Response to Naim Ateek’s 12 questions on Samson
1. Was not Samson a suicide bomber?
He killed his enemies and died in doing so. Does that imply equivalence with suicide bomber of today? Are all executioners or all soldiers murderers? Did he yearn for his own death, or perhaps did he see it as a just punishment for his own sin? Did he share the kind of ecstatic, almost sexual desire for death of suicide bombers?
2. Was he acting on behalf of the God of justice who wills the liberation of the oppressed?
Do all murderers act on behalf of the God of justice, if they claim they act for oppressed. Ossama bin Laden, Timothy McVeigh, the Ismaili assassins? Did not the Lord say the adversaries will think they are serving God when they slay you.
3. Was God pleased with the death of thousands of men and women of the Philistines?
directly commanded, required and commended the death of idolaters.
He Himself slew and commanded the execution of idolaters within
4. Are we confronted with many similar stories today in the experience of suicide bombers?
There are many fundamental differences: they hold a quite different theology from Samson, they worship a God of divergent characteristics from Samson’s, they do not believe His holy Law or keep it, they have different motives than the glorifying of Samson’s God, and different, evil outcomes ensue. Samson did not bow to or pray to a black rock!
5. Is it legitimate to tell the story today by substituting the name Ahmad for Samson?
Or substituting Baruch Goldstein? Why not? Without objective Bible-based criteria any murderer can be turned into a saint. If you want a proper moral equivalent for the wickedness of suicide murderers, Baruch Goldstein is a better example of a substitute for Ahmed than Samson. Why? Because they are contemporary, their revenge motives and desperation were similar, and Samson lived under the Sinatic covenant, not the New Covenant as these former two.
The interesting contrast lies in the stark contrast between the reaction of the communities from which they come – Baruch Goldstein is treated as a destructive criminal by the overwhelming majority of Israelis, but Ahmed?
6. Is it possible that the God of justice is as active today in working out the liberation of the oppressed Palestinians through the likes of Ahmad?
Or the liberation of the settlers through Baruch Goldstein? I don’t think so somehow. Deliberately murdering civilians as Al Aqsa, Islamic Jihad and Hamas have often done, despite their deceitful protests, furthers nothing except more sin. Pretending otherwise falls under the sentence of Prov. 24.24.
7. Is the dynamic under which God operates that of Jew versus other people or is it that of oppressor versus oppressed?
The Biblical dynamic is plainly stated – God is no respecter of persons, neither Jew nor Gentile, oppressed or oppressor (Ex 23.3). When the Jews were siege by Nebuchadnezzar – were the ‘oppressed’ Jews encouraged in their resistance by God’s faithful prophet? Jeremiah 37.16-19 !!
8. Do we see the divine involvement of God in one story and not the other?
God overrules all acts, both evil and good. However the fundamental issue is do we have a foundation stone on which to build or are all our moral judgements built on subjective and relativistic sand?
9. Is the story of Samson legitimate because it is written in the Bible while the story of Ahmad is rejected because it is not and therefore he is condemned as a terrorist?
Are all killers of ‘oppressors’ justified in the Bible – what about David’s reaction to the Amalekite who claimed (deceitfully) to have slain Saul the great oppressor? What about Joab’s murder of Amasa, Absalom’s henchman? Or Moses of the Egyptian? God is not a respecter of persons, His judgements are holy, consistent, unsparing and right, especially when they involve His own people.
10. Do we have the courage to condone both as acts of bravery and liberation, or condemn both as acts of violence and terror?
Is it courage to justify the wicked and condemn the just or folly? Is it wisdom to call black white (or gray) and white black? Is it really courage that leads you to condone and justify the wickedness of the intentional murderers of non combatants – in a time of professed peace?
11. Is not injustice considered injustice whether inflicted by the ancient Philistines against the Hebrews or by the modern state of Israel against today’s Palestinians?
The injustice committed by ancient Hebrews against the Canaanite Gibeonites was punished by death many years later. What specific injustice do you claim against modern Israel, that has not been shared by every single permanent member of the UN security council? (Indeed their excess is considerable). Are Arabs and Palestinians without grave injustice?
12. Or do we hold a theology of a biased God who only stands with Israel whether right or wrong?
Do we have any kind of consistency foundation in our theology, or is it just a case of God is on our side – whether right or wrong? Are His eternal covenants just that - eternal, or do they change with political fashion?
There is a much better likeness of suicide terrorism in the Bible than the death of Samson in destroying idolatry and idolaters, it is also found in the earliest books.
It was the habit of the inhabitants of the holy land to please their deities by offering their sons and daughters up as burnt sacrifices, an extreme wickedness. Israel also fell into it under Manasseh, provoking God’s fierce anger for generations afterwards. It is given as one of the principle reasons for their judgement by the sword of Joshua (Deut 12.31), and for the sword to fall on Israel subsequently (Jer.19.3-9). It is a unique kind of evil, a satanic mimicry of Abraham’s sacrifice at Moriah – futile, cruel and intensely hateful to God. This, not Samson, is the direct parallel to those who brainwash even their Kindergarten youth into thinking that Istishad is a blessed and noble state. This is the equivalent of those who blackmail and manipulate other people’s children into murder, but send their own off to university.
Failure to condemn this modern act of sacrifice to the modern Molech is tantamount to complicity, not only in the murder of the suicide bomber but now in a crueler and more wicked twist by the murder of their victims also.
Are not the
abominations of the new Canaanites even worse than the old?