Milton's Samson is significantly different from the Samson of Jewish tradition. The rabbinic interpretation depicts Samson as a sensualist, but one who observed the Law by converting Dalila to Judaism before marrying her. His passion for Philistine women was punished by “an eye [blinding] for an eye” (sensuality). Milton's Samson, on the other hand, is guided by “intimate impulse,” associated with “right reason” and the “law of nature,” rather than Mosaic Law. He married Dalila in her gentile state (contrary to the Law). His sin was the failure of reason, and led to the loss of liberty. He is regenerated when he recovers his reason. His fellow Israelites, however, are depicted as bound by the Mosaic Law and as incapable of comprehending the import of freedom. Milton did not borrow from the Rabbis; his organizing principle in Samson Agonistes is his antinomian view of the Mosaic Law. Milton reads the Mosaic Law as superseded by reason—equated with liberty—with Samson as the Old Testament precursor of Christian liberty.

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