The Death of Samson
Samson was a Nazarite, as we have already learned, and Nazarites never cut their hair. Samson's hair was thick and long, and hung down over his shoulders, but he alone knew that in his long hair lay his great strength and without it he would be weak as other men. So long as he obeyed the Lord and kept his hair uncut, so long would his strength remain with him.
It came to pass that Samson loved a woman whose name was Delilah. When the lords of the Philistines found this out they went to Delilah and said to her: "Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lies, and by what means we may prevail against him. We wish to bind him and to afflict him; and we will give you every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver."
Samson came to Delilah's house, and she said to him: "Tell me wherein your great strength lies, and with what must you be bound that others may afflict you?"
Samson desired to make sport of her and replied: "If they bind me with seven green withes that were never dried, then shall I be weak and be as other men." Now, a withe was a kind of cord made of twigs or the small branches of trees, and was by no means strong.
When Delilah told this to the lords of the Philistines, they brought her the seven withes and Samson let her bind him with them. The men were lying in wait to capture Samson, and when he was bound with the seven withes, Delilah cried out: "The Philistines be upon you, Samson!"
But Samson broke the withes as though they were thread, and the Philistines ran away. The secret of his great strength was not yet known, and Samson laughed at them and at Delilah.
SAMSON BREAKS HIS BONDS AS THE ENEMIES ARE UPON HIM.
"You have mocked me and deceived me. Now, tell me, wherewith may you be bound that others may afflict you?" Delilah said again to Samson.
Again Samson desired to make sport of Delilah, and replied to her: "If they bind me fast with new ropes that have never been used, then shall I be as weak as other men."
Again Delilah told the Philistines and they brought her new rope and Samson let himself be bound. There were men lying in wait as before, and Delilah cried out: "The Philistines be upon you, Samson!"
But Samson broke the ropes as though they were threads, and the Philistines who sought to take him, ran away, and Samson laughed at them and at Delilah. The secret of his great strength was not yet known to his enemies.
"Tell me, I pray you, wherewith you may be bound that others may afflict you?" Delilah a third time said to Samson.
Then Samson told her to weave his long hair into plaits and fasten them with a pin and he would be as weak as other men. Delilah did this also and again called out: "The Philistines be upon you, Samson!" But again Samson chased them away and kept the secret of his great strength.
Delilah was not to be put off by what Samson had told her and kept on asking him wherein his strength lay. Every day she begged him to tell her. At last he was worn out by her questions and reproaches and finally told her: "If I be shaven and my hair cut, and I be no longer a Nazarite then, indeed, shall I be weak as other men."
Delilah hastened to tell the lords of the Philistines what Samson had confessed to her. She said to them: "Come up at once, for he has showed me his heart." And they came and brought the money they had promised to give her.
Samson went to sleep upon the knees of Delilah, thinking no harm could come to him. His long hair fell to his feet and she ran her fingers through it, knowing now she had the secret of his great strength. She called for a man, and caused the locks to be cut from his head until they lay in great piles upon the floor. Then Samson awoke and Delilah cried out: "The Philistines be upon you, Samson!"
Then came the lords of the Philistines and bound him, for he was weak as other men. They put out his eyes and took him to Gaza and made him grind corn in the prison in that place. His enemies mocked him as he worked at the wheel, and said: "Where now is your mighty power, and where is your Lord that gave you such strength to slay a thousand Philistines?" But Samson uttered no word, and ground the corn in the prison house of Gaza.
But the hair of Samson had grown out again and no one thought to cut it off. And as it grew his strength came back to him, and he was again the mighty man, though the Philistines did not know it.
One time the lords of the Philistines gathered together to make a great sacrifice to their heathen god Dagon, and to rejoice, for they said: "Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands. He no longer is a mighty man and we are avenged of his slaying the Philistines." And they sent to the prison that the blind Samson might be brought into the temple of the heathen god, and that they might make sport of him.
Samson came in, and they set him between the pillars of the temples and they began to make sport of him. Then Samson said to the lad that held him by the hand: "Let me feel the pillars whereon the house stands that I may lean upon them." And the lad led him to the great pillars that held up the house.
The house was full of men and women, and all Ole lords of the Philistines were there, and upon the roof there were three thousand men and women, and they all made sport of Samson. Then Samson prayed to the Lord: "O, Lord, remember me and strengthen me, only this once, that I may be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes."
And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and said: "Let me die with the Philistines." And he bowed himself with all his might, and wrapped his great arms about the pillars, and broke them from their bases until they came down before him. And the house fell upon the lords, and upon Samson, and upon all the people that were in it, so that the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
His brethren and all his household came down and took his body and buried it in the burial place of his father, Manoah.