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Judges in the Bible

In the Book of Joshua: Joshua
In the Book of Judges: OthnielEhudShamgarDeborahBarak† • GideonAbimelech† • TolaJairJephthahIbzanElonAbdonSamson
In First Samuel: EliSamuel
Not explicitly described as a judge

Samson's hair cut by the soldiers, Lucas Cranach the Elder

Samson, Shimshon (Hebrew): שמשון, Standard Šimšon Tiberian Šimšôn; meaning "of the sun" – perhaps proclaiming he was radiant and mighty, or "[One who] Serves [God]") or Shamshoun شمشون (Arabic) or Sampson Σαμψών (Greek) is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Children of Israel mentioned in the Tanakh (the Hebrew bible), and the Talmud. He is described in the Book of Judges chapters 13 to 16.[1][2][3]

The exploits of Samson also appear in Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews, written in the last decade of the 1st Century CE, as well as in works by Pseudo-Philo, written slightly earlier.

Samson is a Herculean figure, who is granted tremendous strength by God to combat his enemies and perform heroic feats unachievable by ordinary humans:[4] wrestling a lion,[3][5][6][7] slaying an entire army with only a donkey jawbone,[2][3][6][7][8] and destroying a temple.[1][3][7]

He is believed to have been buried in Tel Tzora in Israel overlooking the Sorek valley. There reside two large gravestones of Samson and his father Manoah. Nearby stands Manoah’s altar (Judges 13:19-24).[9] It is located between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol.[10]


Biblical narrative

Samson's activity takes place during a time when God was punishing the Israelites, by giving them "into the hand of the Philistines".[11] An angel appears to Manoah, an Israelite from the tribe of Dan, in the city of Zorah, and to his wife, who had been unable to conceive.[2][5][12] This angel proclaims that the couple will soon have a son who will begin to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines.[5] The wife believed the angel, but her husband wasn't present, at first, and wanted the heavenly messenger to return, asking that he himself could also receive instruction about the child that was going to be born. Requirements were set up by the angel that Manoah's wife (as well as the child himself) were to abstain from all alcoholic beverages, and her promised child was not to shave or cut his hair. He was to be a "Nazirite" from birth. In ancient Israel, those wanting to be especially dedicated to God for awhile could take a nazarite vow, which included things like the aforementioned as well as other stipulations. [2][5][12] After the angel returned, Manoah soon prepared a sacrifice, but the Messenger would only allow it to be for God, touching his staff to it, miraculously engulfing it in flames. The angel then ascended up into the sky in the fire. This was such dramatic evidence as to the nature of the messenger, that Manoah feared for his life, as it has been said that no-one can live after seeing God; however, his wife soon convinced him that if God planned to slay them, he would never have revealed such things to them to begin with. In due time the son, Samson, is born; he is reared according to these provisions.[5][12]

Rembrandt's painting of Samson and Delilah.

When he becomes a young adult, Samson leaves the hills of his people to see the cities of the Philistines. While there, Samson falls in love with a Philistine woman from Timnah that, overcoming the objections of his parents who do not know that "it is of the Lord", he decides to marry her.[5][12][13] The intended marriage is actually part of God's plan to strike at the Philistines.[5] On the way to ask for the woman's hand in marriage, Samson is attacked by an Asiatic Lion and simply grabs it and rips it apart, as the spirit of God moves upon him, divinely empowering him. This so profoundly affects Samson that he just keeps it to himself as a secret. [5][6] He continues on to the Philistine's house, winning her hand in marriage. On his way to the wedding, Samson notices that bees have nested in the carcass of the lion and have made honey.[5][6] He eats a handful of the honey and gives some to his parents.[5] At the wedding-feast, Samson proposes that he tell a riddle to his thirty groomsmen (all Philistines); if they can solve it, he will give them thirty pieces of fine linen and garments.[5][12] The riddle ("Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet") is a veiled account of his second encounter with the lion (at which only he was present).[5][6] The Philistines are infuriated by the riddle.[5] The thirty groomsmen tell Samson's new wife that they will burn her and her father's household if she does not discover the answer to the riddle and tell it to them.[5][6] At the urgent and tearful imploring of his bride, Samson tells her the solution, and she tells it to the thirty groomsmen.[5][12]

Statue of Samson and the lion in Saint Petersburg.

