Samson, Unchained: Biblical Undercurrents in the Political Sentiments of Israeli Jews

Uriel Abulof*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biblical tales resonate powerfully with Israeli Jews who live with, in and through their religious past, occasionally re-experiencing it, even as they resist it. The article considers the political sentiments of Israeli Jews through the life and death of the biblical Samson in order to revisit the emotional and moral drivers of their public beliefs, behaviors, and identities. I identify the biblical story's main facets and show how they resonate with Israel's political sentiments: the fantasy of a sacred supremacy; the mistrust of adversaries from within and without; a fear of humiliation and isolation; and recourse to sacrificial revenge. I suggest that while the Bible has become a bone of contention between secular and religious Zionists, Israel's “Samsonian” qualities exist in a dialectical process of divergence and convergence over meaning-making. If Israel is Samson in chains, it may be time for liberation in life rather than death after bringing down the Philistine temple.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-144
Number of pages20
JournalIsrael Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Bible
  • Collective Memory
  • Déjà Vécu
  • Israel
  • Israel Religion
  • Mythic Contemporaries
  • Myths
  • Nationalism
  • Phenomenological Sociology
  • Political Sentiments
  • Reanimated Communities
  • Religious Experience
  • Samson
  • State
  • Zionism


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