Cecil B. DeMille’s 1949 Academy Award Winning Samson and Deliliah was an action packed drama that had a wealth of original biblical material from which to work.
In truth, Samson’s biography cannot be told in a single Treat. Before his birth, his parents were instructed to raise him as a Nazarite, a person who may not consume any grape product and who refrains from cutting his hair or beard (Judges 13). (A full Nazarite, one who makes this vow as an adult, must also avoid contact with the dead.)
Samson was the Jewish leader chosen to rid the Land of Israel of the Philistines. After he killed thousands of Philistines in revenge for the murder of his first wife (Judges 14 – a story for another time), his supernatural strength became known throughout the land.
After Samson had judged the Israelites for twenty years, and became the acknowledged leader of the nation who fought many battles with the Philistines (Judges 15), he met Delilah, a Philistine woman, and fell in love. The Philistines bribed Delilah to use Samson’s love for her in order to discover the secret to his strength. At first, Samson refused to tell her, teasing her with false information. Eventually, however, he let it be known that he would lose his strength if his hair was cut. While he slept, she cut his hair. The Philistines then captured Samson, blinded him and set him to work grinding grain.
Wanting to revel in their victory, the Philistines arranged a feast to their idol. In chains, Samson was brought to the feast, to serve as an object of derision. However, the Philistines had not realized that just as Samson’s hair had grown back, so had his strength returned. Feigning fatigue, Samson rested against a pillar. After a brief prayer, Samson pushed down the pillars, killing himself and the three thousand Philistines in the temple (Judges 16).