Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
SAMSON (LXX [Note: Septuagint.] and Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.]; Heb. ShimshÃ´n ; probably derived from shemesh , ‘sun,’ either as a diminutive, or better ‘sun-man’). Mentioned in OT in Judges 13:1-25; Judges 14:1-20; Judges 15:1-20; Judges 16:1-31 , and in NT in Hebrews 11:32 .
1. The story need not be recapitulated, but certain details require explanation. Judges 13:25 seems to be the prelude to a first exploit, now lost. Judges 13:14 is not clear as it stands; probably ‘his father and his mother’ in Judges 13:5-6 b, Judges 13:10 a are glosses introduced to avoid the appearance of disobedience. He goes down alone, meets the lion alone, returns to his home after his visit to his bride ( Judges 13:8 ‘to take her’ being another gloss); then after an interval he goes back to celebrate the marriage he has arranged; Judges 13:10 a is particularly absurd as it stands. The ‘thirty companions’ of Judges 13:11 are the ‘friends of the bridegroom,’ chosen on this occasion from the bride’s people (see below, Â§ 4); the companion of Judges 13:20 is their leader, ‘the best man.’ The ‘linen garments’ of Judges 13:12 are pieces of fine linen, costly and luxurious ( Proverbs 31:24 , Isaiah 3:23 ); ‘the changes’ are gala dresses. The Philistines give up the riddle ‘after three days’ ( Judges 13:14 ), and appeal to the woman on the seventh ( Judges 13:15; LXX [Note: Septuagint.] Syr. ‘fourth’); yet she weeps for the whole week, imploring Samson to tell her ( Judges 13:17 ). Perhaps the figures of Judges 13:14-15 are interpolations, the Philistines giving up at once. ‘Before the sun went down’ ( Judges 13:18 ) is ungrammatical in Heb., with a rare word for ‘sun‘; with best modern edd., read by a slight alteration ‘before he went into the bridal-chamber’ (cf. Judges 15:1 ). In ch. 16, words, variously represented by LXX [Note: Septuagint.] , have fallen out between Judges 15:13 and Judges 15:14; the sense is ‘â€¦ and beat them up with the pin, I shall become weak, So while he was asleep she took the seven locks and wove them into the web, and beat them tight with the pin,’ etc. We are to imagine an upright loom with a piece of unfinished stuff; Delilah weaves the hair into this, and heats it tight with the ‘pin.’ Samson pulls up the posts of the loom by his hair which is fastened to the web. For Judges 13:21 , cf. the blinding of captives as shown on Assyr. [Note: Assyrian.] monuments; to be put to the mill was a frequent punishment of slaves. Nothing is known of the worship of Dagon (cf. 1 Samuel 5:1-12 ); the etymology ‘fish-god’ and the connexion with the Assyr. [Note: Assyrian.] god ‘Dagan’ are uncertain.
2. Origin and nature of the story . ( a ) The narrative seems to belong entirely to Jâ€³ [Note: Jahweh.] , the JudÃ¦an source of the early history of Israel; there are no traces of a double source, as in other parts of Judges. It has been but slightly revised by the Deuteronomic editor. Ch. 16, though an integral part of the original cycle of stories, was apparently at one time omitted by the compiler; see the repeated note in Judges 15:20; Judges 16:31 . Perhaps it gave too unfavourable a picture of the hero’s love-affairs. ( b ) Though it is said that Samson ‘judged Israel twenty years’ ( Judges 15:20 ), and that he should ‘begin to deliver’ his nation from the Philistines ( Judges 13:5 ), there is no hint of his ever having held any official position, nor does he appear as a leader of his people; on the contrary, he is disowned by his neighbours of Judah ( Judges 15:11 ). His exploits have only a local significance, and are performed single-handed in revenge for his private quarrels. The story evidently belongs to the class of popular tales, common to every country-side. Every people has its hero of prodigious strength, to whom marvellous feats are ascribed, and it becomes a hopeless task to discover the precise historical basis of the legends, which in this case are undoubtedly of great antiquity. ( c ) It is not necessary to look for a further explanation in the theory of a ‘solar myth.’ The name ‘Samson,’ and the existence of a ‘Beth-shemesh’ (‘house of the sun’) near his home, offer an obvious temptation to such a theory, but it is entirely unnecessary and is now generally abandoned. ( d ) It is more probable that in ch. 15 we find the workings of folk-etymology (‘Ã¦tiological myth’), i.e. stories suggested by the fancied meaning of names. Ramath-Lehi (‘the height of Lehi’) is taken to mean ‘the casting away of the jawbone’; En-hakkore (‘Partridge spring’), ‘the spring of him who called’; and incidents are suggested to explain the supposed meanings. ( e ) The parallels with other popular stories, especially the exploits of Hercules, are obvious, e.g . the killing of the lion, the miraculous satisfying of the hero’s thirst, and his ruin at the hand of a woman. For the lion episode, cf., further, the stories of Polydamas, David ( 1 Samuel 17:34 ), Benaiah ( 2 Samuel 23:20 ); for the sacred hair or lock, cf. the story of Nisus. Ovid ( Fasti , lv. 681 712) has a remarkable parallel to the burning of the corn by the foxes (or jackals?); at the Cereaila, foxes with lighted torches tied to their tails were let loose in the Circus; he explains the custom as originally due to the act of a mischievous boy, who burned his father’s corn in the same way. The conclusion to be drawn from such parallels is not necessarily identity of origin, but the similar working of the mind and imagination under similar conditions.
3. Historical value . Regarded as a picture of early conditions and customs, the narrative is of the greatest significance. Politically it takes us to the time when Dan, perhaps weakened by the departure of its 600 men of war ( Judges 1:34; Judges 1:18 ) acquiesces in the rule of the Philistines; Timnah is in their hands. There is no state of war between the two peoples, but free intercourse and even intermarriage. As already pointed out, Samson is in no sense the leader of a revolt against the foreign dominion, and his neighbours of Judah show no desire to make his private quarrels an excuse for a rising ( Judges 15:11 ); there is no union even between the tribes of the south. None the less, his exploits would be secretly welcomed as directed against the common foe, and remembering that Judges 17:1-13; Judges 18:1-31; Judges 19:1-30; Judges 20:1-48; Judges 21:1-25 is an appendix, we see how the narrative paves the way for the more defined efforts of Saul and David in 1Samuel to shake off the foreign yoke. Sociatly the story gives us a picture of primitive marriage customs. Ch. 14 is the clearest OT example of a sadika marriage (see Marriage, Â§ 1). We get a good idea of the proceedings, essentially the same as in the East to-day. The feast lasts for a week, and is marked by lavish eating and drinking, songs, riddles, and not very refined merriment. The whole story gives us a valuable insight into the life of the people; we note the grim rough humour of its hero, so entirely natural (ch. 14, the three deceptions of ch. Judges 16; Judges 16:28 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ).
4. Religious significance . Samson is a popular hero, and we shall expect the directly religious interest of the story to be subordinate. It appears in the account of his birth, perhaps hardly a part of the original cycle, but added later to justify his inclusion among the Judges. As a child of promise, he is in a peculiar sense a gift of God, born to do a special work; an overruling providence governs his acts ( Judges 14:4; Judges 16:30 ). The source of his strength is supernatural; at times it is represented as due to a demonic frenzy, an invasion of the spirit of Jâ€³ [Note: Jahweh.] ( Judges 13:25 , Judges 14:6; Judges 14:19 , Judges 15:14 ), but in 13, 16 it lies in his hair; he is a Nazirite of God. The rules for the Nazirite are given in Numbers 6:1; those in Judges 13:1-25 are the same, with the general prohibition of ‘unclean’ food. The essence of the conception lay in a vow to sacrifice the hair at a sacred shrine, the life-long vow being probably a vow to do so at stated periods. The hair, like the blood, was regarded as a seat of life, and was a common offering not only among the Semites, but in all parts of the world. In Arabia the vow to leave the locks unshorn was particularly connected with wars of revenge ( Deuteronomy 32:42 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] , Psalms 68:21 ). As soon as a vow was taken, the life of the votary became a continuous act of religion; particularly must the body, which nourishes the hair (now the property of the deity), be kept clean from all defilement; the taboo of the vine and its products is esp. common (cf. Amos 2:11-12 ). In the story itself no stress is laid on any such precautions on the part of Samson ( e.g . in Judges 14:8 he eats from a carcase), and hence no doubt the taboos were transferred to his mother ( Judges 13:4 ). There is unfortunately little basis for the religious feeling with which Milton has invested the character of Samson. He is a popular hero, and the permanent value of the story is to be sought in its ethical lessons . It is true, its morality is on a low level; revenge is Samson’s ruling idea, and his relations with women have been a stumbling-block to apologists. But once we recognize the origin of the story, we shall not feel bound to justify or explain away these traits, and the lessons stand out clearly. The story emphasizes the evils of foreign marriages ( Judges 14:3 ), of laxity in sexual relations, and of toying with temptation. It teaches that bodily endowments, no less than spiritual, are a gift from God, however different may be our modern conception of the way in which they are bestowed, and that their retention depends on obedience to His laws. But if Samson stands as an example ‘of impotence of mind in body strong,’ he also stands, in Milton’s magnificent conception, as an example of patriotism and heroism in death, to all who ‘from his memory inflame their breast to matchless valour and adventures high.’