Before sunset on the seventh day they said to him,

"What is sweeter than honey?
and what is stronger than a lion?"

Samson said to them,

"If you had not plowed with my heifer,
you would not have solved my riddle."[8][13]

He flies into a rage and kills thirty Philistines of Ashkelon for their garments, which he gives his thirty groomsmen.[6][8][12] Still in a rage, he returns to his father's house, and his bride is given to the best man as his wife.[6][8][12] Her father refuses to allow him to see her, and wishes to give Samson the younger sister.[8][12] Samson attaches torches to the tails of three hundred foxes, leaving the panicked beasts to run through the fields of the Philistines, burning all in their wake.[6][8][12] The Philistines find out why Samson burned their crops, and they burn Samson's wife and father-in-law to death.[7][8][12] In revenge, Samson slaughters many more Philistines, smiting them "hip and thigh".[8][12]

Samson then takes refuge in a cave in the rock of Etam.[8][12][14] An army of Philistines went up and demanded from 3000 men of Judah to deliver them Samson.[12][14] With Samson's consent, they tie him with two new ropes and are about to hand him over to the Philistines when he breaks free.[7][14] Using the jawbone of an ass, he slays one thousand Philistines.[3][7][14] At the conclusion of Judges 15 it is said that "Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines".[14]

Samson in the Treadmill, by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Later, Samson goes to Gaza, where he stays at a harlot's house.[8][15] His enemies wait at the gate of the city to ambush him, but he rips the gate up and carries it to "the hill that is in front of Hebron".[8][15]

He then falls in love with a woman, Delilah, at the Brook of Sorek.[7][8][15][16] The Philistines approach Delilah and induce her (with 1100 silver coins each) to try to find the secret of Samson's strength.[8][15] Samson, not wanting to reveal the secret, teases her, telling her that he will lose his strength should he be bound with fresh bowstrings.[8][15] She does so while he sleeps, but when he wakes up he snaps the strings.[8][15] She persists, and he tells her he can be bound with new ropes. She ties him up with new ropes while he sleeps, and he snaps them, too.[8][15] She asks again, and he says he can be bound if his locks are woven together.[8][15] She weaves them together, but he undoes them when he wakes.[8][15] Eventually Samson tells Delilah that he will lose his strength with the loss of his hair.[7][8][15][16] Delilah calls for a servant to shave Samson's seven locks.[8][15][16] Since that breaks the Nazarite oath, God leaves him, and Samson is captured by the Philistines,[3][8][15] who stab out his eyes with their swords. After being blinded, Samson is brought to Gaza, imprisoned, and put to work grinding grain.[15]

Samson destroys the temple of Dagon, by Gustave Dore

One day the Philistine leaders assemble in a temple for a religious sacrifice to Dagon, one of their most important deities, for having delivered Samson into their hands.[15][10] They summon Samson so women and men gather on the roof to watch.[15][16][10] Once inside the temple, Samson, his hair having grown long again, asks the servant who is leading him to the temple's central pillars if he may lean against them (referring to the pillars).[7][15][10]

"Then Samson prayed to God, "remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes" (Judges 16:28)".[3][15][10] "Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" (Judges 16:30)[10][17] He pulled the two pillars together, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it.[3][7][16][10][17] Thus he killed many more as he died than while he lived." (Judges 16:30).[7][17]

After his death, Samson's family recovers his body from the rubble and buries him near the tomb of his father Manoah.[10]

The fate of Delilah is never mentioned.[16]

Rabbinic literature

Delilah cuts Samson's hair, by Master E. S., 1460/1465

Rabbinical literature identifies Samson with Bedan;[12] Bedan was a Judge mentioned by Samuel in his farewell address (1 Samuel 12:11) among the Judges that delivered Israel from their enemies.[18] However, the name "Bedan" is not found in the Book of Judges.[18] The name "Samson" is derived from the Hebrew word "shemesh", which means the sun, so that Samson bore the name of God, who is called "a sun and shield" in Psalms 84:11; and as God protected Israel, so did Samson watch over it in his generation, judging the people even as did God.[12] Samson's strength was divinely derived (Talmud, Tractate Sotah 10a); and he further resembled God in requiring neither aid nor help.[19][12]

