It seems that the Philistines had a one-track mind--or, at least, a one-weapon arsenal against Samson: ropes!

And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver. (Judges 16:5)

Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withes which had not been dried, and she bound him with them. (Judges 16:8)

Delilah therefore took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread. (Judges 16:12)

In Judges 15:15 we see that Samson kills 1,000 Philistines with a donkey's jawbone. We are not told what weapons the Philistines tried to use against him, but we might assume they were fighting with spears and/or swords. It seems that, with super-human strength, Samson may have wielded a jawbone against these weapons successfully--but arrows? Could he have defended himself against archers? Why do we not read about the Philistines posting snipers against Samson? Why are ropes the only weapon against Samson actually mentioned?

NOTE: This question may have some similarity to one asked here: Why didn't the Philistines kill Samson while he was sleeping? However, this question is different and seeks an answer based on sound Biblical support.

  • Just a thought... There is often a fear of killing an 'anointed of God'. While I'm not sure which 'spirit' would come over Samson to cause him to do bizarre things, it was obvious to the Philistines that Samson was 'special'. Their goal was to get him out of circulation/locked up...not to possibly incur the wrath of a God by killing him outright.
    – tblue
    Jul 10, 2021 at 13:44

3 Answers 3


Firstly, you are making an assumption: In Iron Age Israel, archery is an effective means of assassination.

You can only expect an explicit Biblical rejection of archery assassination if that were true. That isn't true. Archery isn't that accurate in the field, and doesn't have the space just outside Samson's sleeping chambers. And Samson is hardly likely to wait in a field for the Phillistines to march up an army of archers against him.

However, even if archery assassination were possible then the Philistines would still not have used it - the men of Gaza, however, possibly may have. The Phillistines are clear on why they want Samson bound: to do unto him as he did unto them (Judges 15:10) and to afflict him (Judges 16:5) and once they have him bound, their actions bear this up.

One also shouldn't overestimate the damage he did to the Philistines until Judges 16:30. He kills fewer of them than David or Saul will do later, nor does he lead any great battles. He is more disrespectful than he is dangerous, and that is how the Philistines treat him, as somebody to triumph against and to mock, as he triumphed against and mocked them.

  • 1
    He killed a thousand of them at Lehi with the jawbone of an ass. He was not secluded, nor sleeping, in a bedroom, but out in the open and exposed to thousands of his enemies. Did none of them have an arrow?
    – Polyhat
    Jul 10, 2021 at 12:50
  • Many of them may have had arrows, had they fired these arrows then most of them would have missed. Those that didn't would probably have struck Philistines. They're simply not that accurate. Therefore, they would not have fired arrows into a melee. The time for arrows is before close combat. Jul 10, 2021 at 12:56

Samson’s strength was not only in his might but he could not also be cut/pierced by weapons. When Delilah cut his hair the bible said she began to afflict him Judges 16:19 I believe that means she cut him a little and saw it worked. Remember he was still sleeping so there was no other way for her to confirm that his strength was actually gone while he’s asleep unless if he could now bleed.


Why didn't the Philistines kill Samson with archers? The answer is not found in the Bible. However, let's take another angle to look at it.

Amos 9:7 NIV

“Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?” declares the Lord. “Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor (Crete) and the Arameans from Kir?

In above verse, Amos rebuked the ignorance of the Israelites, thinking they were beloved by the Lord alone. In fact, when the Lord brought Abraham to Canaan, He also brought Philistines at almost the same time. Genesis chapter 20 described Abraham stayed in Gerar, which was a Philistine city, where he met Abimelech, king of Gerar. Abimelech wanted to take Sarah as his wife, but God came to Abimelech in a dream where Abimelech pleaded for his innocence.

Actually, all nations are observed by the Lord. When the Israelites went disobedience, the Lord used other nations to punish them, and these nations would also be punished of their evil acts. Samson would not be killed by archers, as Samson was a Nazirite chosen by the Lord, not by his own accord. Samson was chosen by the Lord as a weapon to punish the Philistines.

Another possibility is, Philistines did not use arrow. I can't find in Bible the Philistines used archers in battles. If I was wrong, please leave a comment to correct me.

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