C. W. Emmet.
Fausset's Bible Dictionary 
(See Manoah .) ("awe inspiring".) ( Judges 13:6; Judges 13:18-20) or else "sunlike" (Gesenius): compare Judges 5:31, "strong" (Josephus Ant. 5:8, section 4). Judge of Israel for 20 years ( Judges 15:20; Judges 16:31), namely, in the Danite region near Philistia. Judah and Dan, and perhaps all Israel, were subject then to the Philistines ( Judges 13:1; Judges 13:5; Judges 15:9-11, "knowest thou not the Philistines are rulers over us?" Judges 15:20). His 20 years' office was probably included in the "40 years" of Philistine rule. At the time of the angel's announcement to his mother ( Judges 13:5) they ruled, and as his judgeship did not begin before he was 20 it must have nearly coincided with the last 20 years of their dominion. However their rule ceased not until the judgeship of Samuel, which retrieved their capture of the ark ( 1 Samuel 7:1-14). So the close of Samson's judgeship must have coincided with the beginning of Samuel's, and the capture of the ark in Eli's time must have been during Samson's lifetime. Correspondences between their times appear.
(1) The Philistines are prominent under both.
(2) Both are Nazarites ( 1 Samuel 1:11), Samson's exploits probably moving Hannah to her vow. Amos ( Amos 2:11-12) alludes to them, the only allusion elsewhere to Nazarites in the Old Testament being Lamentations 4:7.
(3) Dagon's temple is alluded to under both ( 1 Samuel 5:2; Judges 16:23).
(4) The Philistine lords ( 1 Samuel 7:7; Judges 16:8; Judges 16:18; Judges 16:27).
Samson roused the people from their servile submission, and by his desultory blows on the foe prepared Israel for the final victory under Samuel. "He shall begin to deliver Israel" ( Judges 13:5) implies the consummation of the deliverance was to be under his successor ( 1 Samuel 7:1-13). "The Lord blessed him" from childhood ( Judges 13:24); type of Jesus ( Luke 2:52 , Compare Luke 1:80 , John The Baptist The New Testament Nazarite) . "The Spirit of the Lord" is stated to be the Giver of his strength ( Judges 13:25; Judges 14:6; Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14). Samson was not of giant size as were some of the Philistines (1 Samuel 17); his strength was not brute natural strength, but spiritual, bound up with fidelity to his Nazarite vow. An embodied lesson to Israel that her power lay in separation from idol lusts and entire consecration to God; no foe could withstand them while true to Him, but once that they forsook Him for the fascinations of the world their power is gone and every enemy should triumph over them ( 1 Samuel 2:9).
Still even Samson's falls, as Israel's, are in God's wonderful providence overruled to Satan's and his agents' confusion and the good of God's elect. Samson slays the lion at Timnath, and through his Philistine wife's enticement they told the riddle; then to procure 30 tunics he slew 30 Philistines, the forfeit. His riddle "out of the eater came forth meat (Carcasses In The East Often Dry Up Without Decomposition) , and out of the strong ( Matthew 12:29) came forth sweetness," is the key of Samson's history and of our present dispensation. Satan's lion-like violence and harlot-like subtlety are made to recoil on himself and to work out God's sweet and gracious purposes toward His elect. Deprived of his wife, Samson by the firebrands attached to 300 "jackals" ( Shual ), avenged himself on them. The Philistines burnt her and her father with fire; then he smote them with great slaughter at Etam. Then under the Spirit's power with an donkey bone (for the Philistines let Israel have no iron weapons: 1 Samuel 13:19) he slew a thousand Philistines.
This established his title as judge during the Philistine oppression ("In The Days Of The Philistines": Judges 15:20 ) . (See Delilah for his fall.) By lust Samson lost at once his godliness and his manliness; it severed him from God the strength of his manhood. Samson set at nought the legal prohibition against affinity with idolatrous women ( Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 7:3). Parting with the Nazarite locks of his consecration was virtual renunciation of his union with God, so his strength departed. Prayer restored it. The foes' attribution of their victory over "Samson the destroyer of their country" to their god Dagon provoked God's jealousy for His honour. A Philistine multitude, including all their lords, congregated in the house, which was a vast hall, the roof resting on four columns, two at the ends and two close together at the center; 3,000 men and women on the roof beheld while Samson made sport. Samson by pulling down the house slew at his death more than in his life. Type of Christ ( Colossians 2:15; Matthew 27:50-54).
Fulfilling Jacob's prophecy of Dan, his tribe ( Genesis 49:16-17). A token that Israel's temporary backslidings, when repented of, shall issue in ultimate victory. Samson, the physically strong Nazarite, prepared the way for Samuel, the spiritual hero Nazarite, who consummated the deliverance that Samson began. Samson wrought what he did by faith, the true secret of might ( Hebrews 11:32; Matthew 21:21). The Phoenicians carried to Greece the story of Samson, which the Greeks transferred to their idol Hercules. The Scholion on Lycophron (Bochart Hieroz. 2:5, section 12) blends the stories of Samson and Jonah, and makes Hercules come out of the belly of the sea monster with the loss of his hair. Hercules was "son of the sun" in Egypt ( Shemesh ) Related To Sam-Son) . Ovid (Fasti 54) describes the custom of tying a torch between two foxes in the circus, in memory of damage once done to a harvest by a fox with burning straw. Hercules dies by the hand of his wife; but every fault is atoned by suffering, and at last he ascends to heaven. His joviality and buffoonery answer to the last scene in the life of Samson. The history is taken probably from the tribe of Daniel. (See Timnath .)
Smith's Bible Dictionary 
Sam'son. (Like The Sun). Son of Manoah, a man of the town of Zorah in the tribe of Dan, on the border of Judah. Joshua 15:33; Joshua 19:41. (B.C. 1161). The miraculous circumstances of his birth are recorded in Judges 13; and the three following chapters are devoted to the history of his life and exploits. Samson takes his place in Scripture,
(1) as a judge - an office which he filled for twenty years, Judges 15:20; Judges 16:31,
(2) as a Nazarite, Judges 13:5; Judges 16:17, and
(3) as one endowed with supernatural power by the Spirit of the Lord. Judges 13:25; Judges 14:6; Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14.
As a judge, his authority seems to have been limited to the district, bordering upon the country of the Philistines. The divine inspiration which Samson shared with Othniel, Gideon and Jephthah assumed in him, the unique form of vast personal strength, inseparably connected with the observance of his vow as a Nazarite: "his strength was in his hair." He married a Philistine woman whom he had seen at Timnath.
One day, on his way to that city, he was attacked by a lion, which he killed; and again passing that way, he saw a swarm of bees in the carcass of the lion, and he ate of the honey, but still he told no one. He availed himself of this circumstance, and of the custom of proposing riddles at marriage feasts, to lay a snare for the Philistines. But Samson told the riddle to his wife, and she told it to the men of the city, whereupon Samson slew thirty men of the city. Returning to his own house, he found his wife married to another, and was refused permission to see her.
Samson revenged himself by taking 300 foxes, (or rather, jackals), and tying them together two by two by the tails, with a firebrand between every pair of tails, and so he let them loose into the standing corn of the Philistines, which was ready for harvest. The Philistines took vengeance by burning Samson's wife and her father; but he fell upon them in return, and "he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter," Judges 15:6-8, after which he took refuge on the top of the rock of Etam, in the territory of Judah.
The Philistines gathered an army to revenge themselves, when the men of Judah hastened to make peace by giving up Samson, who was bound with cords, these, however, he broke like burnt flax, and finding a jawbone of an ass at hand, he slew with it, a thousand of the Philistines. The supernatural character of this exploit was confirmed by the miraculous bursting out of a spring of water to revive the champion as he was ready to die of thirst. This achievement raised Samson to the position of a judge, which he held for twenty years.
After a time, he began to fall into the temptations, which addressed themselves to his strong animal nature; but he broke through every snare in which he was caught, so long as he kept his Nazarite vow. While he was visiting a harlot in Gaza, the Philistines shut the gates of the city, intending to kill him in the morning; but, at midnight, he went out and tore away the gates, with the posts and bar and carried them to the top of a hill looking toward Hebron.
Next, he formed his fatal connection with Delilah, a woman who lived in the valley of Sorek. Thrice, he suffered himself to be bound with green withes, with new ropes, but released himself until finally, wearied out with her importunity, he "told her all his heart," and, while he was asleep, she had him shaven of his seven locks of hair. His enemies put out his eyes, and led him down to Gaza, bound in brazen fetters, and made him grind in the prison. Then, they held a great festival in the temple of Dagon, to celebrate their victory over Samson.
They brought forth the blind champion to make sport for them, and placed him between the two chief pillars, which supported the roof that surrounded the court. Samson asked the lad who guided him to let him feel the pillars, to lean upon them. Then, with a fervent prayer that God would strengthen him only this once, to be avenged on the Philistines, he bore with all his might upon the two pillars; they yielded, and the house fell upon the lords and all the people. "So the dead, which he slew at his death, were more than they, which he slew in his life." ( Judges 16:30. In Hebrews 11:32, his name is enrolled among the worthies of the Jewish Church.
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary 
In the days between Israel’s entrance into Canaan and the establishment of the kingdom, the Israelites were often oppressed by other peoples of the region. During one period, when the Philistines dominated them for forty years, the people had become so crushed that they had no more desire to fight. It was easier to accept the hardship of Philistine rule than to try to overthrow it ( Judges 15:11-13). The man whom God raised up to stir the Israelites from this apathy was Samson. He began the revolt that would eventually lead to the overthrow of the Philistines ( Judges 13:5 b).
As a person dedicated to God according to the conditions of the Nazirite vow, Samson was not to drink wine, cut his hair or touch any dead body ( Judges 13:5; cf. Numbers 6:2-8). Although he carried out mighty deeds through the special power of God’s Spirit upon him ( Judges 13:25; Judges 14:6; Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14), he was not careful to maintain his Nazirite dedication to God ( Judges 14:8-9). When, towards the end of his life, he allowed the removal of the last symbol of this dedication (his uncut hair), God withdrew his divine power from him ( Judges 16:19-20).
Samson had to fight his battles against the Philistines virtually unaided by his fellow Israelites. While they were complacent, he was looking for ways of unsettling the enemy. He lost no opportunity of doing as much damage as he could ( Judges 14:4).