Jewish legend records that Samson's shoulders were sixty cubits broad.[12] (Although many talmudic commentaries explain that this is not to be taken literally, for a person that size could not live normally in society. Rather it means he had the ability to carry a burden 60 cubits wide (approximately 30 meters) on his shoulders). [20] He was lame in both feet [21], but when the spirit of God came upon him he could step with one stride from Zorah to Eshtaol, while the hairs of his head arose and clashed against one another so that they could be heard for a like distance[22].[12] Samson was said to be so strong that he could uplift two mountains and rub them together like two clods of earth,[23] yet his superhuman strength, like Goliath's, brought woe upon its possessor.[24][12]

In licentiousness he is compared with Amnon and Zimri, both of whom were punished for their sins.[25][12] Samson's eyes were put out because he had "followed them" too often.[26][12] It is said that in the twenty years during which Samson judged Israel he never required the least service from an Israelite [27], and he piously refrained from taking the name of God in vain.[12] Therefore, as soon as he told Delilah that he was a Nazarite of God she immediately knew that he had spoken the truth [26].[12] When he pulled down the temple of Dagon and killed himself and the Philistines the structure fell backward, so that he was not crushed, his family being thus enabled to find his body and to bury it in the tomb of his father.[28][12]

In the Talmudic period, some seemed to have denied that Samson was a historic figure and was regarded by such individuals as a purely mythological personage. This was viewed as heretical by the rabbis of the Talmud, and they attempted to refute this. The named Hazelelponi as his mother in Numbers Rabbah Naso 10 and in Bava Batra 91a and stated that he had a sister named "Nishyan" or "Nashyan".[12]


Some evidence suggests that Samson's home tribe of Dan might have been related to the Philistines themselves. "Dan" might be another name for the tribe of Sea Peoples otherwise known as the Denyen, Danuna, or Danaans. If so, then Samson's origin might be entirely Aegean.[29] These speculations are in stark contrast to the historical depictions expressed in the Bible and are therefore mutually exclusive.

Joan Comay, co-author of Who's Who in the Bible:The Old Testament and the Apocrypha, The New Testament, believes that the biblical story of Samson is so specific concerning time and place that Samson was undoubtedly a real person who pitted his great strength against the oppressors of Israel.[1]

In contrast, James King West finds that the hostilities between the Philistines and Hebrews appear to be of a "purely personal and local sort". He also finds that Samson stories have, in contrast to much of Judges, an "almost total lack of a religious or moral tone".[30]

Some modern academics have interpreted Samson as a demi-god (such as Hercules or Enkidu) somehow enfolded into Jewish religious lore, or as an archetypical folklore hero, among others. These views, and suggestions that he was a solar deity, popularized by nineteenth-century "solar theorists", no longer have wide academic support. [31]

Folk culture

Samson parade Mauterndorf/Austria

Samson parades are annual parades of a Samson figure in different villages in Lungau, Salzburg and two villages in the north-west Steiermark (Austria).[32]

Samson is one of the giant figures at the "Ducasse" festivities, which takes place at Ath, Belgium. [33] and it is now a popular name today in our modern society

Samson (spelled Sanson) plays a major role in many accounts of Basque mythology, where it is represented as a mighty giant capable of hurling heavy stones, often providing an explanation for the origin of mountains and megalithic monuments. In some places this role is played by a development of the character Roland (Errolan).



