A brief comment on a new story. Archaeologists have found a seal from the Beth Shemesh dig site in Israel. Naturally the article had to be labeled: “Ancient seal lends credence to biblical Samson-vs.-lion tale”. Now you take a look at the photo in the article (copyrighted, can’t put in my post). Does the seal show a man fighting a lion? (or perhaps leading a cow around, maybe this is the seal of a rancher). Does the “man” depicted in the seal look like the description of Samson? (If you see that either your vision is a lot better or your imagination is far greater than mine). Is a penny-size crudely carved stone “proof” of a particular fictional anecdote?
Any artifact from a dig is interesting but the second somebody digs something up in Israel it is immediately declared to be evidence of a book of fables. The text in the article is somewhat more modest in its claim:
The find doesn’t prove that the legendary strongman, who was said to have torn apart a lion as if it were a “young goat,” actually lived, but it does “anchor the story in an archaeological setting,” said Tel Aviv University archaeologist Shlomo Bunimovitz.
Now I don’t even buy it anchors it, because the literal seal itself doesn’t depict a man tearing apart a lion (where’s the blood and gore, the dismembered limbs). It’s just a seal of completely ambiguous connection to any tale (I think it’s just as likely a rancher roping a cow to brand it and castrate it, or did they do that then; or is it a big goat, perhaps a horse or stubborn donkey), much less a fable. It’s an image you can read almost anything into. At least the article says this:
“If we are right and what we see on the seal is a representation of a man meeting a lion, it shows that the Samson legend already existed around the area of Beth Shemesh during that time period,” Bunimovitz said in a statement. “We can date it quite precisely.”
Now at least they’re using the word, ‘if‘, and, the term ‘Samson legend‘. I guess actual archaeologists are a little more restrained than news interns.
But I’m sure this soon while be trumpeted around fundy sites as evidence their book is true.