TAU finds 12th century BCE image of biblical Samson

Researchers uncover archeological depiction of story of Samson at Beit Shemesh archaeological site.

August 15, 2012 19:09
1 minute read.
Seal found inBeit Shemesh depicts a man and a lion

A TWELFTH-CENTURY BCE seal. (photo credit: Courtesy of Tel Aviv University)


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Tel Aviv University researchers uncovered an archeological depiction of the story of Samson, or at the very least an ancient depiction of an act of animal cruelty.

The half-inch, 12th century BCE seal depicts what is, at least to a layman’s eyes, a crudely-rendered picture of a four-legged being facing off with a two-legged humanoid.

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It is unclear whether the two figures are locked in a death embrace or just standing face-to-face, with the featureless Samson cast as a sort of biblical “lion whisperer.”

It is also hard to tell if the humanoid sports the long mane that gave the biblical strongman his power.

According to TAU researchers, the find was uncovered at the Beit Shemesh archaeological site, near the area where the biblical figure of Samson lived and was buried.

TAU said Wednesday that the image engraved on the seal and the location of the find indicate that it may very well depict the story of Samson, who is described in the bible as having bested a lion in unarmed combat.

Prof. Shlomo Bunimovitz of the TAU Department of Archeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations said that while the seal does not show when the story of Samson was written or if he did in fact exist, it does help “anchor the story in an archaeological setting,” in the area of Beit Shemesh.

TAU said the seal was uncovered on the floor of a home dating to the 12th century BCE, the time in which the legends surrounding Samson are set.

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