When, for example, the Philistines won a bet against him through cheating, Samson killed thirty of their citizens ( Judges 14:18-19). When his wife was given to another man, Samson burnt the Philistines’ fields ( Judges 15:1-5). In retaliation for their murder of his wife and father-in-law, Samson killed more Philistines ( Judges 15:6-8). When the Philistines made an attack on the town where he was staying in an attempt to capture him, he killed another thousand of them ( Judges 15:15).
Samson became known as one of the judges of Israel. He was a judge not in the sense that he settled legal disputes, but in the sense that he executed judgments on the oppressors of God’s people. His remarkable attacks, spread over twenty years, began the deliverance that David eventually achieved many years later ( Judges 13:5 b; 15:20; 2 Samuel 8:1; 2 Samuel 8:11-12). His greatest triumph was on the day of his death when, through faith in the power of God, he killed all the Philistine rulers along with three thousand of their leading people ( Judges 16:23; Judges 16:28; Judges 16:30; Hebrews 11:32-34). It was the turning point that gave Israel new hope.
Morrish Bible Dictionary 
Son of Manoah, of the tribe of Dan. His birth had been pre-announced by an angel to his mother, who had long been childless. The angel told his parents that he was to be a Nazarite (that is, a separated one) from his birth. When Israel was in bondage to the Philistines, the internal enemies of God's people, a Nazarite had to be raised up by God to work out their deliverance. The statement that "he judged Israel twenty years," doubtless signifies the south-west parts of the land near the country of the Philistines. It was said of Samson before his birth: "He shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."
His marriage with a woman of Timnath was so far "of the Lord" that it became in the ways of God an occasion against the Philistines to whom he had allied himself. His going down to her was the occasion of his killing a lion; this led to Samson's riddle, and the riddle to his slaying thirty of the Philistines. Then, his wife being given to another man, Samson burned up their corn, their vineyards, and their olives, and smote the Philistines with 'a great slaughter.'
When the Philistines gathered themselves together to arrest Samson, the men of Judah would not defend him, but, owning their bondage, said, "Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us?" and three thousand of Judah bound Samson and delivered him to the Philistines. Thus Samson, through God's inscrutable ways, was separated from his own people: they delivered him up, as afterwards the people of Judah delivered up the Lord Jesus, the true Nazarite, who came to save them.
When in the hands of his enemies, he was mightily moved by the Spirit, and with the jaw-bone of an ass slew a thousand of the Philistines. After this great victory he fainted for water, and cried unto the Lord, who clave a hollow place in the rock [also called lehi, 'a jaw-bone'] and gave him drink.
His humiliating end was brought about through his lust after strange women. It was extreme folly to make known the secret of his strength to Delilah when he knew she would betray him. It is a striking instance of the foolish things a Nazarite (and all Christians are morally Nazarites) may do if he gets out of communion with the Lord. The strong man was blinded and made to grind in a dungeon for his enemies.
But God had not forsaken him, and his hair began to grow again. The Philistines offered a great sacrifice to their god Dagon, and they praised their god, and said it was he that had delivered Samson into their hands. Then they sent for him to make sport before them; but he cried unto the Lord, and asked Him to strengthen him this once, that he might be avenged on the Philistines for the loss of his two eyes. God strengthened him, and he pulled down the house, on the roof of which there were about three thousand souls, and thus he slew at his death more than he had slain in his life.
Notwithstanding the failures of Samson, God accomplished the purpose for which He had raised him up in subduing the Philistines; but it was only accomplished in his own death. Among the cloud of witnesses who 'obtained a good report through faith,' Samson is named, but his acts are not there recorded. Hebrews 11:32 . His history is given in Judges 13 Judges 16 .
Holman Bible Dictionary 
Judges 13:1-16:31 Judges 14:4
Before his conception, Samson was dedicated by his parents to be a lifelong Nazirite ( Judges 13:3-7 ), a person especially devoted or consecrated. Part of the vow included letting the hair grow and abstaining from wine and strong drink. Samson's legendary strength did not come from his long hair. Rather, it came through the “Spirit of the Lord” who would “come upon” him to enable him to perform amazing feats of physical strength ( Judges 14:6 ,Judges 14:6, 14:19; Judges 15:14; compare Judges 16:28-29 ). Although a Nazirite, Samson did not live a devoted life. More frequently, he was careless in his vow. He secretly disobeyed the prohibition of approaching a dead body ( Judges 14:8-9 ), had immoral relations with a Gaza harlot ( Judges 16:1 ), and with Delilah ( Judges 16:4-20 ).
Samson is portrayed as a headstrong young man with little or no self-control. None of his exploits show him as a religious enthusiast. In fact, every major crisis in his life resulting in clashes against the Philistines were brought on by his relationships with Philistine women. Samson's fascination with Delilah finally wrought his downfall. The lords of the Philistines offered her eleven hundred pieces of silver from each of them to find out the source of Samson's strength. In her first three attempts, Samson gave her false answers. However, he did not seem to equate the Philistines binding him each time with betrayal by Delilah. Finally, she coaxed the truth from him, and Samson was captured.
Ultimately, Samson proved little more than a thorn in the flesh to the Philistines. He never really freed Israel from the dominion of the Philistines. In his death, he killed more Philistines than the total he had killed during his life ( Judges 16:30 ). He is listed with the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11:32 , because his strength came from God and because in his dying act, he demonstrated his faith. See Nazirite; Judge; Book Of Judges; Spirit .
Darlene R. Gautsch
People's Dictionary of the Bible 
Samson ( Săm'Son ), Sunlike. The son of Manoah, and noted as the strongest man. He was judge of a portion of Israel for 20 years, during the latter part of "the 40 years" period, and partly contemporary with Ell and Samuel. Judg. chaps. 13-16. His birth was miraculously foretold; he was a Nazirite from infancy; celebrated for his fearless and wonderful exploits, for his moral infirmities, and for his tragical end. He was not a giant in size; his exploits were wrought by special divine aid; "the Spirit of God came mightily upon him." Judges 13:25; Judges 14:6; Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14; Judges 16:20; Judges 16:28. The providence of God was signally displayed in overruling for good the hasty passions of Samson, the cowardice of his mends, and the malice of his enemies. Samson is ranked with the heroes of the faithful. Hebrews 11:32-33. But we must, of course, not judge him from the standpoint of the New Testament. He lived in the wild anarchial period of the judges, when might was right, and he was just the man for that time.
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary 
The son of Manoah, of the tribe of Dan, a deliverer and judge of the southern tribes of the Hebrews for twenty years, Judges 13:1; 16:31 . His birth was miraculously foretold; he was a Nazarite from infancy and the strongest of men; and was equally celebrated for his fearless and wonderful exploits, for his moral infirmities, and for his tragical end. His exploits were not wrought without special divine aid; "the Spirit of God came mightily upon him," Judges 13:25 14:6,19 15:14 16:20,28 . The providence of God was signally displayed in overruling for good the hasty passions of Samson, the cowardice of his friends, and the malice of his enemies. The sins of Samson brought him in great disgrace and misery; but grace and faith triumphed in the end, Hebrews 11:32 . His story forcibly illustrates how treacherous and merciless are sin and sinners, and the watchful care of Christ over his people in every age. Compare Judges 13:22 Matthew 23:37 .
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
Samson was the popular hero of the tribe of Dan who began to deliver Israel from the Philistines, the Nazirite whose secret of strength lay in his hair, the blinded giant who prayed for power to avenge himself and his country in the hour of his death (Judges 13-16). He finds a place in the great Roll of Faith contained in Hebrews 11. Much has been written in recent years regarding the legendary elements of the story of Samson and the possibility of its being a solar myth, but such ideas were naturally far from the mind of the anonymous writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
Literature.-For solar myth theory see Commentaries on Judges by G. F. Moore (International Critical Commentary, 1895) and K. Budde (Das Buch der Richter, 1897); J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough2, 1900, iii. 390 ff.; A. Jeremias, The OT in the Light of the Ancient East, Eng. translation, 2 vols., 1911, ii. 169ff.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
Judges 13-16 Judges 13:3-5 Numbers 6:1-21 Judges 14:1-5 Exodus 34:11-16 Deuteronomy 7:1-4 Judges 14:20
"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.
Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary 
A well-known character in the Old Testament: in one grand instance, as a Nazarite, a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. (See Judges 13:1-25 etc.) His name is derived from Shemesh, sun. I refer to his life as is recorded in the book of the Judges; and shall only make one observation upon it, namely that the Holy Ghost hath made honourable mention of him by enrolling his name among those worthies, so eminent for their faith, who are said to be such of whom "the world was not worthy." ( Hebrews 11:32) See Nazarene
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
son of Manoah, of the tribe of Dan, Judges 13:2 , &c. We are no where acquainted with the name of his mother. He was born A.M. 2849, and was a Nazarite from his infancy, by the divine command. He was brought up in a place called the camp of Dan, between Zorah and Estaol, Judges 13:25 . His extraordinary achievements are particularly recorded in Judges 14-16. "Faith" is attributed to him by St. Paul, though whether he retained it to the end of his life may be doubted. He is not inaptly called by an old writer, "a rough believer."
Webster's Dictionary 
(n.) An Israelite of Bible record (see Judges xiii.), distinguished for his great strength; hence, a man of extraordinary physical strength.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
(Heb. Shimshon', שַׁמְשׁוֹן , Sunlike, Shining; Sept. and N.T. Σαμψών , and so Josephus, Ant. 5, 8, 4, according to whom, however, the word means "strong:" if the root Shemesh has the signification of "awe," which Gesenius ascribes to it, the name Samson would seem naturally to allude to the "awe" and "astonishment" with which the father and mother looked upon the angel who announced Samson's birth [see Judges 13:6; Judges 13:18-20]), the name of the celebrated champion, deliverer, and judge of Israel, equally remarkable for his supernatural bodily prowess, his moral infirmities, and his tragical end (B.C. 1185-65). His career is one of romantic interest, and affords valuable lessons in the relations and condition of the Hebrew people.
