Judges 16



1 And Samson went to Gazah, and saw there a harlot, and went in to her.

2 [And it was told] the Gazathites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they surrounded [him], and laid wait for him all night at the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning light we will kill him.

3 And Samson lay till midnight; and he arose at midnight, and seized the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and tore them up with the bar, and put [them] upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of the mountain that is before Hebron.

4 And it came to pass afterwards that 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, Persuade him, and see in what his great strength is, and with what we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to overpower him; and we will each give thee eleven hundred silver-pieces.

6 Then Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, in what is thy great strength, and with what thou mightest be bound to overpower thee.

7 And Samson said to her, If they should bind me with seven fresh cords which have not been dried, then should I be weak, and be as another man.

8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh cords which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.

9 Now she had liers in wait abiding in the chamber; and she said to him, The Philistines are upon thee, Samson! And he broke the cords, as a thread of tow is broken when it touches the fire; and his strength was not known.

10 And Delilah said to Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me and told me lies. Now tell me, I pray thee, with what thou mightest be bound.

11 And he said to her, If they should bind me fast with new ropes, with which no work has been done, then should I be weak, and be as another man.

12 And Delilah took new ropes, and bound him with them, and said to him, The Philistines are upon thee, Samson! Now there were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he broke them from off his arms like a thread.

13 And Delilah said to Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me and told me lies. Tell me with what thou mightest be bound. And he said to her, If thou shouldest weave the seven locks of my head with the web.

14 And she fastened it with the pin, and said to him, The Philistines are upon thee, Samson! And he awoke out of his sleep, and tore out the pin of the beam, and the web.

15 Then she said to him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thy heart is not with me? these three times hast thou mocked me, and hast not told me in what is thy great strength.

16 And it came to pass when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was vexed unto death;

17 and he told her all his heart, and said to her, There has not come a razor upon my head; for I am a Nazarite of God from my mother's womb; if I should be shaven, then my strength would go from me, and I should be weak, and be like all mankind.

18 And Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, and she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this time, for he has told me all his heart. And the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hand.

19 And she made him sleep upon her knees, and called a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to overpower him, and his strength went from him.

20 And she said, The Philistines are upon thee, Samson! And he awoke out of his sleep, and thought, I will go out as at other times before, and disengage myself. And he knew not that Jehovah had departed from him.

21 And the Philistines seized him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gazah, and bound him with fetters of bronze; and he had to grind in the prison-house.

22 But the hair of his head began to grow after he was shaved.

23 Then the lords of the Philistines gathered together to sacrifice a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice; for they said, Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hands.

24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said, Our god has given into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, even him who multiplied our slain.

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 played before them; and they set him between the pillars.

26 And Samson said to the lad that held him by the hand, Let loose of me, and suffer me to feel the pillars upon which the house stands, 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 upon the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who looked on while Samson made sport.

28 And Samson called to Jehovah, and said, Lord Jehovah, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may take one vengeance upon the Philistines for my two eyes.

29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood (and he supported himself upon 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 bowed himself with might; and the house fell on the lords, and on all the people that were therein. So the dead that he slew at his death were more than those whom he had slain in his life.

31 And his brethren came down, and all the house of his father, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zoreah and Eshtaol in the sepulchre of Manoah his father. And he had judged Israel twenty years.


Exploring the Meaning of Judges 16      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 16: Samson and Delilah; Samson dies with the Philistines.

In this final chapter about Samson, he becomes involved with two women, and both episodes lead him to fight for his life.

The first woman was a prostitute from Gaza, a Philistine town. When the men of Gaza heard that Samson was visiting this woman, they lay in wait for him all night, so that they could kill him in the morning. Samson foiled their plot by sneaking out at midnight. As he was leaving, he took the gates of the city and its two posts, put them upon his shoulders, and took them to the top of a hill facing Hebron, a town in Israel.

Some time later, Samson began to love an Israelite woman called Delilah, whose name means “lustful pining”. The lords of the Philistines bribed her to find out the source of Samson’s strength, so that they could take him prisoner. After deceiving her three times and evading her almost-daily questions, Samson finally admitted that his strength lay in his hair; if it were cut, he would be like any other man.

Delilah told this to the the lords of the Philistines, and they paid her the bribe. She lulled Samson to sleep, and had a man shave off all of Samson’s hair. She called out as she had the first three times: “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” He awoke, but he was as weak as a normal man. The Philistines took him captive, gouged out his eyes, and forced him to work as a mill grinder in prison. However, while he was in prison, his hair began to grow back.

When the Philistines gathered to make a great sacrifice in the temple of their god, Dagon, to celebrate the capture of Samson, 3000 Philistine men and women were there, plus all of their kings. Samson was brought in as a spectacle to be mocked. He could feel his strength returning, and asked the boy leading him to let him lean against the two central columns of the temple. Samson prayed to the Lord, and pushed the columns until the temple collapsed, killing everyone there. That day, Samson brought about the death of more Philistines than he had in his life. His family took his body, and buried him between Zorah (“stricken”) and Eshtaol (“supplication”) in his father’s tomb.


This chapter demonstrates the temptations and potential pitfalls of faith-alone spirituality, specifically through the women that Samson was involved with. Both of these episodes - the first with the prostitute from Gaza, and the second with Delilah - highlight Samson’s brazen passions and his apparent faults and weaknesses. Samson represents our determination to overcome the draw of faith alone, which the hells employ in order to ensnare us, and then rule us. The Lord’s teachings through the Word often precipitate a struggle within us between our lusts from the hells and our spiritual intentions (see Swedenborg’s work, Apocalypse Revealed 678[2] and Apocalypse Revealed 798[2]).

Seizing the gates and gateposts stands for changing the focus of our spiritual view. Gates represent the entry and exit points to our hearts and minds, through which we receive the Lord and the Word, but also the influences of hell (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Providence 119). The top of the hill stands for a mind raised up toward God, and ‘facing Hebron’ is representative of a new focus on the unity between us and the Word, for Hebron means ‘joined, brotherhood, unity’.

After three failed attempts, Delilah discovered that Samson’s strength lay in his hair, which had never been cut. Hair stands for the power and beauty of the Word in its literal sense, and our faithfulness in abiding by its truths (see Swedenborg’s works, Arcana Caelestia 9836[2] and Doctrine of the Lord 15[8]).

Samson’s imprisonment and abuse by the Philistines symbolize a period of spiritual turmoil, during which we are misled by the hells. Blindness corresponds to our inability to see or recognize truths; ‘grinding grain at the mill’ is like molding truths from the Word to support our own purposes - in this case, faith alone spirituality (Arcana Caelestia 10303[5] and Arcana Caelestia 10303[6]). Yet all the while, our ability to follow the Lord will gradually restrengthen, represented by Samson’s hair growing back.

In the last moments of his life, Samson brought down the temple of Dagon, killing three thousand of the Philistines at once. The two supporting columns of the Philistine temple stand for what is evil and what is false; when evil and falsity are toppled, the whole system of belief collapses. In sacrificing his life, Samson demonstrated the highest of all divine and heavenly loves (see Arcana Caelestia 2077[2]).

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