Biblical Archaeology Review 35:3, May/June 2009

Strata: The Bible in the News

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

In a world filled with Simpsons—Jessica, Homer and O.J.—is there still a place for a Samson, especially the much-storied Biblical Samson? Have no fear! This Biblical strongman of Judges 13–16 has managed to muscle his way into popular culture and the popular press, even if he doesn’t (you’ll pardon the expression) bring the house down anymore.

Not surprisingly, it is his hair, or its loss, that attracts the most attention. But it is in the world of sports that shorn, or unshorn, locks are most frequently associated with Samson. Thus it was that a month before Super Bowl 2009 the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story headlined “Shaggy Fans Let It Grow,” about (male) football fans adopting a “no-shaving trend” in support of their beloved Eagles. The newspaper’s female fashion writer opines: “Who knows why men take leave of their grooming senses when they are up against a competitive wall? Perhaps the superstition harks back to the Biblical story of Samson, who loses all of his strength after his lover, Delilah, orders a slave to shave his head.”

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