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Judges chapter 16

New International Version

1 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. 2 The people of Gaza were told, 'Samson is here!' So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, 'At dawn we'll kill him.'
3 But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
4 Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. 5 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."
6 So Delilah said to Samson, 'Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.'
7 Samson answered her, 'If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I'll become as weak as any other man.'
8 Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. 9 With men hidden in the room, she called to him, 'Samson, the Philistines are upon you!' But he snapped the bowstrings as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, 'You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied.'
11 He said, 'If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I'll become as weak as any other man.'
12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, 'Samson, the Philistines are upon you!' But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads.
13 Delilah then said to Samson, 'All this time you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied.' He replied, 'If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I'll become as weak as any other man." So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric
14 and tightened it with the pin. Again she called to him, 'Samson, the Philistines are upon you!' He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.
15 Then she said to him, 'How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven't told me the secret of your great strength.' 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.
17 So he told her everything. 'No razor has ever been used on my head,' he said, 'because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother's womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.'
18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, 'Come back once more; he has told me everything.' So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.
20 Then she called, 'Samson, the Philistines are upon you!' He awoke from his sleep and thought, 'I'll go out as before and shake myself free.' But he did not know that the LORD had left him.
21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
23 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, 'Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.'
24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, 'Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.'
25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, 'Bring out Samson to entertain us.' So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. When they stood him among the pillars, 26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, 'Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.' 27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the LORD, 'Sovereign LORD, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.' 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, 'Let me die with the Philistines!' Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
31 Then his brothers and his father's whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.
English Standard Version

1 Samson went to Gaza, and there he saw a prostitute, and he went in to her. 2 The Gazites were told, “Samson has come here.” And they surrounded the place and set an ambush for him all night at the gate of the city. They kept quiet all night, saying, “Let us wait till the light of the morning; then we will kill him.” 3 But Samson lay till midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two posts, and pulled them up, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that is in front of Hebron.
4 After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5 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.” 6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.”
7 Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” 8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9 Now she had men lying in ambush in an inner chamber. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the bowstrings, as a thread of flax snaps when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Behold, you have mocked me and told me lies. Please tell me how you might be bound.” 11 And he said to her, “If they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” 12 So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And the men lying in ambush were in an inner chamber. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread.
13 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me how you might be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web and fasten it tight with the pin, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” 14 So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his head and wove them into the web. And she made them tight with the pin and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled away the pin, the loom, and the web.
15 And she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.” 16 And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. 17 And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”
18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up again, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. 19 She made him sleep on her knees. And she called a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. 20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him. 21 And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison. 22 But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice, and they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” 24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god. For they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has killed many of us.” 25 And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They made him stand between the pillars. 26 And Samson said to the young man who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the house was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about 3,000 men and women, who looked on while Samson entertained.
28 Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life. 31 Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had judged Israel twenty years.
King James Version

1 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her. 2 And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him. 3 And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.
4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5 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. 6 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee. 7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man. 8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9 Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known. 10 And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound. 11 And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man. 12 Delilah therefore took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread. 13 And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web. 14 And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web. 15 And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth. 16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; 17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a rasor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath showed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. 19 And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. 20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him. 21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.
22 Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven. 23 Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand. 24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us. 25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars. 26 And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them. 27 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. 28 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. 29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. 30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. 31 Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.
New American Standard Bible

