What does Judges 16:30 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: 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.
NASB: 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.
CSB: 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.
NLT: 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.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life.
Verse Commentary:
Samson's last words to the Lord are a request to die along with an entire building full of the most powerful and influential of all the Philistines. Thousands and men and women are gathered in this temple in Gaza (Judges 16:23–27), including the governors of the five major Philistine cities (Joshua 13:3). Three thousand are above him, perhaps standing in attached balconies, the roof, and other elevated parts of the temple. Samson has prayed for the power to obtain revenge one final time on his hated enemies (Judges 16:28–29). What he's asking for is not "suicide," where his death is the primary goal. Rather, Samson realizes the opportunity he would have—if he were strong enough—to bring down the temple, and he is willing to die to accomplish that goal.

Samson has been standing with one hand on each of the two main pillars supporting the entire building. After this final prayer, he pushes both columns with all the effort he can muster. That he "bent" implies that he stretched or contorted as he pushed, possibly wedging himself between the pillars and pushing them apart with his entire body. God grants Samson's last request, giving him the superhuman strength to collapse the columns, bringing the entire building down in a catastrophic collapse. In a single moment, Samson kills more Philistines than he'd slain during his previous twenty years as a judge (Judges 15:20).

God's purpose for Samson's life was to disrupt the Philistines' sense of comfortable oppression over Israel (Judges 13:5; 14:4). While he acted as a judge, Samson was an agent of chaos against Israel's enemies (Judges 13:1). When he was captured, the Philistines believed they'd ended the threat—only to be caught off guard by their worst defeat, yet. God has used Samson—a deeply flawed, complicated man—to prove a point. Even without using armies, even without a saintly servant, the Lord can bring destruction against Israel's enemies. The Philistines thought their false god Dagon had won a victory, but God used a captive slave to obliterate the entire temple.
Verse Context:
Judges 16:23–31 begins with a great Philistine celebration in Gaza. This honors the false god, Dagon, for the capture of Samson. Samson, blind and humiliated, is put on display in the crowded temple for the entertainment of thousands of men and women, including the Philistine lords. He asks to lean against the pillars that support the building and prays to the Lord for one more burst of strength to avenge his eyes. With God's strength, he knocks the pillars down, killing thousands of Philistines and himself. He is buried near his hometown of Zorah.
Chapter Summary:
After escaping an ambush in the Philistine city of Gaza, Samson rips the city gates out and walks away with them. When he falls deeply in love with Delilah, Philistine nobles pay her a fortune to seduce Samson into revealing the secret of his strength. She eventually succeeds, shaving his head while he sleeps. The Philistines gouge out Samson's eyes and put him in prison in Gaza. He is put on display at a celebration for the Philistine idol Dagon. God grants a last moment of supernatural power in response to Samson prayer. Samson collapses the support beams of the temple, crushing himself along with thousands of Philistine leaders.
Chapter Context:
Samson's story began in chapter 14 and will end here. His time as a judge lasted twenty years (Judges 15:20), but Scripture records only a few major incidents from his life. No specific times are assigned to these events. Samson humiliates Gaza by ripping out the city gates with his bare hands. He then falls for Delilah, who finds out the secret of his strength and betrays him. The Philistines blind Samson and enslave him in a prison near Gaza. They then parade him around during a noblemen's celebration in the temple of Dagon. With power from the Lord, granted as a last request, Samson collapses the temple's support pillars. This kills everyone inside, including himself. This begins the process of Israel's liberation (Judges 13:5), which later men such as Samuel will complete (1 Samuel 7:11–14).
Book Summary:
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
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