson would be very foolish to base a riddle on a mere personal experience known to no one; &c; it would then be absolutely insoluble. We cannot credit the original narrative with so gross an ineptitude. Then what is the position of the affair?

It is certain that a riddle like the one in question was in circulation among the ancient Hebrews, and that Samson was believed to have proposed it. It is equally certain that its solution lay in the words transmitted from antiquity: What is sweeter than honey, what stronger than a lion? But it is not only to us at the present day that this solution is as obscure as the riddle itself; it was quite as unintelligible to the latest elaborator of the [395] Book of Judges. So he attempted a solution on his own responsibility. He had two data in his possession: the riddle, and the story of the lion-killing. Well, he concluded, Samson must have found honey in the carcase of this lion. What he had wrongly inferred, he narrated as a fact which ought to yield the solution of the riddle. But we must guess better. If it is certain that Samson cannot have found honey in the lion s carcase, yet, on the other hand, the pretended solution at least proves that by the strong eater the lion is to be understood, and by the sweet food the honey. And if this was solution sufficient for the legend, it follows that at the time when the riddle arose some connexion between lion and honey was so definitely and clearly present to the consciousness of every individual, because held by the mind of the entire people, that it came into prominence as soon as ever lion and honey were named together: somewhat as among us when we speak of bear and honey together, though with reference to something else.2 But there must have been some known connexion which made it evident how honey came out of the lion. It is our task now to discover this connexion if we are to attempt the solution of the riddle one which is more than thirty centuries old, and the unriddling of which has been forgotten for some twenty-five. Can there be any other riddle of equal interest? In the following remarks I endeavour to solve it.

When once we know that the Eater in the riddle is the Lion, of course it is natural to think of the lion killed by Samson ; and the compiler of the Book of Judges would not have fancied that the honey was in its carcase, but for an obscure memory that this particular lion had something to do with it. Now to us this lion is not a real but a mythological one, i.e. a symbol. And we know the meaning of the symbol. Herakles also, it is well known, begins [396] his labours by killing a lion. The Assyrians and Lydians, both of them Semitic nations, worshipped a Sun-god named Sandan or Sandon; he also is imagined to be a lion-killer, and frequently figured struggling with the lion or standing upon the slain lion. The lion is found as the animal of Apollon on the Lycian monuments as well as at Patara.3 Hence, it becomes clear that the lion was accepted by the Semitic nations as a symbol of the summer heat. The reason of the symbol was undoubtedly the light colour, the colour of fire, the mane, which recalled Apollon's golden locks, and also the power and rage of the wild beast. The hair represents the burning rays. So we have here to do with the sign of the Lion in the zodiac, in which the sun is during the dog-days. At this season the sky is occupied by Orion, the powerful huntsman of whom I shall presently have a few words to say and Sirius, who in Arabic is designated the Hairy in reference to his rays.

'Samson, Herakles, or Sandon kills the lion, means therefore, He is the beneficent saving power that protects the earth against the burning heat of summer. Samson is the kind Aristaeos who delivers the island of Keos from the lion,4 the protector of bees and hives of honey, which is the most abundant when the sun is in the Lion. Thus sweet food comes out of the strong eater.

Very possibly and probably, however, there was a superstition to the effect that bees are generated out of the lion s carcase, in the same way as they are believed by some nations to spring from an ox s carcase.5 But such a superstition must have some basis, and no other basis is easily conceivable but the mythological one which I have mentioned. What was true in symbol, that the Lion produced honey, was taken as true in fact. For I must [397] insist on the fact that, according to the literal meaning of the Hebrew, no mere taking of the honey from outside a lion s skeleton is meant, but its being actually produced by the lion.

However, when we try to clear up to our own minds what has been said, we stumble upon a difficulty. It is after all the Sun that produces the summer-heat; Apollon sends the destructive shafts. Therefore, if the Sun-god does battle against the summer-heat, he is fighting against himself; if he kills it, he kills himself. No doubt he does. The Phoenicians, Assyrians, and Lydians attributed suicide to their Sun-god; for they could only understand the sun s mitigation of its own heat as suicide. If the Sun stands highest in the summer, and its rays burn with their devouring glow, then, they thought, the god must burn himself; yet does not die, but only gains a new youth in the character of the Phoenix, and appears as a gentler autumn-sun. Herakles also burns himself, but rises out of the flames to Olympos.

This is the contradiction usual in the heathen gods. As physical forces they are both salutary and injurious to man. To do good and to save, therefore, they must work against themselves. The contradiction is blunted when each side of the physical force is personified in a separate god; or when, though only one divine person is imagined, the two modes of operation the beneficent and the pernicious are distinguished by separate symbols. The symbols then become more and more independent, and are ultimately themselves regarded as gods; and whereas originally the god worked against himself, now the one symbol fights against the other symbol, one god against the other god, or the god with the symbol. So the Lion represents as a symbol the hostile aspect of the Sun-god, and the latter must kill him lest he should be burned himself.

Samson also unites both aspects in himself. The Hebrew story makes him operate even on the pernicious [398] side, but against the foe. To the foe he is the scathing Sun-god. This is the sense of the story of the Foxes, which Samson caught and sent into the Philistines fields with firebrands fastened to their tails, to burn the crops. Like the lion, the fox is an animal that indicated the solar heat; being well suited for this both by its colour and by its long-haired tail. At the festival of Ceres at Rome, a fox-hunt through the Circus was held, in which burning torches were bound to the foxes tails: a symbolical reminder of the damage done to the fields by mildew, called the 'red fox' (robigo), which was exorcised in various ways at this momentous season (the last third of April). It is the time of the Dog-star, at which the mildew was most to be feared; if at that time great solar heat follows too close upon the hoar-frost or dew of the cold nights, this mischief rages like a burning fox through the corn-fields. On the twenty-fifth of April were celebrated the Eobigalia, at which prayers were addressed to Mars and Eobigo together, and to Robigus and Flora together, for protection against devastation. In the grove of Robigus young dogs of red colour were offered in expiation on the same day.6 Ovid's story of the fox which was rolled in straw and hay for punishment, and ran into the corn with the straw burning and set it on fire,7 is a mere invention to account for the above-mentioned ceremonial fox-hunt; still it has for its basis, though in the disguise of a story, the original mythical conception of the divine Fire-fox that burns up the corn.

The stories of Samson hitherto discussed seem to me so similar to the Eastern and Western ones that I have compared, their interpretation so certain, and their sense so essential to the character of the Sun-god, that I am of opinion that even the coincidence of collateral points cannot be treated as accidental. The Bible says that Samson killed the lion with his bare hands: 'there was nothing [399] in his hand.' But Herakles also kills the Nemean lion without his arrows, by strangling him with his arms. This feature, too, is probably significant. The Greek myth says that the reason why Herakles could not use any weapons was because the lion s hide was invulnerable; but this is pure invention. The truth seems to me to be, that the weapons possessed by the Sun-god are actually his only in so far as his symbol is the lion; for they consist of the force and efficacy of the Sun. Now when the Sun itself is to be killed, that cannot be done with the very weapons which are its strength. The god is forced to catch the burning rays in his own arms; he must extinguish the Sun's heat by embracing the Sun, i.e. by strangling or rending the lion.

The following point is less clear, but surely not with out significance. The Philistines avenge the destruction of their cornfields, vineyards, and olives by Samson, by burning his bride and her father. This causes Samson to inflict a great defeat on his enemies; but after the victory he flies and hides in a cavern.8 What means this behaviour, for which no motive is assigned? What had Samson to fear in any case, but especially after such a victory? But let it be remembered that Apollon flies after killing the dragon; so also Indra after killing Vrtra, according to the Indian legend in the Vedas; and that even El, the Semitic supreme god, has to fly. Thus Samson's retreat, mentioned, but not very clearly expressed because not understood, by the Biblical narrator, appears to indicate this often-recurring flight of the Sun-god after victory. In the tempestuous phenomena, in which two powers of nature seemed to be contending together, men felt the presence of the good god; but after his victory, when all was quiet again, he seemed to have I withdrawn and gone to a distance.

But if on the last-mentioned point the story is seen to [400] be shrouded in much, obscurity, this is the case in even a higher degree with the two next-following deeds of Damson.

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2. THE ASS'S JAWBONE

We come to Samson s heroism displayed with the ass's jawbone. There is much difficulty here, and it will be impossible to be certain as to the interpretation. But it must be noticed at the outset that the story belongs strictly to a certain locality. Its field of action is a district between the Philistine and the Israelite territories, which was called Jawbone, or perhaps in full, Ass's Jawbone, and doubtless received this name from the peculiar conformation of the mountains. Pointed rocks probably formed a curved line, and thus presented the figure of a jawbone with teeth. Between these teeth of rock there may have been a cauldron- shaped depression, which had the appearance of an empty place for a tooth; and just there a spring, no doubt a well-known and perhaps a particularly healing one, must have risen.9 So, although the story wishes to derive the name from Samson's feats, the truth is rather that the name and the territorial conditions produced the transformation of the story.

