Samson’s Downfall1 Samson went to Gaza. There he saw a prostitute and went in to have sex with her. ▼
▼ Heb “and he went in to her.” The idiom בּוֹא אֶל (bo’ ’el, “to go to”) often has sexual connotations.2 The Gazites were told, ▼
▼ Heb “To the Gazites, saying.” A verb is missing from the MT; some ancient Greek witnesses add “it was reported.”“Samson has come here!” So they surrounded the town ▼
▼ Heb “And they surrounded.” The rest of the verse suggests that “the town” is the object, not “the house.” Though the Gazites knew Samson was in the town, apparently they did not know exactly where he had gone. Otherwise, they would could have just gone into or surrounded the house and would not have needed to post guards at the city gate.and hid all night at the city gate, waiting for him to leave. ▼
▼ Heb “and they lay in wait for him all night in the city gate.”They relaxed ▼
▼ Heb “were silent.”all night, thinking, ▼
▼ Heb “saying.”“He will not leave ▼
▼ The words “He will not leave” are supplied in the translation for clarification.until morning comes; ▼
▼ Heb “until the light of the morning.”then we will kill him!” 3 Samson spent half the night with the prostitute; then he got up in the middle of the night and left. ▼
▼ Heb “And Samson lay until the middle of the night and arose in the middle of the night.”He grabbed the doors of the city gate, as well as the two posts, and pulled them right off, bar and all. ▼
▼ Heb “with the bar.”He put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of a hill east of Hebron. ▼
▼ Heb “which is upon the face of Hebron.”
4 After this Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went up to visit her and said to her, “Trick him! Find out what makes him so strong and how we can subdue him and humiliate ▼
▼ Heb “subdue him in order to humiliate him.”him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred silver pieces.”
6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me what makes you so strong and how you can be subdued and humiliated.” ▼
▼ Heb “how you can be subdued in order to be humiliated.”7 Samson said to her, “If they tie me up with seven fresh ▼
▼ Or “moist.”bowstrings ▼ that have not been dried, I will become weak and be just like any other man.” 8 So the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings which had not been dried and they tied him up with them. 9 They hid ▼ in the bedroom and then she said to him, “The Philistines are here, ▼ Samson!” He snapped the bowstrings as easily as a thread of yarn snaps when it is put close to fire. ▼
▼ Heb “when it smells fire.”The secret of his strength was not discovered. ▼
▼ Heb “His strength was not known.”
10 Delilah said to Samson, “Look, you deceived ▼ me and told me lies! Now tell me how you can be subdued.” 11 He said to her, “If they tie me tightly with brand new ropes that have never been used, ▼
▼ Heb “with which no work has been done.”I will become weak and be just like any other man.” 12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are here, ▼ Samson!” (The Philistines were hiding in the bedroom.) ▼
▼ Heb “And the ones lying in wait were sitting in the bedroom.”But he tore the ropes ▼
▼ Heb “them”; the referent (the ropes) has been specified in the translation for clarity.from his arms as if they were a piece of thread.
13 Delilah said to Samson, “Up to now you have deceived me and told me lies. Tell me how you can be subdued.” He said to her, “If you weave the seven braids of my hair ▼
▼ Heb “head” (also in the following verse). By metonymy the head is mentioned in the Hebrew text in place of the hair on it.into the fabric on the loom ▼
▼ Heb “with the web.” For a discussion of how Delilah did this, see C. F. Burney, Judges, 381, and G. F. Moore, Judges (ICC), 353–54.and secure it with the pin, I will become weak and be like any other man.” 14 So she made him go to sleep, wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric on the loom, fastened it with the pin, and said to him, “The Philistines are here, ▼ Samson!” ▼
▼ The MT of vv. 13b–14a reads simply, “He said to her, ‘If you weave the seven braids of my head with the web.’ And she fastened with the pin and said to him.” The additional words in the translation, “and secure it with the pin, I will become weak and be like any other man.’ 16:14 So she made him go to sleep, wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric on the loom,” which without doubt represent the original text, are supplied from the ancient Greek version. (In both vv. 13b and 14a the Greek version has “to the wall” after “with the pin,” but this is an interpretive addition that reflects a misunderstanding of ancient weaving equipment. See G. F. Moore, Judges [ICC], 353–54.) The Hebrew textual tradition was accidentally shortened during the copying process. A scribe’s eye jumped from the first instance of “with the web” to the second, causing him to leave out inadvertently the intervening words.He woke up ▼
▼ The Hebrew adds, “from his sleep.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.and tore away the pin of the loom and the fabric.