1 Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a prostitute there, and had relations with her. 2 When it was reported to the Gazites, saying, 'Samson has come here,' they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. And they kept silent all night, saying, 'Let’s wait until the morning light, then we will kill him.' 3 Now Samson lay asleep until midnight, and at midnight he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two doorposts, and pulled them up along with the bars; then he put them on his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of the mountain which is opposite Hebron.
4 After this it came about that he was in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5 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.' 6 So Delilah said to Samson, 'Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you can be bound to humble you.' 7 And Samson said to her, 'If they bind me with seven fresh animal tendons that have not been dried, then I will become weak and be like any other man.' 8 Then the governors of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh animal tendons that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9 Now she had men prepared for an ambush in an inner room. And she said to him, 'The Philistines are upon you, Samson!' But he tore the tendons to pieces just like a thread of flax is torn apart when it comes too close to fire. So his strength was not discovered.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, 'Behold, you have toyed with me and told me lies; now please tell me how you may be bound.' 11 Then He said to her, 'If they bind me tightly with new ropes which have not been used, then I will become weak and be like any other man.' 12 So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, 'The Philistines are upon you, Samson!' For the men in the ambush were waiting in the inner room. But he tore the ropes from his arms like thread.
13 Then Delilah said to Samson, 'Up to now you have toyed with me and told me lies; tell me how you may be bound.' And he said to her, 'If you weave the seven locks of my hair with the web [and fasten it with the pin, then I will be weak like any other man.' 14 So while he slept, Delilah wove the seven locks of his hair with the web]. And she fastened it with the pin and said to him, 'The Philistines are upon you, Samson!' But he awoke from his sleep and pulled out the pin of the loom and the web.
15 Then she said to him, 'How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have toyed with me these three times and have not told me where your great strength is.' 16 And it came about, when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death. 17 So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, 'A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.'
18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, she sent word and called the governors of the Philistines, saying, 'Come up once more, for he has told me all that is in his heart.' Then the governors of the Philistines came up to her and brought up the money in their hands. 19 And she made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to humble him, and his strength left him. 20 She said, 'The Philistines are upon you, Samson!' And he awoke from his sleep and said, 'I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.' But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him. 21 Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and restrained him with bronze chains, and he became a grinder in the prison. 22 However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off.
23 Now the governors of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to celebrate, for they said, 'Our god has handed Samson our enemy over to us.'
24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, for they said, 'Our god has handed our enemy over to us, Even the destroyer of our country, Who has killed many of us.'
25 It so happened when they were in high spirits, that they said, 'Call for Samson, that he may amuse us.' So they called for Samson from the prison, and he entertained them. And they made him stand between the pillars. 26 Then Samson said to the boy who was holding his hand, 'Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, so that I may lean against them.' 27 Now the house was full of men and women, and all the governors of the Philistines were there. And about three thousand men and women were on the roof looking on while Samson was entertaining them.
28 Then Samson called to the LORD and said, 'Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes.' 29 Then Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. 30 And Samson said, 'Let me die with the Philistines!' And he pushed outwards powerfully, so that the house fell on the governors and all the people who were in it. And the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed during his lifetime. 31 Then his brothers and all his father’s household came down and took him, and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. So he had judged Israel for twenty years.
New Living Translation

