1 Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.
2 When the Gazites were told, "Samson has come here!" they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They were quiet all night, saying, "In the morning, when it is daylight, we will kill him."
3 And Samson lay low till midnight; then he arose at midnight, took hold of the doors of the
gate of the city and the two gateposts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders,
and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
This give an idea of Samson's strength, as the gates of a fortified city such as Gaza were designed to
withstand assaults from besieging armies. The posts of the gates would have been driven deep into the
ground, the bar of the gates would have been probably made of iron and the gates themselves would
have been at least 2 feet thick.
Some have questioned the truth of this story, but is this any stranger than seeing pictures of a single man
pulling a 70+ ton locomotive engine?
4 Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
5 And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, "Entice him, and find out
where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind
him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver."
There were five lords of the Philistines (from Gath, Gaza, Ekron, Ashdod and Ashkelon), so she would
get 5,500 pieces of silver! This would equate to about 137.5 pounds of silver! (Remember, coins were
not produced until much later. During Samson's time gold and silver pieces were weighed to determine
their value). This shows how desperate the Philistines were to get their hands on Samson.
The Valley of Sorek lies in the low hills abutting the coastal plain about 20 miles due west of Jerusalem.
6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you."
7 And Samson said to her, "If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man."
8 So the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now men were lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, "The
Philistines are upon you, Samson!" But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks
when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.
Bowstrings were usually made from animal sinew and needed to be dried before use as they would be
too elastic when wet. Samson was apparently amusing himself when he said this, as he would have had
to allow Delilah to bind him with the strings.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, "Look, you have mocked me and told me lies. Now, please tell me what you may be bound with."
11 So he said to her, "If they bind me securely with new ropes that have never been used,
then I shall become weak, and be like any other man."
Apparently the Philistines didn't know that this had been done to Samson before at Ramath Lehi.
Samson seems to believe that this is a fun game.
12 Therefore Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" And men were lying in wait, staying in the room. But he broke them off his arms like a thread.
13 Delilah said to Samson, "Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me what you may be bound with." And he said to her, "If you weave the seven locks of my head into the web of the loom"
14 So she wove it tightly with the batten of the loom, and said to him, "The Philistines are
upon you, Samson!" But he awoke from his sleep, and pulled out the batten and the web from
The loom in question seems to have been some kind of comb with wire filigree, probably used by
women to hold up their long hair.
15 Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies."
16 And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death,
17 that he told her all his heart, and said to her, "No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man."
18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the
Philistines, saying, "Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart." So the lords of the
Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand.
Constant nagging will wear down the strongest of men, and Samson was no different. To shut her up,
he finally gave in and told her the secret of his strength, not thinking that she had an ulterior motive in her
19 Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him.
20 And she said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" So he awoke from his sleep, and said, "I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!" But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.
21 Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They
bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.
The true secret of Samson's strength wasn't in his hair, it was in his obedience to God's commands concerning Nazirites. When Delilah had his locks cut off, the Spirit of the Lord left him and his
source of strength was gone.
The Philistines gouged out his eyes (and probably did more than that) and set him to grinding grain in a
prison. This was usually consigned to women and slaves, and required that a heavy millstone be turned
to grind the grain into flour.
22 However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven.
23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice. And they said: "Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy!"
24 When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said: "Our god has delivered into our hands our enemy, The destroyer of our land, and the one who multiplied our dead."
25 So it happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, "Call for Samson, that he
may perform for us." So they called for Samson from the prison, and he performed for them.
And they stationed him between the pillars.
The Philistines probably had Samson dance for them or perform some other sort of demeaning
Temples such as the one where they brought Samson were usually open-air buildings which were
supported by wooden pillars along the outside and had a set of pillars set in pairs down the center for
support. It would have been between a set of these center pillars that Samson would have been
26 Then Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, "Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them."
27 Now the temple was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were thereabout three thousand men and women on the roof watching while Samson performed.
28 Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, "O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!"
29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left.
30 Then Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life.
31 And his brothers and all his father's household came down and took him, and brought him
up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had
judged Israel twenty years.
From the description, this Temple had an open square in the center in which the Philistines on the roof were able to watch Samson performing below. The ceiling was more than likely made of stone blocks to be able to support 3,000 people so the support pillars would have been under quite a bit of strain.
Verse 30 says that Samson pushed with all of his might against the support pillars, and as they were
probably made of wood any side directed pressure would cause them to splinter and break. I have
seen numerous paintings that show Samson between two huge stone pillars, when actually archaeology
shows that they were wooden pillars probably no bigger than 8 inches in diameter.
We know that there were at least 3,000 Philistines on the roof and probably an equal number if not
more inside, including the five rulers of the five cites of the Philistines. I have an idea that Delilah may
have been there also, possibly to be publicly honored for her part in trapping Samson which would
have given Samson revenge upon her also.
Samson didn't want to live his life as a blind slave, so he asked God to take his life along with his enemies.