Samson and the Bees as a Myth

An Anthropological Reading


  • Mattat Adar Bunis Open University



Samson, bees, lion, myth, life, death, ritual, resurrection, sympathetic magic, structural analysis


In this article I suggest that the biblical Samson story (Judges 13–16, 18) is a late reconstruction of a pagan myth recounting the life, deeds, and death of Samson the magician. When Samson senses that his death is imminent, he performs a private resurrection ritual for himself, in which bees, accompanied by a lion, play a central role. As in myths from some neighboring cultures, in the Samson myth bees are blessed with the supernatural power to return to life in the spring after dying in the winter and to resurrect the whole of nature. The bees swarming in the cadaver of the lion Samson kills bring the lion back to life in their own form. Samson, who in many ways resembles both a bee and a lion, performs magic based on resemblance to ensure his future return to life.

Author Biography

Mattat Adar Bunis, Open University

Sociology and Anthropology



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How to Cite

Bunis, M. A. (2020). Samson and the Bees as a Myth: An Anthropological Reading. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 14(3), 351–369.



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