In the hardscrabble times of the Bible, where there were plagues, invasions from foreign powers, and swarms of locusts, you pretty much had to be a badass to survive. Among these men and women, who was the most badass of all?
- Gideon – While he indeed defeated a Midianite army while commanding a much smaller force, he seemed a big cagey at the beginning. While it’s not unusual to question God’s commands, Gideon seemed to be trying to find any excuse (using a piece of wool and a bowl of all things) to get out.
- Anyone from the New Testament – No doubt some would apply. However, since one of the greatest messages at that point was “If your neighbor wrongs you, turn the other cheek,” including anyone would seem blasphemous. More blasphemous than I’m being right now, anyway.
- Balaam’s Ass – Before the evil prophet Balaam can curse Israel, an invisible angel of the Lord blocks his way. His ass, who can see the angel, refuses to continue and tells him why. While the talking ass is indeed an ass, she is a good ass, not a bad ass.
The Top 10 Most Badass Heroes from the Holy Bible
#10 – David’s Mighty Men – to protect the the young kingdom of Israel, King David assembled some super-elite soldiers known as the Mighty Men. There were The Three, who seemed to be David’s personal secret service. Then there was The Thirty, the main body of David’s elite corps. And then there were a couple of super warriors: Abishai was said to kill 300 men with one spear, while Benaiah was credited for killing two of Moab’s elite, a lion, and an Egyptian with his own weapon. Clearly, the message here was “Don’t Mess With Israel.”
#9 – David – David gets all the press and cutesy representions for his duel against the giant Goliath. That kinda downplays that David was one of the most well-rounded badasses in the Bible. A poet, musician, a total babe magnet, and skilled warrior — one gets the impression that King Saul wasn’t the only one with a murderous jealousy of the guy. The most badass thing David ever did? The fact that on numerous ocassions he could have killed Saul, but didn’t. And he let the king KNOW IT.
#8 – Joshua – He takes over after Moses dies and leads the Israelites in bloody campaigns to get into the Promised Land. He’s best known for the seige of Jericho, where the Israelite forces psyche of the residents of Jericho by marching around the walls, and then blow the trumpets as the power of God smashes the walls down for them. This is, of course, all captured in former wrestler Chris Jericho’s kick ass entrance theme: “Break the Walls Down.”
#7 – Ehud the Left-Handed – The Judges of one of the bloodies books in the Bible. Ehud is the star of one of the quirkiest and unintentionally comedic tales. Ehud assassinates the fat king Eglon of Moab. (Pro tip: if your name is “Eglon,” you might as well be rotund.) Ehud plunges his sword into the King’s belly. Eglon’s so fat that his flubber actually closes around the blade. Take that, Jabba! And, to add insult to injury, when Ehud walks away scot free, the King’s servant, noticing that the King hasn’t come out yet, assume that he’s “relieving himself” and decide not to go in to check it out. One assumes that, in life, this kind of thing happened often to ol’ Eglon. Ah, the fat jokes flow free in the Holy Bible!
#6 – Elijah – The Prophets in the Bible were all pretty badass. They had to live off the land and often had to come face to face with Kings to chew them out for steering the people away from the Lord. All the while, they were derided as madmen, declared Enemies of the State, and had to distinguish themselves from false prophets who were certifiable loonies. The most badass of these prophets was easily the Prophet Elijah. He had to live in a divided Israel that was openly hostile to Prophets (or the Hebrew faith really) and was ruled by the unpopular King Ahab and the legendary Queen Jezebel. Elijah gets so much support from God that God provides him with one of the most spectacular forces in the Bible — fireballs from Heaven. He provides this twice: once in a challenge against the Prophets of Baals, and second in a confrontation against Israel King Ahaziah’s men. Elijah does so much to return the land back to Judaism that he’s spared even death: he’s whisked away to heaven in a Chariot of Fire and even gets to hang out with Jesus and Moses at the Transfiguration.
#5 – Joab – In David’s time, the man who was called on to do the unsavory stuff. He led the army as general against many of Israel’s enemies. He had to do David’s dirty work in the part of Uriah’s murder. He went against David’s wiskes and killed David’s son, Absalom, but he did this because Absalom had begun a rebellion against David. Sure, he was a total bastard, but these were mostly under orders, for the protection of the nation of Israel, or for revenge against deaths perpetrated against his own family. That’s why I always felt he got the raw deal when David, on his deathbed, orders his son and future king Solomon to have Joab assassinated for his past treacheries. In a way, though, I guess it is a case study about the damaging repercussions of vengeance that isn’t marked enough in the blood-and-guts world of the Old Testament.
