The Story of Samson

A muscle man with a weakness for the ladies.

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Samson's Death

Samson's death ends up being his greatest victory against the Philistines. The Philistines bring Samson down to Gaza and bind him to two pillars in their temple as a display for the amusement of the Philistine worshipers. Here Samson prays to God, asking for his strength to return to him one more time (16:28).

God responds by sending Samson a final burst of strength, and Samson pushes against the pillars and brings the entire temple down, killing himself and all those in the temple with him. The text concludes: "Those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life" (16:30).

Samson in Jewish Tradition

The Talmud debates the true character of Samson. One mishnah paints him in a negative light, saying that Samson's eyes were gouged out as punishment for having followed the desires of his eyes (Sotah 9B).

In its discussion of this mishnah, the Talmud questions how Samson could be punished when God was behind all of his actions in the first place. In the end, the Talmud tries to find a middle ground: that Samson may have followed his own inclinations, but the master plan was God's. His motivations may have been questionable, but Samson was still an important hero at a troubled time for the Israelites.

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Elana Roth

Elana Roth is a graduate of Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she earned degrees in English Literature and Bible. She currently works as a literary agent in New York City.