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Samson’s Downfall

16 Samson went to Gaza. There he saw a prostitute and slept with her.[a] The Gazites were told,[b] “Samson has come here!” So they surrounded the town[c] and hid all night at the city gate, waiting for him to leave.[d] They relaxed[e] all night, thinking,[f] “He will not leave[g] until morning comes;[h] then we will kill him!” Samson spent half the night with the prostitute; then he got up in the middle of the night and left.[i] He grabbed the doors of the city gate, as well as the two posts, and pulled them right off, bar and all.[j] He put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of a hill east of Hebron.[k]

After this Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley. The rulers of the Philistines went up to visit her and said to her, “Trick him! Find out what makes him so strong and how we can subdue him and humiliate[l] him. Each one of us will give you 1,100 silver pieces.”

So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me what makes you so strong and how you can be subdued and humiliated.”[m] Samson said to her, “If they tie me up with seven fresh[n] bowstrings[o] that have not been dried, I will become weak and be just like any other man.” So the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him up with them. They hid[p] in the bedroom and then she said to him, “The Philistines are here,[q] Samson!” He snapped the bowstrings as easily as a thread of yarn snaps when it is put close to fire.[r] The secret of his strength was not discovered.[s]

10 Delilah said to Samson, “Look, you deceived[t] me and told me lies! Now tell me how you can be subdued.” 11 He said to her, “If they tie me tightly with brand new ropes that have never been used,[u] I will become weak and be just like any other man.” 12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are here,[v] Samson!” (The Philistines were hiding in the bedroom.)[w] But he tore the ropes[x] from his arms as if they were a piece of thread.

13 Delilah said to Samson, “Up to now you have deceived me and told me lies. Tell me how you can be subdued.” He said to her, “If you weave the seven braids of my hair[y] into the fabric on the loom[z] and secure it with the pin, I will become weak and be like any other man.” 14 So she made him go to sleep, wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric on the loom, fastened it with the pin, and said to him, “The Philistines are here,[aa] Samson!”[ab] He woke up[ac] and tore away the pin of the loom and the fabric.

15 She said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you will not share your secret with me?[ad] Three times you have deceived me and have not told me what makes you so strong.” 16 She nagged him[ae] every day and pressured him until he was sick to death of it.[af] 17 Finally he told her his secret.[ag] He said to her, “My hair has never been cut,[ah] for I have been dedicated to God[ai] from the time I was conceived.[aj] If my head[ak] were shaved, my strength would leave me; I would become weak and be just like all other men.” 18 When Delilah saw that he had told her his secret,[al] she sent for[am] the rulers of the Philistines, saying, “Come up here again, for he has told me[an] his secret.”[ao] So the rulers of the Philistines went up to visit her, bringing the silver in their hands. 19 She made him go to sleep on her lap[ap] and then called a man in to shave off[aq] the seven braids of his hair.[ar] She made him vulnerable[as] and his strength left him. 20 She said, “The Philistines are here,[at] Samson!” He woke up[au] and thought,[av] “I will do as I did before[aw] and shake myself free.” But he did not realize that the Lord had left him. 21 The Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him in bronze chains. He became a grinder in the prison. 22 His hair[ax] began to grow back after it had been shaved off.

Samson’s Death and Burial

23 The rulers of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate. They said, “Our god has handed Samson, our enemy, over to us.” 24 When the people saw him,[ay] they praised their god, saying, “Our god has handed our enemy over to us, the one who ruined our land and killed so many of us!”[az]

25 When they really started celebrating,[ba] they said, “Call for Samson so he can entertain us!” So they summoned Samson from the prison and he entertained them.[bb] They made him stand between two pillars. 26 Samson said to the young man who held his hand, “Position me so I can touch the pillars that support the temple.[bc] Then I can lean on them.” 27 Now the temple[bd] was filled with men and women, and all the rulers of the Philistines were there. There were 3,000 men and women on the roof watching Samson entertain. 28 Samson called to the Lord, “O Sovereign Lord,[be] remember me! Strengthen me just one more time, O God, so I can get swift revenge[bf] against the Philistines for my two eyes!” 29 Samson took hold of the two middle pillars that supported the temple[bg] and he leaned against them, with his right hand on one and his left hand on the other. 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” He pushed hard,[bh] and the temple collapsed on the rulers and all the people in it. He killed many more people in his death than he had killed during his life.[bi] 31 His brothers and all his family[bj] went down and brought him back.[bk] They buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led[bl] Israel for twenty years.


