Judges 16



1 And Samson went to Gaza and saw there a woman that was a harlot, and came·​·in unto her.

2 To the Gazathites it was said, Samson comes hither; and they surrounded him and set·​·an·​·ambush for him all night in the gate of the city. And they were·​·silent all the night, saying, At the light of the morning we shall kill him.

3 And Samson lay until midnight, and arose at midnight, and seized the doors of the gate of the city and the two posts, and journeyed away with them with the bar; and he set them on his shoulders, and brought· them ·up to the head of the mountain that is before Hebron.

4 And it was, after this, that he loved a woman at the brook of Sorek, and her name was Delilah.

5 And the satraps* of the Philistines went·​·up to her, and said to her, Entice him and see in what his great power is, and by what we may prevail over him, that we may bind him to afflict him, and we will give thee every man a thousand and a hundred of silver.

6 And Delilah said unto Samson, Tell unto me, I pray thee, wherein is thy great power, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.

7 And Samson said unto her, If they would bind me with seven fresh bow·​·strings that have not been dried, then I shall be·​·weak and be as one man.

8 And the satraps of the Philistines brought·​·up to her seven fresh bow·​·strings which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.

9 And those ambushing sat with her in the chamber; and she said to him, The Philistines are upon thee, Samson. And he pulled·​·apart the bow·​·strings as a strand of tow* is pulled·​·apart when it smells the fire, and his power was not known.

10 And Delilah said to Samson, Behold, thou hast deluded me, and spoken lies to me; now tell me, I pray thee, with what thou mayest be bound.

11 And he said to her, If binding, they bind me with new ropes, with which no work* has been done, then I shall be·​·weak and be as one man.

12 And Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, The Philistines are upon thee, Samson! And those setting·​·the·​·ambush were situated in the chamber. And he tore them from on his arms as a thread.

13 And Delilah said to Samson, Until now thou hast deluded me, and spoken lies to me; tell me with what thou mayest be bound. And he said to her, If thou weavest the seven curls of my head with the weaving.

14 And she fixed it with the peg, and said unto him, The Philistines are upon thee, Samson! And he awoke from his sleep, and set·​·out with the peg of the weaver, and with the weaving.

15 And she said to him, How sayest thou, I love thee, and thy heart is not with me? These three times hast thou deluded me, and hast not told me wherein is thy great power.

16 And it was, that she caused· him ·anguish with her words all the days, and scorned him, and his soul was shortened to make· him ·die;

17 and he told her all his heart, and said to her, A razor has not come·​·up on my head, for I have been a Nazarite of God from the belly of my mother. If I be shaven, then my power will be removed from me, and I shall be·​·weak, and be as any man.

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

19 And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called the man, and she had him shave·​·off the seven curls of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his power was removed from upon him.

20 And she said, The Philistines are upon thee, Samson. And he awoke from his sleep, and said, I will go·​·out as a time in the time, and shake· them ·off. And he knew not that Jehovah had turned·​·aside from him.

21 And the Philistines seized him, and took·​·out his eyes, and brought· him ·down to Gaza, and bound him with brazen fetters; and he did grind in the house of the bound.

22 And the hair of his head began to grow where it had been shaven.

23 And the satraps of the Philistines were gathered together to sacrifice a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to be glad; and they said, Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.

24 And the people saw him and praised their god; for they said: Our god has given into our hand our enemy, and him that wasted our land and multiplied our slain.

25 And it was when it seemed good to their heart, that they said, Call for Samson that he may sport for us. And they called for Samson out of the house of the bound, and he sported before them, and they stood him between the pillars.

26 And Samson said unto the lad holding· him ·firmly by his hand, Place me that I may feel the pillars, on which the house was established, and I may lean on them.

27 And the house was·​·full of the men and the women; and all the satraps of the Philistines were there; and on the roof were about three thousand men and women, who saw Samson sporting.

28 And Samson called to Jehovah and said, O Lord Jehovih*, remember me, I pray Thee, and strengthen me, I pray Thee, surely this time, O God, and I will be avenged of the Philistines with one vengeance for my two eyes.

29 And Samson seized·​·hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house was established and upon which it was supported, one in his right·​·hand and one in his left.

30 And Samson said, Let my soul die with the Philistines; and he stretched· himself ·out with power; and the house fell upon the satraps, and upon all the people that were therein. And the dead whom he put·​·to·​·death in his death were many more than they whom he put·​·to·​·death in his life.

31 And his brothers and all the house of his father came·​·down, and lifted and brought· him ·up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the grave of Manoah his father. And he 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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Thanks to the Kempton Project for the permission to use this New Church translation of the Word.