1 One day Samson went to the Philistine town of Gaza and spent the night with a prostitute. 2 Word soon spread that Samson was there, so the men of Gaza gathered together and waited all night at the town gates. They kept quiet during the night, saying to themselves, 'When the light of morning comes, we will kill him.'
3 But Samson stayed in bed only until midnight. Then he got up, took hold of the doors of the town gate, including the two posts, and lifted them up, bar and all. He put them on his shoulders and carried them all the way to the top of the hill across from Hebron.
4 Some time later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek. 5 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.'
6 So Delilah said to Samson, 'Please tell me what makes you so strong and what it would take to tie you up securely.'
7 Samson replied, 'If I were tied up with seven new bowstrings that have not yet been dried, I would become as weak as anyone else.'
8 So the Philistine rulers brought Delilah seven new bowstrings, and she tied Samson up with them. 9 She had hidden some men in one of the inner rooms of her house, and she cried out, 'Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!' But Samson snapped the bowstrings as a piece of string snaps when it is burned by a fire. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
10 Afterward Delilah said to him, 'You've been making fun of me and telling me lies! Now please tell me how you can be tied up securely.'
11 Samson replied, 'If I were tied up with brand-new ropes that had never been used, I would become as weak as anyone else.'
12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him up with them. The men were hiding in the inner room as before, and again Delilah cried out, 'Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!' But again Samson snapped the ropes from his arms as if they were thread.
13 Then Delilah said, 'You've been making fun of me and telling me lies! Now tell me how you can be tied up securely.' Samson replied, 'If you were to weave the seven braids of my hair into the fabric on your loom and tighten it with the loom shuttle, I would become as weak as anyone else.' So while he slept, Delilah wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric. 14 Then she tightened it with the loom shuttle. Again she cried out, 'Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!' But Samson woke up, pulled back the loom shuttle, and yanked his hair away from the loom and the fabric.
15 Then Delilah pouted, 'How can you tell me, 'I love you,' when you don't share your secrets with me? You've made fun of me three times now, and you still haven't told me what makes you so strong!' 16 She tormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it.
17 Finally, Samson shared his secret with her. 'My hair has never been cut,' he confessed, 'for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.'
18 Delilah realized he had finally told her the truth, so she sent for the Philistine rulers. 'Come back one more time,' she said, 'for he has finally told me his secret.' So the Philistine rulers returned with the money in their hands. 19 Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair. In this way she began to bring him down, and his strength left him.
20 Then she cried out, 'Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!' When he woke up, he thought, 'I will do as before and shake myself free.' But he didn't realize the LORD had left him.
21 So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison.
22 But before long, his hair began to grow back.
23 The Philistine rulers held a great festival, offering sacrifices and praising their god, Dagon. They said, 'Our god has given us victory over our enemy Samson!'
24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, 'Our god has delivered our enemy to us! The one who killed so many of us is now in our power!'
25 Half drunk by now, the people demanded, 'Bring out Samson so he can amuse us!' So he was brought from the prison to amuse them, and they had him stand between the pillars supporting the roof.
26 Samson said to the young servant who was leading him by the hand, 'Place my hands against the pillars that hold up the temple. I want to rest against them.' 27 Now the temple was completely filled with people. All the Philistine rulers were there, and there were about 3,000 men and women on the roof who were watching as Samson amused them.
28 Then Samson prayed to the LORD, 'Sovereign LORD, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.' 29 Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands, 30 he prayed, 'Let me die with the Philistines.' And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.
31 Later his brothers and other relatives went down to get his body. They took him back home and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol, where his father, Manoah, was buried. Samson had judged Israel for twenty years.
Christian Standard Bible

1 Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute and went to bed with her. 2 When the Gazites heard that Samson was there, they surrounded the place and waited in ambush for him all that night at the city gate. They kept quiet all night, saying, "Let's wait until dawn; then we will kill him." 3 But Samson stayed in bed only until midnight. Then he got up, took hold of the doors of the city gate along with the two gateposts, and pulled them out, bar and all. He put them on his shoulders and took them to the top of the mountain overlooking Hebron.
4 Some time later, he fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley. 5 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."
6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me, where does your great strength come from? How could someone tie you up and make you helpless? "
7 Samson told her, "If they tie me up with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I will become weak and be like any other man."
8 The Philistine leaders brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him up with them. 9 While the men in ambush were waiting in her room, she called out to him, "Samson, the Philistines are here! " But he snapped the bowstrings as a strand of yarn snaps when it touches fire. The secret of his strength remained unknown.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, "You have mocked me and told me lies! Won't you please tell me how you can be tied up? "
11 He told her, "If they tie me up with new ropes that have never been used, I will become weak and be like any other man."
12 Delilah took new ropes, tied him up with them, and shouted, "Samson, the Philistines are here! " But while the men in ambush were waiting in her room, he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread.
13 Then Delilah said to Samson, "You have mocked me all along and told me lies! Tell me how you can be tied up."He told her, "If you weave the seven braids on my head into the fabric on a loom--"
14 She fastened the braids with a pin and called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are here! " He awoke from his sleep and pulled out the pin, with the loom and the web.
15 "How can you say, 'I love you,' " she told him, "when your heart is not with me? This is the third time you have mocked me and not told me what makes your strength so great! "
16 Because she nagged him day after day and pleaded with him until she wore him out, 17 he told her the whole truth and said to her, "My hair has never been cut, because I am a Nazirite to God from birth. If I am shaved, my strength will leave me, and I will become weak and be like any other man."
18 When Delilah realized that he had told her the whole truth, she sent this message to the Philistine leaders: "Come one more time, for he has told me the whole truth." The Philistine leaders came to her and brought the silver with them.
19 Then she let him fall asleep on her lap and called a man to shave off the seven braids on his head. In this way, she made him helpless, and his strength left him. 20 Then she cried, "Samson, the Philistines are here! " When he awoke from his sleep, he said, "I will escape as I did before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
21 The Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles, and he was forced to grind grain in the prison. 22 But his hair began to grow back after it had been shaved.
23 Now the Philistine leaders gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They rejoiced and said: Our god has handed over our enemy Samson to us.
24 When the people saw him, they praised their god and said: Our god has handed over to us our enemy who destroyed our land and who multiplied our dead.
25 When they were in good spirits, they said, "Bring Samson here to entertain us." So they brought Samson from prison, and he entertained them. They had him stand between the pillars.
26 Samson said to the young man who was leading him by the hand, "Lead me where I can feel the pillars supporting the temple, so I can lean against them." 27 The temple was full of men and women; all the leaders of the Philistines were there, and about three thousand men and women were on the roof watching Samson entertain them. 28 He called out to the Lord, "Lord God, please remember me. Strengthen me, God, just once more. With one act of vengeance, let me pay back the Philistines for my two eyes." 29 Samson took hold of the two middle pillars supporting the temple and leaned against them, one on his right hand and the other on his left. 30 Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines." He pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the leaders and all the people in it. And those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed in his life.
31 Then his brothers and his father's whole family came down, carried him back, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. So he judged Israel twenty years.