#4 – Jael – Deborah may have been leading Israel at the time. Jael is the one credited with the win though. Enemy general Sisera from Canaan was hiding in Jael’s tend after his failed campaign. While he took a nap, Jael takes a tent peg and hammers it through his head. Now that’s gangsta.
#3 -Jehu – Jehu is responsible for the Bible verse that is most applicable in real life yet never used in church: “The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi—he drives like a madman.” (2 Kings 9:20). Elisha approaches Jehu and tells him that he’s the next king of Israel. Jehu likes this very much and, on one day, slaughters TWO kings: King Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah (the Hebrews were split into two nations at the time.) Then he gets the servants of famously villainous Queen Jezebel to defenstrate her (after which “blood splatter on the wall” and “horses trampled her underfoot”). Jehu then goes on a wild campaign to rid Israel and Judah of any trace of the House Ahab. The writer of Kings gives him negative brownie points for not eliminating golden calf worship, so in the end they decide that Jehu was not the 100% total badass he could have been.
#2 – Moses – One of the greatest men of the Old Testament, and for all the good reasons. He starts off his career by taking down an Egyptian, then becomes God’s emissary as the Israelites are freed from slavery. Pretty much had to herd the whiny group through the Wilderness while biding time to get into the Promised Land. Had to serve as a military leader through countless attacks from neighboring tribes. He even got to meet the Christ on Earth during the Transfiguration. And, while he’s almost always portrayed as an old man, all artists seem to agree that the guy was stacked! Seriously. Check out this statue from Michelangelo. Look at the guns on that guy.
#1 – Samson – One of the most renouned he-man of the Bible. He’s one of the oddest heroes of the Old Testament. Despite being raised as a Nazarite (that is, he couldn’t booze, eat bacon, or shave), the guy was a notorious womanizer, slept with whores, and had pretty much smashed everything he touched. He’s a favorite in Sunday School because of his sheer badassery, yet I’m certain that most Christian parents wouldn’t want their kids to grow up like him. Observe:
- Samson comes face to face with a lion and rips it apart like “he might have torn a young goat.” Frankly, I didn’t even know you could tear apart a goat with your bare hands. Then he comes back later and eats some honey out of its dead corpse. Later and a wedding party (to which he is engaged to a Philistine, an ethnicity that was the mortal enemy of Israel at the time), he turns it into some sort of bar bet just because he wants to jerk around with the Philistines.
- When thirty groomsmen solve the riddle, Samson has to get a prize for each. So does he go to the Gap to get them a nice gift card? No: he flies into a rage and kills thirty Philistines and steals their clothes. Samson was crazy like that.
- So around that time, Samson’s father-in-law-to-be decides that Samson is a violent psychopath and decides he’s not marrying the eldest daughter after all. He says the guy can marry his youngest daughter though. (Perhaps he thought the guy would make a good bodyguard, but head of the family was a bit much.) Samson’s reaction is cool and reserved: he ties torches to the tails of foxes and has them burn down the Philistine wheatfields and vineyards.
- So things are pretty much at a head here. Samson’s father-in-law-to-be and wife are burned to death by vengeful Philistines — for Samson’s jackassery, let me remind you. Things culminate with violence and fury until the people of Judah decide enough is enough and hand Samson over to the Philistines. To which Samson snaps, picks up an ass’s jawbone, and slaughters a thousand Philistines on the spot. There’s powerful symbolism here: a bad ass who kill’s with the jaw of an ass.
- And of course, the moment everyone remembers: Samson is betrayed by his new lover Delilah. His hair, which gives him strength, is cut, he’s blinded, and he’s brought to the Temple of Dagon as a human sacrifice. Of course, his captors forget about the hair thing. Samson’s hair grows back, and with one last mighty blow, he pushes down the two load-bearing pillars which he’s chained to. He kills himself as well as everyone else in the temple. The Bible says “he killed many more as he died that while he lived.” That is A LOT of people.
So there you have it. Samson: you are unofficially the Most Badass Hero From The Bible. And for the record, here’s where the Badasses are in Biblical history: Two from the time of Moses; three from Judges; three from the united Israel; and two from the divided Israel. So, safe to say, the time between the Judges and the end of Solomon’s reign were the most badass times of all.