Samson falls for Delilah
Samson visits a hooker1 One day, Samson ventured into the Philistine town of Gaza. He saw a prostitute there, so he went into her place. 2 People in Gaza heard that Samson had come to town. They surrounded the prostitute’s house and waited for Samson at the city gate, too. They spent all night quietly waiting for him. They thought that when he came out in the morning, they could ambush him and kill him. 3 Samson came out at midnight. He walked over to the city gates and tore them off the wall—posts, doors, and the bar. He heaved them up onto his shoulders and carried them away—to the top of a hill near Hebron.
Samson loves Delilah4 Samson later fell in love with a woman named Delilah. She lived in Sorek Valley. 5 Philistine leaders offered her a reward for Samson. They said, “Find out what makes him so strong, and how we can catch him, tie him up, and defeat him. If you do that, we’ll each give you 1,100 silver coins.”
Tied with bowstring6 Delilah told Samson, “Honey, tell me what makes you so strong? How could anyone possibly overpower you and tie you up?” 7 Samson said, “They could tie me with seven new bowstrings that are still damp and strong, not yet dried. That would make me as weak as anyone else.” 8 Philistine rulers gave Delilah seven fresh, undried bowstrings. She tied Samson. 9 Men hid in another room in her house, ready to arrest him. Delilah screamed, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” He snapped the bowstrings like fiber pops when fire hits it. So, Delilah didn’t get her reward.
Tied with new rope10 Delilah told Samson, “You’re making me look stupid. Stop lying. Just please give me an honest answer. What does it take to tie you, and to keep you tied?” 11 Samson said, “If they tie me with new ropes, I’ll lose my strength. I’ll be like everyone else.” 12 Delilah went shopping. She got new ropes, tied Samson, and said, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” It was no lie. Philistines were hiding to arrest him. But he snapped the ropes like sewing thread.
Tied to weaver’s loom13 Delilah told Samson, “You’ve done nothing but make me look like a fool. Stop lying to me. How could someone tie you up, and keep you tied?” Samson said, “Weave my seven braids tightly into fabric on a loom and pin them there.”
14 Delilah did just that while Samson slept. She wove all seven braids into the loom and locked it tight with a pin. Then she said, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” He woke and pulled himself loose from the loom.
15 Delilah said, “You know something, how can you look me in the eyes and say ‘I love you?’ Your heart’s not in this. You don’t confide in me. This is the third time you’ve made me look like an idiot by not telling me the source of your strength.” 16 Delilah nagged Samson like this day after doggone day. She nagged him to death. He couldn’t take it anymore.
17 So he told her. The whole secret. “I am a Nazirite. I’m bound to God by Nazirite vows. I have been since the day I was born. My hair has never been cut because that’s one of the vows—we can’t cut our hair. If my head is shaved, I’ll become as weak as anyone else.” 18 When Delilah sensed he had finally told her the truth, she sent a message to the Philistine rulers: “Get up here right now. I got the secret out of him.” The Philistine rulers came up with the silver they promised. 19 Delilah let Samson fall asleep with his head on her lap. She called in a man to cut off his seven braids and tie him up. Samson’s strength left him.
20 Delilah said, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” He woke and thought he could break himself free.” He didn’t know that the LORD’s strength had left him. 21 Philistines grabbed him and gouged out his eyes. They shackled him in bronze and took him to Gaza. They put him to work at the prison mill, pushing the grinding stone that crushed grain kernels into flour. 22 In time, Samson’s shaved hair grew back.
Samson dies23 Philistine rulers met for a religious holiday to offer sacrifices to their god Dagon. They said, “Our god helped us defeat Samson, our enemy.” 16:24. When Philistines in the crowd got a look at Samson, they thanked Dagon, too. They said, “Our god let us defeat this terrorist who killed so many of our people and destroyed so much of our property.” 25 When everyone was happy and having a great time, they said, “Get Samson out here to entertain us.” So, they brought Samson out of the prison and put him on display. They positioned him between two pillars.