Now I must first remind the reader of the tongue of land in Lakonia close to the promontory of Maleae, which stretches out into the Lakonian gulf opposite the island Kythera: it bears the very same name as the place where Samson performed his feat, Onugnathos (Ass's Jawbone). The name is certainly only the Greek translation of an original Phoenician name. From Strabo10 we learn, little or nothing of this peninsula. Pausanias11 reports that there had been on it a temple of Athene with out image and without roof. Now this Athene was probably identical with a modification of the Astarte of Sidon, Athene Onka, who was worshipped at Thebes also. And it [401] may be significant, that there was in that temple a monument to Menelaos steersman, who was called Kinados ('Fox'). At all events Onugnathos proves a myth, known also to the Phoenicians, of which an ass's jawbone was an essential part.

But the ass, like the fox, was in many nations sacred to the evil Sun-god, Moloch or Typhon, on account of his red colour, from which his name in Hebrew is taken. The Greeks say that in the country of the Hyperboreans, hecatombs of asses were offered to Apollon. But he was also ascribed to Silenos, the demon of springs, on account of his wantonness; and this may perhaps furnish the explanation of the celebrated spring at this place, which has its rise in the Jawbone. Perhaps formerly there was at this spring, which was called Spring of the Crier,l2 a sanctuary where the priests of the Sun-god gave out oracles, as those of Sandon, the Lydian Sun-god, did at a spring in the neighbourhood of Kolophon. And the ass is a prophetic animal: I need only refer to Balaam's ass.

To ancient tradition must undoubtedly be ascribed the exclamation which Samson is said to have uttered on this occasion: With an ass's jawbone a heap, two heaps with an ass's jawbone I slew a thousand men.13 Now Bertheau conjectures14 that this short verse had originally at the place called Ass's Jawbone I slew, and that the story of Samson gaining a victory with an ass's jawbone arose solely from false interpretation of it; and no doubt the Hebrew preposition be can denote 'in, at' quite as well as 'with.' The same scholar observes further, that according to the story the rocks called 'Jawbone Hill'15 are, themselves, the very ass's jawbone that was thrown away by Samson after his victory; for only so is it intelligible that a spring should gush out of the cast-away jawbone, as the story goes on to relate.16 To this I must add, that [402] the throwing of the jawbone seems to me the most essential and original feature in the whole story, from which the name and origin of the locality, and the victory with the jawbone also, were developed. For surely the jawbone cannot be anything but the Lightning, just as in Aryan mythology the head of an ass, or still more that of a horse, denotes a storm-cloud, and a tooth, especially the tusk of a boar, signifies the lightning.17 Here then we have a thunder-bolt thrown down in the lightning the instrument with which the Sun-god conquered, and at the same time formed the locality.

I have two more observations to make here. We nowhere find Samson armed with the weapons which, we see almost everywhere else in the hands both of the Greek and of the Oriental Herakles the mortar-club (pestle) or the bow and arrows. The club had the appearance of a mortar with the pestle in it, or of a tooth in its cavity; and in Hebrew one word18 denoted both a mortar and the cavity of a tooth.19 The second remark relates to the Spring. The Bible tells that Samson, wearied out by the murderous contest, at length sank down, faint with thirst, and prayed to God, saying 'Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant, and now I shall die for thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised!' upon which God made the spring burst forth. This might be a fiction, in which Samson was depicted under human conditions; and the story of the spring given to relieve Hagar and Ishmael might in that case serve as a model for it. But perhaps the following combination will not [403] found too far-fetched. The Solar hero wages war with the mischief done to nature by an excess of heat. Thus the battle of Heraldes with Antaeos is only the form localised in the deserts of Libya, of the story of the contest against the stifling heat, against the simoom which gains its strength from the sandy soil, as Movers, who also sees in the Erymanthean boar only a variant of Antaeos, has ingeniously explained. In Tingis, i.e. Tangier, the grave of Antaeos was shown, with a spring beside it. A similar legend among the Hebrews might perhaps assume in time the above strictly Jahveistic form. In that case the national instinct of Israel would have retained only the spirit and sense of the old story, while putting off all the heathen form and substituting a Jahveistic one for it. This would require no reflexion indeed, but undoubtedly much creative power of popular imagination. The fact, that in the Hebrew story the spring is put into combination with the jawbone, would seem to me, connecting it with my conception of the latter as Lightning, to indicate that the spring is the Rain, which breaks forth from the cloud with the light.

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3. SAMSON AT GAZA

It is related20 that to escape out of the Philistine town of Gaza by night, Samson pulled up the city-gates with their posts and bars, and carried them to the top of the hill opposite the city of Hebron; which seems an utterly senseless practical joke, though quite in keeping with Samson's overweening jovial character. It will probably be difficult to make out with any certainty what is the foundation of this legend. It seems probable to me, however, that we have to do here with a disfigured myth, of the same import as that of the descent of Heraldes into [404] the netherworld,21 which originally declared that Samson broke open the gates of the well-bolted Hades. As in the Greek story of Herakles the fight at the gate of the netherworld, was transformed into a fight at Pylos,22 by a mere play on words; so in the Hebrew story, instead of the gates of the netherworld or of death (sha'ar mweth), those of the city called the Strong (Gaza, or properly 'Azz) might be named. The cause for which Samson went down into the netherworld was forgotten, and a new motive was invented by the legend for his visit to Gaza, in keeping with the licentiousness of his character. The fact that he starts at midnight, and does not sleep till morning, is certainly not without significance, but contains a remembrance of the circumstance that the deed took place in the darkness, i.e. in the netherworld. And the feature of the story which tells that Samson carries the gates to the top of a hill, must have been suggested by some local peculiarity in the form of the rock. But very probably the recollection of a myth which made the Solar hero bring some thing up from the nether-world had also some influence on the story.

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4. SAMSON'S AMOURS

The circumstance that Samson is so addicted to sexual pleasure, has its origin in the remembrance that the Solar god is the god of fruitfulness and procreation. Thus in Lydia Herakles (Sandon) is associated with Omphale the Birth-goddess, and in Assyria the effeminate Ninyas with Semiramis; whilst among the Phoenicians, Melkart pursues Dido-Anna.

The beloved of the god is the goddess of parturition and of love. She is, in general terms, Nature, which is fructified by the solar heat, conceives and bears; or is [405] specially identified with the Moon, or even with the Earth, but more frequently with Water originally rain, and subsequently the sea and rivers also, and finally (the rain being regarded as mead or wine) the vine, caressed by the sun. Thus Yenus rises out of the sea; and Semitic goddesses have fish-ponds dedicated to them. Iole, whom Herakles woos, is the daughter of Eurytos, the 'Copiously Flowing.' Of the three Philistine women whom Samson approaches, only one the one who brings about his ruin is named. Her name, Delilah, denotes, according to Gesenius, infirma, desiderio confecta, i.e. the 'Longing, Languishing,' and according to Bertheau the 'Tender;' at all events, it refers to love. She lives in the 'Vine-Yalley,'23 and consequently appears to represent the vine itself, which the Sun-god is so zealous in wooing; indeed, even the name Delilah might denote a Branch, Vine-shoot. Deianeira, also, is the daughter of Oeneus the 'Wine-man,' or, as others say, of Dionysos. Orion, who stands so near to the Sun-god, woos the daughter of Oenipion the Vine. But even supposing what is very possible that Delilah originally denoted a Palm-branch, we know that the palm was sacred to Asherah.

But yet another combination appears admissible. Delilah may also signify the Relaxed, Vanishing, as a Moon-goddess. This goddess is indeed originally a chaste
virgin; but in Tyre and Assyria she also assumes the character of Birth-goddess, and is variously served by strict chastity, by sacrifice of children, and by prostitution of virginity.

The coalescence of the chaste and cruel goddess with the luxurious one is exhibited in Semiramis, who is said to have killed her husband and all her numerous lovers. This might have given to the story of Samson its present form, which represents his ruin as brought about by a woman. But this leads to the following point.

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[406]

5. SAMSON S END

Looking back, we find that we may probably regard as certain the proposed interpretation of the killing of the lion, of the foxes carrying firebrands, and of Samson's sexual passion: while the deeds with the jawbone and the gates must be termed uncertain. Now Samson's end brings us back into perfect clearness; it refers again to the Solar god. If the hair is the symbol of the growth of nature in summer, then the cutting off of the hair must be the disappearance of the productive power of Nature in winter. Samson is blinded at the same time, like Orion: this again has the same meaning, the cessation of the power of the Sun. Again, Samson and the other Sun-gods are forced to endure being bound: and this too indicates the tied-up power of the Sun in winter.

The final act, Samson's death, reminds us clearly and decisively of the Phoenician Herakles, as Sun-god, who died at the winter solstice in the furthest West, where his two Pillars are set up to mark the end of his wanderings. Samson also dies at the two Pillars, but in his case they are not the Pillars of the World, but are only set up in the middle of a great banqueting-hall. A feast was being held in honour of Dagon, the Fish-god; the sun was in  the sign of the Waterman; Samson, the Sun-god, died.24

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[407]

6. SAMSON THE HEBEEW SOLAR HERO = HEEAKLES, MELKAET

The above comparison and interpretation of all Samson's deeds and the manner of his end has yielded so clear and decided a result, that the answer to the question, Who or what was Samson originally? has necessarily [408] been already anticipated. I therefore now only combine together what has been discovered, and say : Samson was originally a Sun-god, or his vicegerent a Solar hero the Sun being conceived as the representative of the force of Heat in nature, whether vivifying and salutary, or scorching and destructive.

To this result we are brought, finally, by the name of our hero. For Samson, or more accurately Shimshon, is an obvious derivative from the Hebrew word for 'Sun.'25 As from dag 'fish' Dagon,26 the name of the Fish-god of the Philistines, is formed, so from shemesh 'sun' we have Shimsh-on, the Sun-god.

