José Echenagusía - Samson and Delilah, 1887
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Samson, a judge of Israel, was known for his enormous strength killing a lion with his bare hands and ripping from its foundation the massive posts that held the doors to a city. He was also known for his carousing. Samson had been attacking and decimating the Philistines. The Philistine rulers went to a beautiful woman named Delilah who lived in the valley of Sorek. They offered her money if she could entice Samson and deliver to them the secret of his great strength. Falling in love with Delilah marked the beginning of Samson’s downfall.

As a Nazirite Samson had been set apart to God and was to obey God’s commands which included never to cut his hair. After three failed attempts, to stop her pestering Samson confided in Delilah that his strength was in his hair.

After he fell asleep in her lap, Delilah cut his hair and summoned the Philistine soldiers who were hiding outside. His strength gone, Samson was easily captured. Rather than killing him, the Philistines preferred to further disable him by gouging out his eyes and humiliating him by subjecting him to hard labor in a Gaza prison. As he slaved at grinding grain, his hair began to grow. In spite of his past sins, Samson's heart now turned to the Lord. He was humbled. He prayed to God.

The Philistines gathered at their temple to celebrate the capture of Samson and to pay tribute to their god Dagon. They paraded their prized enemy out in front of the jeering crowd. Samson positioned himself between the two central support pillars of the temple and prayed to God for the return of his strength. His strength returned, Samson pushed apart the columns. Down came the temple, killing all within it. Through this one sacrificial act Samson destroyed more of his enemies than he had killed in all of his previous battles.

JUDGES 13-16