26 Samson told the servant leading him, “Put me between the pillars supporting the temple, so I can feel them, and lean there to rest.” 27 The temple was crowded with men and women. All the top Philistine leaders were there. Up on the roof, looking down at Samson, there were about 3,000 more men and women.
28 Samson called out to the LORD, “LORD God, remember who I was and give me that strength again one last time. Please God, let me settle the score with these Philistines for taking my eyes.” 29 Samson grabbed the two central pillars supporting the temple roof. He put his right hand on one pillar and his left hand on the other. 30 Then Samson said, “Let me die with these Philistines.” He pushed with all the force he could find, and the temple collapsed onto the rulers and the people celebrating with them. He killed more people when he died than he had killed throughout his life.
31 His brothers and other family members came and took his body. They buried him in the family tomb, where his dad, Manoah, was buried. The tomb was between the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson led Israel 20 years.
The Hebrew language is vague here. It says more literally that they surrounded “the place” and waited at the gate. It’s not clear what place they were surrounding.
Apparently, they figured a night with a prostitute would wear him out.
Samson carried those gates 40 miles (64 km) from Gaza on the coast, up into the Judean hills. Most people couldn’t haul a bathroom door that far. Even the smallest city gateways would have weighed hundreds of pounds. They were intended to keep out an attacking army, not chicken thieves. Why Samson carried the gates to Hebron is unknown—but it sure made a point. The guy was strong. And his strength as reported seems beyond human ability.
Samson liked bad girls. He fell in lust or in love with three women—not one of them acceptable to Israelite tradition and faith. He was supposed to marry a fellow Israelite. Instead, he latched onto three who weren’t. He picked a nagger who betrayed him, a hooker who seemed to energize him, and a Judas who sold him out for silver, which put him in the ground. It’s unknown if Delilah was Philistine. But her name sounds like the Hebrew word for “night,” layla. Ironic, given that Samson’s name seems to have meant “little sun,” and Delilah put his lights out (see notes for 13:24).
Sorek Valley was in the northern part of Philistine territory. It ran from the hills in the tribes of Judah and Dan westward into the flatland of the Mediterranean coast.
The currency was shekels. At the least, Delilah probably got her weight in silver. She probably got over 110 pounds (50 kg) of it. There were five main Philistine rulers: city kings of Gaza, Ekron, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ashdod. Together, they offered her 5,500 shekels of silver. Thirty shekels was the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32). At that price, she could have bought 183 slaves. Shekels came in different weights. It’s unclear how much these shekels weighed. There was a heavy shekel that weighed about 11.5 grams or .4 ounces. This was sometimes called the King’s Shekel or the Royal Shekel. Some scholars say this was also the weight used in the Israelite worship center and later in the Jerusalem Temple. The lighter shekel weighed about 9.5 grams or .33 ounces. Some scholars say this was probably the shekel accepted at the worship center.
Bible writers describe Nazirites as people who take “a special vow of devotion” to God (Numbers 6:2). “When you’re living under a Nazirite vow, devoted to the LORD, let your hair grow. Don’t touch a dead person…Stay ritually clean for as long as you devote yourself to God—for the duration of this special vow” (Numbers 6:5-6, 8). For Samson, the intended duration was a lifetime.
Samson told her a secret, she tried it out. He told her a secret, she tried it out. He told her a secret, she tried it out. He told her a secret, and he didn’t think she would try it out? What made him think he’d fall asleep with his head on her lap and wake up with hair? Then there’s the fact that Delilah used the same approach that his first wife did to learn his secret riddle and betray him. Samson was strong, we can give him that. Brains? We might need to think about that.
This was a job for animals such as oxen or donkeys.
Dagon was the Philistine top god, but it’s unclear what his specialty was. One hint is that the Hebrew and the Canaanite word dagan means grain. He could have been the go-to god for farmers.
Selfish to the end, his one prayer is for revenge.
The writer doesn’t describe the pillars. But pillars in some Philistine temples weren’t single blocks of stone, they were blocked stacked one on top of the other. In a temple like that, Samson needed to dislodge one block. Even that isn’t something a typical person could do.
. Samson’s hometown of Zorah is about 15 miles (24 km) west of Jerusalem and Eshtaol is about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of Zorah.
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