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Judges 16New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 16

Once Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute and visited her. The people of Gaza were told, “Samson has come here,” and they surrounded him with an ambush at the city gate all night long. And all the night they waited, saying, “At morning light we will kill him.” Samson lay there until midnight. Then he rose at midnight, seized the doors of the city gate and the two gateposts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He hoisted them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the ridge opposite Hebron.

Samson and Delilah. After that he fell in love with a woman in the Wadi Sorek whose name was Delilah. The lords of the Philistines came up to her and said, “Trick him and find out where he gets his great strength, and how we may overcome and bind him so as to make him helpless. Then for our part, we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”

So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me where you get your great strength and how you may be bound so as to be made helpless.” “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not dried,” Samson answered her, “I shall grow weaker and be like anyone else.” So the lords of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not dried, and she bound him with them. She had men lying in wait in the room, and she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the bowstrings as a thread of tow is snapped by a whiff of flame; and his strength remained unexplained.

10 Delilah said to Samson, “You have mocked me and told me lies. Now tell me how you may be bound.” 11 “If they bind me tight with new ropes, with which no work has been done,” he answered her, “I shall grow weaker and be like anyone else.” 12 So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them. Then she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” For there were men lying in wait in the room. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like thread.

13 Delilah said to Samson again, “Up to now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me how you may be bound.” He said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my hair into the web and fasten them with the pin, I shall grow weaker and be like anyone else.” 14 So when he went to bed, Delilah took the seven locks of his hair and wove them into the web, and fastened them with the pin. Then she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” Awakening from his sleep, he pulled out both the loom and the web.

15 Then she said to him, “How can you say ‘I love you’ when your heart is not mine? Three times already you have mocked me, and not told me where you get your great strength!” 16 She pressed him continually and pestered him till he was deathly weary of it. 17 So he told her all that was in his heart and said, “No razor has touched my head, for I have been a nazirite for God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, my strength will leave me, and I shall grow weaker and be like anyone else.” 18 When Delilah realized that he had told her all that was in his heart, she summoned the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up this time, for he has told me all that is in his heart.” So the lords of the Philistines came to her and brought the money with them. 19 She put him to sleep on her lap, and called for a man who shaved off the seven locks of his hair. He immediately became helpless, for his strength had left him.[a] 20 When she said “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” he woke from his sleep and thought, “I will go out as I have done time and again and shake myself free.” He did not realize that the Lord had left him. 21 But the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. Then they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze fetters, and he was put to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair of his head began to grow as soon as it was shaved.

The Death of Samson. 23 The lords of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon[b] and to celebrate. They said, “Our god has delivered Samson our enemy into our power.” 24 When the people saw him, they praised their god. For they said,

“Our god has delivered into our power
    our enemy, the ravager of our land,
    the one who has multiplied our slain.”

25 When their spirits were high, they said, “Call Samson that he may amuse us.” So they called Samson from the prison, and he provided amusement for them. They made him stand between the columns, 26 and Samson said to the attendant who was holding his hand, “Put me where I may touch the columns that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” 27 The temple was full of men and women: all the lords of the Philistines were there, and from the roof about three thousand men and women looked on as Samson provided amusement. 28 Samson cried out to the Lord and said, “Lord God, remember me! Strengthen me only this once that I may avenge myself on the Philistines at one blow for my two eyes.” 29 Samson grasped the two middle columns on which the temple rested and braced himself against them, one at his right, the other at his left. 30 Then saying, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Samson pushed hard, and the temple fell upon the lords and all the people who were in it. Those he killed by his dying were more than those he had killed during his lifetime.

31 His kinsmen and all his father’s house went down and bore him up for burial in the grave of Manoah his father between Zorah and Eshtaol. He had judged Israel for twenty years.


  1. 16:19 See note on 13:5.
  2. 16:23 Dagon: an ancient Syrian grain deity (cf. Hebrew dagan, “grain”) whom the Philistines adopted as their national god after their arrival on the coast of Canaan.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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