Samson Goes to the City of Gaza
One day Samson went to the city of Gaza. He saw a prostitute there and went in to stay the night with her. Someone told the people of Gaza, “Samson has come here.” They wanted to kill him, so they surrounded the city. They hid near the city gate and waited all night for him. They were very quiet all night long. They had said to each other, “When morning comes, we will kill Samson.”
But Samson only stayed with the prostitute until midnight. Then he got up and grabbed the doors of the city gate and pulled them loose from the wall. He pulled down the doors, the two posts, and the bars that lock the doors shut. He put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill near the city of Hebron.
Samson and Delilah
Later, Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who was from Sorek Valley.
The rulers of the Philistines went to Delilah and said, “We want to know what makes Samson so strong. Try to trick him into telling you his secret. Then we will know how to capture him and tie him up. Then we will be able to control him. If you do this, each one of us will give you 28 pounds* of silver.”
So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me why you are so strong. How could someone tie you up and make you helpless?”
Samson answered, “Someone would have to tie me up with seven fresh, new bowstrings. If someone did that, I would be as weak as any other man.”
Then the rulers of the Philistines brought seven fresh, new bowstrings to Delilah, and she tied Samson with the bowstrings. Some men were hiding in the next room. Delilah said to Samson, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” But Samson easily broke the bowstrings. They snapped like a string when it comes too close to a flame. So the Philistines did not find out the secret of Samson’s strength.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “You lied to me. You made me look foolish. Please tell me the truth. How could someone tie you up?”
11 Samson said, “Someone would have to tie me up with new ropes. They would have to tie me with ropes that have not been used before. If someone did that, I would become as weak as any other man.”
12 So Delilah took some new ropes and tied up Samson. Some men were hiding in the next room. Then Delilah called out to him, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” But he broke the ropes easily as if they were threads.
13 Then Delilah said to Samson, “You lied to me again. You made me look foolish. Now, tell me how someone could tie you up.”
Samson said, “If you use the loom to weave the seven braids of hair on my head and tighten it with a pin, I will become as weak as any other man.”
14 Later, Samson went to sleep, so Delilah used the loom to weave the seven braids of hair on his head. Then Delilah fastened the loom to the ground with a tent peg. Again she called out to him, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” Samson pulled up the tent peg, the loom, and the shuttle.§
15 Then Delilah said to Samson, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t even trust me? You refuse to tell me your secret. This is the third time you made me look foolish. You haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16 She kept bothering Samson day after day. He got so tired of her asking him about his secret that he felt like he was going to die. 17 Finally, Samson told Delilah everything. He said, “I have never had my hair cut. I was dedicated to God before I was born. If someone shaved my head, I would lose my strength. I would become as weak as any other man.”
18 Delilah saw that Samson had told her his secret. She sent a message to the rulers of the Philistines. She said, “Come back again. Samson has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines came back and brought the money that they had promised to give her.
19 Delilah got Samson to go to sleep with his head lying in her lap. Then she called in a man to shave off the seven braids of Samson’s hair. In this way she made Samson weak, and his strength left him. 20 Then Delilah called out to him, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” He woke up and thought, “I will escape as I did before and free myself.” But Samson did not know that the LORD had left him.
21 The Philistine men captured Samson. They tore out his eyes and took him down to the city of Gaza. Then they put chains on him to keep him from running away. They put him in prison and made him work grinding grain. 22 But his hair began to grow again.
23 The Philistine rulers came together to celebrate. They were going to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They said, “Our god helped us defeat Samson our enemy.” 24 When the Philistines saw Samson, they praised their god. They said,
This man destroyed our people!
He killed many of our people!
But our god helped us
take our enemy!”
25 The people were having a good time at the celebration. So they said, “Bring Samson out. We want to make fun of him.” So they brought Samson from the prison and made fun of him. They made him stand between the columns in the temple of the god Dagon. 26 A servant was holding his hand. Samson said to him, “Put me where I can feel the columns that hold this temple up. I want to lean against them.”
27 The temple was crowded with men and women. All the Philistine rulers were there. There were about 3000 men and women on the roof of the temple. They were laughing and making fun of Samson. 28 Then Samson said a prayer to the LORD, “Lord GOD, remember me. God, please give me strength one more time. Let me do this one thing to punish these Philistines for tearing out both of my eyes!” 29 Then Samson took hold of the two columns in the center of the temple that supported the whole temple. He braced himself between the two columns. One column was at his right side and the other at his left side. 30 Samson said, “Let me die with these Philistines!” Then he pushed as hard as he could, and the temple fell on the rulers and everyone in it. In this way Samson killed many more Philistines when he died than when he was alive.
31 Samson’s brothers and all the people in his father’s family went down to get his body. They brought him back and buried him in his father’s tomb, which is between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson was a judge for the Israelites for 20 years.
* 16:5 28 pounds Literally, “1100 shekels” (12.6 kg). 16:7 fresh, new bowstrings Bowstrings were often made from sinew (tendons) which is brittle after it becomes old and dry. 16:14 so Delilah … head This is found in the ancient Greek version but not in the standard Hebrew text. § 16:14 shuttle The tool used to pull the threads back and forth on a loom to make cloth.