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16 One day Samson went to the Philistine city of Gaza and spent the night with a prostitute. Word soon spread that he had been seen in the city, so the police were alerted and many men of the city lay in wait all night at the city gate to capture him if he tried to leave.

“In the morning,” they thought, “when there is enough light, we’ll find him and kill him.”

Samson stayed in bed with the girl until midnight, then went out to the city gates and lifted them, with the two gateposts, right out of the ground. He put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the mountain across from Hebron!

Later on he fell in love with a girl named Delilah over in the valley of Sorek. The five heads of the Philistine nation went personally to her and demanded that she find out from Samson what made him so strong, so that they would know how to overpower and subdue him and put him in chains.

“Each of us will give you a thousand dollars for this job,” they promised.

So Delilah begged Samson to tell her his secret. “Please tell me, Samson, why you are so strong,” she pleaded. “I don’t think anyone could ever capture you!”

“Well,” Samson replied, “if I were tied with seven raw-leather bowstrings, I would become as weak as anyone else.”

So they brought her the seven bowstrings, and while he slept[a] she tied him with them. Some men were hiding in the next room, so as soon as she had tied him up she exclaimed, “Samson! The Philistines are here!”

Then he snapped the bowstrings like cotton thread,[b] and so his secret was not discovered.

10 Afterward Delilah said to him, “You are making fun of me! You told me a lie! Please tell me how you can be captured!”

11 “Well,” he said, “if I am tied with brand new ropes which have never been used, I will be as weak as other men.”

12 So that time, as he slept,[c] Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. The men were hiding in the next room, as before. Again Delilah exclaimed, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!”

But he broke the ropes from his arms like spiderwebs!

13 “You have mocked me again and told me more lies!” Delilah complained. “Now tell me how you can really be captured.”

“Well,” he said, “if you weave my hair into your loom . . . !”

14 So while he slept, she did just that and then screamed, “The Philistines have come, Samson!” And he woke up and yanked his hair away, breaking the loom.

15 “How can you say you love me when you don’t confide in me?” she whined. “You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!”

16-17 She nagged at him every day until he couldn’t stand it any longer and finally told her his secret.

“My hair has never been cut,” he confessed, “for I’ve been a Nazirite to God since before my birth. If my hair were cut, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.”

18 Delilah realized that he had finally told her the truth, so she sent for the five Philistine leaders.

“Come just this once more,” she said, “for this time he has told me everything.”

So they brought the money with them. 19 She lulled him to sleep with his head in her lap, and they brought in a barber and cut off his hair. Delilah began to hit him, but she could see that his strength was leaving him.

20 Then she screamed, “The Philistines are here to capture you, Samson!” And he woke up and thought, “I will do as before; I’ll just shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize that the Lord had left him. 21 So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes and took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and made to grind grain in the prison. 22 But before long his hair began to grow again.

23-24 The Philistine leaders declared a great festival to celebrate the capture of Samson. The people made sacrifices to their god Dagon and excitedly praised him.

“Our god has delivered our enemy Samson to us!” they gloated as they saw him there in chains. “The scourge of our nation who killed so many of us is now in our power!” 25-26 Half drunk by now, the people demanded, “Bring out Samson so we can have some fun with him!”

So he was brought from the prison and made to stand at the center of the temple, between the two pillars supporting the roof. Samson said to the boy who was leading him by the hand, “Place my hands against the two pillars. I want to rest against them.”

27 By then the temple was completely filled with people. The five Philistine leaders were there as well as three thousand people in the balconies[d] who were watching Samson and making fun of him.

28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord Jehovah, remember me again—please strengthen me one more time, so that I may pay back the Philistines for the loss of at least one of my eyes.”

29 Then Samson pushed against the pillars with all his might.

30 “Let me die with the Philistines,” he prayed.

And the temple crashed down upon the Philistine leaders and all the people. So those he killed at the moment of his death were more than those he had killed during his entire lifetime. 31 Later, his brothers and other relatives came down to get his body, and they brought him back home and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol, where his father, Manoah, was buried. He had led Israel for twenty years.


  1. Judges 16:8 and while he slept, implied in v. 14.
  2. Judges 16:9 like cotton thread, literally, “like a string of tow snaps when it touches the fire.”
  3. Judges 16:12 as he slept, implied.
  4. Judges 16:27 in the balconies, literally, “on the roof.”

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