See Cultural references to Samson for a list of literary works about or inspired by the biblical Samson.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Comay, Joan; Ronald Brownrigg (1993) (in English). Who's Who in the Bible:The Old Testament and the Apocrypha, The New Testament. New York: Wing Books. pp. Old Testament, 320. ISBN 0-517-32170-X. 
  2. ^ a b c d Rogerson, John W. (1999). Chronicle of the Old Testament Kings: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Ancient Israel. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 58. ISBN 0500050953. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Porter, J.R. (2000). The Illustrated Guide to the Bible. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. pp. 75. ISBN 0-760-72278-1. 
  4. ^ Comay, Joan; Ronald Brownrigg (1993) (in English). Who's Who in the Bible:The Old Testament and the Apocrypha, The New Testament. New York: Wing Books. pp. Old Testament, 316-317. ISBN 0-517-32170-X. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Comay, Joan; Ronald Brownrigg (1993) (in English). Who's Who in the Bible:The Old Testament and the Apocrypha, The New Testament. New York: Wing Books. pp. Old Testament, 317. ISBN 0-517-32170-X. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rogerson, John W. (1999). Chronicle of the Old Testament Kings: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Ancient Israel. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 59. ISBN 0500050953. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rogerson, John W. (1999). Chronicle of the Old Testament Kings: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Ancient Israel. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 61. ISBN 0500050953. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Comay, Joan; Ronald Brownrigg (1993) (in English). Who's Who in the Bible:The Old Testament and the Apocrypha, The New Testament. New York: Wing Books. pp. Old Testament, 318. ISBN 0-517-32170-X. 
  9. ^ Philistines are upon you, Samson, Ynet
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Comay, Joan; Ronald Brownrigg (1993) (in English). Who's Who in the Bible:The Old Testament and the Apocrypha, The New Testament. New York: Wing Books. pp. Old Testament, 319. ISBN 0-517-32170-X. 
  11. ^ Judges 13
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia article "Samson", a publication now in the public domain.
  13. ^ a b Judges 14
  14. ^ a b c d e Judges 15
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Judges 16
  16. ^ a b c d e f Rogerson, John W. (1999). Chronicle of the Old Testament Kings: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Ancient Israel. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 62. ISBN 0500050953. 
  17. ^ a b c Judges 16:30
  18. ^ a b BibleGateway - Quick search: Bedan
  19. ^ (Midrash Genesis Rabbah xcviii. 18)
  20. ^ Ben Yehoyada and Maharal in commentry to Talmud tractate "sotah" 10a
  21. ^ (Talmud tractate Sotah 10a)
  22. ^ (Midrash Leviticus Rabbah viii. 2)
  23. ^ (ibid.; Sotah 9b)
  24. ^ (Midrash Eccl. Rabbah i., end)
  25. ^ (Leviticus Rabbah. xxiii. 9)
  26. ^ a b (Sotah l.c.)
  27. ^ (Midrash Numbers Rabbah ix. 25)
  28. ^ (Midrash Genesis Rabbah l.c. § 19)
  29. ^ Greenberg, Gary (2000). 101 Myths of the Bible. Sourcebooks, Inc.. pp. 171–172. ISBN 1-57071-586-6. 
  30. ^ West, James King (1971) Introduction to the Old Testament, MacMillan Company, New York, p. 183.
  31. ^ Mobley, Gregory (2006) Samson and the Liminal Hero in the Ancient Near East, Continuum International Publishing Group, p. 5.
  32. ^ see de:Samsonfigur
  33. ^ see fr:Samson (Géant processionnel)

External links

Preceded by
Judge of Israel Succeeded by

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Samson by William Blake
Poetical sketches by William Blake now first reprinted from the original edition of 1783
[ 90 ]


