Judges 16:19: Samson Deprived...of His Senses, His Hair, His Strength

Verse 19:[1] (Prov. 7:26, 27) And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.




[She caused him to sleep] Perhaps with some sleeping potion given, which might take away his sense and reason: which it is probable was also done with experiments developed by Delilah (Menochius). That this was practiced by other little women, Delrio[2] teaches in Magical Disquisitions[3] 3:1:2, out of Virgil, Apuleius,[4] and Cæsarius. Others add that wine was given to him, which in Sorek was of the most excellent sort. And, that Samson was drunk, is insinuated by Josephus,[5] Ambrose, Basil,[6] and Theodoret. If this was so, his strength was justly lost, since he drank wine contrary to the law of the Nazarites, and he drank beyond measure against the law of temperance (Lapide).


She made him sleep, by some sleepy potion, which it is like she gave him upon other pretences, agreeable enough to his present and vitiated inclination. Upon her knees; resting his head upon her knees.



[And she shaved] That is, by a certain one: that is, she arranged for him to be shaved (Piscator, Drusius). Namely, by the barber (Bonfrerius). Or she did this, taking the raxor from the barber (Drusius). Herodotus relates that by the hand of one the jaws of many were shaved while sleeping: how much more easily was the hair of one, gathered into seven little chains, as it were, able to be shaved (Tirinus)?


She caused him to shave off, with a gentle hand, as if she herself had been but sporting with him. She did this more securely, partly because she had cast him into a deep sleep, and partly because if he had discovered it before it was finished, she would have said it was only an innocent intention to try the sincerity of his affection to her, and the truth of this last relation, which she had so just reason to doubt of, from his frequent dissimulation and lies.



[She began to drive him away] Hebrew: to afflict.[7] To thrust, and so to wake up, so that he might defend himself by flight, by analogy with the preceding actions (Piscator). By announcing according to her manner, the Philistines be upon thee, Samson (Bonfrerius).


She began to afflict him, that is, to disturb, and awaken, and affright him, as by other ways, so particularly by crying out in a terrible manner, The Philistines are upon thee, as she had done before, and as it follows, verse 20. His strength went from him; which, as is here implied, she perceived, because he could not now shake himself as he did before, that is, with equal rigour and might, as is intimated in the next verse; or because she had bound him, though it be not here expressed, and found him unable to break his bands.

[1] Hebrew: וַתְּיַשְּׁנֵ֙הוּ֙ עַל־בִּרְכֶּ֔יהָ וַתִּקְרָ֣א לָאִ֔ישׁ וַתְּגַלַּ֕ח אֶת־שֶׁ֖בַע מַחְלְפ֣וֹת רֹאשׁ֑וֹ וַתָּ֙חֶל֙ לְעַנּוֹת֔וֹ וַיָּ֥סַר כֹּח֖וֹ מֵעָלָֽיו׃


[2] Martin Delrio (1551-1608) was a Spanish Jesuit theologian.


[3] Disquisitiones Magicæ.


[4] Apuleius’ (c. 125-c. 180) novel, Metamorphoses, or The Golden Ass, is the only Latin novel from this period that has survived in its entirety.


[5] Antiquities 5:8:11.


[6] Basil the Great was a fourth century Church Father and stalwart defender of Nicean Trinitarianism.


[7] Hebrew: לְעַנּוֹתוֹ.

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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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