1. History . — Samson was the son of Manoah, of the tribe of Dan, and was born, B.C. cir. 1200, of a mother whose name is nowhere given in the Scriptures. The circumstances under which his birth was announced by a heavenly messenger gave distinct presage of an extraordinary character, whose endowments were to be of a nature suited to the providential exigencies in which he was raised up. The burden of the oracle to his mother, who had long been barren, was that the child with which she was pregnant was to be a son, who should be a Nazarite from his birth, upon whose head no razor was to come, and who was to prove a signal deliverer to his people. She was directed, accordingly, to conform her own regimen to the tenor of the Nazaritish law, and strictly abstain from wine and all intoxicating liquor, and from every species of impure food. According to the "prophecy going before upon him," Samson was born in the following year; and his destination to great achievements began to evince itself at a very early age by the illapses of superhuman strength which came, from time to time, upon him.
As the position of the tribe of Dan — bordering upon the territory of the Philistines — exposed them especially to the predatory incursions of this people, it was plainly the design of Heaven to raise up a deliverer in that region where he was most needed. The Philistines, therefore, became very naturally the objects of that retributive course of proceedings in which Samson was to be the principal actor, and upon which he could only enter by seeking some occasion of exciting hostilities that would bring the two peoples into direct collision. Such an occasion was afforded by his meeting with one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnath, whom he besought his parents to procure for him in marriage, assigning as a reason that she "pleased him well" — Heb. ישרה בעיני הוא , She Is Right In Mine Eyes; not Beautiful, Engaging, Attractive, but Right Relative To An End, Purpose, Or Object (see Gousset, Lexicon, s.v. ישר , and comp. 2 Samuel 17:4; 1 Kings 9:12; 2 Chronicles 12:30; Numbers 28:27). That he entertained a genuine affection for the woman, notwithstanding the policy by which he was prompted, we may, doubtless, admit; but that he intended, at the same time, to make this alliance subservient to the great purpose of delivering his country from oppression, and that in this he was acting under the secret control of Providence, would seem to be clear from the words immediately following, when, in reference to the objection of his parents to such a union. it is said that they "knew not that it was of the Lord that he sought an occasion against the Philistines." It is here worthy of note that the Hebrew, instead of "against the Philistines," has "of or from the Philistines," apparently implying that the occasion sought should be one that originated on the side of the Philistines. This occasion he sought under the immediate prompting of the Most High, who saw fit, in this indirect manner, to bring about the accomplishment of his designs of retribution on his enemies. His leading purpose in this seems to have been to baffle the power of the whole Philistine nation by the prowess of a single individual. The champion of Israel, therefore, was not appointed so much to be the leader of an army, like the other judges, as to be an army in himself. In order, then, that the contest might be carried on in this way, it was necessary that the entire opposition of the Philistines should be concentrated, as far as possible, against the person of Samson. This would array the contending parties in precisely such an attitude as to illustrate most signally the power of God in the overthrow of his enemies. But how could this result be brought about except by means of some private quarrel between Samson and the enemy with whom he was to contend? And who shall say that the scheme now projected was not the very best that could have been devised for accomplishing the end which God had in view? To what extent Samson himself foresaw the issue of this transaction, or how far he had a plan distinctly laid, corresponding with the results that ensued, it is difficult to say. The probability, we think, is that he had rather a general strong impression, wrought by the Spirit of God, than a definite conception of the train of events that were to transpire. It was, however, a conviction as to the issue sufficiently powerful to warrant both him and his parents in going forward with the measure. They were in some way assured that they were engaged in a proceeding which God would overrule to the furtherance of his designs of mercy to his people and of judgment to their oppressors. From this point commences that career of achievements and prodigies on the part of this Israelitish Hercules which, passing gradually from the wonderful to the miraculous, rendered him the terror of his enemies and the wonder of all ages.
(1.) On his first visit to his future bride, he slew a lion without weapons; and on his second visit, to espouse her, he found the skeleton, denuded of the flesh by the birds and jackals, occupied by a swarm of bees ( Judges 14:1-8). The strange incident of a Nazarite eating honey out of the carcass of a dead lion has been examined by Theodoret (Quest. in Judges 1:22). We must not attribute too scrupulous views to the times of the Judges. It is worthy of remark, however, that Josephus (Ant. 5, 8, 6) says nothing of the eating of this honey by Samson and his parents.
(2.) At his wedding feast, the attendance of a large company of paranymphs, or friends of the bridegroom, convened ostensibly for the purpose of honoring his nuptials, but in reality to keep an insidious watch upon his movements, furnished the occasion of a common Oriental device for enlivening entertainments of this nature. He propounded a riddle, the solution of which referred to his obtaining a quantity of honey from the carcass of a slain lion; and the clandestine manner in which his guests got possession of the clue to the enigma cost thirty Philistines their lives ( Judges 14:10-20).
(3.) The next instance of his vindictive cunning was prompted by the ill treatment which he had received at the hands of his father-in-law, who, upon a frivolous pretext, had given away his daughter in marriage to another man, and was executed by securing a multitude of foxes, or rather Jackals ( שועלים , Shualim ) , and, by tying firebrands to their tails, setting fire to the cornfields of his enemies. (See the Latin monographs on this subject by Hilliger [Viteb. 1674], Gasser [Halle, 1751], and Vriemoet [Franc. 1738.) The indignation of the Philistines, on discovering the author of the outrage, vented itself upon the family of his father-in-law, who had been the remote occasion of it, in the burning of their house, in which both father and daughter perished. This was a fresh provocation, for which Samson threatened to be revenged; and, thereupon falling upon them without ceremony, he smote them, as it is said, "hip and thigh, with a great slaughter" ( Judges 15:18). The original, strictly rendered, runs, "he smote them leg upon thigh" — apparently a proverbial expression, and implying, according to Gesenius, that he cut them to pieces so that their limbs — their legs and thighs — were scattered and heaped promiscuously together; equivalent to saying that he smote and destroyed them Wholly, Entirely. Mr. Taylor, in his edition of Calmet, recognizes in these words an allusion to some kind of Wrestling Combat, in which, perhaps, the slaughter on this occasion may have commenced.
(4.) Having subsequently taken up his residence in the rock Etam, he was thence dislodged by consenting to a pusillanimous arrangement on the part of his own countrymen, by which he agreed to surrender himself in bonds, provided They would not themselves fall upon him and kill him. He probably gave in to this measure from a strong inward assurance that the issue of it would be to afford him a new occasion of taking vengeance upon his foes. Being brought, in this apparently helpless condition, to a place called, from the event, Lehi, a jaw, his preternatural potency suddenly put itself forth; and, snapping the cords asunder, and snatching up the jawbone of an ass, he dealt so effectually about him that a thousand men were slain on the spot. That this was altogether the work, not of man, but of God, was soon demonstrated. Wearied with his exertions, the illustrious Danite became faint from thirst; and, as there was no water in the place, he prayed that a fountain might be opened. His prayer was heard: God caused a stream to gush from a hollow rock hard by; and Samson, in gratitude, gave it the name of Enhakker, a word that signifies "the well of him that prayed," and which continued to be the designation of the fountain ever after. The place received its name from the circumstance of his having then so effectually wielded the jawbone ( לחי , Lehi ) ( Judges 15:15 sq.; see Bauer, Heb. Myth. 2, 65; Ausf Ü Hrl. Erkl '''''Ä''''' R Des W. 2, 57; comp. Judges 3:31; 2 Samuel 23:8; 2 Samuel 23:18). The springing up of a fountain in the jawbone ( 2 Samuel 23:19) has given great trouble to the interpreters; and some would remove the passage from the text, or give it a very different meaning. The most common is to render Lechi, לְחַי , Not Jawbone, but Lehi, the name of a place in which the fountain sprang up; and Maktesh, מִכְתֵּשׁ , not The Socket Of The Tooth, but the rift of the rock from which the water came. So the Targum, and Josephus ( Ant. 5, 8, 9; comp. Clericus In Loc.; Ortlob, De Fonte Simsonis Prope Maxillam [Leips. 1703]; Deyling, Observat. Sacr. 1, 113 sq.; Busing, in the Biblioth. Hagana, 2, 505 sq.; Herder, Geist Der Ebr. Poesie, 2, 235, 255; Rosenm Ü ller, Schol. in loc.). It would seem that Lehi refers back to 2 Samuel 23:15, and the rendering of Maktesh is assumed. It would be easier, with Studer, to take Lehi for the name of a wall of rock, an opening in which was called Maktesh, Tooth Cavity. Yet it seems to be doubtful whether maktesh alone could have this meaning. (See in general Gesenius, Thesaur. 2, 752.) Heine (Dissertat. Sacr. p. 241 sq.) opposes another exegetical attempt on this passage, and clings to the entire miracle. Comp. Bochart, Hieroz. 1, 171 sq.). (See Lehi).
(5.) The Philistines were from this time held in such contempt by their victor that he went openly into the city of Gaza, where he seems to have suffered himself weakly to be drawn into the company of a woman of loose character, the yielding to whose enticements exposed him to the most imminent peril ( Judges 16:1-3). His presence being soon noised abroad, an attempt was made during the night forcibly to detain him by closing the gates of the city, and making them fast; but Samson, apprised of it, rose at midnight, and, breaking away bolts, bars, and hinges, departed, carrying the gates upon his shoulders to the top of a neighboring hill that looks towards Hebron ( על פני חַברון ; Sept. Ἐπὶ Προσώπου Τοῦ Χεβρών , Facing Hebron ) . The common rendering, "before Hebron," is less appropriate, as the distance between the two cities is at least twenty miles. The hill lay, doubtless, somewhere between the cities, and in full view of both. (See Gaza).
