Delilah

DELILAH (dē-lī'la, dainty one). A Philistine woman from the Valley of Sorek, which extends from near Jerusalem to the Mediterranean. By her seductive wiles she learned the secret of Samson’s strength and brought him to his ruin (Judg.16.4-Judg.16.20).


DELILAH dĭ lī’ lə (Heb. דְּלִילָֽה), a woman of pagan extraction mentioned as the temptress of the judge Samson (Judges 16:4, et al.). No acceptable Sem. etymology for the name has been forthcoming and the comparison to Egyp. Arab. tedellel, “coquette” is quite fanciful. The woman was presumably a Philistine and therefore ultimately of Grecian origin speaking an ancient dialect of Gr., possibly similar to that of the earlier Mycenaeans or that of the Ionic colonies in other areas of the Eastern Mediterranean. She is pictured in the story as a courtesan who was hired by her countrymen to lure Samson into compromising his personal strength and his position as judge in Israel. In antiquity, the lot of women was closed off and separated from that of the men of her community, the singular exception was that of the bar maids and prostitutes such as Rahab (Josh 2:1). It is probable that Delilah was one of these footloose women who were severely strictured in Israel.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The woman who betrayed Samson to the Philistines (Jud 16). She was presumably a Philistine, though that is not expressly stated. She is not spoken of as Samson’s wife, though many have understood the account in that way. The Philistines paid her a tremendously high price for her services. The account indicates that for beauty, personal charm, mental ability, self-command, nerve, she was quite a wonderful woman, a woman to be admired for some qualities which she exhibits, even while she is to be utterly disapproved. See Samson.

Willis J. Beecher