Judges 16:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 16:5, NIV: The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, 'See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver."

Judges 16:5, ESV: And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.”

Judges 16:5, KJV: And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.

Judges 16:5, NASB: So the governors of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, 'Entice him, and see where his great strength lies and how we can overpower him so that we may bind him to humble him. Then we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.'

Judges 16:5, NLT: The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, 'Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how he can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver.'

Judges 16:5, CSB: The Philistine leaders went to her and said, "Persuade him to tell you where his great strength comes from, so we can overpower him, tie him up, and make him helpless. Each of us will then give you 1,100 pieces of silver."

What does Judges 16:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Several important ideas are echoed in this verse. Samson was known throughout Philistine territory. The oppressors of Israel (Judges 13:1) feared this Israelite man. They'd learned the hard way that he was unstoppable by physical means (Judges 15:14–15; 16:1–3). They couldn't defeat him by sheer force of numbers. He'd already piled Philistine corpses in heaps when armed only with a donkey's jawbone. He'd ripped up and carried away the gates of the city of Gaza. Those events proved his strength was supernatural—also suggesting it had a source which might be exploited.

The Philistines have learned that Samson loved Delilah. She was likely a Philistine woman. While Samson had "seen" and desired women before (Judges 14:1; 16:1), his feelings for her are deeper. Philistine rulers hatch a plan to use Samson's attraction and affection against him. If Delilah can discover the source of his unbelievable strength, he can be stopped.

Scholars suggest these "lords" were probably rulers of the five major Philistine cities: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath (Joshua 13:3). The enormously wealthy nobles pledged to pay Delilah 1,100 pieces of silver, each. That presumably made their proposal worth 5,500 pieces of silver. Most commentators interpret these as shekels (Genesis 20:16; Deuteronomy 22:19). To put this sum into perspective, Abraham purchased the burial land for Sarah for 400 shekels (Genesis 23:15). Thirty shekels was the price of a slave in the law of Moses (Exodus 21:32). Many historians estimate the annual wage of a common person in that era at around ten shekels. If so, the lords of the Philistines were offering Delilah the modern equivalent of millions and millions of dollars.

To earn this, Delilah will need to untangle the mystery of Samson's strength. The Philistine leaders are blunt about their assignment: seduce Samson, uncover his secret, and expose him so we can capture him alive. Their intent is not to kill him immediately. Rather, they want to "humble" him, likely meaning torture and being paraded around as an object lesson for the rest of Israel. Delilah's payment is not merely for trying: she is being paid to succeed, so only if the Philistines capture Samson can she have the money.

Scripture says nothing about Delilah's original feelings for Samson, nor if she ever had any. Whatever affection she felt was outweighed by the outrageous sum of money being offered. Her strategy seems to involve luring Samson into a game. Eventually, he will let down his guard and trust her with his secret, resulting in his doom (Judges 16:21).