(6.) After this his enemies strove to entrap him by guile rather than by violence, and they were too successful in the end. Falling in love with a woman of Sorek, named Delilah, he became so infatuated by his passion that nothing but his bodily strength could equal his mental weakness. (But see Oeder, De Simsone Casto [Onold. 1718].) The princes of the Philistines, aware of Samson's infirmity, determined by means of it to get possession, if possible, of his person. For this purpose they propose a tempting bribe to Delilah, and she enters at once into the treacherous compact. She employs all her art and blandishments to worm from him the secret of his prodigious strength. Having for some time amused her with fictions, he at last, in a moment of weakness, disclosed to her the fact that it lay in his hair, which, if it were shaved, would leave him a mere common man. Not that his strength really lay in his hair; for this, in fact, had no natural influence upon it one way or the other. His strength arose from his relation to God as a Nazarite; and the preservation of his hair unshorn was the mark, or sign, of his Nazariteship, and a pledge, on the part of God, of the continuance of his miraculous physical powers. If he lost this sign, the badge of his consecration, he broke his vow, and consequently forfeited the thing signified. God abandoned him; and he was thenceforward no more, in this respect, than an ordinary man. His treacherous paramour seized the first opportunity of putting his declaration to the test. She shaved his head while he lay sleeping in her lap; and, at a concerted signal, he was instantly arrested by his enemies lying in wait. Bereft of his grand endowment, and forsaken of God, the champion of Israel could now well adopt the words of Solomon: "I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands are bands; whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her." Having so long presumptuously played with his ruin, Heaven leaves him to himself, as a punishment for his former guilty indulgence. He is made to reap as he had sown, and is consigned to the hands of his relentless foes. His punishment was indeed severe, though he amply revenged it, as well as redeemed, in a measure, his own honor, by the manner in which he met his death. The Philistines, having deprived him of sight, at first immured him in a prison, and made him grind at the mill like a slave ( Judges 16:4-21). As this was an employment which, in the East, usually devolves on women, to assign it to such a man as Samson was virtually to reduce him to the lowest state of degradation and shame. To grind corn for others was, even for a woman, a proverbial term expressive of the most menial and oppressed condition. How much more for the hero of Israel, who seems to have been made grinder general for the prison house! (See Lehmann, De Simsone Molitore (Viteb. 1711].)
(7.) In process of time, while remaining in this confinement, his hair recovered its growth, and with it such a profound repentance seems to have wrought in his heart as virtually reinvested him with the character and the powers he had so culpably lost. Of this fact his enemies were not aware. Still exulting in their possession of the great scourge of their nation, they kept him, like a wild beast, for mockery and insult. On one of these occasions, when an immense multitude, including the princes and nobility of the Philistines, were convened in a large amphitheater to celebrate a feast in honor of their god Dagon, who had delivered their adversary into their hands, Samson was ordered to be brought out to be made a laughing stock to his enemies, a butt for their scoffs, insults, mockeries, and merriment. Secretly determined to use his recovered strength to tremendous effect, he persuaded the boy who guided his steps to conduct him to a spot where he could reach the two pillars upon which the roof of the building rested (see Thomson, Land and Book, 2, 343). Here, after pausing for a short time while he prefers a brief prayer to Heaven, he grasps the massy pillars, and, bowing with resistless force, the whole building rocks and totters, and the roof, encumbered with the weight of the spectators, rushes down, and the whole assembly, including Samson himself, are crushed to pieces in the ruin ( Judges 16:22 sq.).
Thus terminated the career of one of the most remarkable personages of all history, whether sacred or profane. The enrolment of his name by an apostolic pen ( Hebrews 11:32) in the list of the ancient worthies, "who had by faith obtained an excellent repute," warrants us, undoubtedly, in a favorable estimate of his character on the whole, while at the same time the fidelity of the inspired narrative has perpetuated the record of infirmities which must forever mar the luster of his noble deeds. It is not improbable that the lapses with which he was chargeable arose, in a measure, from the very peculiarities of that physical temperament to which his prodigies of strength were owing; but while this consideration may palliate, it cannot excuse the moral delinquencies into which he was betrayed, and of which a just Providence exacted so tremendous a penalty in the circumstances of his degradation and death. (See Weissenborn, De Morte Simsonis [Jena, 1705]; Maichel, Simson ab Crimine Vindicat. [T Ü bing. 1739].)
His relatives, we are told ( Judges 16:31), went and recovered his body, and interred it in the burying place of his father Manoah. The consternation produced at Gaza by the catastrophe connected with his death, we can easily conceive, would render this easier of accomplishment. (See Philistine).
2. Representative Relations . — Some of these have been in part touched upon in the foregoing narrative, but Samson was so striking a character that they need to be more specifically dwelt upon.
(1.) As A Judge his authority seems to have been limited to the district bordering upon the country of the Philistines, and his action as a deliverer does not seem to have extended beyond desultory attacks upon the dominant Philistines, by which their hold upon Israel was weakened, and the way prepared for the future emancipation of the Israelites from their yoke. It is evident from Judges 13:1; Judges 13:5; Judges 15:9-11; Judges 15:20, and the whole history, that the Israelites, or at least Judah and Dan, which are the only tribes mentioned, were subject to the Philistines through the whole of Samson's judgeship; so that, of course, Samson's twenty years of office would be included in the entire period of the Philistine dominion, which Usher and some others have hastily concluded was limited to the forty years of Eli's administration. From the angel's speech to Samson's mother ( Judges 13:5) it appears further that the Israelites were already subject to the Philistines at his birth; and, as Samson cannot have begun to be judge before he was twenty years of age, it has erroneously been supposed that his judgeship must about have coincided with the last twenty years of Philistine dominion. But when we turn to the first book of Samuel, and especially to 7:1-14, we find that the Philistine dominion continued till the judgeship of Samuel. Hence it appears that Samson and Samuel were separated by the whole interval of Eli's judgeship and of Samuel's minority. (See Chronology). There are, however, several points in the respective narratives of the times of Samson and Samuel which indicate great similarity of circumstances. First, there is the general prominence of the Philistines in their relation to Israel. Secondly, there is the remarkable coincidence of both Samson and Samuel being Nazarites ( Judges 13:5; Judges 16:17; comp. 1 Samuel 1:1). It looks as if the great exploits of the young Danite Nazarite had suggested to Hannah the consecration of her son in like manner, or, at all events, as if for some reason the Nazaritish vow was at that time prevalent. No other mention of Nazarites occurs in the Scripture history till Amos 2:11-12; and even there the allusion seems to be to Samuel and Samson. Thirdly, there is a similar notice of the house of Dagon in Judges 16:23 and 1 Samuel 5:2. Fourthly, the lords of the Philistines are mentioned in a similar way in Judges 16:8; Judges 16:18; Judges 16:27, and in 1 Samuel 7:7. The effect of Samson's prowess must have been more of a preparatory kind, by arousing the cowed spirit of his people, and shaking the insolent security of the Philistines, than in the way of decisive victory or deliverance. There is no allusion whatever to other parts of Israel during Samson's judgeship, except the single fact of the men of the border tribe of Judah, three thousand in number, fetching him from the rock Etam to deliver him up to the Philistines ( Judges 15:9-13). The whole narrative is entirely local, and, like the following story concerning Micah (Judges 17:18) seems to be taken from the annals of the tribe of Dan. Still it does not follow that there were contemporary judges in other parts of the land. (See Judge).
(2.) As A Nazarite, Samson exhibits the law in Numbers 6 in full practice. The eminence of such Nazarites as Samson and Samuel would tend to give that dignity to the profession which is alluded to in Lamentations 4:7-8. (See Nazarite).
(3.) As An Inspired Person, Samson is one of those who are distinctly spoken of in Scripture as endowed with supernatural power by the Spirit of the Lord. Those specimens of extraordinary prowess, of which even the slaying of the lion at Timnath without weapons was one, were doubtless the result of that special influence of the Most High which is referred to in Judges 13:25"; And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol." The import of the original word ( לפעם ) for Moved is peculiar. As פָּעִם , the radical form, signifies An Anvil, the metaphor is probably drawn from the Repeated and somewhat Violent Strokes of a workman with his hammer. It implies, therefore, a peculiar Urgency, an Impelling Influence, which he could not well resist in himself, nor others in him. But we do not know that this attribute, in its utmost degree, constantly dwelt in him. So, in later exploits, it is said, "The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax burned with fire;" "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them." But, on the other hand, after his locks were cut, and his strength was gone from him, it is said "He wist not that the Lord was departed from him" ( Judges 13:25; Judges 14:6; Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14; Judges 16:20). The phrase "the Spirit of the Lord came upon him" is common to him with Othniel and Gideon ( Judges 3:10; Judges 6:34); but the connection of supernatural power with the integrity of the Nazaritish vow, and the particular gift of great strength of body, as seen in tearing in pieces a lion, breaking his bonds asunder, carrying the gates of the city upon his back, and throwing down the pillars which supported the house of Dagon, are quite peculiar to Samson. Indeed, his whole character and history have no exact parallel in Scripture. It is easy, however, to see how forcibly the Israelites would be taught by such an example that their national strength lay in their complete separation from idolatry and consecration to the true God; and that he could give them power to subdue their mightiest enemies, if only they were true to his service (comp. 1 Samuel 2:10). (See the Eclectic Review, Nov. 1861.)