Now, to recur to Samson's hair, our thoughts turn most naturally to Apollon's locks. But this comparison appears to me not quite accurate. For Apollon's locks are connected with his arrows, and are, like them, a figure of his rays. But Samson is not the shining god, but the warming and productive god. His hair, like the hair and beard of Zeus, Kronos, Aristaeos, and Asklepios, is a figure of increase and luxuriant fulness. In winter, when nature appears to have lost all strength, the god of growing young life has lost his hair. In the spring the hair grows again, and nature returns to life again. Of this original conception the Biblical story still preserves [409] a trace. Samson s hair, after being cut off, grows again, and his strength comes back with it.27

This Sun-god was, moreover, regarded as the beneficent power that destroyed all powers and influences injurious to man and to life in general, the chivalrous hero, who wandered over the earth from the east to the furthest west, everywhere ready to strike a blow to deliver the earth from the creatures of Typhon, the Hydra, etc., the defender and king of cities, leader of emigrants and protector of colonies in short, as Herakles.

This character of the Herakles-Melkart of the Phoenicians appears in Samson in greatly shrunken proportions. The Hebrews sent no colonies to Mount Atlas; the supernatural monsters become a natural lion; and Samson's strength was required only against the Philistines. It is also seen, moreover, from the above comparison, not only that it is correct, but also how far it is correct, to call Samson the Hebrew Herakles. The one as well as the other is a martial Sun- god. And this makes it clear also that we are equally justified in classing Samson with Perseus and Bellerophon, with Indra and Siegfried, in short, with all the mythological beings and legendary heroes whose nature is related to sun, light, and especially warmth, like Orion, Seirios, Aristaeos, and Kronos. In mythology, as in language, there are synonyms; e.g. Apollon and Helios, Herakles and Perseus; indeed, the two latter are both synonymous with Apollon. Now two words belonging to different languages, though similar in meaning, still scarcely ever call up absolutely the same conception, but are a little different from one another as synonyms. So also mythological beings and names in two nations, especially where the difference is so great as it is between the Hebrews and the Greeks, and between the Semites and the Aryans in general, are probably never perfectly identical, but never more than synonyms.

[410] Therefore we must not indulge the caprice of trying to make Samson as similar as possible to Herakles: for instance, there is not the slightest reason to assign to Samson twelve labours, and the less so as that number even in the case of Herakles is only derived from a late age and forms too contracted a sphere. And, on the other hand, in finding analogies to Samson, we are nowise compelled to rest satisfied with Herakles. But now we must look closer into Samson's birth and the position ascribed to him in the Biblical narrative.

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7. SAMSON'S BIRTH AND NAZIEITISM

The birth of the hero of a legend is always the last circumstance to be invented concerning him, when his life and character are already settled; just as an author writes his preface only after the completion of his book. This comparison is here particularly apposite, since the narrative of the appearance of the angel who announces to the parents of Samson after a long period of childless ness, the birth of a son who is to be dedicated to God,28 is not invented by popular imagination, but produced by the writer.

This introduction to the history of Samson is capable of two comparisons. It may be put side by side with the birth of Samuel,29 or with the law of Naziritism.30 In either case several differences appear. Samuel is not described by the Biblical narrator as a Nazirite (nazir). But from this it does not follow that at the time of the composition of the Book of Samuel this word had not yet come into use, but only that in the signification which it then had, it did not seem appropriate to Samuel as he was then fancied. Samuel was called one Lent to God.31 In consequence of this, he lived in the Tabernacle, waiting on the High Priest and Judge Eli; he wore a priest's [411] dress, and, as is stated with great emphasis, no razor came upon his head.32 The latter is said of Samson also. The expression Lent to God, seems not to have been a technical word or fixed designation, but only an etymological interpretation of the name Samuel. The life in the Tabernacle and the priest's dress were certainly not essential to the position of a Nazirite any more than to that of a Prophet, and are also out of accord with the narrative of Samuel's later life; they must be only a later invention.

The narrative of Samuel's dedication is perfectly simple, concerned only with universal human conditions and feelings, deeply and fervently religious. Deeply troubled and vexed at her childlessness, the wife prays God for a son, vowing, if only her prayer be answered, to dedicate the child to God for all the days of his life. With the impulse of true piety, after the fulfilment of her prayer, she performs a voluntary vow, to which she is compelled by no law. This story is older than that of Samson, who becomes a Nazirite, not in fulfilment of a vow, but by reason of a Divine command.

The term Nazirite is first found used by the prophet Amos,33 who couples together the Nazirite and the Prophet; but he makes no mention of the hair, only of the prohibition of wine. But it does not follow from this fact that in the time of Amos the Nazirite did employ the razor on his head. Samson's parents received a command to dedicate their son: he was to be a Nazirite from his mother's womb to the day of his death. But to the prohibition to shave off the hair and to drink wine was added a prohibition to eat anything unclean ; this was a later addition. The written law on the subject was the latest and also the severest and most fully developed; for it adds to the previous prohibitions another against defilement by dead bodies. On the other side, however, the Law [412] knows nothing of any life-long Nazirites, who were to live like Samuel all their days in the Temple before God; for, in the later view represented by the Law, only the Priest, the son of Aaron, lived in the Temple; he was then the truly dedicated person, and wine was denied him not absolutely, but at the time of his service in the Temple.34 And the Law had no need expressly to forbid the Nazirite to touch unclean food, since it was already forbidden to every Israelite. But to defile himself by the touch of a corpse, even of that of his father or mother, brother or sister, was forbidden to the Nazirite.35

Thus we discover three or four stages in the develop ment of Naziritism among the Israelites, exhibited, (1) by the passage in the prophet Amos, (2) by the narrative of the birth of Samuel, (3) by that of the birth of Samson, and lastly, (4) by the Law. Before the time of Amos there were Nazirites that is, as appears from their being classed next to Prophets, people who by a voluntary resolve consecrated their lives to God and the establishment of religion in the nation, and as a symbol of their resolve denied themselves the use of wine and did not cut their hair. There might be many prophets living as Nazirites because such a mode of life seemed to them appropriate to their intercourse with God. At the time of the construction of the narrative of Samuel's birth the .Nazirite's abstinence was regarded as something intrinsically meritorious, rewarded by the special favour of God. Hence arose the idea that Samuel, a man whom tradition allowed to have possessed extraordinary greatness, had been a Nazirite, not only at a mature age, but from his very birth, although tradition did not call him such, but represented him only as a Prophet and Judge. It was supposed that Naziritism from birth had qualified him for his subsequent greatness. At the time when the narrator of the birth of Samson lived, this idea was pro- [413] bably so firmly established, that God could be imagined to bestow his special favour on an individual only by means of Naziritism, which was demanded at his very birth as a condition of that favour. Naziritism, which to Amos had been only a peculiar mode of working for the cause of the religion and morality of the nation, was degraded by the above process into a personal mode of life which was thought to be especially well-pleasing to God. And then any one could adopt it at any moment, and keep it up for a certain time only, longer or shorter; and the Law then prescribed the conduct of such as took a vow to live as Nazirites for a certain period.

But how does the author of this narrative of Samson's birth stand in relation to the subsequent popular legends? and what do these legends know of Samson's Naziritiem? Little, not to say Nothing. The contradiction cannot be obliterated, and seems to have been observed by the narrator of the birth himself. He was the first who called Samson a Nazirite. If even his mother was to observe abstinence during her pregnancy, it seemed to follow as a matter of course that Samson himself as a Nazirite ought to pass his life in no less abstinence. But the legends reported the fact to be the reverse. The narrator observed this. So when Samson's father prayed earnestly that the angel who had appeared to his wife and given her a rule of conduct, might appear to him also and say how they should do unto the child, the angel gave no answer, but only repeated the rule for the mother. Thus the narrator did not venture to allow a degree of abstinence to be prescribed for Samson, which in the legends he never practised.

There is, however, one feature of the Nazirite which is known even to the legends: the uncut hair. The legend knows for certain that Samson s hair is the seat of his strength. But in the legend the hair is not represented as a mere ideal sign of divine consecration, but as the real source of strength. And therefore Samson, having [414] trifled away his hair and thereby lost his strength, gets his strength back as soon as his hair has begun to grow again. Thus the loss of the hair is not in the legend a symbol of a falling away from God, nor the weakness that attends it produced through being deserted by God; but the hair itself is the strength, and to cut it off is the same thing as to curtail the strength, as we have already seen.

There must, at all events, have been a time in Israel when hair and fulness of physical energy formed one identical idea: it was the heathen time. When the people had gained a knowledge of the true God, the old legend had to be modified. Then the uncut hair was treated as a consecration of its possessor to the service of Jahveh. But the modification was not fully carried out: one heathen feature remained unaltered the idea that with the growth of Samson's hair his strength also grew up again.

