Re-Imagining Delilah’s Afterlives as a Femme Fatale

The biblical narrative is riddled with gaps and ambiguities around Delilah’s character – we are told nothing about her social status or ethnicity, her personality, the nature of her relationship (emotional, sexual, or otherwise) with Samson, or even her motives for betraying him. This ambiguity in turn provides readers and creators of her cultural afterlives with a ‘multi-layered system of realized and unrealized potentialities’ that they can engage with imaginatively to construct their own afterlives for this intriguing persona…

See Also: Reimagining Delilah’s Afterlives as Femme Fatale: The Lost Seduction (T&T Clark, 2017).

By Caroline Blyth
Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies
University of Auckland
December 2017

Delilah. What images does the name evoke in your mind? A sleek and sensuous body, perhaps, draped in jewel-toned satins; an exotic, beautiful face, painted with glistening ruby-red lips and dark predatory eyes; smooth, slender arms wrapped around a lover, one hand cradling a sharp and shiny blade. For many readers, the name Delilah conjures up a stomach-churning mélange of danger and desire, pleasure and pain, beauty and betrayal. This biblical figure from Judges 16 is most commonly recalled as the woman who destroyed the Hebrew strongman Samson – God-chosen Nazirite and judge over Israel – coolly manipulating his affections in order to deceive and destroy him. She is therefore typically associated in our minds with the iconic figure of the femme fatale – the ‘fatal woman’ whose erotic allure is so terrifyingly powerful that it can bring even the strongest, most heroic of men to his knees.New York: July 21, 2018

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