Judges 16:13: Samson's Locks and the Web of the Weaver

Verse 13:[1] And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.



[If thou plait the seven locks of my head with heddle,אִם־תַּאַרְגִ֗י אֶת־שֶׁ֛בַע מַחְלְפ֥וֹת רֹאשִׁ֖י עִם־הַמַּסָּֽכֶת׃[2]] If thou weavest the seven curls of my head with the heddle (Pagnine, Montanus, Syriac), or, the cross-piece of the web (Jonathan). If thou attach by weaving, or interweave, to the weaving cross-piece (Arabic, Junius and Tremellius), or, with that web that was wrapped around the cross-piece of weavers, that is, which was already woven. For it is a beam, smooth and round, so called because it is covered by the web, which is rolled around it. The seven rings, that is, the seven parts of his hair pressed together: for he had locks, long, and crimped and plaited, or twisted (Vatablus). Samson’s whole head of hair was distributed into seven ringlets, heddles, as it were (Junius, Bonfrerius). מַסֶּכֶת is found only here, and in verse 14. [They render it variously:] Heddle (Hebrews in Malvenda), or, that web, or the cloth that is woven and covered, as if you should call it a covering (Malvenda). I translate it, to the web; for the Hebrew word elsewhere signifies a covering or cover, now, the cross-piece of the weaver is covered by the web (Piscator). In the web the thread is twofold: 1. the warp, which is vertical; 2. the woof (or waft), which is transverse; now, it is appropriate for the warp to cover the woof. The Septuagint Translators agree with our translations, who translate it δίασμα/ warp, which Favorinus and Etymologists render, the first work of a garment: For the warp threads are extended by the weaver before all things (Bonfrerius). Most maintain that it is the heddle, or the weaver’s beam, an instrument of weavers, through which threads stream and are poured (Malvenda). Others translate it rug, or curtain (certain interpreters in Malvenda, Munster). Perhaps at that time Delilah was weaving some web or a covering (Malvenda). This is the sense of this passage: If the locks of my head were woven into the web, and the very weaver’s beam around which the web is rolled were fixed with a pin, and secured in a certain spot, etc. (Munster). By degrees Samson comes to his head, nearer to falling, says Saint Ambrose, Epistles 70 (Menochius).



With the web: Or, thread which is woven about a weaver’s loom; or, with a weaver’s beam. If my hair, which is all divided into seven locks, be fastened about a weaver’s beam, or interwoven with weavers’ threads; understand out of the foregoing verses, then I shall be weak as another man.

[1] Hebrew: וַתֹּ֙אמֶר דְּלִילָ֜ה אֶל־שִׁמְשׁ֗וֹן עַד־הֵ֜נָּה הֵתַ֤לְתָּ בִּי֙ וַתְּדַבֵּ֤ר אֵלַי֙ כְּזָבִ֔ים הַגִּ֣ידָה לִּ֔י בַּמֶּ֖ה תֵּאָסֵ֑ר וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלֶ֔יהָ אִם־תַּאַרְגִ֗י אֶת־שֶׁ֛בַע מַחְלְפ֥וֹת רֹאשִׁ֖י עִם־הַמַּסָּֽכֶת׃


[2] מַסֶּכֶת is perhaps the web of unfinished stuff on the loom, related to the verb נָסַךְ, to weave.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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