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8. GENERAL CHARACTER OF SAMSON, THE HEBREW HERO

The very distinctness and clearness with which it has been found possible to invest the conception and interpretation of Samson as a hero of heathen mythology, proves the justice and certainty of such an interpretation. And the justice of the mythical conception of Samson's deeds may be demonstrated also by another consideration. The difference between Samson's position and that of the other Judges makes it obvious enough that his history is mere legend through and through. All the other Judges, Barak, Gideon, Jephthah, fight at the head either of a large force or of a small and picked company: Samson always appears alone, and beats hundreds and thousands alone, and this too without arms. If the other Judges receive Divine apparitions by which they are impelled to action for the deliverance of their people, yet they act with perfectly human forces and means, in human fashion: Samson acts with supernatural force, and is a miracle from beginning to end. In spite of this, Samson s action is not only des- [415] titute of any proper result, but also what is more significant and far worse devoid of even the consciousness of any aim, devoid of plan or idea. He Samson the Nazirite consecrated to God! looks for wives and mistresses among his own and his people's enemies.36 He teases, irritates, injures his enemies, and kills many of them. But there appears nowhere the consciousness of any mission which he had to fulfil for the good of his native land against his enemies. He is inspired by no idea of Jahveh, driven forward by no impatience of a shameful yoke. He is roused only by pleasures of the senses and the caprice of insolence. Samson is utterly immoral. He is exactly an old heathen god, and therefore immoral, like all idols. Idols must be so, for they are only personifications of the forces and occurrences of nature; now nature as such is indifferent towards morality, and consequently, though not moral, still not immoral either; but when the mechanical force of nature is pictured as a person, and removed into the conditions of ethical life, it cannot but appear absolutely immoral. This is what all heathendom does, that of Greece not excepted.37

If, on the one hand, Samson wants all the qualities necessary to an historical hero, he is on the other, viewed from the aesthetic point, a most admirable phenomenon, quite unique in Hebrew literature. It is really wonderful with what tact, and what firm and delicate aesthetic feeling, the gigantic, Herculean, Samson is delineated in the Hebrew legend. His behaviour evinces nothing uncouth or vulgar, a fault from which even the Greek Herakles is [416] not free. Herakles, though adored as a god, has to put up with being scorned and derided for his greediness; he is a standing character in the Greek comedy, and a butt against which all jests are levelled. Samson, on the contrary, is himself the jester and scoffer, who adds the jest of insult to the injury he does his enemies. A native merriness encircles him; and in the very hour of death, at his self -prepared destruction, he maintains his humour, which here assumes a sarcastic tone.

We have now to take in hand two more considerations of a general character, which will determine the true import of the preceding detached ones and set them on a firm basis. We must first enquire: What means the above demonstrated accordance of the Hebrew legend with the legends of other nations? what is to be inferred from it? The answer to this will assign the cause of the accordance. And then the field for the development of the legend of Samson in the popular mind, and the connexion of the legend with the progress of religious life in the course of centuries, must be more fully discussed.

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9. THE MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP OF THE COMPARED LEGENDS

In the preceding comparisons, I have in the first in stance proved Samson s relationship to the Semitic Sun-gods. The Hebrews being Semites themselves, and living in the midst of Semitic nations, there can be no doubt that the similarity of the Story of Samson to those of the Semitic Sun-god is founded on original identity. But, on the other hand, the Hebrew form of the story exhibits sufficient peculiarity to negative the idea of its being simply borrowed from other Semitic nations. Samson is not exactly the Tyrian Melkart, nor the Assyrian and Lydian Sandon, but a peculiar modification of the conception which lies at the base of both of them. It is, more- [417] over, quite inconceivable that myths and stories heard from strangers could yield materials for tales about a national hero such as Samson. If we knew the Semitic myths and stories more completely, there would probably be not a single feature in the story of Samson left without some mythical conception of the Semites corresponding to it; yet every feature would have undergone a peculiar Hebrew modification. In the absence of such knowledge, we were obliged to proceed to a comparison with Greek and Roman legends. Now how are we to understand the similarities discovered there?

In the abstract, three cases may be assumed as possible. First, there may have been borrowing; and if so, we should probably be inclined without hesitation to assume that the Greeks borrowed from the Phoenicians and the Semitic nations of Asia Minor. Secondly, there may have existed an original similarity in certain mythical conceptions between Semites and Aryans, whether by reason of original historical unity, or because both races had, independently of one another, hit upon the same conception. Then thirdly, a combination of borrowing and unity is conceivable, by which the Greeks regained by borrowing some element which had been lost out of their memory, or obtained by borrowing from strangers an idea synonymous with a pre-existing native one. Which of these possibilities is the reality, cannot be decided all at once with reference to Herakles in general; but even after some result has been reached respecting that hero s personality, the above enquiry must be instituted afresh concerning every one of his acts.

Now as to the general aspect of Herakles, I think we have at the present day advanced far enough to be able summarily to reject as absurd the idea that the Greeks had borrowed him from the Phoenicians. The hero exhibits so decidedly the character of the Aryan Sun-god and Solar hero, and moreover appears in so specifically Greek a form, that there can be no doubt but that in him [418] we see the peculiar Greek modification of a possession held in common by all the Aryans.

The fact, however, of Herakles being originally Greek, does not exclude the possibility that the Greeks, if they heard of a Semitic god whom they believed to be their Herakles, might claim the deeds of the foreign god as be longing to their own hero. This was a perfectly natural and simple process in the mind, such as may occur now to any one of us. Suppose that some one tells us news of a certain person whom we think we know, because we know a person of the same name and position living at the same place; then we shall immediately attribute what is told us of the stranger to the one known to us. Thus the Greeks could, and could not but, ascribe unconsciously to their Herakles what were really Semitic stories of Solar heroes.

Accordingly, it seems to me beyond doubt, that the Greeks borrowed the killing of the lion from the Semitic god. For the Lion is a mythical symbol that recurs among all Semitic nations, whereas he is scarcely ever, if ever, found in the original Aryan mythology. In the original seats of the Aryan races there can scarcely have been any lions. Moreover, it is only after the seventh century B.C. that Herakles was figured with the lion's hide. His original arms were those of Apollon, the bow and arrows.

We touch here on a characteristic distinction between the Semitic and the Aryan Sun-god. The former kills a lion, the latter a dragon. The Lion is a symbol of solar heat; the Dragon was originally a symbol of winter, rain, mist, marshy vapours. The Semitic god has to combat chiefly with the burning sun, the Aryan with clouds. In India, no doubt, Indra does battle with the Scorcher the Drought (ushna); but this is surely a later, peculiarly Indian, accretion. On the other side, however, as we shall see further on, the Semites were not ignorant of the Cloud-Dragon. The distinction just indicated, there- [419] fore, must be understood as meaning only that here the one, there the other, of the two characteristics is the more widely spread and important ; or that the one or the other is the more fully developed.

With this may be combined another interesting feature. The Semitic Sun-god represents chiefly the procreative warmth and the scorching heat; the Aryan rather the illuminating light and the fire, which latter however, in connexion with the rain, is no doubt regarded as productive of fertility. The two races also appear in general to be similarly distinguished: the Semite has greater heat, the Aryan more light; the former is more passionate, the latter more sanguine. But this is not a suitable place to follow out this train of thought.

As to the foxes with fire-brands, that feature is probably also borrowed. Among all the Aryan nations, it is only the Latins, as far as I know, with whom this feature assumes any prominence; and with them it appears only in the form of sport, derived from a legend already enfeebled, and scarcely at all in religious rites; for in the latter we find the red dog with the same signification; and the dog also is Semitic. It is possible that the fox is also preserved in the Fox of Teumessos;38 but the latter belongs to Boeotia, where much Phoenician influence is visible.

If the adventure with the gates of Gaza is correctly interpreted above, the corresponding descent of Herakles into the nether-world can still scarcely be regarded as borrowed. The interpretation of the adventure at Gaza, however, is not certain enough to build any further theories upon, any more than the story of the ass s jawbone, which moreover is very different from the boar s tusks.

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[420]

10. THE DEVELOPMENT OF MYTHS AMONG THE ISRAELITES IN CONNEXION WITH THAT OP MONOTHEISM

We have convinced ourselves that the mythical mode of looking at things indicates a distinct stage in the development of the intellectual life of nations. The substance, which is looked at in the myth, is very various, and by no means bound to a polytheistic system. Without offending the dignity of Monotheism, it must be affirmed that not only Genesis, but also the narrative portion of the other Books of Moses, of Joshua and Judges, and isolated passages in all other books of the Old and the New Testament, are mythical. The primeval history comprised in the first ten chapters of Genesis, sublime above the cosmogonies and theogonies of all other nations, contains also sublimer myths.

But these Israelite myths, in the form in which we have them now, are framed throughout on a monotheistic principle. This form is for the most part not the original one, but a conversion out of a polytheistic form. My exposition of the legend of Samson might be considered to have sufficed to prove the existence of a primeval heathen ism among the Hebrews, which of course rested on a Semitic foundation. But this conclusion may be further confirmed by the following considerations.

I believe myself justified a priori, i.e. by reflections of a general nature, in relying on the concession, that the notion of Revelation, in the sense that at a definite point of time and by a special Divine contrivance, Monotheism was taught to a whole nation, and immediately handed down by them in the sharpest, fullest, and most elaborated antagonism to all heathen ideas, is philosophically untenable, since it is in accordance neither with psychology nor with history. This leads directly and necessarily to the assumption, that the Israelites freed themselves gradually from their inherited Semitic heathenism, and passed [421] over to a Monotheism which increased in purity with time.

