Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- For other meanings of Delilah see Delilah (disambiguation).
Delilah or Dlila (דְּלִילָה, Standard Hebrew meaning "[One who] weakened or uprooted or impoverished" from the root dal meaning "weak or poor". Also: Dəlila, Tiberian Hebrew Dəlīlāh; Arabic Dalilah), was the "woman in the valley of Sorek" whom Samson loved, and was his downfall, in the Hebrew Bible Book of Judges (Chapter 16).
Delilah was approached by the Philistines, the enemies of Israel, to discover the secret of Samson's strength. Three times she asked Samson for the secret of his strength and three times he gave her a false answer. On the fourth occasion he gave her the true reason (that he did not cut his hair in fulfillment of a vow to God) and Delilah betrayed him to his enemies.
Some consider that one of the false secrets given by Samson, that his strength would leave him if his hair was woven into a cloth, is reminiscent of arcane woman's magic of the art of weaving that is also inherent in the myths of Penelope, Circe, Arachne. Mythic elements in the tale do not necessarily undercut a historic reality for a cultural champion, given the name Samson.
"Sorek" or "soreq" is only specifically identified as being a place in the Samson story. Jerome mentions a "Capharsorec" which was near Saraa. Modern Israel has a Soreq Valley and even a Sorek Vineyard (since 1994/5) producing a Merlot. Soreq however is the grapevine in Genesis 49:11, Isaiah 5:2, and Jeremiah 2:21. Samson had been dedicated from the womb as a Nazarite, who was forbidden to touch wine or cut his hair. Delilah may be a "vine-woman" (compare the mythic Greek name Oenone), personifying the womanly temptations of the vine that would betray his Nazarite dedication..
John Milton personified her as the misguided and foolish but sympathetic temptress, much like his view of Eve, in his 1671 work Samson Agonistes. Delilah has become the eponym of a "Delilah", a treacherous and cunning woman (as in Tom Jones' 1968 song).
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