Rembrandt's Samson Tells a Riddle at His Feast

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  • Topic: Rembrandt, Marriage, Samson
  • Pages : 3 (1145 words )
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  • Published : December 7, 2009
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The distinguished painting, Samson Tells a Riddle at his Feast, by artist Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, interprets the knowledgeable scene of a biblical figure, Samson, and his wife at their wedding feast. Judges 14 of the Bible details the background story of the painting – how Samson met a Philistine woman and chose her as his wife. Before he can take his new bride’s hand in marriage, Samson is withheld by a dangerous lion. Samson, however, is determined to join his lady and slays the beast. Oddly, Samson finds a swarm of bees surrounding a honeycomb inside the lion’s carcass. From this discovery, Samson formulates a riddle, which he tells to all of the guests at the feast of his wedding. The riddle goes like this: “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness”. Samson tells his guests that if they can solve the riddle within seven days’ time, he will reward them with something great. No one can uncover or understand Samson’s riddle, and so they beg Samson’s wife to reveal the secret of the riddle to them. Samson’s wife, too, hasn’t a clue… so she asks Samson herself. He denies her the answer for seven days, until he finally gives into her pleading and reveals the answer. Samson’s wife then unfolds the answer to all of her party guests, and when they approach Samson with the answer, he scolds and punishes them all, as well as his wife for betraying and cheating him. Samson leaves his new wife, but when he comes to his senses and his anger subsides, Samson returns to her. The Philistines inform Samson that they have already given her away to marry another man. Rembrandt’s painting is an artistic parallel to the Bible’s tale of Samson and his riddle at his wedding feast. Within the painting are many people conversing, including Samson and many young men. As well, Samson’s wife is portrayed alone, sitting in the middle of the room by herself. Samson’s wife is the focal point of the artwork. It is perplexing as to why Samson’s wife is...
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