Samson in Greek Legend

Image by YvM from Pixabay

Once upon a time, the Greek myths were only known by the well-educated but Biblical characters were familiar to the masses. Now it’s the other way round. Thanks to films like Clash of the Titans and Troy, Achilles and Perseus are better known than Samson and Shamgar. But what if the two overlapped? As a Bible believer, I obviously accept that Samson et al were real figures whose lives are faithfully represented in the Hebrew text. I’ve always suspected that Greek myths have some basis in truth, but might the Greeks have borrowed from the Hebrews? Samson shares many characteristics with Achilles and Heracles. For instance, all three are conceived under supernatural influences, they slay huge numbers of enemy soldiers, they each have famously bad tempers, they all receive special nourishment from supernatural provision. Famously, Samson and Achilles have iconic weaknesses (hair/heel).

Samson, Heracles and Achilles all inhabited what we now term the Bronze Age. Although separated by the Mediterranean Sea and differing world-views, there is a bridge between them- the Philistines. These were a people from Caphtor according to Amos and Jeremiah, an area thought to cover the Aegean islands and Crete. An Egyptian document from 1400BC refers to Crete as Keftiu. If the Philistines were indeed a Greek people, their ability to communicate their dealings with Samson to their cousins would have been perfectly feasible. Their terrifying yet flawed Hebrew opponent became the stuff of legend and myth.

Maybe the well-spoken classicists and their less-intellectual consumers of fantasy films know more of the Bible that they would care to admit.

Image by Tatyana Kazakova from Pixabay