In Zorah, in the
land of Canaan, there was a man named Manoah who had no children.
One day an angel of the Lord appeared to his wife and told her she
would have a son who one day would deliver the Hebrews from the
Philistines. When their son was born, they named him Samson, and
as the angel had instructed them, they did not cut his hair at ll;
nor, as he grew older, did he shave.
When Samson was a
young man he visited the town of Timnath in Philistia, and there
he met a young Philistine woman with whom he fell in love. When he
came home he told his parents he wanted to marry her. They were
very worried, not knowing that this was according to the Lord's
plan to give Samson an occasion to quarrel with the Philistines.
custom, Samson's parent went with them to Timnath to see the girl.
As they approached the town, a young lion came roaring at them.
But the Lord suddenly gave Samson enormous strength. The youth
seized the lion and tore it to pieces with his bare hands.
Some time later,
when he was again traveling to Timnath, Samson passed the place
where he had killed the lion. He noticed that a swarm of bees had
made a nest in the carcass, and, finding honey, he took some and
at it. He took some to his father and mother, without telling them
where it came from.
When Samson was
married there was a great feast in Timnath, and among the guests
were thirty young Philistine men. To them Samson said, "I
will give you a riddle. If you can solve it, give me the answer
within a week, and I will give you thirty suits of clothing If you
cannot, then you shall give me thirty suits of clothing." And
he gave them this riddle: Out of the eater came forth meat, and
out of the strong came forth sweetness. And no one could solve the
So the Philistine
men went to Samson's wife and threatened to burn down her father's
house if she did not find out the answer from her husband. At
first Samson did not want to tell her, saying as an excuse,
"I have not even told my parents. I have told no one. It is a
secret." But she wept and pleaded so that finally he told her
how he had killed the lion and then found the honey.
She went straight
to the Philistines with the answer, and on the seventh day, at the
end of the wedding feast, they spoke to Samson. "What is
sweeter than honey, and what is stronger than a lion?"
Samson knew that
only his wife could have given away the secret, and he was very
angry. He left her, went out and slew thirty Philistines, took
their clothes, and gave them to the thirty who had solved the
riddle. And then he went home to his father's house.
When his anger
had passed he returned to Timnath for his wife, but found that her
father, thinking Samson no longer loved her, had given her as a
wife to another man. Fore revenge, Samson caught three hundred
foxes and, tying firebrands to their tails, sent them running
through the Philistines' cornfields, vineyards, and olive groves,
so that the crops were all burned. Then he left the town and hid
himself in a cave high on a nearby hill, while the Philistines
searched all over for him without success.
After that the
Philistines persecuted the Hebrews even more than before. Finally
some of the Hebrews, who knew where Samson was hidden, went to him
and told him they were going to turn him over to the Philistines
so that they might have peace. He agreed to let them bind his
hands and arms and to go with them, if they would promise not to
When they had
given him over to the Philistines and were gone, the strength of
the Lord came again to Samson, and he broke all the cords with
which he had been bound. Seeing the jawbone of a dead ass on the
ground, he seized it in his hand as a club and killed a thousand
of the Philistines.
Some years later,
Samson fell in love with a woman of Sorek who was named Delilah.
When the leaders of the Philistines heard of it, they sought to
capture Samson with her help. They went to Delilah and promised
her great wealth if she could find out the secret of Samson's
by her endless questions, Samson told her of the Lord's command
that his hair should never be cut - that if it were to be cut he
would not longer have his strength.
Delilah sent for
the Philistine leaders, who came bringing her the eleven hundred
pieces of silver they had promised. That night as Samson slept she
cut off his long locks of hair, and his great strength left him.
Samson was now weak, and the philistines were easily able to take
him. They put out his eyes and brought him to Gaza, where they
bound him and set him to grinding grain in the prison house.
Knowing that he
was now blind and that he was securely bound, the Philistines
forgot the secret of Samson's strength. Each day, as his hair
grew, his strength return.
One day the lords
of the Philistines gathered in the temple to offer sacrifices to
their gods and to rejoice at having captured Samson. After the
ceremonies they spread a great feast and made merry, and they had
Samson brought from the prison so that they could make fun of him.
When Samson could endure it no longer, he said to the boy who
guided him, "Lead me to the pillars that hold up the temple
so that I may rest against them"
Then he put an
arm around each great pillar and he called to God, "Oh, Lord
God, remember me and give me strength that I may have revenge on
these Philistines for blinding me." He pulled with all his
might and broke the pillars, so that the roof of the temple came
down and killed all who were within.
relative came and took him and buried him in the burying place of