  1. Judges 16:1 tn Heb “approached her.” The idiom בּוֹא אֶל (boʾ ʾel, “to go to”) is a euphemism for sexual relations.
  2. Judges 16:2 tc Heb “To the Gazites, saying.” A verb is missing from the MT; some ancient Greek witnesses add “it was reported.”
  3. Judges 16:2 tn Heb “And they surrounded.” The rest of the verse suggests that “the town” is the object, not “the house.” Though the Gazites knew Samson was in the town, apparently they did not know exactly where he had gone. Otherwise, they could have just gone into or surrounded the house and would not have needed to post guards at the city gate.
  4. Judges 16:2 tn Heb “and they lay in wait for him all night in the city gate.”
  5. Judges 16:2 tn Heb “were silent.”
  6. Judges 16:2 tn Heb “saying.”
  7. Judges 16:2 tn The words “He will not leave” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
  8. Judges 16:2 tn Heb “until the light of the morning.”
  9. Judges 16:3 tn Heb “And Samson lay until the middle of the night and arose in the middle of the night.”
  10. Judges 16:3 tn Heb “with the bar.”
  11. Judges 16:3 tn Heb “which is upon the face of Hebron.”
  12. Judges 16:5 tn Heb “subdue him in order to humiliate him.”
  13. Judges 16:6 tn Heb “how you can be subdued in order to be humiliated.”
  14. Judges 16:7 tn Or “moist.”
  15. Judges 16:7 tn The word refers to a bowstring, probably made from animal tendons. See Ps 11:2; Job 30:11.
  16. Judges 16:9 tn Heb “And the ones lying in wait were sitting for her.” The grammatically singular form וְהָאֹרֵב (vehaʾorev) is collective here, referring to the rulers as a group (so also in v. 16).
  17. Judges 16:9 tn Heb “are upon you.”
  18. Judges 16:9 tn Heb “when it smells fire.”
  19. Judges 16:9 tn Heb “His strength was not known.”
  20. Judges 16:10 tn See Gen 31:7; Exod 8:29 [8:25 HT]; Job 13:9; Isa 44:20; Jer 9:4 for other uses of this Hebrew word (II תָּלַל, talal), which also occurs in v. 13.
  21. Judges 16:11 tn Heb “with which no work has been done.”
  22. Judges 16:12 tn Heb “are upon you.”
  23. Judges 16:12 tn Heb “And the ones lying in wait were sitting in the bedroom.”
  24. Judges 16:12 tn Heb “them”; the referent (the ropes) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  25. Judges 16:13 tn Heb “head” (also in the following verse). By metonymy the head is mentioned in the Hebrew text in place of the hair on it.
  26. Judges 16:13 tn Heb “with the web.” For a discussion of how Delilah did this, see C. F. Burney, Judges, 381, and G. F. Moore, Judges (ICC), 353-54.
  27. Judges 16:14 tn Heb “are upon you.”
  28. Judges 16:14 tc The MT of vv. 13b-14a reads simply, “He said to her, ‘If you weave the seven braids of my head with the web.’ And she fastened with the pin and said to him.” The additional words in the translation, “and secure it with the pin, I will become weak and be like any other man.’ 16:14 So she made him go to sleep, wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric on the loom,” which without doubt represent the original text, are supplied from the ancient Greek version. (In both vv. 13b and 14a the Greek version has “to the wall” after “with the pin,” but this is an interpretive addition that reflects a misunderstanding of ancient weaving equipment. See G. F. Moore, Judges [ICC], 353-54.) The Hebrew textual tradition was accidentally shortened during the copying process. A scribe’s eye jumped from the first instance of “with the web” to the second, causing him to leave out inadvertently the intervening words.
