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Lion's Honey by David Grossman
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Lion's Honey (original 2005; edition 2006)

by David Grossman

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2801740,328 (3.41)35
Member:Laurenbdavis
Title:Lion's Honey
Authors:David Grossman
Info:Isis Large Print Books (2006), Edition: large type edition, Hardcover, 152 pages
Collections:Literary criticism, Mythology & fairy tale
Rating:***
Tags:None

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Lion's Honey: The Myth of Samson by David Grossman (2005)

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English (15)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (17)
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13. Lion's Honey: The Myth of Samson (The Myths) by David Grossman
translation from Hebrew by Stuart Schoffman in 2006
published: 2005
format: 184 page paperback, including the KJV version of Samson - The Book of Judges 13-16
acquired: 2012 from amazon
read: Feb 26 - Mar 1
rating: 4

Samson is an oddball part of the Bible, with parallels going east to Gilgamesh and west to Hercules. Gilgamesh and Hercules both kill a lion and wear a lion skin as in identifier; Samson kills a lion, then later finds a honey-rich beehive inside the carcass leading to a riddle and much fun and slaughter in this sugar-free world. Samson also ties in to the later myth of bugonia, "a ritual based on the belief that bees were spontaneously (equivocally) generated from a cow's carcass", a topic Virgil will write about and in the process become the main source of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. But I'm off topic now. There is only a tiny amount of this stuff in Grossman's book.

Grossman gets credit for writing what should be a really boring book and making it quite readable and compelling. He goes step by step through the story of Samson, with a commentary of his ideas at each step. It's repetitive and yet still readable. I love this kind of info, and yet hate reading this stuff, and yet I never felt tormented here. It's pleasant with some narrative drive.

Grossman's Samson is misunderstood, alone, the only one in his time with the spirit of the Lord inside him, setting him firmly apart. His understanding questionable, and his expression minimal, his self-destructiveness the only expression we are able to read off. He is also a bit of an artist, spouting poetic lines and riddles. And having one of the most spectacular suicides in literature anywhere.

I like Grossman's take, even when I felt it was incomplete. For example, he goes into detail on what Samson's mother tells and doesn't tell her husband. The angel of the Lord came on to her - sexual double-meaning working in both English and Hebrew. So, she is maybe a bit compromised by his message of this possibly partially divine son. She gives her husband the entire angel's message, except for two parts - she doesn't tell her husband this unborn son will smite Philistines and she doesn't tell him that this son's weakness is his hair. Grossman goes on and on, and yet doesn't mention once that it's possible she might have been protecting her son from a father who might be exposed to or partial to Philistines. It would seem to be the obvious explanation. They were Danites and therefore in close associated, geographically, with the more powerful Philistines. But it doesn't interest Grossman.

Anyway, that's probably more than you wanted to know. I only recommend this book to those who really want to know about Samson. I wanted to know about Grossman, and I don't feel this book gave me all that much insight into this contemporary Israeli author. ( )
1 vote dchaikin | Mar 5, 2017 |
Probably not the book for everyone. But the story of Samson has always been one of my favorite stories in the Bible, and I revere David Grossman, so I adored this book. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Wonderfully readable, perceptive and profound. Being a big fan (is that the proper terminology) of Biblical studies, this is exactly the kind of book that--if I ever stopped reading long enough and mustered the requisite ambition and discipline--I would like to write. Makes me want to read more in the Canongate Myths series, though I don't expect any to top this. Makes me want to read more Grossman, too.
If you thought Samson was simply an all-too-gullible strongman for God, let Grossman open up the relatively brief--4 chapters in the Book of Judges--story for you. It's an intense psychological study of a unique individual that has ramifications for us all. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
I was a little surprised as to what comprised this book, as I expected to find a fictional retelling after the reproduction of Judges 13-16 of the King James Bible. Instead, what follows is a detailed commentary that examines and dissects the Biblical account, using even the original language to understand the full meaning of the text, with all of its nuances and allusions. As many times that I have studied the story of Samson in church growing up, there is apparently quite a bit that I never knew about such an interesting character in Hebrew history.
As any person chosen of God to do His will, Samson is a man plagued by his destiny and how it separates him from the rest of humanity. Though chosen of God from the womb to live as a Nazarite, he is still very much human with human urges. Almost constantly at war with himself, Samson seems to set himself up to be hurt by those he puts his trust in so that he may let loose his anger and rage against those who hold his people captive -- the Philistines. Like so many modern-day psychological head cases, much of his choices are also driven by a need for that hidden something lacking in his relationship with his parents. He looks for it in the wrong places and the wrong women, even paying a visit to a prostitute. He seems to use his strength and anger with an artistic flair, first setting up a group of Philistines at his wedding with an unsolvable riddle, and later finding rather unique ways of further punishing the Philistines, such as using the jawbone of an ass to kill a thousand of them. Furthermore, every verbal account from Samson is spoken poetically.
What I found most interesting is the way that David Grossman explored the account of Samson and Delilah. He alludes that Samson in fact knew the betrayal that Delilah harbored and welcomed it in order to finally shed his God-given destiny. While he ends his life in a final act of redemption, I have to wonder if he did complete the task that God had given him to "begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."
Despite the intense detail that David Grossman goes into when writing this study of Samson, the book is a very good read and well worth my time. ( )
  JacobsBeloved | Nov 25, 2013 |
Fascinating reflection on the story of Samson as recounted in Judges, chapters 13 - 16. Amazing how much the author manages to squeeze out of the tiniest details. ( )
  Robertgreaves | May 10, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Grossmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bamberger, ShulamithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schoffman, StuartTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067697421X, Hardcover)

A consideration of one of the Bible’s most powerful stories from a leading Israeli writer In this fascinating reexamination of the story of Samson, David Grossman goes beyond the surface of the familiar tale to look into what the life of this extraordinary man must have been like. What it felt like to have been “chosen” to release his people from the yoke of the Philistines, and yet alienated from them by his very otherness; what moved him to his acts of wild vandalism and his self-destructive passions; why he chose to keep some things secret, but not the most significant secret of all. We are left with the troubling knowledge that Samson bore too heavy a burden even for a man of his supernatural strength to bear alone.

“There are few other Bible stories with so much drama and action, narrative fireworks and raw emotion, as we find in the tale of Samson: the battle with the lion; the three hundred burning foxes; the women he bedded and the one woman that he loved; his betrayal by all the women in his life, from his mother to Delilah; and, in the end, his murderous suicide, when he brought the house down on himself and three thousand Philistines. Yet beyond the wild impulsiveness, the chaos, the din, we can make out a life story that is, at bottom, the tortured journey of a single, lonely and turbulent soul who never found, anywhere, a true home in the world, whose very body was a harsh place of exile. For me, this discovery, this recognition, is the point at which the myth – for all its grand images, its larger-than-life adventures – slips silently into the day-to-day existence of each of us, into our most private moments, our buried secrets.”
–from David Grossman’s introduction to Lion’s Honey

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:37 -0400)

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This is David Grossman's view on the tale of Samson: the battle with the lion; the three hundred burning foxes; the women he bedded and the one woman that he loved; his betrayal by all the women in his life, from his mother to Delilah; and his murderous suicide, when he brought the house down on himself and 3000 Philistines. Originally published: 2.… (more)

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Canongate Books

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