In opposition to these ideas, some have very recently renewed the attempt to establish Monotheism as the belief of primeval mankind, from which the nations passed into Polytheism, either, as some assume, through a growing dulness of spirit (a Fall), or, as others think, through the very opposite process, a higher development of mind; whilst the Israelites preserved the old original Monotheism, which is reckoned to their credit by the first, and to their blame by the latter, theorists. It suffices here to remark that this primitive Monotheism is absolutely in capable of proof from history, that at the outset it turns history upside down, and especially that it is conjoined to a very loose and mean notion of the nature of Monotheism. Moreover, the Semitic race did not possess Monotheism as an inheritance from its birth.39

Now if history is unable to prove Monotheism to have existed from the beginning in the Semitic race, even the monotheistic literature of the Israelites contains evidence [422] on the other side, exhibiting a mythical Polytheism that extended from high antiquity down into those writings. For this Polytheism, as was natural, impressed on the language a stamp so distinct as to be still recognisable in various views and phrases belonging to the Prophets and sacred poets.

I will begin with the Book of Job. We need not here discuss the age of the composition of this wonderful poem. No one will now think of placing it before Solomon's time; and Schlottmann's view, that it was produced at the end of Solomon s reign or under his successor, has probably but few adherents. Now in this poem occur many personifications, which, although mainly based on lively poetical views and forming simply the poet s language, often also betray the existence of decidedly mythical persons. Although the author was undoubtedly a monotheist and a Jahveist, yet in his ideas of the world heathenism was still not far removed from him. This appears precisely in the passages in which he tries to portray the omnipotence of Jahveh; for there he sometimes slips into expressions which look as if intended to picture the power of Indra and Zeus or Apollon. So e.g. (XXVI. 11-13): The pillars of heaven tremble, and are frightened at his rebuke ; by his strength he shakes the sea, and by his wisdom he crushes Rahabh; by his breath he brightens the heaven, his hand pierces the flying Dragon. To understand these words in the poet s own sense, I think we must make very delicate distinctions. He appears to me to occupy a position in the middle between the pure Heathenism of a Vedic bard, and Prophetism, and no doubt nearer to the latter than to the former; yet a position from which the myth still almost looked like a myth, and was not a mere poetic figure. I must explain my meaning more fully.

Ewald's view, that Rahabh was originally a name of Egypt, and then became the mythological designation of a sea-monster, is an exact inversion of the fact, and requires no refutation especially as it has been already [423] answered.40 Rahabh, etymologically denoting the Noisy, Defiant, was originally the name and description of the Storm-Dragon. In the storm it was believed that Jahveh was fighting with a monster that threatened to devour the sun and the light of the sky. I should claim this well-known myth of Indra for the Semitic race, were it supported only by the above verses, and should consequently regard as a primeval feature of the mythical aspect of nature, common to Semites and Aryans, even if we were not so fortunate as we are, through Tuch's and Osiander's investigations, in finding the same myth repeated among the Arabs and Edomites, who have the divine person Kuzah, a Cloud-god, who shoots arrows from his bow.41 Here it is clear at the same time that the Bow is the Rainbow, and the Arrow the Lightning.42 I see no reason for the supposition that the Storm-monster was fettered to the sky. But I think we may gather from Is. XXVII. I, that the Semitic Storm-Dragon43 was imagined in three forms: coiled up (akallathon), i.e. the Cloud; flying (bariach), i.e. the Lightning, or the dragon flying from the lightning, and lastly stretching himself, extended (Tannin), i.e. streaming Rain. By the downpour of the rain the sea in heaven produced a sea on earth, and the tannin was removed from the sky into the ocean. As a sea-serpent he is called Rahabh, the Noisy.

Of this nothing was known even to Isaiah, and no later Prophet or Psalmist understood this mythical view; these names of mythical beings had been imperceptibly converted into names of hostile nations, having been probably first used to designate great and notorious beasts living in the territories of the nations. Thus in Ps. LXXXVII. 4, Rahabh indisputably stands for Egypt; and two passages in Ezekiel (XXIX. 3, and XXXII. 2), [424] exhibit clearly the supposed transition, since Pharaoh, that is Egypt, is in the latter compared to the Tannin, that is the Crocodile, and in the former actually addressed as such. Thus the Tannin or Rahabh became first any kind of sea-monster, then specially the crocodile, and finally Egypt. Similarly it is said in Ps. LXYIII. 31 [30], 'Rebuke the beast of the sedge,'44 i.e., the crocodile, meaning Egypt.

But there is a general connexion between this dragging down of mythical beings into the life on earth and the conversion of mythical actions in heaven into terrestrial history. Passages are not wanting in which a wavering between the mythic signification and that of legendary history, or the absorption of the former in the latter, is evident. Thus it is said in Ps. LXXXIX. 10-12 [9-11], 'Thou rulest the pride (elevation) of the sea; when it raises its waves, thou stillest them; thou treadest under loot Rahabh as one that is slain; with the arm of thy might thou scatterest thy enemies. Thine is the heaven, thine also the earth, etc.' Here the parallel to Rahabh in the preceding member is g'th elevation, pride, defiance, and in the succeeding one thy enemies. The writer's general attention is directed to physical phenomena, which yielded to him the old heathen conception of Rahabh; but Rahabh had already gained a historical signification, and consequently suggested in the following member an historical reference.

This appears still more beautifully, and in a way which lays open to us the origin of the legendary history, in the following passage, Ps. LXXIV. 12-17: 'But God my king, from the olden time working deliverances in the middle of the earth. Thou cleavest with thy might the sea, breakest the heads of the Tannins over the water.

[425] Thou crushest the heads of Livyathan, givest him for food to beasts of the desert. Thou splittest open (i.e. makest to burst forth) spring and stream; thou driest mighty rivers. Thine is the day, thine also the night, thou hast appointed light and sun. Thou settest all the borders of the earth; summer and winter, thou formest them. Here, again, we have a picture of the natural world, and one taken from the mythical point of view. God cleaves the cloud with the lightning, and by that act kills the upper Dragon above the water, so that the rivers of rain stream down out of cloud-rocks.' But this mythical act, which is repeated for ever in every thunderstorm, had been converted first into a single act, performed once in ancient time (mikkedem), and subsequently into a cleaving of the sea at the Exodus out of Egypt. It is this which the poet intends to depict in these six verses, which he probably took from an ancient song. Thus he sings of Israel's passage through the sea and the desert in words which were intended to picture the Semitic Storm-myth; and thus we see how the latter was transformed into the former. This transformation was facilitated on the part of the language by the circumstances that in the verses just quoted the verbs may be understood as well as in a preterite as in a present sense (thou cleavest or thou cleavedst), and that kedem denotes either past time, antiquity, or the beginning of all time.

The case is exactly the same with the Prophet, Is. LIX. 9, 10: 'Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of Jahveh; awake, as in the days of the beginning (kedem), in the generations of olden times (olamim)! Is it not thou that dost (or didst) cut Rahabh, that piercest (or ( piercedst ) Tannin? is it not thou that didst dry the sea, the water of the great abyss, that didst make the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? Here also it is clear how the Prophet's conscious ness passed imperceptibly from the myth into the legend, or, if you prefer to call it so, history.

[426] From these passages it appears that the conversion of the legend into history was already so firmly fixed in the minds of men, that, when they began with depicting nature, and in so doing had recourse to the stereotyped expressions that originally had a mythical meaning, they were involuntarily drawn into historical contemplation. This is not the case with the writer of Job: he remains within the mythical contemplation of. nature. So full of life are the mythical pictures in his writings that we must suppose them to have been to him more than a mere matter of constructive fancy. The Pillars of Heaven are not to him mere mountains poetically described, but also convey a full-toned echo of the Pillars of Hercules that supported the heaven.45 The stars and constellations are to him still actually living beings. In his work Rahabh cannot signify Egypt, but is still really the Sea-serpent. It is true that in other passages of the Prophets and Psalms Jahveh walks over the water of the clouds, which is by Habakkuk (III. 15), in a chapter containing many references to mythology, actually called 'Sea' (yam): but only the writer of Job still speaks of the heights of the sea,46 which in mythology are the clouds; even Amos, one of the earliest Prophets, substitutes for it the heights of the earth (IV. 13). Isaiah mentions the heights of the clouds,47 a decidedly mythical phrase; but the Prophet appears in that passage to have intentionally adopted heathen conceptions, as the words are put into a heathen mouth. Amos (V. 8) names the constellations Orion and the Pleiades, but he knows only that Jahveh made them; whereas the writer of Job (XXXVIII. 31) speaks of their fetters. From the speech which he puts into the mouth of Jahveh it may probably be inferred that he regarded the mythical acts as acts that took place at the Creation. Thus, as I have already remarked, he takes a middle position between pure myth as such and myth transformed [427] into legendary history. Altogether, he never directs his attention to History and the revelation of God in history: to his mind God is only a wise creator and upholder of Nature, and within this nature lies Man, i.e. the individual whom God created thus, and whose destiny he determines in wisdom and grace. The poet of Job does not possess the world-embracing glance of the Prophet.

