Samson at Gaza. 1 One day Samson went to Gaza. He saw a prostitute there, and he had sex with her. 2 The people in Gaza were told, “Samson is here.” They surrounded the place where he was staying, and they lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They kept quiet all night, saying, “In the morning we will kill him.” 3 Samson lay there until midnight, and then at midnight he got up and took hold of the city gates with its two posts. He lifted up the gates, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
Samson and Delilah. 4 Sometime later he fell in love with a woman who lived in the Valley of Sorek. Her name was Delilah. 5 The lords of the Philistines visited her and said, “Entice him and see if you can find out the source of his great strength and how we can overpower him and tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”
6 Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me the source of your great strength and how you could be tied up and subdued.” 7 Samson answered her, “If anyone were to tie me up with seven fresh bowstrings that have never been dried, then I would become as weak as everyone else.” 8 The lords of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him up with them. 9 There were some men hiding in the room when she cried out to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you.” He broke the thongs like a piece of string that snaps when it is close to a flame. Thus, the secret of his strength was not known.
10 Delilah then said to Samson, “You have mocked me and lied to me. Please, tell me now how you could be tied up.” 11 He answered, “If anyone were to bind me with new ropes that had never been used, then I would become as weak as everyone else.” 12 So Delilah took new ropes and she bound him and cried out, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you,” as the men were hiding in the room. He broke them off of his arms as if they were made of thread.
13 Delilah then said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me and lied to me. Tell me, now, how you could be tied up.” He answered, “If you were to weave the seven locks on my head into the loom, 14 and fastened it with a pin, then I should become weak, and be like any other man.” Again she cried out, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you.” He woke up from his sleep and pulled away from the pin, the loom, and the web.
15 She said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you hold back your love from me. You have mocked me these three times; you have not told me where your strength lies.” 16 She wore him out by talking to him day after day, and nagging him, until he was tired to death, 17 so he told her everything. He said to her, “No razor has ever touched my head because I have been a Nazirite of God from my mother’s womb. If I were to be shaved, then my strength would disappear and I would become as weak as any other man.”
18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she summoned the lords of the Philistines saying, “Come back one more time, for he has told me everything.” The lords of the Philistines came to her, the money in their hands. 19 She had him fall asleep upon her knees, and she summoned a man to shave off the seven locks on his head. Thus, she began to subdue him, and his strength left him. 20 She cried out, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you.” He woke up from his sleep and said, “I will go out like the previous times and shake myself free.” He did not know that the Lord had left him.[a]
21 The Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. They took him down to Gaza and bound him in bronze shackles, setting him to grind grain in prison.
22 Samson’s Revenge and Death. The hair on his head began to grow back after it had been shaved off. 23 The lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon.[b] They celebrated and said, “Our god has delivered us from the hands of Samson, our enemy.” 24 When the people saw him, they praised their god saying, “Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste to our country and killed so many of us.” 25 While they were in high spirits, they cried out, “Call out Samson so that he can entertain us.” They summoned Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They set him between the pillars. 26 Samson said to the boy who was holding his hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the temple is set so I can lean against them.” 27 The temple was packed with men and women, and all of the lords of the Philistines were there as well. There were also about three thousand men and women upon the roof, watching while Samson was amusing them.
28 Samson called out to the Lord and said, “O Lord, please remember me. I beg you, please strengthen me[c] this one more time so that I might take vengeance upon the Philistines for my two eyes.”
29 Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the temple was set. He braced himself against them, one with his right hand and one with his left hand. 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He pushed with all his might, and the house came crashing down upon the lords and upon all of the people. Thus, he killed more people with his death than he had killed during his life. 31 His brothers and all of his father’s household went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He was a judge over Israel for twenty years.
- Judges 16:20 The Lord had left him: cutting himself off from the power of the Lord by his sinful life, Samson is at the mercy of his enemies who blind him and make him a prisoner.
- Judges 16:23 Dagon: a Babylonian divinity that was taken to Phoenicia and adopted by the Philistines.
- Judges 16:28 Remember me . . . strengthen me: Samson repented and God graciously granted his wish so that he slew more Philistines through his death than in his lifetime.