Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Suicide bombers in the Bible?

At a generic level there's some analogy between Samson and suicide bombers. That, however, is a deceptive comparison. "Suicide bomber" has very specific connotations in modern usage. The stereotypical suicide bomber is:

  • A Muslim jihadist
  • Casts himself in the role of a martyr
  • Expects his death will seal his entrance into Paradise, with a harem of nubile virgins eagerly awaiting his arrival
  • Is protesting Israel's "occupation" of "Palestinian" land.
  • Is killing Jewish civilians indiscriminately

By contrast, Samson is targeting the Philistine ruling class, thereby decimating their ability to threaten Israel. While he may be motivated by personal revenge, he's playing his divinely-appointed role as a guardian of Israel.

A more accurate analogy would be the plot to assassinate Hitler, which targeted the Führer and his war cabinet.


  1. To piggyback on this:

    I think a difference is a Muslim suicide bomber is killing innocents, while Samson is killing the guilty (i.e. Philistines who oppressed Israel in wicked ways).

    A Muslim suicide bomber might respond they're killing infidels, and that infidels are guilty, but that's based on their warped sense of morality. Islamic morality is anything but a fair and objective morality.

    Muslim jihadis don't always commit suicide themselves, but trick or pressure women, children, and the mentally handicapped to wear suicide vests. That's morally despicable.

  2. Also, Samson was a captive who killed by his captors. Very different from the suicide bomber who seeks out his victims, who are often chosen particularly for their vulnerability for maximum impact.

    1. Make that, killed by his own actions under circumstances created by his captors.

  3. Actually, Steve, "suicide bomber" carries none of that. Perhaps it does for you, but that merely says something about your limited horizons. The Tamil Tigers have been leaders in suicide bombing:

    1. The Tamil Tigers are hardly the first association most folks have when they think of suicide bombers–unless you live in Sri Lanka.

    2. Besides, what's the precise argument that parallels the LTTE's suicide bombings with Samson? Just that both committed suicide to kill "oppressors"?

      For one thing, if Samson hadn't been in the position he was in (e.g. blinded, chained, at the mercy of the Philistines), I highly doubt Samson would have wished to commit suicide. Suicide for Samson was an option of last resort. He was going to die in any case.

      By contrast, the LTTE have even created specialized suicide units. Their aim is to use these suicide units as a routine weapon by which to terrorize their enemies.

    3. At least to my knowledge, suicide bombing was created by Hezbollah in the Lebanese civil war, then later adopted by other Muslim jihadis (e.g. Hamas, Islamic Jihad) as well as the LTTE. My understanding is Hezbollah was first primarily due to Shia beliefs especially over the Twelfth Imam and Karbala.

      Also, at least to my knowledge, the LTTE are the only non-Muslim group to use suicide bombings.

      A handful of Christian individuals (countable on one hand) in the Lebanese civil war used suicide bombs, but they almost surely picked this up from Hezbollah.

      Groups like the IRA and the FLQ used proxy bombs, not suicide bombs, in which their victims were forced to commit suicide (e.g. drive car bombs into British military installations or else their families will be harmed).

      Of course, suicide attacks in general have been around for millennia (e.g. Japanese kamikazes in WW2, Chinese suicide squads against the Japanese in WW2, what Samson did).

  4. Rauser does not understand that Judges is pointing at a dark period of the history of Israel. Judges 17:6; 21:25 tells us that man did what was right in his own eyes. He seems to think everything in Judges was given approval.