SAMSON, the strongest of the children of men, I sing; how he was foiled by woman's arts, by a false wife brought to the gates of death! O Truth, that shinest with propitious beams, turning our earthly night to heavenly day, from presence of the Almighty Father! thou visitest our darkling world with blessed feet, bringing good news of Sin and Death destroyed! O white-robed Angel, guide my timorous hand to write as on a lofty rock with iron pen the words of truth, that all who pass may read. Now Night, noon-tide of damned spirits, over the silent earth spreads her pavilion, while in dark council sat Philistia's lords; and where strength failed, black thoughts in ambush lay. There helmed youth and aged warriors in dust together lie, and Desolation spreads his wings over the land of Palestine: from side to side the land groans, her prowess lost, and seeks to hide her bruised head under the mists of night, breeding dark plots. For Dalila's fair arts have long been tried in vain; in vain she wept in many a treacherous tear. "Go on, fair traitress; do thy guileful work; ere once again the changing [ 91 ] moon her circuit hath performed, thou shalt overcome, and conquer him by force unconquerable, and wrest his secret from him. Call thine alluring arts and honest-seeming brow, the holy kiss of love and the transparent tear; put on fair linen, that with the lily vies, purple and silver; neglect thy hair, to seem more lovely in thy loose attire; put on thy country's pride, deceit; and eyes of love decked in mild sorrow, and sell thy lord for gold." For now, upon her sumptuous couch, reclined, in gorgeous pride, she still entreats, and still she grasps his vigorous knees with her fair arms. "Thou lovest me not! thou'rt war, thou art not love! O foolish Dalila! O weak woman! it is death clothed in flesh thou lovest, and thou hast been encircled in his arms! Alas, my lord, what am I calling thee? Thou art my God![1] To thee I pour my tears for sacrifice morning and evening: my days are covered with sorrow! shut up, darkened: by night I am deceived! Who says that thou wast born of mortal kind? Destruction was thy father, a lioness [ 92 ] suckled thee, thy young hands tore human limbs, and gorged human flesh! Come hither, Death; art thou not Samson's servant? 'Tis Dalila that calls; thy master's wife; no, stay, and let thy master do the deed: one blow of that strong arm would ease my pain; then I should lie at quiet and have rest. Pity forsook thee at thy birth! O Dagon furious, and all ye gods of Palestine, withdraw your hand! I am but a weak woman. Alas, I am wedded to your enemy! I will go mad, and tear my crisped hair; I'll run about, and pierce the ears o' th' gods! O Samson, hold me not; thou lovest me not! Look not upon me with those deathful eyes! Thou wouldst my death, and death approaches fast." Thus, in false tears, she bathed his feet, and thus she day by day oppressed his soul: he seemed a mountain, his brow among the clouds; she seemed a silver stream, his feet embracing. Dark thoughts rolled to and fro in his mind, like thunder clouds troubling the sky; his visage was troubled; his soul was distressed. "Though I should tell her all my heart, what can I fear? Though I should tell this secret of my birth, the utmost may be warded off as well when told as now." She saw him moved, and thus resumes her wiles: "Samson, I'm thine; do with me what thou wilt; my friends [ 93 ] are enemies; my life is death; I am a traitor to my nation, and despised; my joy is given into the hands of him who hates me, using deceit to the wife of his bosom. Thrice hast thou mocked me and grieved my soul. Didst thou not tell me with green withes to bind thy nervous arms, and after that, when I had found thy falsehood, with new ropes to bind thee fast? I knew thou didst but mock me. Alas, when in thy sleep I bound thee with them to try thy truth, I cried, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson! then did suspicion wake thee; how didst thou rend the feeble ties! Thou fearest nought, what shouldst thou fear? Thy power is more than mortal, none can hurt thee; thy bones are brass, thy sinews are iron! Ten thousand spears are like the summer grass; an army of mighty men are as flocks in the valleys: what canst thou fear? I drink my tears like water; I live upon sorrow! O worse than wolves and tigers, what canst thou give when such a trifle is denied me? But, oh! at last thou mockest me, to shame my over-fond inquiry! Thou toldest me to weave thee to the beam by thy strong hair; I did even that to try thy truth: but when I cried, The Philistines be upon thee! then didst thou leave me to bewail that Samson loved me not." He sat, and [ 94 ] inward grieved, he saw and loved the beauteous suppliant, nor could conceal aught that might appease her; then, leaning on her bosom, thus he spoke: "Hear, O Dalila! doubt no more of Samson's love; for that fair breast was made the ivory palace of my inmost heart, where it shall lie at rest; for sorrow is the lot of all of woman born: for care was I brought forth, and labour is my lot: nor matchless might, nor wisdom, nor every gift enjoyed, can from the heart of man hide sorrow. Twice was my birth foretold from heaven, and twice a sacred vow enjoined me that I should drink no wine, nor eat of any unclean thing, for holy unto Israel's God I am, a Nazarite even from my mother's womb. Twice was it told that it might not be broken: Grant me a son, kind Heaven, Manoa cried; but Heaven refused! Childless he mourned, but thought his God knew best. In solitude, though not obscure, in Israel he lived, till venerable age came on: his flocks increased, and plenty crowned his board: beloved, revered of man! But God hath other joys in store. Is burdened Israel his grief? The son of his old age shall set it free! The venerable sweetener of his life receives the promise first from Heaven. She saw the maidens play, and blessed their innocent mirth; she blessed [ 95 ] each new-joined pair; but from her the long-wished deliverer shall spring. Pensive, alone she sat within the house, when busy day was fading, and calm evening, time for contemplation, rose from the forsaken east, and drew the curtains of heaven: pensive she sat, and thought on Israel's grief, and silent prayed to Israel's God; when lo! an angel from the fields of light entered the house: His form was manhood in the prime, and from his spacious brow shot terrors through the evening shade! But mild he hailed her—Hail, highly favoured! said he; for lo! thou shalt conceive, and bear a son, and Israel's strength shall be upon his shoulders, and he shall be called Israel's Deliverer. Now, therefore, drink no wine, and eat not any unclean thing, for he shall be a Nazarite to God.—Then, as a neighbour, when his evening tale is told, departs, his blessing leaving, so seemed he to depart: she wondered with exceeding joy, nor knew he was an angel. Manoa left his fields to sit in the house, and take his evening's rest from labour—the sweetest time that God has allotted mortal man. He sat, and heard with joy, and praised God, who Israel still doth keep. The time rolled on, and Israel groaned oppressed. The sword was bright, while the ploughshare rusted, till hope grew feeble, [ 96 ] and was ready to give place to doubting; then prayed Manoa: O Lord, thy flock is scattered on the hills! The wolf teareth them: Oppression stretches his rod over our land, our country is ploughed with swords, and reaped in blood! The echoes of slaughter reach from hill to hill! Instead of peaceful pipe the shepherd bears a sword; the ox-goad is turned into a spear! O when shall our Deliverer come? The Philistine riots on our flocks, our vintage is gathered by bands of enemies! Stretch forth thy hand, and save. Thus prayed Manoa. The aged woman walked into the field, and lo! again the angel came! Clad as a traveller fresh risen on his journey. She ran and called her husband, who came and talked with him. O man of God, said he, thou comest from far! Let us detain thee while I make ready a kid, that thou mayest sit and eat, and tell us of thy name and warfare; that when thy sayings come to pass, we may honour thee. The angel answered, My name is Wonderful; inquire not after it, seeing it is a secret; but, if thou wilt, offer an offering unto the Lord."


