The Real Reason Samson's Hair Was The Source Of His Strength

One of the more colorful characters in the Old Testament is Samson, who is sometimes mentioned in the context of his relationship with the woman who led to his eventual downfall — as in, "Samson and Delilah." Specifically, the text is concerned with the 20-year period during which Samson, who reportedly possessed extraordinary strength, ruled Israel as a "judge." The time of the judges refers to a centuries-long period of time after the Israelites returned to the Holy Land following their period of slavery in Egypt, but before the nation became a kingdom. During this period, God's people were repeatedly bedeviled by neighboring tribes, including — as in Samson's case — the Philistines. The text records multiple exploits by the judge against his oppressors, including, by way of example, purportedly killing a thousand enemies with only the jawbone of a donkey, as recounted in Judges 15.

Later in the narrative, Samson's enemies would learn that the source of his supernatural strength was his long hair. Once his hair was removed, the powerful judge was blinded and enslaved, although he was allowed one final act of revenge.

Samson took a Nazirite vow

As Britannica explains, even before Samson was conceived, his mother made a vow with God that if he gave her a son, she would dedicate him to God in the form of his taking a Nazirite vow. Nazirites are described in the Old Testament as a class of men who had dedicated themselves to special service to God, and their vows included not shaving their hair, as well as abstaining from alcohol and contact with dead bodies. Thus, Samson's strength came from his adherence to God's will as a Nazirite.

Unfortunately, Samson was undone by the same problem that would bring about the downfall of other men in the Old Testament — namely, getting involved with women with who he had no business being involved. As recounted in Judges 16, Samson fell in love with a beautiful Philistine woman named Delilah, and she tricked him into revealing that the source of his strength was his hair. As he slept, according to Bible Study Tools, the Philistines cut his hair and blinded him. However, the narrative claims that his hair grew back quickly, and his strength returned. And in one last act of vengeance, Samson destroyed a Philistine temple, killing thousands of enemies — and himself — in the process.