  29. Judges 16:14 tn The Hebrew adds, “from his sleep.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  30. Judges 16:15 tn Heb “when your heart is not with me.”
  31. Judges 16:16 tn Heb “forced him with her words.”
  32. Judges 16:16 tn Heb “and his spirit was short [i.e., impatient] to the point of death.”
  33. Judges 16:17 tn Heb “all his heart.”
  34. Judges 16:17 tn Heb “a razor has not come upon my head.”
  35. Judges 16:17 tn Or “set apart to God.” Traditionally the Hebrew term נָזִיר (nazir) has been translated “Nazirite.” The word is derived from the verb נָזַר (nazar, “to dedicate; to consecrate; to set apart”).
  36. Judges 16:17 tn Heb “from the womb of my mother.”
  37. Judges 16:17 tn Heb “I.” The referent has been made more specific in the translation (“my head”).
  38. Judges 16:18 tn Heb “all his heart.”
  39. Judges 16:18 tn Heb “she sent and summoned.”
  40. Judges 16:18 tc The translation follows the Qere, לִי (li, “to me”) rather than the Kethib, לָהּ (lah, “to her”).
  41. Judges 16:18 tn Heb “all his heart.”
  42. Judges 16:19 tn Heb “on her knees.” The expression is probably euphemistic for sexual intercourse. See HALOT 160-61 s.v. בֶּרֶךְ.
  43. Judges 16:19 tn Heb “she called for a man and she shaved off.” The point seems to be that Delilah acted through the instrumentality of the man. See J. A. Soggin, Judges (OTL), 254.
  44. Judges 16:19 tn Heb “head.” By metonymy the hair of his head is meant.
  45. Judges 16:19 tn Heb “She began to humiliate him.” Rather than referring to some specific insulting action on Delilah’s part after Samson’s hair was shaved off, this statement probably means that she, through the devious actions just described, began the process of Samson’s humiliation which culminates in the following verses.
  46. Judges 16:20 tn Heb “are upon you.”
  47. Judges 16:20 tn The Hebrew adds, “from his sleep.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  48. Judges 16:20 tn Heb “and said.”
  49. Judges 16:20 tn Heb “I will go out as before.”
  50. Judges 16:22 tn Heb “the hair of his head.”
  51. Judges 16:24 tn Most interpret this as a reference to Samson, but this seems premature, since v. 25 suggests he was not yet standing before them. Consequently some prefer to see this statement as displaced and move it to v. 25 (see C. F. Burney, Judges, 387). It seems more likely that the pronoun refers to an image of Dagon.
  52. Judges 16:24 tn Heb “multiplied our dead.”
  53. Judges 16:25 tn Heb “When their heart was good.”
  54. Judges 16:25 tn Heb “before them.”
  55. Judges 16:26 tn Heb “the pillars upon which the house is founded.”
  56. Judges 16:27 tn Heb “house.”
  57. Judges 16:28 tn The Hebrew has אֲדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה (ʾadonay yehovih, “Lord Yahweh”).
  58. Judges 16:28 tn Heb “so I can get revenge with one act of vengeance.”
  59. Judges 16:29 tn Heb “the pillars upon which the house was founded.”
  60. Judges 16:30 tn Heb “he stretched out with strength.”
  61. Judges 16:30 tn Heb “And the ones whom he killed in his death were many more than he killed in his life.”
  62. Judges 16:31 tn Heb “and all the house of his father.”
  63. Judges 16:31 tn Heb “and lifted him up and brought up.”
  64. Judges 16:31 tn Traditionally, “judged.”