Samson (Heb. Shimshon), a judge of Israel, celebrated for his bodily strength. He was the son of Manoah, of the tribe of Dan, and was born about the middle of the 12th century B. C. He was devoted to the life of a Nazarite from his birth, and early began to exhibit superhuman strength. The great achievements recorded of him are connected with his love for his Philistine wife and for two women of loose character, one of whom, Delilah of So-rek, ascertained that the secret of his strength lay in his hair, which had never been shorn. Having entered into a plot against him with the Philistines, she called in a man to cut off his hair while he lay sleeping in her lap; he was then seized by his enemies, deprived of his sight, and made to grind in the prison. But when his hair grew long his strength came back. An immense multitude of Philistines having assembled in a temple to rejoice in his captivity, he was brought in to make them sport, and was placed, where all might see him, between the two central supports of the building. Persuading the lad who held him by the hand to let him feel the pillars and lean upon them, he grasped them both, and exerting all his strength overthrew them, and the building fell, burying the whole assembly, himself included, beneath the ruins.
He was a judge of Israel for 20 years.