Judges 16:1 NASB95

Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.

Judges 16:4 NASB95

After this it came about that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.

שופטים 16:4 The Westminster Leningrad Codex

4 וַֽיְהִי֙ אַחֲרֵי־כֵ֔ן וַיֶּאֱהַ֥ב אִשָּׁ֖ה בְּנַ֣חַל שֹׂרֵ֑ק וּשְׁמָ֖הּ דְּלִילָֽה׃

Judges 16:1 mentions that Samson had sex with a harlot, therefore, it is true that Samson was a man with strong sinful sexually lustful urges.

In Judges 16:4, the bible mentions that Samson loved Delilah.

Bishop TD Jakes gave a sermon on Samson and Delilah, and he emphasized that Samson really did love Delilah, and stated that bible readers should Not mistakenly boil Samson's interest in Delilah merely down to sexual lust.

However, could someone please read the Hebrew translation of Judges 16:4, and give their opinion on what the Hebrew translation says how Samson viewed Delilah? To elaborate, did Samson have a truly genuine love for Delilah or did Samson just sexually lust after Delilah?

  • 3
    Did the culture of that time understand what the difference was supposed to be? Is it a distinction which our own culture has created? Jan 31 at 9:36

2 Answers 2


One of the major themes in the story of Samson is his getting in trouble with forbidden women in order to - apparently unwittingly - cause great harm to the Philistines. Whether love of lust, all of these relationships were outside of the Law of Moses, even the first one - which at least involved a marriage. Because of this, it is appropriate to think of them as lust, but a lust that was somehow used by God for a providential purpose.

Judges 14

1 Samson went down to Timnah where he saw one of the Philistine women. 2 On his return he told his father and mother, “I saw in Timnah a woman, a Philistine. Get her for me as a wife.” 3 His father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among your kinsfolk or among all your people, that you must go and take a woman from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson answered his father, “Get her for me, for she is the one I want.” 4 Now his father and mother did not know that this had been brought about by the Lord, who was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines; for at that time they ruled over Israel.

In the end, Samson's ungodly marriage leads to a great slaughter of Philistines, which the author implies is a great good. As similar principle is involved in Samson's relationship with the prostitute of Gaza. This time there is no slaughter of the Philistines, but they are put to laughable shame by Samson's foiling of their plan to ambush him.

The story of Delilah completes to sequence. He falls for her, the Philistines entrap him, and he turns the tables on them yet again. So Samson is consistently misled by his sexual desires, yet the unseen hand of God is somehow with Samson. Every time Samson gets into trouble because of his lust, God turns his fall into a victory by enabling the hero to either put the Philistines to shame or slaughter them. Looking beneath the surface, it is not a story that is easy to square with modern understandings of the way in God works. One can only imagine what a truly great leader Samson might have been if he had used his sexual energies to build a model family and lead the Israelites to unite as a nation.

  • Thanks. Here are some verses that came to mind when I was reading your posting. Feb 1 at 5:50
  • 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 New American Standard Bible 1995 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no [a]man may boast before God. Feb 1 at 5:50
  • 2 Corinthians 4:7 New American Standard Bible 1995 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; Feb 1 at 5:51
  • ((1 Corinthians 1:18-19) 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Feb 1 at 5:54
  • (1 Corinthians 1:20-22)20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the [a]message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for [b]signs and Greeks search for wisdom; Feb 1 at 5:57

The operative verb in Judges 16:4 is אָהַב ('aheb) = "to love". It occurs more than 200 times in the OT in places such as Gen 22:2, 24:67, 25:28, 27:4, 9, 14, 29:18, 20, 30, 32, 37:3, 4, 44:20, Ex 21:5, Lev 19:18, 34, Deut 4:37, 5:10, 6:5, 7:9, 13, 10:12, etc.

Note that the word is used in a variety of ways such as:

  • loving bribes, Isa 1:23
  • loving wisdom, Prov 4:6
  • loving wine, prov 21:17
  • loving peace and truth, Zech 8:19
  • loving tasty food, Gen 27:4, 9, 14
  • wholesome love for other people, Gen 29:32, Ruth 4:15,
  • questionable love of men for women, 1 Kings 11:1, Judges 16:4
  • love for God, Ex 20:6, Ps 116:1, Deut 6:5
  • God's love for His people, Deut 4:37, 1 Kings 10:9, Hos 3:1.

Thus, the word can destribe exalted and questionable love.

  • For sample scripture, associated with "questionable love of men for women", why did you mention Josh 16:4 (assuming you mean Joshua 16:4). However, Joshua 16:4 refers to "4 The sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, received their inheritance." There is No mention of love in Joshua 16:4 Did you mistakenly use said verse in this case? Mar 2 at 3:54
  • @user1338998 - thank you for point out that error. It should have been Judges 16:4 - now corrected.
    – Dottard
    Mar 2 at 5:02

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