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Virtual Exhibition - Biblical Cycle - Samson pulling down the pagan temple

Virtual Exhibition - Biblical Cycle - Samson pulling down the pagan temple

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Samson pulling down the pagan temple
© Estate of Norman Maurice Kadish
Samson pulling down temple

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Samson pulling down the pagan temple (1967)

This painting depicts the hero’s last feat, related in the following chapter (16) of the Book of Judges. Samson had been betrayed by his lover Delilah. He had confessed to her that the secret of his strength lay in his long hair that represented his consecration (as a Nazirite) to the Almighty since birth. Delilah cut off his hair while he slept. His eyes were put out by the Philistines and he was bound and incarcerated at Gaza. The Philistine lords gathered in their temple to celebrate their victory by sacrificing to their pagan god Dagon. His hair already growing back, Samson prayed for renewed strength to wreak vengeance on his enemies for the loss of his sight.


The picture shows the moment at which the blind Samson, naked save a loin cloth, leaned upon the two structural pillars of the golden limestone temple and pushed them with all his might until the whole building fell in.  He was crushed along with the revellers and the three thousand other men and women spectators on the roof who had come to join in. Thus, Samson died a hero and a martyr.

It may not be entirely coincidental that NMK was engaged with this dramatic subject at the time of the Six Day War, during which the tiny State of Israel saw off attack and conquered territory from its Arab foes in the most decisive victory in its young and turbulent history.