Damned if she did, damned if she didn’t
The Book of Judges spans a critical period in Israelite history. It was make or break time for the Israelites, as they tried to survive in hostile Canaanite territory.
Samson was a Bible hero not because he was good and noble – he was not, but because he was indomitably strong.
Only the foreign temptress Delilah (symbol of Canaanite culture) could bring him down.
The Philistine lords bribe Delilah
4 After this he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Deli’lah.
5 And the lords of the Philistines came to her and said to her, “Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to subdue him; and we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”
Samson teases Delilah
6 And Deli’lah said to Samson, “Please tell me wherein your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.” 7 And Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings which have not been dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” 8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings which had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9 Now she had men lying in wait in an inner chamber.
And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the bowstrings, as a string of tow snaps when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.
10 And Deli’lah said to Samson, “Behold, you have mocked me, and told me lies; please tell me how you might be bound.”
11 And he said to her, “If they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” 12 So Deli’lah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And the men lying in wait were in an inner chamber. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread.
13 And Deli’lah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me, and told me lies; tell me how you might be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web and make it tight with the pin, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” 14 So while he slept, Deli’lah took the seven locks of his head and wove them into the web.
And she made them tight with the pin, and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep, and pulled away the pin, the loom, and the web.
Delilah learns the truth
15 And she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me wherein your great strength lies.”
16 And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death.
17 And he told her all his mind, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head; for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I be shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”
Samson’s hair is cut off
18 When Deli’lah saw that he had told her all his mind, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up this once, for he has told me all his mind.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hands.
19 She made him sleep upon her knees; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. 20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free.”
And he did not know that the LORD had left him.
21 And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with bronze fetters; and he ground at the mill in the prison.
Samson’s hair grows back
22 But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice; for they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” 24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has slain many of us.” 25 And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may make sport for us.”
So they called Samson out of the prison, and he made sport before them. They made him stand between the pillars; 26 and Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.”
Death at the Temple of Dagon
27 Now the house was full of men and women; all the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who looked on while Samson made sport.
28 Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be avenged upon the Philistines for one of my two eyes.”
29 And Samson grasped the two middle pillars upon which the house rested, and he leaned his weight upon them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were in it.
So the dead whom he slew at his death were more than those whom he had slain during his life.
31 Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Esh’ta-ol in the tomb of Mano’ah his father. He had judged Israel twenty years.