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The “Spirit of Yhwh” and Samson’s Martial Rage: A Leitmotif of the Biblical Warrior Tradition

In: Vetus Testamentum
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  • 1 Faculty of Theology, University of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
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Abstract

In Judg 14–15, the source of Samson’s strength is not his uncut hair, but the רוח־יהוה. A Leitmotif of the biblical warrior tradition, the רוח־יהוה is a corporealized metaphor of fiery anger that envelops Samson and grants him great power. This motif was adapted from early biblical poetry, in which Yhwh’s wrath erupted as a fiery breath (רוח) against his cosmic foes. This study explores how the historical context of Judg 14–15 informs the use of this motif, comparing the רוח־יהוה with similar concepts of martial anger in Near Eastern and Greek warrior traditions. Like Mesopotamian melammu and Greek μηνις, the רוח־יהוה was part of a corporeal code that enabled ancient minds to think about the relations between mortals and divine beings in the context of battle.

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