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Judges 16:4

ESV After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
NIV Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.
NASB After this it came about that he was in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
CSB Some time later, he fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley.
NLT Some time later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek.
KJV And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.

What does Judges 16:4 mean?

This relatively short verse is packed with symbolism and foreshadowing.

Samson has returned to his home region after humiliating the Philistine town of Gaza by carrying away their city gates (Judges 16:1–3). The Valley of Sorek is west of Jerusalem. The name of this location is supposedly related to a specific type of grape. This is subtle foreshadowing: Samson was meant to live as a Nazirite (Judges 13:4–5). That vow required total abstinence from all grapes and grape products (Numbers 6:1–4). In this valley, he will finally encounter a temptation which neither his cleverness nor strength can overcome.

Samson has fallen for another woman in this territory, though the name of the specific town is not given. When Samson was involved with other women, Scripture noted only that he "saw" them (Judges 14:1; 16:1). This corresponds to his uncontrolled, lustful urges. Now, however, the Bible says Samson "loved" a woman. His connection to her is deeper than mere attraction. As the rest of this passage shows, he is vulnerable and honest with her. What would otherwise be a good sign, and a step of maturity, will be the last and most disastrous mistake of Samson's life.

The woman's name is recorded as "Delilah." She was likely yet another Philistine. How and why Samson came to love her is not stated. Nor are we told anything about her life prior to meeting Samson. Her name, however, can be interpreted in several ways. In some languages, Delilah would imply a worshipper of Ishtar, a pagan goddess. In Hebrew, the word dalal can mean "weak," making it a counter to Samson's strength. Some commentators suggest Delilah is an alias chosen by the writer of Judges. The Hebrew word laylah means "night," while Samson's name is related to the word shemesh, meaning "sun." Any or all of these imply her influence on Samson: leading him away from God, sapping his strength, and blinding him (Judges 16:21).

Delilah acts as a mirror image of women like Jael (Judges 4:17–18). Jael, loyal to Israel, tricked an infamous enemy leader into letting down his guard, then destroyed him (Judges 4:19–21). As did Jael, Delilah will use clever manipulation to outsmart and defeat someone who otherwise seemed invincible. Samson possessed supernatural strength from God (Judges 14:5–6, 19; 15:14–15; 16:3). Yet he never overcame the mundane, common weakness of many men: an appetite for women. This weak point is fully exploited by Delilah and her Philistine sponsors, leading to Samson's eventual capture and death.
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