Delilah - the Bible story
|Delilah: she done him wrong |
People in Delilah's story
Samson the strongman
Delilah was a woman with a checkered past, probably a successful courtesan. She was beautiful, almost certainly a Philistine and so a traditional enemy of any Hebrew. She lived in one of the cities in the valley of Sorek.
One of her lovers was Samson, a brutal Hebrew warrior who described making love with his wife as 'plowing with my heifer...'. He had already been married once, and had been the cause of the death of his wife and her family.
Despite his appalling record of violence, or perhaps because of it, he was a hero to the beleaguered Hebrew settlers who were trying to find a place for themselves in land already occupied by the Canaanites and Philistines. They looked for champions, and Samson's qualities made him ideal - not as a leader, because he did not have the cunning or intelligence for that role, but as a fearless warrior who could protect them.
Magic and the woman Delilah
Three times she asked Samson what his secret was, and three times he gave her a false answer. It is hard to tell whether he was just tormenting her, or whether he knew the secret would be valuable to his enemies and was wary about telling it.
Samson tells his secret
Eventually he told her what he himself believed: his strength came from his long hair which, since it had never been cut, was far more plentiful that any other man's.
Was this true? Only in so far as he believed it - but belief is a powerful thing. He was not alone in this belief. The warriors of ancient Sparta deliberately let their hair grow long, believing it terrified their enemies into submission.
When Delilah was satisfied that she had a truthful answer at last, she called the Philistines. 'The time has come, for he has told his whole secret to me.' They brought the money with them.
Then she told them the secret and lulled Samson to sleep in her lap. While he slept she allowed them to cut off his luxuriant hair.
In the words of the story, 'the Lord had left him'.
Samson's eyes are gouged out
Delilah may have expected a quick death for him, rather than the long drawn out torture which followed his capture. His eyes were gouged from their sockets and he was thrown into prison.
Samson and Delilah by Van Dyck
Bible Stories: People of the Old Testament - Bible Study Resource: Delilah and Samson