Judges 16

Samson visits Gaza

1 One day, Samson went to Gaza. He met a prostitute there and he slept with her. 2 The people of Gaza heard that Samson was in their city. The men met together and they waited for Samson to leave. They hid themselves all night at the gate of the city. They waited there quietly and they thought, ‘We will kill him at dawn when he tries to leave the city.’

16:2Gaza was one of the Philistine cities near the Mediterranean sea.

3 But Samson only stayed with the woman until the middle of the night. Then he got up and he went to leave through the city gate. He took hold of its doors and the two posts that held them. He pulled them all down together, with the metal bar that locked them. He carried them all in one piece on his shoulders. He left them at the top of the hill near Hebron.

Samson and Delilah

4 Some time later, Samson met a woman who was called Delilah. She lived in Sorek valley. Samson loved her. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went to visit Delilah. They said to her, ‘Do something clever to discover what makes Samson so strong. We want to find a way to take hold of him and tie him up. If you do that, we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.’

6 So Delilah said to Samson, ‘Please tell me what makes you so strong. How could someone tie you up so that you become helpless?’

7 Samson replied, ‘Someone would have to use seven new strings for bows. The strings must not have become dry. If they use those strings to tie me up, I will become weak, like other men.’

8 So the Philistine rulers gave Delilah seven new strings for bows. She used them to tie Samson up while he was asleep. 9 Some Philistine men hid in a room of her house. Then she shouted, ‘Samson, the Philistines are here!’ But he broke the seven strings very easily. They were like thin cotton that a fire burns. So they did not discover the secret about his strength.

10 Delilah said to Samson, ‘You have deceived me as if I was a fool! Tell me the truth! How can someone really make you weak?’

11 Samson said to her, ‘They would have to use new ropes that no one has used. If they tie me up with those, I will become weak, like other men.’

12 So Delilah took some new ropes and she tied Samson up with them. Some Philistine men were hiding in the room, as they did before. Then she shouted, ‘Samson, the Philistines are here!’ But he broke the ropes off his arms, as if they were thin string.

13 Then Delilah said to Samson, ‘You have deceived me again as if I was a fool. Now you must tell me the truth. Tell me how someone can make you weak.’

Samson replied, ‘You see that my long hair is tied in seven tails. You must tie them into the cloth that is on the loom. Fix them there very strongly. If you do that, I will become weak, like other men.’ 14 Delilah did this while Samson was asleep. She took the seven tails of his hair and she tied them into the cloth on the loom. She fixed them with a strong peg. Then she shouted, ‘Samson, the Philistines are here!’ He woke up and he pulled out the peg. He tore his hair away from the cloth on the loom so that he was free.

16:14Because Samson was a Nazirite, his hair was very long. It was tied together in seven pieces, or tails. Delilah had a loom that she used to make cloth. There was a piece of cloth on the loom that she had not finished making. She tied Samson's hair into the loom, as if she was using it to make the cloth. The peg was part of the loom.

15 Then Delilah said to him, ‘I realize that you do not really love me, because you will not tell me your secret. You have deceived me three times, as if I was a fool. You have refused to tell me what makes you so strong.’ 16 She continued to say the same thing to Samson many times. Her words made Samson very upset. He felt that he wanted to die.

17 Finally, Samson told her his secret. He said to her, ‘No one has ever cut my hair. Even before I was born, I belonged to God as a Nazirite. If someone cuts off my hair, I would have no more strength. I would become as weak as any other man.’

18 Delilah realized that Samson had told her the truth. So she sent a message to the rulers of the Philistines. She told them, ‘Samson has now told me his secret. So come back once more.’ So the Philistine rulers went to visit Delilah again. They took their pieces of silver with them. 19 Delilah made Samson sleep with his head on her knees. She called a man to come and he cut off the seven tails of Samson's hair. This made Samson helpless, so that he had no more strength.

20 Then Delilah shouted, ‘Samson, the Philistines are here!’ He woke up and he thought, ‘I will make myself free as I have always done before.’ But he did not realize that the Lord had gone away from him.

21 The Philistines took hold of Samson. They cut out his eyes. They tied him up with bronze chains. They made him do hard work as their prisoner. He had to push a heavy stone to make grain into flour.

22 But after they had cut off Samson's hair, it began to grow again.

Samson dies

23 One day, the rulers of the Philistines met together to have a big feast. They offered a great sacrifice to their god, Dagon. They said, ‘Dagon has put our enemy, Samson, under our power.’

24 When the people saw what had happened to Samson, they praised their god. They said, ‘Our god has let us catch our enemy. He was the enemy who destroyed our land and who killed many of us.’

25 The people were very happy at the feast. They shouted, ‘Bring Samson here for us to see him! He can help us to enjoy our party.’

So they brought Samson out of the prison. The people were happy to see him. They made him stand between the pillars of the temple. 26 A young man held Samson's hand to lead him. Samson said to him, ‘Put me where I can touch the pillars which hold up the temple's roof. I want to rest my body on them.’

27 The temple was full of men and women, as well as all the Philistine rulers. About 3,000 people were on the roof as they watched Samson. They were laughing at him. 28 Samson prayed to the Lord, ‘Remember me Lord, my Lord God. Please make me strong again one more time. I want to punish the Philistines because they cut out my two eyes.’

29 Then Samson put his hands on the two pillars in the centre of the building. He put his right hand on one pillar and his left hand on the other pillar. He got ready to push. 30 Samson shouted out, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ Then he pushed the pillars with all his strength. The temple fell down on the rulers and all the other people in it. In that way, Samson killed more people as he died than he had killed while he lived.

31 Then his brothers and all his father's family came to get his body. They carried it back home. They buried him in the grave of his father, Manoah. That was between Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson had led Israel for 20 years.