Still, though in his mythology he stands nearer to heathenism than the Prophets, and his mind falls short of the breadth and greatness of the prophetic soul, he may yet be a contemporary of theirs, only one who lived in a retired circle, and had, so to speak, a one-sided education. And his whole phraseology possesses a somewhat sensuous and materialistical character, which becomes strikingly obvious on the comparison of certain expressions and certain passages expressing the same thought. Orion is in Job still really the fettered Giant (Kesil'e the Strong, not the Fool); but Isaiah (XIII. 10) forms from this word the plural kesilim, the bright-shining stars. Then the word had ceased to be a proper name, which it was still in Job. Similarly Tannin is here a proper name; but later it denotes a great sea-animal in general (e.g. in Ps. LXXIV. 13, quoted above), and therefore can have a plural. See also Is. XIX. 13, 14: The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; the heads of her tribes have led Egypt astray. Jahveh pours into their midst a spirit of perverseness, and they lead Egypt astray in all her action, like a drunken man tumbling into his vomit ; and compare with this Job XII. 24: '[God] taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and leads them astray in a pathless waste; they grope in darkness without light, and he leads them astray like a drunken man.' Here we have not, as in Isaiah, the abstract Spirit (ruach) of perverseness, but the concrete Heart (ebh); and the Going astray also is depicted more sensuously.48

[428] Now that we have thus learnt that the Storm-myth existed among the Hebrews and the Semites in a form similar to that which it had among the Aryans, to such an extent that it indelibly permeated their views of nature and their language, we have not only gained a greatly in creased justification for regarding the story of Samson as a myth, but we can now venture also on other mythological combinations and interpretations, which taken singly possess but little security and may pass for mere conjectures, but which almost certainly have a general mythic character. Thus we may find in the Bible a copious source of knowledge of Semitic Mythology. While only calling to memory in general terms the numerous accordances with Semitic mythology contained in the Bible, which Movers has in many cases made quite certain, I will here select a few narratives which seem to have a connexion with the above discussed Storm-myth.

I have before49 pointed to the fact that myths of a Sun-god are embodied in the life of Moses. Now all of these correspond to wide-spread Aryan myths of the Sun-god or Solar hero. Immediately after his birth Moses is put into a chest and placed on the water. A similar fate befalls nearly all the Solar heroes: e.g. Perseus, and heroes of the German legends. As Moses sees a burning bush which does not barn away, so the grove of Feronia50 is in flames without burning away. I have already shown51 that the staff by which Moses performs his miracles is the [429] Pramantha. Like Moses, Dionysos strikes fountains of wine and water out of the rock.52 Moses, by throwing a piece of wood into bitter water makes it sweet (Ex. XV. 25). This must be the same as the churning of the Amrta, Soma, Nectar, the divine mead. Moses has no dragon to kill, but he kills an Egyptian, and immediately flies, like all Solar heroes;53 and like Apollon, Herakles and Siegfried, he becomes a servant. And the sea, over which Moses stretches out his hand with the staff, and which he divides, so that the waters stand up on either side like walls while he passes through, must surely have been originally the Sea of Clouds;54 and I have consequently little inclination to look for the spot of the earth where, and the conditions under which, the passage might have taken place. A German story presents a perfectly similar feature.55 The conception of the Cloud as sea, rock and wall, recurs very frequently in mythology. Moses feeds the Israelites with quails. By means of a quail Iolaos wakes the dead Melkart from death. And the quail appears to have had a close connexion with Apollon and Diana; for Oprwyia is an old name of Delos, the island of Apollon; and the nurse of Apollon and Diana, and even Diana herself, are called by the same name. Moses causes manna, sweet as honey, to be rained down with the dew; this again reminds us of the nectar and the mead of the gods.

Thus we see that almost all the acts of Moses correspond to those of the Sun-gods. We have here not only similar mythical features, but features which in both cases unite to form one and the same cycle.

The Book of Judges, as well as the Books of Moses, exhibits ancient elements preserved from the heathen times, also in conformity with Aryan myths. So Shamgar (Judges III. 31), who slew six hundred Philis- [430] tines with an ox-goad, is only Samson in another form. And his name points to the Sun-god; for it seems to me to denote He that circles about in the sky. We must pay attention to the fact that Barak denotes Lightning, even though Barcas is a Carthaginian name. With Barak is associated Deborah, the Bee. Now if rain and dew are treated as Honey, then the Bee must stand for the rain-cloud. A third name occurs in this connexion Jael (Ya'el), the Wild Goat, which is also a symbol of the Cloud. The Melissae (bees) and the goat Amalthea among the Greeks take each others places. Lastly, the manner in which Sisera is killed, by a hammer and nail, reminds one of the God of Lightning. The mode in which David kills Goliath reminds us of Thor s battle with Hrungnir, in which he throws his hammer into Hrungnir's forehead.

The germ of these various agreements ought in fact probably to be referred to an original identity in the mythical views of the Semites and Aryans, who were not
separated till later. The Fire and (connected therewith) the Sun, and then the Storm also, may well have led to the formation of the same myths by the two races while they still lived together. The separation of the races then produced distinct developments out of the common germ, which developments, however, naturally had many points of agreement,

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11. ANALOGY WITH OLD HEATHEN ELEMENTS IN THE POPULAR IDEAS OF THE LATER AGE

It results from the preceding historical investigation that the oldest Hebrews were heathens, and that elements belonging to heathen mythology are even present in the Bible. To gain a clearer idea of the nature of this fact, I will refer to a precisely similar case the relation of our age to the old German heathen times.

The Germans had originally gods, worship, myths and [431] legends in short, a heathen faith, of their own. But for more than a thousand years all the German tribes have been Christian. Nevertheless, heathen practices still survive among them everywhere and in most various forms; and are so closely interwoven with Christian practices as to be almost ineradicable. I will only select a few in stances. The old German gods still live in the names of the days of the week.56 Churches and convents were founded at places which had been heathen sanctuaries; Christian feasts were fixed on days sacred to heathen deities, and thus the heathen name 'Easter' has maintained its existence as a designation for the highest Christian feast. Heathenism is preserved chiefly in the popular legends both of the hills and of the lowlands, in popular customs, usages, games and superstitions; all which has been lately collected in special books and periodicals. Kuhn's collections made in North Germany and Westphalia are of especial scientific value. The gods, however, have been converted into devils and monsters, the goddesses into night-hags and witches. But religious stories, Christian legends, are also often utterly heathen; there are deeds and occurrences belonging to gods and heroes, which are attributed to the Saints and to Christ himself. Thus the killing of the Dragon, which is known as a myth to all the Aryan nations, is ascribed to Saint George. The office of the god Thor, who pursued and bound giants, is filled in Christian Norway by Saint Olave. Christ and Saint Peter wander about unrecognised in human form, to reward virtue and punish vice, as the heathen gods did before them. Mary, especially, had a multitude of lovely and charming features ascribed to her, which under heathenism were attributes of Freyja, Holda, and Bertha. A great number of flowers, plants and insects, the older names of which referred to Freyja and Venus, are called after Mary, e.g. Maiden-hair [432] (i.e. the Virgin Mary's hair), otherwise Capillus Veneris;57 and Holda who sends snow becomes Mary: Notre Dame aux neiges, Maria ad nives. In short, now Christian substance appears disguised in a heathen form, now heathen substance in Christian form, as Jacob Grimm says, in whose Deutsche Mythologie the reader will find much relating to this mixture of old heathen and Christian ideas in the spirit of the simple folk that have a craving for myths.

With the Hebrews it must have been much the same as with the Germans. We know that no less time than the entire period from Moses to Ezra a thousand years of all manner of struggles and of the exercise of the greatest intellectual and moral forces was requisite to develop the faith in One God, and make it a common and permanent possession of the people, pervading the whole spiritual consciousness.

But the fact that the Germans monotheism was brought to them from outside, while that of the Israelites sprang up among themselves, must surely have been favourable to the preservation of heathen characteristics among the latter. Whilst in Germany a systematised Christianity, fully conscious of the issues involved, contended against Heathendom; among the Hebrews, Monotheism unfolded all its inevitable consequences only by degrees, gradually gaining a knowledge both of itself and of the antagonism in which it was implicated towards all [433] phases of the heathen faith, worship and life. The Germans knew that their ancestors were heathens; they endeavoured as far as possible to break with their heathen past; and yet, knowingly or unknowingly, they retained a great deal of heathenism; and the pride of the Old German popular poetry, the Nibelungen, has a primeval myth for its subject. But the contrast between the heathen and the modern age was not at all firmly fixed in the mind of the Israelites, precisely because the transition was gradual. Only exceptionally do we find any reminiscence of the old heathenism, which is put back into the most ancient times. As far as the people were able to trace their history backwards, that is, to their supposed ancestor Abraham, they put back the faith in Jahveh; or indeed still farther, to Adam. The only true God Jahveh was soon treated as the only one worshipped in the beginning, from whom mankind fell away, intentionally defying him. Abraham alone remained faithful, and therefore Jahveh elected Abraham's descendants to be his people. Thus the Israelite fancied the faith in Jahveh to be the primitive and inalienable possession of his people, which had been only temporarily weakened, but never really lost. Even to other nations the knowledge of Jahveh could never be wanting; for they worshiped false, non-existent, gods from folly and malice, and the Israelite took for granted that they must know all that he knew. Now if even the Christian of the middle ages, although he knew that his ancestors were heathen, nevertheless often described them as acting like Christians, because he had no knowledge of heathendom, and no power of imagining a past age, except in the likeness of his own; how much more would the monotheistic Israelite picture his past ages, in which he acknowledged no heathenism at all, in a Jahveistic light? His whole history was unconsciously transformed. The heathen myths, which must have something in them, else they could not be told at all, were converted into events of the earth, closely [431] coalescing with historical facts, what the heathen gods were said to have done was ascribed to Jahveh himself or one of his human ministers. The old Semitic gods, if not utterly forgotten, were made by the Hebrew into men of the primeval age, powerful heroes, or Patriarchs. I can invoke the authority of Ewald and Bunsen, for the assertion that no Biblical name before Abraham has any historical significance, and that of Movers for saying that Abraham is only the ancient national god of the Semites, El, who was also their first king or their ancestor, and that Israel, Abraham's grandson, was the Semitic Herakles Palaemon. The Israelite knew no longer how his forerunners had lived and thought in those ages, while they were still heathen; and he flooded his past history with the light which shone for him, but was of recent origin. He unconsciously falsified the facts of the history, because he did not care particularly for facts. Everything heathen received a Jahveistic sense, the heathen form a Jahveistic significance, the heathen substance a Jahveistic form. Only under these conditions could the past history of Israel be made intelligible to the mind of the people.