What does Judges chapter 16 mean?

The previous chapter ended with a summary statement: Samson judged Israel for twenty years (Judges15:20). Only a few notable incidents in Samson's life are recorded, and none are tied to specific dates. We're not told exactly when his tenure began. Nor do we know how much time passes between his victory over the Philistine army (Judges 15:14–15) and his arrival in Gaza.

It's clear Samson is still living for himself and not according to the commands of the Lord. No reason is given for him to be in Gaza. This is the southernmost of the Philistines' five major cities (Joshua 13:3). Perhaps he was on a mission. Perhaps he planned to move through quietly, assuming he would not be recognized. While there, he goes to a prostitute. Someone in Gaza recognizes him, so the local men prepare an ambush. They expect him to leave in the morning and think they can corner him at the locked city gates (Judges 16:1–2).

Instead, Samson leaves the prostitute at midnight, rips the entire gate structure out of the ground, and walks away with it. He carries the gate some distance away, dropping it on top of a hill. This not only leaves the city exposed and vulnerable, but it is also a deeply humiliating act. A city's gates were centers of commerce and the main point of defense. To "capture the gates" of an enemy was to be in total control (Genesis 22:17; 24:60). While Israel is subjugated, Samson is openly insulting the Philistine nations who rule the region (Judges 16:3).

What happens next is introduced with deep foreshadowing. The Valley of Sorek is named after a variety of grapes. Samson's Nazirite vow (Judges 13:5) was supposed to keep him from all grape products (Numbers 6:1–4). The woman he falls for is referred to as Delilah. This might imply "weakness," in contrast to Samson's great strength. Her name can mean "night," the opposite of Samson's name which plays on the word shemesh, meaning "sun." That same connection to night may foreshadow the result of their relationship, which is literal blindness (Judges 16:21). Unlike the previous woman Samson "saw," this is a woman whom he "loves." The lords of the five Philistine cities hear about this and spot an opportunity. They offer Delilah the modern equivalent of millions of dollars. Her mission is to seduce Samson into telling the secret of his supernatural strength. She agrees (Judges 16:4–5).

