Chapter 16 is the more familiar passage about Samson. In addition to Samson’s incredible strength, his libido is constantly getting him into trouble. The patriarchy is present here, of course. Samson is a hero with a flaw. The women he sleeps with are garbage. Either unnamed or the villains. I don’t think promoting the patriarchy is the point of the story, but it gives evidence to a grand cultural flaw.
Nonetheless, a blinded superhero pulling down the columns of a temple to vanquish his enemies, “thus, he killed many more when he died than while he lived,” is pretty badass. I was looking for a serious comparison between Samson & Hercules, but this “debate” about who would win is too entertaining not to pass along. Note, several respondents indicate that Samson was “a real man.” Seriously? The weirdest thing is I suspect many of these people read the book of Judges and think it is an accounting of historical events.
Next is the story of Micah and his priest. Micah has a shrine full of idols, but seems to be alright with YHWH. He even essentially hires a Levite to be his priest. And, he’s happy to have a priest of YHWH there. At this point in judges we start getting the lament: “In those days Israel had not king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Judges 17:6.
The story of Micah concludes with a “to this day” kind of ending. The Danites are unhappy living so close to the Sidonites. So they send out some scouts, find a good town to take over. On the way, they steal all of Micah’s riches, commandeer his priest, then destroy the tranquil city far from the Sidonites. They rebuild it, and that’s where they live today. Descendants of the Levite “were priests for the tribe of Dan until the exile. They continued to use the idol Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.” Judges 18:30-31.
So, honestly, pretty entertaining stories. I like the complexity of these over the stories in Joshua which seem so laden with a moral point to make. It is also interesting to come across such an explicit reference to the exile for purposes of dating the work.