And then, when priests and prophets came to reduce the popular stories to writing, they could certainly only complete what the populace had already begun. They
also were not historians or investigators at all; instead of transporting themselves into a past age, they raised the past age to the light of the present. No doubt they were more consistent and more inventive than the populace; for they wrote with an intelligence which marks and at tempts to explain inconsistencies; and even in the interest of a certain political or religious object. The heathenism, which they could not understand, seemed to them impossible; they discovered everywhere at least Jahveistic motives.

Thus, 1 think, the Biblical narrative of Samson was an old heathen story, transformed by a Jahveistic colour- [435] ing, given to it first by the Israelitish populace, and subsequently by the author of the narrative. I have endeavoured, by the aid of parallel instances, to trace the mode of this transformation and to recover the original form and learning of the old story.

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12. GENERAL PSYCHOLOGICAL REFLECTION

We must now attempt to realise the psychological relations and processes upon which is based the preservation and transformation of heathen ideas within the range of Monotheism, the fact of which has been exhibited above.

We require here to see clearly, at least in broad outline, what relations ideas of recent growth, especially on religion and morals, bear to older representations. For from this it will then be easy to make the application to the special case before us, the relation of the monotheistic Jahveistic ideas to the older heathen representations among the Israelites. The story of Samson will then present only a special instance of this relation.

Among the ideas and thoughts, either of a nation or of an individual, a certain harmony prevails, which is in its nature not logical but psychological, not based on the law of Contradiction, but yielding that law as a specially rigorous result; in itself, however, much broader and more delicate, and indeed through its very breadth losing in stringency. The laws of logic have a double basis, a metaphysical one on the objective side, and a psychological on the subjective. That is, the logical law must be observed, because, if it be not, there arises, on the one hand, a disturbance of the metaphysical relation under which things in their reality have to come into thought, and on the other, an insoluble problem for our psychological function of Consciousness. Of course, in logical error or offence against logical law, so far as it actually occurs, there is nothing psychologically impossible. For example, a logically improper association of two ideas in [436] the mind is possible but only through the absence from the mind of the third factor, which logically makes it an error: if it were present, it would infallibly have prevented the improper association. That which is logically wrong is thus incapable of being thought. No one can think that 7 + 4 = 12. We may certainly make such a false reckoning, if we happen not completely to spread before us the contents of the numbers in this succession : then such an association of ideas, such a summation of the series, may be formed. But as soon as the set of numbers is fully counted out, our passage from 7 + 4 to 12 is stopped, and no effort would avail to connect them as equals. That which in the logical sphere is ( right or wrong takes, in the psychological, the form of complete or incomplete. Accordingly, if without knowing logic men can think right, and tell right thinking from wrong, it is because, when once the elements of a case are all clearly present to the mind, wrong thinking is psychologically impossible. This impossibility in the first instance only forces us to drop the wrong combination; but this is the first inducement to search for the right one. But, supposing no free movement of search and a total absence of reflection, then we shall simply have such range of combination as may be compatible with the psychological conditions; and, provided the necessary factors are all clear in the mind, this can be no other than the right one, viz., that which accords with the aggregate view of things.

This congruity among the ideas of particular nations or individuals is no doubt tantamount in the end to an avoidance of logical contradiction; and into this we might in all cases resolve such concord, could we exactly trace all the threads or intermediate members. But where the most we can do is to feel such threads of connexion, the congruity takes the shape of some Characteristic pervading the circles of ideas some common stamp.

According to this, we ought to be able to discover in the mind of every nation a system of ideas intrinsically [437] bound together and never self-contradictory. And this will so far prove to be the fact, that a certain national type will be everywhere present. But it is possible for contradictions to occur in the national life; for, if only they do not clash against one another in the consciousness, the contradictory ideas do not operate with their force of contradiction. Even every individual doubtless bears about with him unconsciously many ideas in harshest contradiction; contradictions, however, they are, in virtue not of any objective force proper to the ideas in themselves, but of an act of judgment which sets them forth as mutually contradictory. The contradictions are often hidden very deep, and only brought to light by a methodical search. When, however, new ideas, proclaimed everywhere in the streets, conflict with the old ones, the contradiction is at once brought to the light of day. What will be the result?

A conflict will arise, without doubt: will it be one with physical weapons? Such a conflict, though it may be in evitable, and though it has often given occasion for the exhibition of high and noble virtue, is nevertheless of no value to the real cause, the true victory, the victory of truth; and the chief point gained by the physical victory has generally been only the conviction of its worthlessness.

The conflict within the mind, where Ideas en masse confront Ideas in rank and file, this forms the substance of the History of Mankind: a Conflict of Souls.

Mind rules and moulds, Matter is ruled and moulded: this relation repeats itself within the consciousness. Whatever consciousness owes to impressions of sense, serves as material to be moulded by mental activity. For the purpose of this moulding, the mind, impelled partly by this material itself and partly by its own nature, forms representations, notions, forms i.e. modes of apprehension, and ideas, namely, the general conceptions of genera and species, the metaphysical categories, and the moral ideas. In accordance with the moral ideas are [438] formed principles of action, judgments on the acts of others, even of God, insofar as man believes himself acquainted with the acts of God. Conversely, acts are declared to be or not to be God's, insofar as they do or do not accord with the moral standard and the conception of God. In accordance with the general class-conceptions the world of things divides itself before the view: and while by certain aesthetic and moral ideas these things are brought under a rule of valuation, in metaphysical aspects they are put into a causal relation. Finally, religious ideas form the foundation and the summit of all these curious constructions of a world and judgments passed on a world.

Accordingly, the conflict shows itself in two forms. Sometimes a certain domain of materials, in which new relations and connexions have become prominent, requires a new form of thought to dominate it; sometimes a new form of thought strives to supplant the old one, and to reshape, in accordance with its new laws, the matter which had been shaped by the former one. An example will make this clear. The thought God forms the apex of the pyramid of ideas; it possesses the highest and widest dominion for this very reason unfortunately often the weakest and therefore shapes every province of consciousness in accordance with what it contains. Now, let an altered character come over the contents of one of these domains, say of the ideas concerning our relation to our fellow-men, or concerning causality in nature; then that domain can no longer tolerate to be ruled and moulded by the thought previously connoted in the word God, standing as it now does in contradiction to that thought. It sets up the sway of a new form of thought, which fits its new contents, because growing out of them; there arises a new conception of God, a new Theology. But the old Theology has still its seat in all the other provinces of consciousness ; so that, before any further advance, the new Idea has still to bring all these other provinces under its sway, to dis- [439] solve the shape given them by the old principle, and replace it by one which is congenial with itself. This may, nay must, produce a long conflict, which demands much labour. Of many a concept the intension will have to be entirely cancelled, of all to be at least remodelled. Yet with many ideas the association has through long habit become quite fixed. Severed they must be, the new God requires it; but it can only be done very gradually. A thousand forbidden combinations find lurking-places and remain; they maintain themselves in contradiction to the new order of things, and perhaps half accommodate them selves to it in order to avoid a shock.

Imperfectly as I have expounded the point in question, I hope, nevertheless, that what I have said will suffice for the present purpose. What it wants in transparency and clearness may yet be added by the application of the general remarks to the particular case.

There existed for a long time, as I have remarked, monotheistic and heathen ideas in the national mind of the Israelites side by side the former being the newer, the latter the older. But yet the former were the ruling ideas, and always gaining strength and clearness and coming to the brightest foreground of the consciousness, whereas the latter were constantly losing ground and clearness. Thus the nation lost the true consciousness of its heathen past history and the understanding of its former condition and experiences. For no nation as such possesses that true sense for history, by which it would conceive of itself and its present existence in conscious contrast to the past, and strive to gain an objective view of the mind and nature of past ages. The consciousness of a nation is only the active present age, and knows nothing of history. Therefore, whenever a radical revolution, extending over many important domains of ideas, has come over the nation, it no longer understands its own past history which lies on the other side of the revolution. Yet the old words, sayings and stories are transmitted all the [440] same, and they contain accounts of bygone events and conditions, ancient ideas and ancient faith. But the stories which refer to obsolete and forgotten states of things are unintelligible; the names and sayings of forgotten gods, things and ideas are empty; typical figures and phrases based on those legends and gods, though still living on the lips, have become senseless. The nation always thinks that the word must have an idea behind it. So what it does not understand, it converts into what it does; it transforms the word until it can understand it. Thus words and names have their forms altered: e.g. the French ecrevisse becomes in English crawfish, and the heathen god Svantevit was changed by the Christian Slavs into Saint Vitus, and the Parisians converted Mons Martis into Montmartre. And what was reported of persons or beings represented like persons, that are no longer known, is now told of persons whose acquaintance has been newly made. In Germany it was told of the god Wuotan, that he was called Long-beard, and as such fell asleep inside a mountain; now when Wuotan was utterly forgotten, a new subject had to be found; and the legend was transferred to the heroic kings Charles [the Great] and Frederick [Barbarossa]. Moreover, the myth that forms the ground work of the poem of the Nibelungen, which was originally told without mention of any definite time or place, was assigned to a well-known locality, and its heroes received the names of historical kings.

