The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Judges
At another time he went to Gaza, and would pass the night with a harlot he had seen there.
The news came to the ears of the Philistines that Samson was in the town, and they cut him off from escape by posting guards at the city gate; no need to do anything while night lasted, they could kill him next morning on his way out.
Samson slept on till midnight; then he rose up to go. Finding the gates locked, he took them up, bar, gate-posts and all, put them on his shoulder, and carried them to the top of the hill which looks down towards Hebron.
His next love was a woman called Dalila, who lived in the valley of Sorec.
To her the chiefs of the Philistines had recourse; Use all thy arts, they said, and find out from him what it is that makes him so strong; how we can get the better of him, make him a prisoner and have him at our mercy. Do this for us, and each of us will give thee eleven hundred pieces of silver.
So Dalila asked Samson, Tell me, what makes thee so strong? What bonds should a man use to bind thee, if he would have thee at his mercy?
Bind me with seven strands of gut, still fresh and undried, Samson told her, and I shall be no stronger than other men.
Such a cord the Philistine chiefs brought her, and she bound Samson with it;
meanwhile they lay concealed in her house, waiting in an inner room to see what came of it. Samson, she cried, the Philistines! Whereupon he broke through his bonds, as if they had been made of the refuse of tow, and scorched besides. And about that strength of his, none was the wiser.
It was but a jest, then, said Dalila; thou wert tricking me? Tell me the truth this time; what bonds can bind thee?
New ropes, he answered, that have never yet been used; bind me with those, and never a man so weak as I.
So once more Dalila bound him, once more she cried, Samson, the Philistines! And the men hidden in the inner room saw him break his bonds like a thread.
What, cried Dalila, still mocking me, still at thy lying? Tell me what the right bonds are. Why, answered Samson, if thou shouldst weave seven of the hairs on my head into that web of thine, and tie them to the peg of the loom, and make it fast in the ground, then I should be weak enough.
This, too, Dalila did; but when she awoke him by crying Samson, the Philistines! he rose to his feet carrying away peg and web and all.
Come, said Dalila, thou dost pretend to love me; wilt thou not let me share thy thoughts? Three times thou hast put me off with lies, instead of telling me the secret of thy great strength.
Thus did she torment him, plying him with questions day after day, and giving him no peace, till at last she crushed his spirit altogether, and made life a burden to him;
and at last he told her the truth. I am a Nazirite, he said; that is to say, I am consecrated to God from birth, and this hair of mine has never felt the touch of steel. If my hair were cut, my strength would leave me; I should lose it all, and become like other men.
She could tell, now, that he was keeping nothing back from her, and she sent a message to the Philistine chiefs, Come to my house this once more; he has told me everything. So they came, and brought with them the money they had promised her.
and when she awoke him with her cry, Samson, the Philistines! it was in vain that he sought to escape by shaking off his bonds as of old.
The Lord was at his side no longer, and the Philistines held him fast. First they blinded him, and then carried him off bound to Gaza, where they made him work as a prisoner at the mill.
But now the hair began to grow again on the shorn head.
After a while, the chiefs of the Philistines met to offer their god Dagon high sacrifice, and to hold a banquet. What an enemy, they said, was this Samson! And our god has given us the mastery of him.
Thereupon the common folk took up the same cry of praise; Our god has given us the mastery, they said, over this enemy of ours, that so ruined our lands, that slew so many.
And in their mirth, as they drank together after the banquet was eaten, they had Samson brought in to provide sport for them. Provide sport for them he did, set free for a while from his prison, standing between two pillars, where they had made place for him.
Then he said to the boy who was leading him about, Now guide my hands to the two pillars that support the building; I would lean my weight on them and rest a little.
The building was thronged with men and women both; all the chiefs of the Philistines were there, and from the roof, with its balcony, some three thousand men and women looked on while Samson provided them with sport.
And now he called the Lord to his aid; Lord God, he said, bethink thyself of me, and give me back, for this once, the strength I had of old. One stroke of vengeance, my God, on the enemies who have robbed me of both my eyes!
And with that, he caught the two pillars the building rested on, one in his right hand and one in his left,
crying out, Now, Samson, die with the Philistines! And he shook the pillars with such force that the whole building fell and crushed the chiefs of the Philistines, crushed all the throng that was there about him. Great toll Samson took of them in his life-time, but greater as he died.
And all his brethren and kindred went down to carry off his body, which they buried in the tomb of his father Manue, between Saraa and Esthaol. His rule over Israel had lasted twenty years.
The Holy Bible