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Women in the Book of Judges: The Destruction of Men


Authors: Jo Milgrom and Yoel Duman







Introduction

Why are there so many women in the Book of Judges?

With Susan Ackerman[1], we count 12 individuals, as well as three groups:

  • Achsa, the daughter of Caleb and wife of Othniel (Judges 1)
  • Deborah the Prophetess,
  • Yael the Kenite and the mother of the Canaanite general Sisera, along with the wisest of her ladies (Judges 4 – 5);
  • the woman of Tebetz who kills Abimelech (Judges 9);
  • Jephthah’s daughter and her companions (Judges 11);
  • Manoah’s wife ( a.k.a Samson’s mother), Samson’s first wife, the harlot in Gaza and Delilah (Judges 13 – 15);
  • the mother of Micah (Judges 17);
  • and finally the Levite’s concubine and the women of Benjamin (Judges 19 – 21).


This cast of female characters is clearly unlike that of Genesis, Exodus and Ruth, whose women are involved mainly in the continuity of the people of Israel. Some
of Judges’ women are non-Israelites; most are not mothers.
Ackerman delineates 6 types of women in Judges:

  • the military hero,
  • the cult specialist,
  • the queen mother,
  • the housewife-mother,
  • the seductress
  • the wife.

Raphael Patai, in his book The Hebrew Goddess, designates 4 aspects of the matronita, “the goddess of the Kabbala”:

  • the virgin,
  • the mother,
  • the warrior
  • the harlot.

Carl Jung coined the term “anima” to designate the feminine side of the human psyche. He noted that this inner component is reflected in different characterizations of women in myth and legend: the femme fatale, the earth mother, the love goddess, the virgin and the apotheosis of Wisdom. All of these are attempts to classify the images of “Woman” in literature and imagination. Here, we will attempt to determine how relevant these categories are for the Book of Judges and to show the transformation of the reading of these women from the Bible, to Midrash, to the visual Midrash of Art.

Our thesis is that unlike the women of Genesis, Exodus and Ruth who build up Israel, the women of Judges embody the breakdown of Israelite society, after the death of Joshua and before the founding of the Israelite kingship. The phrase “in those days there was no king in Israel; each man did whatever was right in his own eyes (whatever he pleased)” is repeated four times in the book of Judges. This repetition expresses the Book of Judges editor`s view of the period as chaotic and anarchic. The position of women in biblical Israel, as is well know, was inferior in the best of times; in such a period, it became tenuous and even endangered. Unexpectedly, women sometimes took charge in the absence of male responsibility.


As in most of the Bible, the women of Judges are often nameless, identified only by their relationships to men. Few biblical women are provided with physical or personality markers; none in the book of Judges. Affect is, as usual, submerged in the biblical narrative. Artists therefore are forced to flesh out these mannequins, give them personality and read their relationships.


In sum, the narrative of the women of Judges builds to a crescendo, from the passive Achsah and climaxes in the brutal rape and dismemberment of the Levite’s nameless concubine. A bittersweet note ends the book with a group of dancing women abducted for wives of the decimated tribe of Benjamin, in order to continue their line. The theme of anarchy, however, echoes as the book’s parting shot.


[1] Warrior, Dancer, Seductress, Queen: Women in Judges and Biblical Israel (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998)









Achsah

Who is Achsah in the Bible, who is she in art and who is she in Midrash?
In Judges 1:11-15, Achsah takes the stage as the prize to be given by her father Caleb to the warrior who will lead the conquest of Kiryat Sefer.
Othniel, Caleb’s younger brother, leaps to the military challenge by taking the city and gets the bride. But contrary to our initial impression, Achash turns out to be a resourceful and assertive character; she pushes her husband to ask for a dowry of land and then takes the initiative to obtain the vital water source.
The two illustrations below read the relationship between the two men and the woman.
In the Byzantine Smyrna Octateuch (a now lost illuminated manuscript of the Greek translations of the Torah, Joshua, Judges and Ruth), Achsah, central to the negotiation, stands in front of her passive husband and conducts business, while her father presides.



Caleb, her father, extending his hand, grants her petition. In another rendition of the same scene, Othniel the husband is not even present, leaving Achsah to bargain on her own.


Bible Historiale, Achsah and Caleb, 15th century

Bible Historiale
Achsah and Caleb, 15th century

Behind her can be seen a pool of water: these are the upper and lower water sources necessary to cultivate the Negev land.

The passage in Judges 1, regarding the perks of warfare, is transformed by midrash, which
never loses an opportunity to transform the most unlikely secular reference into an aspect of Torah.
Here the


Midrash
centers on the name Kiryat Sepher (lit., the City of the Book), which Othniel conquers.
The book becomes the Torah, Othniel becomes a Torah scholar and Achsah is the businesswoman, who manages family affairs, so her husband can learn. As always, Art and Midrash read the Bible as if they are looking into a mirror of their own time.









