Samson's suicide: Psychopathology (Grossman) vs. heroism (Jabotinsky)

Netta Shoenfeld, Rael D. Strous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The biblical story of Samson may be understood at various levels and from different perspectives. Since the story of Samson in the Bible is sketchily drawn, the interpretations of the narrative are numerous. One version, according to David Grossman, a contemporary writer and liberal Israeli political activist, regards Samson critically, viewing him as a tormented individual who opts to end his life in order to end his suffering. Another version is that of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, a twentieth century author and nationalistic Jewish political activist, who regards Samson as a heroic figure exemplifying the ultimate Jewish hero who killed himself to help his people. While suicide is considered a tragic event, viewed as the outcome of an unstable state of mind from a psychopathological point of view, and a controversial issue in Judaism (as in other religions), there is value in examining how each of these authors explains the act. Since the personal and political opinions of the authors influenced their interpretations, the discussion will briefly expound on thier biographies. A comparison between their two versions of the narrative will be made. A word of caution is introduced regarding the merits and demerits of artistic and creative analysis of the biblical narrative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-201
Number of pages6
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Heroism
  • Psychopathology
  • Suicide


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