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Judges 16:1-22

Context
Samson’s Downfall

16:1 Samson went to Gaza. There he saw a prostitute and went in to have sex with her. 1  16:2 The Gazites were told, 2  “Samson has come here!” So they surrounded the town 3  and hid all night at the city gate, waiting for him to leave. 4  They relaxed 5  all night, thinking, 6  “He will not leave 7  until morning comes; 8  then we will kill him!” 16:3 Samson spent half the night with the prostitute; then he got up in the middle of the night and left. 9  He grabbed the doors of the city gate, as well as the two posts, and pulled them right off, bar and all. 10  He put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of a hill east of Hebron. 11 

16:4 After this Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley. 16:5 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 12  him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred silver pieces.”

16:6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me what makes you so strong and how you can be subdued and humiliated.” 13  16:7 Samson said to her, “If they tie me up with seven fresh 14  bowstrings 15  that have not been dried, I will become weak and be just like any other man.” 16:8 So the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings which had not been dried and they tied him up with them. 16:9 They hid 16  in the bedroom and then she said to him, “The Philistines are here, 17  Samson!” He snapped the bowstrings as easily as a thread of yarn snaps when it is put close to fire. 18  The secret of his strength was not discovered. 19 

16:10 Delilah said to Samson, “Look, you deceived 20  me and told me lies! Now tell me how you can be subdued.” 16:11 He said to her, “If they tie me tightly with brand new ropes that have never been used, 21  I will become weak and be just like any other man.” 16:12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are here, 22  Samson!” (The Philistines were hiding in the bedroom.) 23  But he tore the ropes 24  from his arms as if they were a piece of thread.

16:13 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 25  into the fabric on the loom 26  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, fastened it with the pin, and said to him, “The Philistines are here, 27  Samson!” 28  He woke up 29  and tore away the pin of the loom and the fabric.

16:15 She said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you will not share your secret with me? 30  Three times you have deceived me and have not told me what makes you so strong.” 16:16 She nagged him 31  every day and pressured him until he was sick to death of it. 32  16:17 Finally he told her his secret. 33  He said to her, “My hair has never been cut, 34  for I have been dedicated to God 35  from the time I was conceived. 36  If my head 37  were shaved, my strength would leave me; I would become weak, and be just like all other men.” 16:18 When Delilah saw that he had told her his secret, 38  she sent for 39  the rulers of the Philistines, saying, “Come up here again, for he has told me 40  his secret.” 41  So the rulers of the Philistines went up to visit her, bringing the silver in their hands. 16:19 She made him go to sleep on her lap 42  and then called a man in to shave off 43  the seven braids of his hair. 44  She made him vulnerable 45  and his strength left him. 16:20 She said, “The Philistines are here, 46  Samson!” He woke up 47  and thought, 48  “I will do as I did before 49  and shake myself free.” But he did not realize that the Lord had left him. 16:21 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. 16:22 His hair 50  began to grow back after it had been shaved off.

1 tn Heb “and he went in to her.” The idiom בּוֹא אֶל (bo’ ’el, “to go to”) often has sexual connotations.

2 tc Heb “To the Gazites, saying.” A verb is missing from the MT; some ancient Greek witnesses add “it was reported.”

3 tn 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.

4 tn Heb “and they lay in wait for him all night in the city gate.”

5 tn Heb “were silent.”

6 tn Heb “saying.”

7 tn The words “He will not leave” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

8 tn Heb “until the light of the morning.”

9 tn Heb “And Samson lay until the middle of the night and arose in the middle of the night.”

10 tn Heb “with the bar.”

11 tn Heb “which is upon the face of Hebron.”

12 tn Heb “subdue him in order to humiliate him.”

13 tn Heb “how you can be subdued in order to be humiliated.”

14 tn Or “moist.”

15 tn The word refers to a bowstring, probably made from animal tendons. See Ps 11:2; Job 30:11.

16 tn Heb “And the ones lying in wait were sitting for her.” The grammatically singular form וְהָאֹרֵב (vÿhaorev) is collective here, referring to the rulers as a group (so also in v. 16).

17 tn Heb “are upon you.”

18 tn Heb “when it smells fire.”

19 tn Heb “His strength was not known.”

20 tn See Gen 31:7; Exod 8:29 [8:25 HT]; Job 13:9; Isa 44:20; Jer 9:4 for other uses of this Hebrew word (II תָּלַל, talal), which also occurs in v. 13.

21 tn Heb “with which no work has been done.”

22 tn Heb “are upon you.”

23 tn Heb “And the ones lying in wait were sitting in the bedroom.”

24 tn Heb “them”; the referent (the ropes) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

25 tn Heb “head” (also in the following verse). By metonymy the head is mentioned in the Hebrew text in place of the hair on it.

26 tn 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.

27 tn Heb “are upon you.”

28 tc 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.

29 tn The Hebrew adds, “from his sleep.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.

30 tn Heb “when your heart is not with me.”

31 tn Heb “forced him with her words.”

32 tn Heb “and his spirit was short [i.e., impatient] to the point of death.”

33 tn Heb “all his heart.”

34 tn Heb “a razor has not come upon my head.”

35 tn 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”).

36 tn Heb “from the womb of my mother.”

37 tn Heb “I.” The referent has been made more specific in the translation (“my head”).

38 tn Heb “all his heart.”

39 tn Heb “she sent and summoned.”

40 tc The translation follows the Qere, לִי (li, “to me”) rather than the Kethib, לָהּ (lah, “to her”).

41 tn Heb “all his heart.”

42 tn Heb “on her knees.” The expression is probably euphemistic for sexual intercourse. See HALOT 160-61 s.v. בֶּרֶךְ.

43 tn 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.

44 tn Heb “head.” By metonymy the hair of his head is meant.

45 tn 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.

46 tn Heb “are upon you.”

47 tn The Hebrew adds, “from his sleep.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.

48 tn Heb “and said.”

49 tn Heb “I will go out as before.”

50 tn Heb “the hair of his head.”



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