Melissa A. Jackson

in Comedy and Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656776
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742170 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs


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Thestory of Delilah and Samson (Judges 16:4–22) exhibits numerous comic elements, comic characterization and sexuality being among the most significant ones. While tradition may have bequeathed a heroic Samson and a villainous Delilah, the Hebrew Bible withholds any fixed judgement, reflecting a tolerance for ambiguity that is key to comedy. To dismiss Delilah as a treacherous whore is too simplistic and a misrepresentation of the text. She is more complex — resourceful, bold, and with a particular kind of power at her disposal. Her society can be faulted for limiting her to this type of power, but faulting Delilah for using it is unjustified. This narrative is comedy in which Israel, through its ‘greatest’ judge, is the victim of its own punch line. While certainly Delilah is used as a means to arrive at this punch line, the joke could not be told without her participation.

Keywords: comedy; comic characterization; Delilah; Judges; Samson; sexuality

Chapter.  10443 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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