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

There is more than one meaning of Samson discussed in the 1911 Encyclopedia. We are planning to let all links go to the correct meaning directly, but for now you will have to search it out from the list below by yourself. If you want to change the link that led you here yourself, it would be appreciated.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



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Alternative spellings


Hebrew שִׁמְשׁוֹן "of the sun". Small Sun or from Shemesh-On lit. Force of the Sun. Akin to Nachshon Nachash = Snake or made of copper (Nechoshet) (is this where "copper head" comes from?) the addition of on may be a diminutive form. On (force or fortitude) may be an empowering addition.

  • Samson is also the name of a sixth century Welsh bishop, possibly rendered from some Celtic name.

Proper noun




  1. (Biblical) An Israelite judge in the Old Testament who performed feats of strength against the Philistines but was betrayed by Delilah his mistress.
  2. (by extension) Any very strong man.
  3. A male given name.
  4. An English surname derived from the given name.





Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Robert Archibald Samson article)

From Wikispecies

Robert Archibald Samson (Samson)
(1946- )

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Judges of Israel
Deborah and Barak

Meaning: of the sun

The son of Manoah, born at Zorah.

The narrative of his life is given in Judges Chapter 13ff.

He was a "Nazarite unto God" from his birth, the first Nazarite mentioned in Scripture (Jdg 13:3ff; comp. Num 6:1ff).

The first recorded event of his life was his marriage with a Philistine woman of Timnath (Jdg 14:1ff). Such a marriage was not forbidden by the law of Moses, as the Philistines did not form one of the seven doomed Canaanite nations (Ex 34:11ff; Deut 7:1ff). It was, however, an ill-assorted and unblessed marriage.

His wife was soon taken from him and given "to his companion" (Jdg 14:20). For this Samson took revenge by burning the "standing corn of the Philistines" (Jdg 15:1ff), who, in their turn, in revenge "burnt her and her father with fire." Her death he terribly avenged (Jdg 15:7ff).