(4.) As To Mythological Coincidences . — The narrative of Samson's deeds has often been compared with the mythical story of the Greek Hercules. (See especially Vogel, in the Hall. Encyclop. 2, § 6, 8 sq.; Riskoff, Die Simsonsage U. D. Herakles-Mythus [ Leips. 1861].) Thus his combat with the lion is compared with the conquest of the Nemean lion (Diod. Sic. 4, 11; Apollod. 2, 5, 1), and another fearful lion on Mt. Cithaeron (Apollod. 2, 4, 9); his capture of the jackals with the capture of the stag of Diana (Diod. Sic. 4, 13; Apollod. 2, 5, 3), and of the Cretan bull (Apollod. 2, 5, 7; Diod. Sic. 4, 13); his slaughter of his paranymphs' friends with the overthrow of the king of the Minyae, Erginus, and his host, by Hercules, in a narrow pass (Apollod. 2, 4, 11; mentioned, too, by Herod. 2, 45); his carrying off the gates of Gaza with the carrying away of the Cretan bull (Diod. Sic. 4, 13); but, above all, the destruction of Samson by his beloved Delilah has been compared with the overcoming of Hercules through Omphale (Diod. Sic. 4:31; Apollod. 2, 6, 3; comp. Senec. Hippol. p. 318 sq.); in fine, Samson's wonderful birth (Judges 13) with that of Hercules (see Bauer, Hebr. Myth. 2, 86 sq.). Those, however, have far less ground who identify Samson with the Phoenician Hercules, the sun god. Basing the view on the etymology of the name (see Vatke, Bibl. Theol. 1, 368 sq.), they labor, viewing the whole story of Samson as a myth, to explain the details by the course and operation of the sun (Borkhausen, in the Coburg. Annal. d. Theol. 1833, 3, 2, 3; 4, 1; comp. Jerome, Ep. ad Philem. 7, 752). There are many other striking parallels in the Greek mythology — e.g. in the Croton Milo and other strong men (Pliny, 7, 19); in the deeds of Theseus, especially the destruction of the wild boar at Crommyon (Diod. Sic. 4, 59), and the carrying away of a living bull to Athens (Bauer, 1. c. p. 91 sq.); of king Nisus in Megara, who lost his kingdom at the same time with his hair (Ovid, Met. 8, 8 sq., 84 sq.; Virgil, Cir. 120 sq.; Hygar. Fab. 198); of the fountain Aganippe, which sprang from the footstep of Pegasus, etc. But there is no reason for rejecting the historical existence of Samson; and his character and deeds accord well with the state of the Israelites in the time of the Judges. Yet the opinion is widely held that the traditions out of which the book of Judges is compiled have exaggerated his exploits (Bauer, Hebr. Myth. 2, 69 sq.; Hebr. Gesch. 2, 88 sq.). Hence some have undertaken to explain the account from natural causes and commonplace events most fruitlessly (Harenberg, in the Brem. u. Verd. Biblioth. 2, 302 sq.; Bern, in Semler's Hall. Samml. 1, 4, 1 sq.; Hezel, Schriftforsch. 1, 653 sq.; Justi, in Eichhorn's Repert. 7, 78 sq.; also in his Vermn. Abhandl. 1, 146 sq.; Diederich, Zur Gesch. Sims. [G Ö tt. 1778]; Herder, Geist. d. ebr. Poes. 2, 235 sq., 252 sq.). Yet more trifling is the hypothesis of Kaiser (Commentar. in Priora Genes. Cap. p. 188 sq.) that Samson was striving to mimic and mock the Philistine Hercules. Once more: "Hercules once went to Egypt, and there the inhabitants took him, and, putting a chaplet on his head, led him out in solemn procession, intending to offer him in sacrifice to Jupiter. For a while he submitted quietly; but when they led him up to the altar and began the ceremonies, he put forth his strength and slew them all" (Rawlinson, Herod. 2, 45).
The passage from Lycophron, with the scholion, quoted by Bochart (Hieroz. pars 2, lib. 5, cap. 12), where Hercules is said to have been three nights in the belly of the sea monster, and to have come out with the loss of all his hair, is also curious, and seems to be a compound of the stories of Samson and Jonah. To this may be added the connection between Samson, considered as, derived from Shemesh, "the sun," and the designation of Moui, the Egyptian Hercules, as "Son of the Sun," worshipped also under the name Sem, which Sir G. Wilkinson compares with Samson. The Tyrian Hercules (whose temple at Tyre is described by Herod. 2, 44), he also tells us, "was originally the sun, and the same as Baal" (Rawlinson, Herod. 2, 44, note 7). The connection between the Phoenician Baal (called Baal Shemen, Baal Shemesh, and Baal Hamman) and Hercules is well known. Gesenius (Thesaur. s.v. בעל ) tells us that in certain Phoenician inscriptions, which are accompanied by a Greek translation, Baal is rendered Herakles, and that "the Tyrian Hercules" is the constant Greek designation of the Baal of Tyre. He also gives many Carthaginian inscriptions to Baal Hamman, which he renders Baal Solaris; and also a sculpture in which Baal Hamman's head is surrounded with rays, and which has an image of the sun on the upper part of the monument ( Mon. Phoen. 1, 171; 2, tab. 21). Another evidence of the identity of the Phoenician Baal and Hercules may be found in Bauli, near Baiae, a place sacred to Hercules ("locus Herculis," Serv.), but evidently so called from Baal. Thirlwall ( Hist. Of Greece ) ascribes to the numerous temples built by the Phoenicians in honor of Baal in their different settlements the Greek fables of the labors and journeys of Hercules. Bochart thinks the custom described by Ovid ( Fast. 54) of tying a lighted torch between two foxes in the circus, in memory of the damage once done to the harvest by a fox with burning hay and straw tied to it, was derived from the Phoenicians, and is clearly to be traced to the history of Samson (Hieroz. pars 1, lib. 3, cap. 8). From all this, however, arises little probability that the Greek and Latin conception of Hercules in regard to his strength was derived from Phoenician stories and reminiscences of the great Hebrew hero Samson. Some learned men connect the name Hercules with Samson etymologically (see Wilkinson's note in Rawlinson's Herod. 2, 43; Patrick, On Judges 16, 30; Cornel. a Lapide, etc.); but none of these etymologies are very convincing. Nevertheless, the following description of Hercules, given by C.O. M '''''Ü''''' ller (Dorians, bk. 2, ch. 12), might almost have been written for Samson: "The highest degree of human suffering and courage is attributed to Hercules: his character is as noble as could be conceived in those rude and early times; but he is by no means represented as free from the blemishes of human nature; on the contrary, he is frequently subject to wild, ungovernable passions, when the noble indignation and anger of the suffering hero degenerate into frenzy. Every crime, however, is atoned for by some new suffering; but nothing breaks his invincible courage until, purified from earthly corruption, he ascends Mount Olympus." Again: "Hercules was a jovial guest, and not backward in enjoying himself.... It was Hercules, above all other heroes, whom mythology placed in ludicrous situations, and sometimes made the butt of the buffoonery of others. The Cercopes are represented as alternately amusing and annoying the hero. In works of art they are often represented as satyrs who rob the hero of his quiver, bow, and club. Hercules, annoyed at their insults, binds two of them to a pole, and marches off with his prize.... It also seems that mirth and buffoonery were often combined with the festivals of Hercules: thus at Athens there was a society of sixty men, who, on the festival of the Diomean Hercules, attacked and amused themselves and others with sallies of wit." The commentary of Adam Clarke presents us with the results of De Lavour, an ingenious French writer, on this subject, from which it will be seen that the coincidences are extremely striking, and such as would, perhaps, afford to most minds, an additional proof of how much the ancient mythologies were a distorted reflection of the Scripture narrative. Phoenician traders, it is imagined, might easily have carried stories concerning the Hebrew hero to the different countries where they traded, especially Greece and Italy; and such stories would have been molded according to the taste or imagination of those who heard them. Whatever is thought, however, of such coincidences, it is certain that the history of Samson is a historical, and not an allegorical, narrative. It has also a distinctly supernatural element which cannot be explained away. The history, as we now have it, must have been written several centuries after Samson's death ( Judges 15:19-20; Judges 18:1; Judges 18:30; Judges 19:1), though probably taken from the annals of the tribe of Dan. Josephus has given it pretty fully, but with alterations and embellishments of his own, after his manner. The older writers on Samson contribute nothing to the interpretation of the history (e.g. Marck, in his Dissert. Philol. Exeget. p. 173 sq.). The effort to rid the story of its miraculous air appears already in Stackhouse ( Bibl. Hist. 3, 776 sq.). The Wolfenb Ü ttel Fragments (according to the specimens in Bayle and others) would simply degrade Samson; and Niemeyer (Charak. 3, 524 sq.) accomplishes nothing beyond showing that this willful and rough hero of the olden time, judged by the moral law, is unworthy of comparison with Christ (see Hauke, De Simsone Typo Christi [Alt. 1740]). Samson was earnest and patriotic; to him his Nazaritish consecration was not a mere religious veil, but a living impulse, and no one can properly deny him the dignity of a shophet, or judge (Bertheau, Buch der Richter, p. 14, Einleit.), unless he understands the word in a narrow and too modern sense. The moral significance of Samson's life has been first set forth by Ewald (Gesch. Isr. 2, 401 sq.), but he seems to have idealized his hero too much (comp. the excellent remarks of Bertheau, op. cit. p. 168 sq.). The only mention of Samson in the New Test. confirms his historical character, being that in Hebrews 11:32, where he is coupled with Gideon, Barak, and Jephthah, and spoken of as one of those who "through faith waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens." For other monographs on Samson, see Darling, Cyclopoedia Bibliographica, col. 285.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
sam´sun ( שׁמשׁון , shimshōn ).
Derived probably from שׁמשׁ , shemesh , "sun" with the diminutive ending ון -, - on , meaning "little sun" or "sunny," or perhaps "sun-man"; Σαμψών , Sampsṓn ; Latin and English, Samson: His home was near Bethshemesh, which means "house of the sun." Compare the similar formation שׁמשׁי , shimshay ( Ezra 4:8 , Ezra 4:9 , Ezra 4:17 , Ezra 4:23 ).
