Samson the Lion Slayer? Or not?
by James Tabor
Earlier this month it was “Samson and the foxes” tentatively identified by Jodi Magness on a late Roman period mosaic synagogue floor at Huqoq. Today a much earlier discovery was announced, also potentially related to tales of the biblical hero Samson. This time it is a seal that possibly depicts a human figure encountering a lion, found at Beit Shemesh. The identification with Samson is tentative. The excavation directors Shlomo Bunimovitz and Zvi Lederman of Tel Aviv University say they do not suggest that the human figure on the seal is the biblical Samson. Rather, the geographical proximity to the area where Samson lived, and the time period of the seal, show that a story was being told at the time of a hero who fought a lion, and that the story eventually found its way into the biblical text and onto the seal.
Read the complete story here and be sure and notice how the presence of pig bones at these various 11th century BCE sites help determine whether they were inhabited by Jews or Philistines.
- For more on the Bet Shemesh excavation see Shlomo Bunimovitz and Zvi Lederman, “Beth Shemesh,” Biblical Archaeology Review, Jan/Feb 1997, 42-45, 48-49, 75-77. [↩]