Delilah is not subtle. And yet, she is extremely clever. Rather than trying to disguise her quest, she hides it in plain sight. She simply asks Samson how someone could subdue him. In the context of two lovers, such a blunt series of questions would seem more sincere than suspicious. And yet, one would expect Samson to suspect something. Yet he can't resist playing her game. At first, he lies, telling her he can be subdued with fresh bowstrings: the un-dried tendons or sinews of animals. Delilah tries just that, with men waiting in ambush, only to find Samson is as strong as ever (Judges 16:6–9).

This begins several repetitions of the same basic pattern. Delilah acts hurt and betrayed, claiming that Samson is teasing her with his lie. That, itself, may have begun as flirtatious banter. Each time she asks, and he lies, she tries his method and he can impress her with his strength. Over time, this probably lulled Samson into a false sense of security. In his mind, her attempts and cries of warning were a game, not an attempt to hurt him. Delilah tries using new ropes (Judges 15:4–5), but these don't work, either (Judges 16:10–12).

That Samson is growing less suspicious and more trusting is shown in his next lie, involving his hair. That ends with the usual results, but it's a dangerous move. The actual secret of Samson's strength is his uncut hair, the only explicit requirement given to him before his birth (Judges 13:4–5). Delilah's flirting and teasing turns to manipulation. She questions his love and makes him sick at heart until he finally gives in. Trying to prove his love, Samson tells her the truth: if his hair is cut, he'll be as weak as anyone else (Judges 16:13–17).

Samson assumes Delilah loves him. He probably thought that when she tried tying him up before, she was simply teasing and playing a game. Those attempts were relatively tame: tying him or weaving his hair. Samson assumes someone who loves him won't go as far as to shave his head. Perhaps he's right—but Delilah isn't acting in love. Now that she knows he's opened his deepest heart, she calls for her patrons to send men and payment. She lulls Samson to sleep—possibly making him drunk or using drugs so he won't know that his head is being shaved (Judges 16:18–19).

As before, Delilah calls out a warning. As before, Samson wakes up and attempts to free himself. This time, however, it's not a game or a joke. Too late, Samson realizes his hair is gone, that Delilah was lying, and that he's being captured for real. The hiding men spring out and maim Samson, taking his eyes. He's bound with heavy metal shackles and enslaved in a Philistine prison (Judges 16:20–21).

Samson's hair is not a magical substance that grants him strength. Rather, it's an outward sign of his commitment to obey God. While Samson's life was filled with blatant disobedience, this is a line he had not yet crossed. By telling his secret—to a woman he never should have trusted, let alone slept with—Samson might as well have shaved his own head. He's violated his purpose, and God takes away his strength. And yet, perhaps because of this experience, Samson's faith begins to heal and mature, symbolized by his slowly regrowing hair (Judges 16:22).

The Philistines hold a huge celebration to honor their god Dagon. They see this as a victory of their deity over the God of Israel. Thousands of noblemen crowd into the temple. In what's likely a drunken, foolish choice, Samson is brought out of the jail to be put on display. Showing a new sense of humility, Samson prays for one more burst of strength. He then strains against the pillars holding up the entire building. God grants his request, and the temple collapses, killing Samson along with innumerable Philistine leaders (Judges 16:23–30).

God's purpose for Samson was to disrupt the Philistine's comfortable, secure control over Israel (Judges 13:5; 14:4). The chaos Samson spread during his life certainly spread fear (Judges 14:19, 15:14–15; 16:3). In death, however, he does more to shatter Philistine oppression than he did in his entire life. That his family can so readily come and bury him suggests that the local power structure has been completely scrambled. Later men such as Samuel will complete the liberation (1 Samuel 7:11–14). For now, this catastrophe ends the twenty-year tenure of one of the Old Testament's most complicated figures (Judges 16:31).

Samson is the last pure "judge" of Israel in this era (Judges 2:16–19). Samuel will bridge the transition from judges to prophets (1 Samuel 7:3–6) as Israel moves towards a monarchy (1 Samuel 8:4). In the meantime, Israel will continue to live in spiritual chaos and sin, disregarding the will of God (Judges 17:6, 21:25). The events which close out the book of Judges highlight the tragic, disturbing results of that rejection.