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Delilah

Delilah

In the Old Testament of the Bible, Delilah was a woman, probably a Philistine*, who received a large amount of silver for telling the enemies of Samson, the Israelite hero, the source of his great strength. After seducing Samson to win his confidence, she got him to reveal what made him stronghis long, thick hair. She then lured him to sleep and had his hair cut. As a result, Samson became weak, and the Philistines were able to seize him. The name Delilah has taken on the meaning of temptress or betrayer. The story of Samson and Delilah is the subject of a painting by Rembrandt and an opera by Saint-Saëns.

See also Samson.

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Delilah

Delilah (dĬlī´lə), in the Book of Judges, courtesan in the pay of the Philistines, perhaps a Philistine herself, who was loved by Samson. She learned that his strength lay in his long hair and betrayed him to his enemies by cutting it off.

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Delilah

Delilah Philistine woman in the Old Testament (Judges 16). The mistress of Samson, she betrayed him to the Philistines by cutting his hair, the source of his strength, while he slept.

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Delilah

Delilah in the Bible, a woman who betrayed her husband Samson to the Philistines by revealing to them that the secret of his strength lay in his long hair.

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Delilah

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Delilah

DELILAH

DELILAH (Heb. דְּלִילָה), a woman from the Valley of Sorek who was *Samson's mistress and who betrayed him to his enemies (Judg. 16:4ff.). The Philistine city kings offered her a handsome bribe to entice Samson to reveal the secret of his great strength. After three unsuccessful attempts, she finally induced her lover to disclose that it was his adherence to the Nazirite abstention from cutting the hair (cf. Judg. 13:5) of his head that made him so exceptional. She thereupon induced Samson to sleep, had him shorn of his long hair, and handed him over to the Philistines, who blinded and incarcerated him. The biblical narrative does not make it clear whether Delilah was herself a Philistine. It does not suggest that she was married to Samson, or that she was treacherously motivated from the first. The meaning of the name Delilah is uncertain. Two of the more plausible explanations are (1) "temptress," deriving, as does the parallel Safaitic name Dllt, from the Arabic root dll, meaning "to entice"; (2) a shortened theophoric name, akin to the Akkadian name Dalîl (or Dilîl) Ishtar, meaning "praises [or "majesty"] of Ishtar."

[Nahum M. Sarna]

In the Aggadah

The name Delilah is connected by the rabbis with dalal דלל ("to enfeeble") because "she enfeebled Samson's strength, she enfeebled his actions, and she enfeebled his determination" (Num. R. 9:24). To wrest his secret from him she disengaged herself from him at the moment of sexual consummation (Sot. 9b). She realized that Samson was finally telling the truth when he said: "I have been a Nazarene unto God" (Judg. 16:17), because she knew that he would not take the Lord's name in vain (Num. R. ibid.).

For Delilah in the arts, see *Samson.

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