Every nation must of necessity act similarly; for the legends which it tells must be its own legends, and reflect its own life and present circumstances; if they have ceased to do so because its life has changed, then they are changed in accordance with the change in the life. Even the future beyond the grave is to the popular mind only the present life somewhat gilded; then how is it likely that the past shall be thought of as different from the present?

And precisely because these transformations and trans- [441] ferences are necessary, they take place unconsciously and unintentionally. The mind of the nation does not make them; they are an occurrence in that mind, which makes itself by itself. The nation has subjects and predicates, sounds and meanings, given to it in the legend. Now if the stream of time carries off the subjects and meanings into the ocean of oblivion, then by the psychological law the unattached predicates and sounds must fasten them selves on to any other subjects and meanings by which they can be supported. This takes place without any one intending it, and without any one observing it.

The words, names and phrases which a nation uses have to be apperceived in the moment when they are employed. This is true both of the hearer and of the speaker. But the apperceptions are dependent on the previously formed associations of ideas. Now if a German heard Sinfluth, or if, when speaking, this word known to him by tradition presented itself to his consciousness in the course of speech, then the second part of the word, Fluth 6 flood, found the idea with which it was associated, and which was reproduced by being brought into consciousness by the word; but the first part, Sin, stood in no association and roused no idea. But by material relationship and partial identity of sound, Sin is associated with Sunde sin, and the latter idea (that of sin or guilt) was at the same time associated with the word Sinfluth as a whole; thus then this idea of sinfulness was strongly lifted into prominence on two sides, much more strongly and quickly than the German Sin itself. This latter was ultimately raised into prominence only through its traditional combination with Fluth flood, and this only as a sound; consequently in its advance it was overtaken by Sunde sin, which was lifted into prominence partly through it (Sin), and partly also through Fluth, and therefore with double force. Consequently people spoke and thought Sund, instead of saying without thinking Sin; and this was the direct result of a simple psycho- [442] logical process.58 Similarly in all analogous cases. Among the Ossetes of the Caucasus the Dies Marti's, Tuesday, is unconsciously converted into George's Day; and the Dies Veneris, Friday, into Mary's Day. In many nations the gods form a circle limited to twelve immortals; the thirteenth in a society was then a mortal, one destined to die. Similarly, even at the present day, Christians fear that out of thirteen one will die, referring it however to the company of thirteen formed by Jesus and the twelve Apostles. Again, there was a legend widely spread among Teutonic nations, of an Archer, who shot an apple from his own little boy's head, and answered the despot at whose command he had done it, when asked about his other two arrows, that they were intended for him, in case the first had killed the child. Who was the Archer? Who was the Despot? where and what was the motive? All this was forgotten; there only remained a dim echo of the legend of the shot. But when Switzerland, a nation of archers, had shaken off the yoke of a despot, all the features of the story recovered definite names, places, time, and motive. As the stone flying through the air falls to the earth by the law of attraction, so the old legend fell into the Liberation-time.

[443] Sometimes we forget something, but yet retain a small part of it in the memory, as when we say, I have really forgotten his name; but I am sure it begins with B. The same thing happens to nations. The name of Venus, or Holda, was forgotten; but people were sure that she was a divine woman. Now to the Christians of the middle ages Divine Woman and Mary were one single idea; consequently, the name Mary, unobserved, took the place of the heathen goddesses in the numerous appellations and legends which are now connected with Mary. Of Mars it was only remembered that he was a warrior; so Tuesday, which was sacred to him, could only become Saint George's Day.

Similar was the history of the Israelites when they became monotheistic. The heathen cosmogony, and the heathen idea of the activity of the gods in physical occurrences, contradicted the new idea of the One Almighty God, before whom Nature is nothing. But even though the idea that this God alone created the world, had been long accepted and established, yet there were still, preserved in stereotyped expressions of language, many ideas which preserved from oblivion and ruin features of the old modes of thought alongside of the new. They remain, so long as attention is not drawn to the contradiction in which these separate words stand to the new general system. When the clouds were no longer regarded as a sea, as they once were, people ceased to understand the meaning of the heights of the sea ; this expression no longer finds any organ of apperception, because Sea is no longer associated with the idea of the clouds. There fore, the expression is sustained only by its traditional connexion with heights. But heights are very closely associated with earth and with the idea of mountains; and thus with the Prophet Amos59 this association sup planted the older one the living took the place of the dead. We will now, in conclusion, return to Samson.

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[444]

13. HISTORY OF THE MYTH OF THE SUN-GOD

We will now review the entire history of the old Semitic God of the Sun or of Heat, as he was present to the national consciousness of Israel.

I wonder whether I am mistaken? I flatter myself that I know the particle by which was expressed the greatest revolution ever experienced in the development of
the human mind, or rather by which the mind itself was brought into existence. It is the particle as in the verse60 'And he [the Sun] is as a bridegroom, coming out
of his chamber; he rejoices as a hero to run his course.' Nature appears to us as a man, as mind, but is not man or mind. This is the birth of Mind, the generation of Poetry. This is unknown not only to the Vedas, but even to the Greeks. This does not mean that the Greeks had no poetry at all, but only that there is an inherent defect in their poetry, which is connected with the deepest foundation of their national mind. Helios, driving along the celestial road with fiery steeds, is not poetry, but only becomes poetical when we tacitly insert the as of the Psalmist. He to whom Helios is a conscious being is childlike, if not childish: the Psalmist is poetical.

Now when such psalms were being spread abroad increasingly in Israel; when Jahveh was acknowledged as the being that brings up the sun, the stars and the rain-clouds, that builds the house and guards the city; then the old Sun-god or Herakles was forgotten; that is, his divinity, and that only, was forgotten. His deeds were still recounted; but deeds demand an agent. And thus out of the god, who could exist no longer in the presence of Jahveh, a man was made, who with Jahveh's force to aid him performed superhuman things, but in other respects lived among men and within human conditions, worked quite as a man, and even enjoyed his superhuman [445] power only on human terms, namely the terms of Naziritism.

Deeds were reported of some one who had long-hair. But who wore his hair long, but the Nazirite consecrated to Jahveh? Deeds were told, which no one could accomplish unless exceptionally endowed with strength by Jahveh; and Jahveh would give such privilege only to the Nazirite consecrated to him. Consequently, when Samson was no longer a god, he must be a Nazirite. Nevertheless, he was distinguished beyond all other Nazirites: he was so from his very birth, like Samuel, to whom with Naziritism was granted Prophecy, a gift vouchsafed to others only later in life and occasionally. The strictly mythical character, the allusion to a religion of nature, was entirely lost from the stories about Samson. What ever happened to him took a purely human character.

There was also a dim memory of the same forgotten god, that he was Melkart, i.e. king or guardian of the city. Samson, now reduced to humanity, could have been such a guardian only in a human sense, though perhaps in an extraordinary degree. Now Israel preserved from the first half of its political existence the memory of no other enemy so dangerous, so difficult to withstand, and again in its subsequent weakness so hateful, as the Philistines: against them Samson must have fought. No other foe had laid on Israel so hard a yoke or such bitter degradation as the Philistines: but Samson must have avenged this on them. He must not only have conquered them, but likewise have given them a taste of his great physical and intellectual superiority: the Nazirite consecrated to Jahveh could scoff at the Philistines. Thus Samson was in the end a Judge, Shophet; for in the age of the Judges, the wars with the Philistines had begun, and after Eli and Samuel, Saul and David, or even beside any of them, Samson could not have lived. These were not deliberations, but unconscious impulses, which shaped the legend of Samson in the national mind of Israel.

[446] No feature of the Solar hero has suffered a more characteristic conversion than his end, as is seen by a comparison with the corresponding polytheistic legends. Orion is blinded by the father of his lady-love, and Samson had his eyes put out. But Orion kindled the light of his eyes again at the rays of Helios, whereas Samson remains blind, and only prays to be endowed with strength to avenge the loss of one of his two eyes.61 It is true, his hair grows again and brings back his strength: after the winter comes a new spring. But all in vain Samson dies, notwithstanding. He dies like Herakles: but there is no Tolaos to wake him to a new life, no Athene and Apollon to lead him to Olympos, no Zeus and Here to present to him Hebe, the personification of the enjoyment of perpetual youth. Samson dies and remains dead; he dies, and tears down with him his own pillars the pillars on which he had built the world to find a grave beneath them. The heathen god is dead, and draws his own world down with him into his own nothingness; his battles were a play of shadows. Jahveh lives, 'he hath established the world by his wisdom, he giveth rain, the autumn and the spring showers, each in its season, and keepeth to us the prescribed weeks of harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night';62 he lives, the Lord of the world, the King of the earth, and his hero is Israel.

 

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