We've all heard about autistic "savants" with amazing mathematical, memory or artistic abilities. But could autism give you the power to kill 1,000 men armed only with a donkey bone?
Samson was the original Chuck Norris. Granted mighty strength by God so long as he didn't cut his hair or shave, Samson's first act of heroism was ripping a lion to shreds with his bare hands. Then he moved onto people. According to the Book of Judges:
"And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men." - Judges 15:16
Samson later bested even this achievement. Finding himself trapped in a building with over 3,000 enemies who were about to sacrifice him to their pagan god, Samson single-handedly demolished the building by smashing some pillars, killing everyone including himself.
What does this have to do with autism? Well, according to Indian neurologists Mathew and Pandian in a new paper, it shows that Samson had it. No, really.
One of the earliest incidents recorded from Samson's adult life is the journey to Timnath with his parents where he tears a lion with his bare hands. On his return, he finds a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion, which he eats, and offers his parents (Judges 14:8-9). Abnormal eating is one of the atypical behaviors noted among children with autism [ref].
Throughout Samson's life, it is seen that he performed extraordinary physical feats... It is possible that Samson was able to perform these feats as he may have been insensitive to pain, which is occasionally seen among autistics [ref]. A study of hospitalized individuals carried out in Sweden had reached the conclusion that individuals with autism or autism spectrum disorders are prone to acts of violence [ref].
Hmm. Fair to say this falls into the "speculative" category. They also diagnose other Biblical characters with various disorders ranging from strokes to acromegaly but Samson's autism is certainly the most "interesting" of the bunch.
Link: This study also blogged at Autism Jabberwocky, an extremely good blog I only found out about yesterday. I've subscribed, you should too.
Mathew SK, & Pandian JD (2010). Newer insights to the neurological diseases among biblical characters of old testament. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, 13 (3), 164-166 PMID: 21085524