Samson was a judge, perhaps the last before Samuel. He was a Nazirite of the tribe of Dan ( Judges 13:5 ); a man of prodigious strength, a giant and a gymnast - the Hebrew Hercules, a strange champion for Yahweh! He intensely hated the Philistines who had oppressed Israel some 40 years ( Judges 13:1 ), and was willing to fight them alone. He seems to have been actuated by little less than personal vengeance, yet in the New Testament he is named among the heroes of faith ( Hebrews 11:32 ), and was in no ordinary sense an Old Testament worthy. He was good-natured, sarcastic, full of humor, and fought with his wits as well as with his fists. Milton has graphically portrayed his character in his dramatic poem Samson Agonistes (1671), on which Handel built his oratorio, Samson (1743).
3. Story of His Life:
The story of Samson's life is unique among the biographies of the Old Testament. It is related in Judges 13 through 16. Like Isaac, Samuel and John the Baptist, he was a child of prayer ( Judges 13:8 , Judges 13:12 ). To Manoah's wife the angel of Yahweh appeared twice ( Judges 13:3 , Judges 13:9 ), directing that the child which should be born to them should be a Nazirite from the womb, and that he would " begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines" ( Judges 13:5 , Judges 13:7 , Judges 13:14 ). The spirit of Yahweh first began to move him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol ( Judges 13:25 ). On his arriving at manhood, five remarkable circumstances are recorded of him.
(1) His marriage with a Philistine woman of Timnah ( Judges 14 ). His parents objected to the alliance ( Judges 14:3 ), but Samson's motive in marrying her was that he "sought an occasion against the Philistines" At the wedding feast Samson propounded to his guests a riddle, wagering that if they guessed its answer he would give them 30 changes of raiment. Dr. Moore felicitously renders the text of the riddle thus:
'Out of the eater came something to eat,
And out of the strong came something sweet' ( Judges 14:14 ).
The Philistines threatened the life of his bride, and she in turn wrung from Samson the answer; whereupon he retorted (in Dr. Moore's version):
'If with my heifer ye did not plow,
Ye had not found out my riddle, I trow' ( Judges 14:18 ).
Accordingly, in revenge, Samson went down to Ashkelon, slew some 30 men, and paid his debt; he even went home without his wife, and her father to save her from shame gave her to Samson's "best man" ( Judges 14:20 ). It has been suggested by W. R. Smith ( Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia , 70-76) that Samson did not from the first intend to take his bride to his home, his marriage being what is known among the Arabs as a cadı̄ḳat , or gift marriage, by which is meant that the husband becomes a part of the wife's tribe. This assumes that the social relations of the Hebrews at that time were matriarchate, the wife remaining with her family, of which custom there are other traces in the Old Testament, the husband merely visiting the wife from time to time. But this is not so obvious in Samson's case in view of his pique ( Judges 14:19 ), and especially in view of his parents' objection to his marrying outside of Israel ( Judges 14:3 ). Not knowing that his bride had been given by her father to his friend, Samson went down to Timnah to visit her, with a kid; when he discovered, however, that he had been taken advantage of, he went out and caught 300 jackals, and putting firebrands between every two tails, he burned up the grain fields and olive yards of the Philistines. The Philistines, however, showed they could play with fire, too, and burned his wife and her father. Thereupon, Samson smote the Philistines in revenge, "hip and thigh" ( Judges 15:1-8 ).
(2) When he escaped to Etam, an almost vertical rock cliff in Judah (by some identified with ‛Araḳ Ismain ) not far from Zorah, Samson's home, the Philistines invaded Judah, encamped at Lehi above Etam, and demanded the surrender of their arch-enemy. The men of Judah were willing to hand Samson over to the Philistines, and accordingly went down to the cliff Etam, bound Samson and brought him up where the Philistines were encamped ( Judges 15:9-13 ). When Samson came to Lehi the Philistines shouted as they met him, whereupon the spirit of Yahweh came mightily upon him, so that he broke loose from the two new ropes with which the 3,000 men of Judah had bound him, and seizing a fresh jawbone of an ass he smote with it 1,000 men of the Philistines, boasting as he did so in pun-like poetry, 'With the jawbone of an ass, m-ass upon m-ass'; or, as Dr. Moore translates the passage, 'With the bone of an ass, I ass-ailed my ass-ailants' ( Judges 15:16 ). At the same time, Samson reverently gave Yahweh the glory of his victory ( Judges 15:18 ). Samson being thirsty, Yahweh provided water for him at a place called En-hakkore, or "Partridge Spring," or "the Spring of the Caller" - another name for partridge ( Judges 15:17-19 ).
(3) Samson next went down to Gaza, to the very stronghold of the Philistines, their chief city. There he saw a harlot, and, his passions not being under control, he went in unto her. It was soon noised about that Samson, the Hebrew giant, was in the city. Accordingly, the Philistines laid wait for him. But Samson arose at midnight and laid hold of the doors of the gate and their two posts, and carried them a full quarter of a mile up to the top of the mountain that looketh toward Hebron ( Judges 16:1-3 ).
(4) From Gaza Samson betook himself to the valley of Sorek where he fell in love with another Philistine woman, named Delilah, through whose machinations he lost his spiritual power. The Philistine lords bribed her with a very large sum to deliver him into their hands. Three times Samson deceived her as to the secret of his strength, but at last he explains that he is a Nazirite, and that his hair, which has never been shorn, is the secret of his wonderful power. J. G. Frazer ( Golden Bough , III, 390 ff) has shown that the belief that some mysterious power resides in the hair is still widespread among savage peoples, e.g. the Fiji Islanders. Thus, Samson fell. By disclosing to Delilah this secret, he broke his covenant vow, and the Spirit of God departed from him ( Judges 16:4-20 ). The Philistines laid hold on him, put out his eyes, brought him down to Gaza, bound him with fetters, and forced him to grind in the prison house. Grinding was women's work! It is at this point that Milton catches the picture and writes,
"Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves."
Howbeit, the hair of his head began to grow again; but his eyes did not! ( Judges 16:21 , Judges 16:22 ).
(5) The final incident recorded of Samson is in connection with a great sacrificial feast which the Philistine lords gave in honor of Dagon, their god. In their joyous celebration they sang in rustic rhythm:
'Our god has given us into our hand
The foe of our land,
Whom even our most powerful band
Was never able to withstand' ( Judges 16:24 ).
This song was accompanied probably, as Mr. Macalister suggests, by hand-clapping ( Gezer , 129). When they became still more merry, they called for Samson to play the buffoon, and by his pranks to entertain the assembled multitude. The house of Dagon was full of people; about 3,000 were upon the roof beholding as Samson made sport. With the new growth of his hair his strength had returned to him. The dismantled giant longed to be avenged on his adversaries for at least one of his two eyes ( Judges 16:28 ). He prayed, and Yahweh heard his prayer. Guided by his attendant, he took hold of the wooden posts of the two middle pillars upon which the portico of the house rested, and slipping them off their pedestals, the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were therein. "So the dead that he slew at his death were more than they that he slew in his life" ( Judges 16:29 , Judges 16:30 ). His kinsmen came and carried him up and buried him near his boyhood home, between Zorah and Eshtaol, in the family burying-ground of his father. "And he judged Israel twenty years" ( Judges 16:31 ).
4. Historical Value:
The story of Samson is a faithful mirror of his times: "Every man did that which was right in his own eyes" ( Judges 17:6; Judges 21:25 ). There was no king in those days, i.e. no central government. Each tribe was separately occupied driving out their individual enemies. For 40 years the Philistines had oppressed Samson's tribal compatriots. Their suzerainty was also recognized by Judah ( Judges 14:4; Judges 15:11 ). Samson was the hero of his tribe. The general historicity of his story cannot be impeached on the mere ground of improbability. His deeds were those which would most naturally be expected from a giant, filled with a sense of justice. He received the local popularity which a man of extraordinary prowess would naturally be given. All peoples glory in their heroes. The theory that the record in Judges 13 through 16 is based upon some "solar myth" is now generally abandoned. That there are incidents in his career which are difficult to explain, is freely granted. For example, that he killed a lion ( Judges 14:6 ) is not without a parallel; David and Benaiah did the same ( 1 Samuel 17:34-36; 2 Samuel 23:20 ). God always inspires a man in the line of his natural endowments. That God miraculously supplied his thirst ( Judges 15:19 ) is no more marvelous than what God did for Hagar in the wilderness ( Genesis 21:19 ). That Samson carried off the doors of the gate of Gaza and their two posts, bar and all, must not confound us till we know more definitely their size and the distance from Gaza of the hill to which he carried them. The fact that he pulled down the roof on which there were 3,000 men and women is not at all impossible, as Mr. Macalister has shown. If we suppose that there was an immense portico to the temple of Dagon, as is quite possible, which was supported by two main pillars of wood resting on bases of stone, like the cedar pillars of Solomon's house ( 1 Kings 7:2 ), all that Samson, therefore, necessarily did, was to push the wooden beams so that their feet would slide over the stone base on which they rested, and the whole portico would collapse. Moreover, it is not said that the whole of the 3,000 on the roof were destroyed ( Judges 16:30 ). Many of those in the temple proper probably perished in the number (R. A. S. Macalister, Bible Side-Lights from the Mound of Gezer , 1906, 127-38).