15 She said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you will not share your secret with me? ▼
▼ Heb “when your heart is not with me.”Three times you have deceived me and have not told me what makes you so strong.” 16 She nagged him ▼
▼ Heb “forced him with her words.”every day and pressured him until he was sick to death of it. ▼
▼ Heb “and his spirit was short [i.e., impatient] to the point of death.”17 Finally he told her his secret. ▼ He said to her, “My hair has never been cut, ▼
▼ Heb “a razor has not come upon my head.”for I have been dedicated to God ▼
▼ Or “set apart to God.” Traditionally the Hebrew term נָזִיר (nazir) has been translated “Nazirite.” The word is derived from the verb נָזַר (nazar, “to dedicate; to consecrate; to set apart”).from the time I was conceived. ▼
▼ Heb “from the womb of my mother.”If my head ▼
▼ Heb “I.” The referent has been made more specific in the translation (“my head”).were shaved, my strength would leave me; I would become weak, and be just like all other men.” 18 When Delilah saw that he had told her his secret, ▼ she sent for ▼
▼ Heb “she sent and summoned.”the rulers of the Philistines, saying, “Come up here again, for he has told me ▼
▼ The translation follows the Qere, לִי (li, “to me”) rather than the Kethib, לָהּ (lah, “to her”).his secret.” ▼ So the rulers of the Philistines went up to visit her, bringing the silver in their hands. 19 She made him go to sleep on her lap ▼
▼ Heb “on her knees.” The expression is probably euphemistic for sexual intercourse. See HALOT 160-61 s.v. בֶּרֶךְ.and then called a man in to shave off ▼
▼ Heb “she called for a man and she shaved off.” The point seems to be that Delilah acted through the instrumentality of the man. See J. A. Soggin, Judges (OTL), 254.the seven braids of his hair. ▼
▼ Heb “head.” By metonymy the hair of his head is meant.She made him vulnerable ▼
▼ Heb “She began to humiliate him.” Rather than referring to some specific insulting action on Delilah’s part after Samson’s hair was shaved off, this statement probably means that she, through the devious actions just described, began the process of Samson’s humiliation which culminates in the following verses.and his strength left him. 20 She said, “The Philistines are here, ▼ Samson!” He woke up ▼
▼ The Hebrew adds, “from his sleep.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.and thought, ▼
▼ Heb “and said.”“I will do as I did before ▼
▼ Heb “I will go out as before.”and shake myself free.” But he did not realize that the Lord had left him. 21 The Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him in bronze chains. He became a grinder in the prison. 22 His hair ▼
▼ Heb “the hair of his head.”began to grow back after it had been shaved off.
Samson’s Death and Burial23 The rulers of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate. They said, “Our god has handed Samson, our enemy, over to us.” 24 When the people saw him, ▼
▼ Most interpret this as a reference to Samson, but this seems premature, since v. 25 suggests he was not yet standing before them. Consequently some prefer to see this statement as displaced and move it to v. 25 (see C. F. Burney, Judges, 387). It seems more likely that the pronoun refers to an image of Dagon.they praised their god, saying, “Our god has handed our enemy over to us, the one who ruined our land and killed so many of us!” ▼
▼ Heb “multiplied our dead.”
25 When they really started celebrating, ▼
▼ Heb “When their heart was good.”they said, “Call for Samson so he can entertain us!” So they summoned Samson from the prison and he entertained them. ▼
▼ Heb “before them.”They made him stand between two pillars. 26 Samson said to the young man who held his hand, “Position me so I can touch the pillars that support the temple. ▼
▼ Heb “the pillars upon which the house is founded.”Then I can lean on them.” 27 Now the temple ▼
▼ Heb “house.”was filled with men and women, and all the rulers of the Philistines were there. There were three thousand men and women on the roof watching Samson entertain. 28 Samson called to the Lord, “O Master, Lord, ▼
▼ The Hebrew has אֲדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה (’adonay yehovih, “Lord Yahweh”).remember me! Strengthen me just one more time, O God, so I can get swift revenge ▼
▼ Heb “so I can get revenge with one act of vengeance.”against the Philistines for my two eyes!” 29 Samson took hold of the two middle pillars that supported the temple ▼
▼ Heb “the pillars upon which the house was founded.”and he leaned against them, with his right hand on one and his left hand on the other. 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” He pushed hard ▼
▼ Heb “he stretched out with strength.”and the temple collapsed on the rulers and all the people in it. He killed many more people in his death than he had killed during his life. ▼
▼ Heb “And the ones whom he killed in his death were many more than he killed in his life.”31 His brothers and all his family ▼
▼ Heb “and all the house of his father.”went down and brought him back. ▼
▼ Heb “and lifted him up and brought up.”They buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led ▼
▼ Traditionally, “judged.”Israel for twenty years.
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