During the twenty years following this he judged Israel; but we have no record of his life. Probably these twenty years may have been simultaneous with the last twenty years of Eli's life.

After this we have an account of his exploits at Gaza (Jdg 16:1ff), and of his infatuation for Delilah, and her treachery (Jdg 16:4ff), and then of his melancholy death (Jdg 16:21ff). He perished in the last terrible destruction he brought upon his enemies. "So the dead which he slew at his death were more [in social and political importance = the elite of the people] than they which he slew in his life."

"Straining all his nerves, he bowed:
As with the force of winds and waters pent,
When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars
With horrible convulsion to and fro
He tugged, he shook, till down they came, and drew
The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder
Upon the heads of all who sat beneath,
Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests,
Their choice nobility and flower."
  - Milton's Samson Agonistes.
This article needs to be merged with SAMSON (Jewish Encyclopedia).
This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

Simple English

Samson redirects here. For other uses, please see Samson (disambiguation)

Samson, Shimshon (Hebrew): שמשון, Standard Šimšon Tiberian Šimšôn; meaning "of the sun" – maybe saying he was strong, or "[One who] Serves [God]") or Shamshoun شمشون (Arabic) or Sampson Σαμψών (Greek) is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Children of Israel mentioned in the Tanakh (the Hebrew bible), and the Talmud. He is described in the Book of Judges chapters 13 to 16. The Book of Samson also appear in Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews, written in the last ten years of the 1st Century AD, as well as in works by Pseudo-Philo, written slightly earlier. Samson is a person known for being given superhuman strength by God to usse against those who do not like him and do great things that regular people have not the strength to accomplish: killing a lion with his bare hands, defeating an entire army with only a donkey's jawbone, and making a temple fall down. He is believed to have been buried in Tel Tzora in Israel above the Sorek valley. There stand two large gravestones of Samson and his father Manoah. Nearby stands Manoah’s altar (Judges 13:19-24).] It is located between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol.



Early Life

Samson's father Manoah, and his wife had been trying to have a baby for several years when an angel showed up in front of their house. The angel told them that they were to have a baby boy, who was to be a Nazarite. The child was to never cut his hair, drink wine, or touch a dead person. A while later, Samson was born, and he followed the Nazarite laws just as the angel said.

First Marriage and the Lion

Samson saw a pretty Philistine woman while he walked through Timnah. So he went to ask permission from her father to marry her. Since the Philistines were bitter enemies of the Israelites, so he had no idea of how his father would react. Later, a lion jumped on him. He killed the lion with his bare hands. After this, he told the Philistine woman that he wanted to be her husband. After the wedding, however, Samson's new wife was given to another man. Later, Samson's wife and father-in-law were burned to death.


Later, Samson found another attractive Philistine woman. Her name was Delilah. Little did he know that she would cause his capture at the hands of the Philistines. She tried many times to get the secret behind his great strength. This made her husband very annoyed with her. After quite a long time, Samson told Delilah that he would become weak if his hair was cut.

His Capture

After getting the information from her husband, Delilah told the Philistine army Samson's secret. She sang him to sleep at her feet and called a man to shave Samson's head. After receiving his haircut, Samson woke . He tried to break free from his bonds, but to no evail. The Philistines poked his eyes out with their swords and led him to Gaza, where he was put in jail.

Samson's Death

While in prison, Samson turned to ground grain. He did this for an unknown period of time that was not documented in the Bible. However, his hair grew long again, and he was taken to a temple honoring the Philistine god Dagon. It was here that he performed to entertain worshippers. While on stage, Samson told a young boy nearby to move him in between two pillars. He pushed the pillars apart with his full strength, causing the temple to collapse on top of himself and the his Philistine audience. Samson died from doing this, but he ended up killing twelve thousand of his enemies, defeating more Philistines in the event of his death than during his life.

Etymology of Name

Samson, Shimshon (Hebrew): שמשון, Standard Šimšon Tiberian Šimšôn; meaning "of the sun" – perhaps proclaiming he was strong, or "[One who] Serves [God]") or Shamshoun شمشون (Arabic) or Sampson Σαμψών (Greek)

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