Problem: Samson is really stupid
Verses: Judges 16:16-17; Status: Minor

Samson, an Old Testament figure of some repute, famously loved the woman Delilah. Unfortunately, she was working for the Philistines, and trying to uncover the secret of his strength. Samson's secret was in fact his Nazirite oath to God, which was mentioned at Judges 13:5, though the full content of the Nazirite oath can be found at Numbers 6:1-21. Amongst other things, this oath prevented him from shaving his head.

Three times Delilah asked him what the secret was, and three times he lied. The first time (Judges 16:7), he said he would be weakened if bound with fresh bowstrongs. The second time (16:11), he said fresh rope. The third time (16:13), he said he would lose his strength if his hair was tied.

And on each occasion, she went and did it, but his strength was not diminished.

But she asks a fourth time, and he actually tells her the truth. This is Judges 16:16-17:

And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. And he told her all his heart, and said to her, "A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man." (ESV)

As she had done on the previous occasions, Delilah goes ahead and does it, and God abandons Samson, and he is captured by the Philistines.

It seems to defy all logic that he would tell her the truth; he surely knew that she would do whatever he said would weaken him. She had tried it three times before. The only suggested solution I know of is that he didn't really believe his hair had anything to do with his strength. Indeed, this is Judges 16:20:

And she said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" And he awoke from his sleep and said, "I will go out as at other times and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him. (ESV)

Yet in the verse where he told her the truth he certainly seemed to believe it. "He told her all his heart". I think this borders on being Serious, but since stupidity in the minds of humans is not unheard of, I shall label it Minor.

Updated: 2009-12-09

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