5. Religious Value:
Not a few important and suggestive lessons are deducible from the hero's life: (1) Samson was the object of parental solicitude from even before his birth. One of the most suggestive and beautiful prayers in the Old Testament is that of Manoah for guidance in the training of his yet unborn child ( Judges 13:8 ). Whatever our estimate of his personality is, Samson was closely linked to the covenant. (2) He was endowed with the Spirit of Yahweh - the spirit of personal patriotism, the spirit of vengeance upon a foe of 40 years' standing ( Judges 13:1 , Judges 13:25; Judges 14:6 :19; Judges 15:14 ). (3) He also prayed, and Yahweh answered him, though in judgment ( Judges 16:30 ). But he was prodigal of his strength. Samson had spiritual power and performed feats which an ordinary man would hardly perform. But he was unconscious of his high vocation. In a moment of weakness he yielded to Delilah and divulged the secret of his strength. He was careless of his personal endowment. He did not realize that physical endowments no less than spiritual are gifts from God, and that to retain them we must be obedient. (4) He was passionate and therefore weak. The animal of his nature was never curbed, but rather ran unchained and free. He was given to sudden fury. Samson was a wild, self-willed man. Passion ruled. He could not resist the blandishments of women. In short, he was an overgrown schoolboy, without self-mastery. (5) He accordingly wrought no permanent deliverance for Israel; he lacked the spirit of cooperation. He undertook a task far too great for even a giant single-handed. Yet, it must be allowed that Samson paved the way for Saul and David. He began the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines. He must, therefore, be judged according to his times. In his days there was unrestrained individual independence on every side, each one doing as he pleased. Samson differed from his contemporaries in that he was a hero of faith ( Hebrews 11:32 ). He was a Nazirite, and therefore dedicated to God. He was given to revenge, yet he was ready to sacrifice himself in order that his own and his people's enemies might be overthrown. He was willing to lay down his own life for the sake of his fellow-tribesmen - not to save his enemies, however, but to kill them. (Compare Matthew 5:43 f; Romans 5:10 .)
(1) Comma. on Jgs, notably those by G. F. Moore, Icc , 1895; Budde, Kurzer Handkommentar , 1897; Nowack, Handkommentar , 1900; E. L. Curtis, The Bible for Home and School , 1913; Bachmann, 1868; Keil, 1862; Farrar in Ellicott's Commentaries ; Watson, Expositor's Bible . (2) Articles on "Samson" in the various Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias; in particular those by Budde, Hdb ; C. W. Emmet, in 1-vol Hdb ; S. A. Cook, New Encyclopedia Brit ; Davis, Dict. of the Bible .
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
Sam´son. This celebrated champion and judge of Israel, was the son of Manoah, of the tribe of Dan, and born A.M. 2848, of a mother whose name is nowhere given in the Scriptures. His birth was announced by a heavenly messenger, who declared to his mother that the child with which she was pregnant was to be a son, who should be a Nazarite from his birth, upon whose head no razor was to come, and who was to prove a signal deliverer to his people. She was directed, accordingly, to conform her own regimen to the tenor of the Nazarite law, and strictly abstain from wine and all intoxicating liquor, and from every species of impure food [NAZARITE]. According to the 'prophecy going before upon him,' Samson was born in the following year, and his destination to great achievements began to evince itself at a very early age by the illapses of superhuman strength which came from time to time upon him. Those specimens of extraordinary prowess, of which the slaying of the lion at Timnath without weapons was one, were doubtless the result of that special influence of the Most High which is referred to in .
As the position of the tribe of Dan, bordering upon the territory of the Philistines, exposed them especially to the predatory incursions of this people, it was plainly the design of heaven to raise up a deliverer in that region where he was most needed. The Philistines, therefore, became very naturally the objects of that retributive course of proceedings in which Samson was to be the principal actor, and upon which he could only enter by seeking some occasion of exciting hostilities that would bring the two peoples into direct collision. Such an occasion was afforded by his meeting with one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnath, whom he besought his parents to procure for him in marriage.
At his wedding-feast, the attendance of a large company of friends of the bridegroom, convened ostensibly for the purpose of honoring his nuptials, but in reality to keep an insidious watch upon his movements, furnished the occasion of a common Oriental device for enlivening entertainments of this nature. He propounded a riddle, the solution of which referred to his obtaining a quantity of honey from the carcass of a slain lion, and the clandestine manner in which his guests got possession of the clue to the enigma cost thirty Philistines their lives. The next instance of his vindictive policy was prompted by the ill-treatment which he had received at the hands of his father-in-law, who, upon a frivolous pretext, had given away his daughter in marriage to another man, and was executed by securing a multitude of foxes, or rather jackals, and, by tying firebrands to their tails, setting fire to the cornfields of his enemies. The indignation of the Philistines, on discovering the author of the outrage, vented itself upon the family of his father-in-law, who had been the remote occasion of it, in the burning of their house, in which both father and daughter perished. This was a fresh provocation, for which Samson threatened to be revenged; and thereupon falling upon them without ceremony he smote them, as it is said, 'hip and thigh with a great slaughter.'
Having subsequently taken up his residence in the rock Etam, he was thence dislodged by consenting to a pusillanimous arrangement on the part of his own countrymen, by which he agreed to surrender himself in bonds provided they would not themselves fall upon him and kill him. Being brought in this apparently helpless condition to a place called from the event Lehi, a jaw, his preternatural potency suddenly put itself forth, and snapping the cords asunder, and snatching up the jaw-bone of an ass, he dealt so effectually about him, that a thousand men were slain on the spot. That this was altogether the work, not of man, but of God, was soon demonstrated. Wearied with his exertions, the illustrious Danite became faint from thirst, and as there was no water in the place, he prayed that a fountain might be opened. His prayer was heard; God caused a stream to gush from a hollow rock hard by, and Samson in gratitude gave it the name of Enhakkore, a word that signifies 'the well of him that prayed,' and which continued to be the designation of the fountain ever after.
The Philistines were from this time held in such contempt by their victor, that he went openly into the city of Gaza, where he seems to have suffered himself weakly to be drawn into the company of a woman of loose character, the yielding to whose enticements exposed him to the most imminent peril. His presence being soon noised abroad, an attempt was made during the night forcibly to detain him, by closing the gates of the city and making them fast; but Samson, apprised of it, rose at midnight, and breaking away bolts, bars, and hinges, departed, carrying the gates upon his shoulders, to the top of a neighboring hill that looks towards Hebron (not 'before Hebron,' as the words are rendered in the Authorized Version). After this his enemies strove to entrap him by guile rather than by violence; and they were too successful in the end. Falling in love with a woman of Sorek, named Delilah, he became so infatuated by his passion, that nothing but his bodily strength could equal his mental weakness. The princes of the Philistines, aware of Samson's infirmity, determined by means of it to get possession, if possible, of his person. For this purpose they propose a tempting bribe to Delilah, and she enters at once into the treacherous compact. She employs all her art and blandishments to worm from him the secret of his prodigious strength. Having for some time amused her with fictions, he at last, in moment of weakness, disclosed to her the fact that it lay in his hair, which if it were shaved would leave him a mere common man. Not that his strength really lay in his hair, for this in fact had no natural influence upon it one way or the other. His strength arose from his relation to God as a Nazarite and the preservation of his hair unshorn was the mark or sign of his Nazariteship, and a pledge on the part of God of the continuance of his miraculous physical powers. If he lost this sign, the badge of his consecration, he broke his vow, and consequently forfeited the thing signified. God abandoned him, and he was thenceforward no more, in this respect, than an ordinary man. His treacherous paramour seized the first opportunity of putting his declaration to the test. She shaved his head while he lay sleeping in her lap, and at a concerted signal he was instantly arrested by his enemies lying in wait. Having so long presumptuously played with his ruin, Heaven leaves him to himself, as a punishment for his former guilty indulgence. He is made to reap as he had sown, and is consigned to the hands of his relentless foes. His punishment was indeed severe, though he amply revenged it, as well as redeemed in a measure his own honor, by the manner in which he met his death. The Philistines having deprived him of sight, at first immured him in a prison, and made him grind at the mill like a slave, thus reducing him to the lowest state of degradation and shame.
In process of time, while remaining in this confinement, his hair recovered its growth, and with it such a profound repentance seems to have wrought in his heart as virtually reinvested him with the character and the powers he had so culpably lost. Of this fact his enemies were not aware. Still exulting in their possession of the great scourge of their nation, they kept him, like a wild beast, for mockery and insult. On one of these occasions, when an immense multitude, including the princes and nobles of the Philistines, were convened in a large amphitheater, to celebrate a feast in honor of their god Dagon, who had delivered their adversary into their hands, Samson was ordered to be brought out to be made a laughing-stock to his enemies, a butt for their scoffs, insults, mockeries, and merriment. Secretly determined to use his recovered strength to tremendous effect, he persuaded the boy who guided his steps to conduct him to a spot where he could reach the two pillars upon which the roof of the building chiefly rested. Here, after pausing for a short time, while he prefers a brief prayer to Heaven, he grasps the massy pillars, and bowing with resistless force, the whole building rocks and totters, and the roof, encumbered with the weight of the spectators, rushes down, and the whole assembly, including Samson himself, are crushed to pieces in the ruin.
Thus terminated the career of one of the most remarkable personages of all history, whether sacred or profane. The enrolment of his name by an apostolic pen in the list of the ancient worthies, 'who had by faith obtained an excellent repute,' warrants us undoubtedly to entertain a favorable estimate of his character on the whole,' while at the same time the fidelity of the inspired narrative has perpetuated the record of infirmities which must for ever mar the luster of his noble deeds.
The Nuttall Encyclopedia 
Ranked as judge of Israel, but the story of his life is as of a Jewish hero, distinguished for his feats of strength; employed in the service of his country against the Philistines.
- Samson from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- Samson from Fausset's Bible Dictionary
- Samson from Smith's Bible Dictionary
- Samson from Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
- Samson from Morrish Bible Dictionary
- Samson from Holman Bible Dictionary
- Samson from People's Dictionary of the Bible
- Samson from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
- Samson from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- Samson from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- Samson from Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
- Samson from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- Samson from Webster's Dictionary
- Samson from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
- Samson from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- Samson from Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
- Samson from The Nuttall Encyclopedia