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Issue 06 – Corpus Christi 2021


A Taste of Honey

On honey in the Bible.


Softly humming for miles over dusty hills and brittle scrub, one wild ground bee happened across the gory remains of a predator. And instead of continuing down into the fertile vineyards of Timnah, this bee returned and danced before the hive to persuade his swarm to dwell within the carcass of a lion. For me, this is the magnificent peak of the entire Samson narrative. The blind Samson toppling the temple of Dagon on his enemies; Delilah’s persistence and Samson’s inability to withhold his strength; the jawbone; the gate of Gaza: all of these seem recognizably tragic or epic. It is only when the bumblebees arrive that we enter something like a picaresque episode, a fairy tale.

Admittedly, the series of events around the city of Timnah would have to be classified as an abrupt and violent sort of fairy tale, though, in defense of the Book of Judges, unhappy outcomes are at least equally likely (if not more so) in the genre. The innocent and the deadly often coincide, though not only as deception (the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing) or hypocrisy. Rather, powerful persons and objects appear alternately benevolent and then strangely indifferent to human welfare. Every token or prophecy oscillates between the sweet and the bitter. Perhaps a fairy tale is simply the blending of bright heroic adventures with the ambiguous shadow of the oracular. Samson ripping apart a lion with his bare hands is an adventure; Samson eating honeycomb from his newly inhabited victim is an oracle.

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About the author

Andrew Kuiper