Deborah

Our story opens, in accordance with the pattern of the book of Judges, with a military crisis; Israel has been oppressed for twenty years by Yabin king of Hazor and his chief of staff Sisera and their formidable chariot army. The curtain rises on Deborah, without any exposition: no one calls her, the hand of God does not rest on her, she’s simply there, sitting beneath her palm tree, a prophetess judging Israelites, in the district between Bethel and Ephraim, in her outdoor courthouse. But we already know that the Judges of this book are mainly military, not judicial leaders and certainly not women. A dialogue ensues concerning the enemy. Deborah appoints Barak and gives him a battle plan. Surprisingly, Barak agrees, “but only if you go with me”, to which Deborah replies: “not you, but a woman will get the glory”.
From atop Mt. Tabor, Deborah gives the signal for the battle to begin. From this point, we hear no more of Deborah until the next chapter, in which she sings a song of praise to God in honor of the great victory over Yabin, Sisera and their forces. This episode ends abruptly with a notice of 40 years of peace, but without further reference to Deborah. So little information is forthcoming about the nature of her mission, that Midrash and art are free to fill in the lacunae.
Three types of Jewish commentary relate to Deborah’s role and activities:

  • 1st century CE Hellenistic paraphrases of the Bible, such as
    Josephus and Pseudo-Philo, which see Deborah as a prophetic preacher, who inspires the secular war leader, Barak.

  • rabbinic Midrashim of the 6th to 10th centuries that see Deborah`s job description as a judging prophet, who teaches Torah and dispenses justice (presiding in a outdoor courthouse, in order to avoid the rabbinic prohibition on a woman being alone with a man). She even manages to upgrade the status of her unschooled husband by teaching him to makes wicks for the Temple lamps.

  • medieval rationalist commentary (13th century), best represented by R. Levi ben Gershom which portrays Deborah as a fiery prophetic sermonizer, calling the people to repentance.


In sum, the lack of detail in the biblical account allows each age to reinvent Deborah in its own image.


Similarly in art. For example, transforming the biblical description of Deborah’s judicial role, this 15th century illuminated manuscript illustrates a Court scene in full regalia, with Deborah in the role of the queen.


Johannes de Columna, Mare Historiarum, ca 1450

Johannes de Columna, Mare Historiarum, ca 1450


Behind her stands a priest (Barak?), not so subtly coaching her, and before her kneel two bare-headed suppliants behind whom stand two figures identified by their Jews’ hats. If we didn’t know (from the accompanying text) that this is supposed to be Deborah, we would probably identify it as a 15th century European court.


The queen of the 15th century morphs in the 19th and 20th centuries. We find completely different readings of the same biblical account.


From "Women in Sacred History", by H.B. Stowe, 1873

From “Women in Sacred History
by H.B. Stowe, 1873″


Adrien Cruz

Adrien Cruz

An unknown 19th century American artist pictured Deborah under her palm tree, in accordance with the biblical text. She is dressed in classical Greek or Roman garb, holds a scroll in one hand and gestures dramatically with the other, while standing in front of Lake Kinneret (or is it Lake Tahoe?). This is the White version.

Adrien Cruz, a Harlem-born artist, pictures a statuesque Deborah clothed in vivid fabric decorated with shells and standing beneath a luxuriant palm, seemingly somewhere in the Caribbean or Africa. Cruz imagines the ancient prophetess Deborah in terms of her own background and agenda: an imposing, beautiful Black woman, a kind of queen-priestess. In fact, the mention of the palm tree in Judges 4 is probably to be associated with worship and oracular communication with/by the divine presence.


Ben-Zion, Museum of Biblical Art, New York

Ben-Zion, Museum of Biblical Art, New York

Expressionist artist Ben-Zion sees Deborah, her eyes closed in ecstatic song and prayer.
An earthy, muscular figure, wrapped in Levantine stripes, she sits low on a mat; strength pervades her upturned face and powerful arms. It feels like a huge voice would come out of this body. The style of Ben-Zion expresses the post-holocaust yearning for a “new Hebrew man” (and woman), different from the pale, passive shtetl stereotype.
Deborah’s job description is also expanded `midrashically” in the battle scenes below. Our text says she accompanies Barak, in planning the strategy of the imminent battle with the Canaanites. But in the Bible, women never actually ride into the fray. Despite this, two 13th century depiction of the battle show Deborah on horseback. In the Saint Louis Psalter below, Deborah rides sidesaddle with Barak, directing the charge; all eyes are upon her.


St. Louis` Psalter, 1270

St. Louis` Psalter, 1270

Even more assertive is the colorful scene in the Morgan Bible. Pushing out of the picture frame, Deborah, astride her own horse, leads her forces, trampling the enemy. We recall the passage “the honor will not be yours; for the Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman”.


Morgan Bible, ca. 1250

Morgan Bible, ca. 1250

But nowhere in the biblical text does it say that Deborah actually rode into battle. What then is the basis for these two French 13thcentury renditions? It is entirely possible that Eleanor of Aquitaine was the model for these Deborahs. Eleanor was one of the most powerful women in Europe at the end of the 12th century, Queen of France and England; she accompanied her first husband, Louis VII of France, on the Second Crusade and spearheaded her son Henry III’s revolt against her second husband, Henry II of England. In a fresco from the chapel of Sainte Radegonde in Chinon antedating our two manuscripts, Eleanor rides her own mount, in a pose strikingly similar to the two renditions of Deborah.


Contemporary” historical/political figures can become the model for picturing the spare characters of the Bible. Thus history creates visual midrash.








Yael

Our story continues. Earlier, we read that the Lord would hand Sisera over to a woman. Which woman? The battle ends with Sisera fleeing on foot; he finds refuge with Yael, a member of the supposedly friendly Kenite clan. In both prose and poetic accounts, Yael’s hospitality is replete with sexual innuendos: coming out to meet him, inviting him into her tent (contrasting with Deborah, whose judges in the open air), feeding and covering him. These suggestive verbs are amplified in the poem of chapter 5: falling between her legs no less than seven times. Yael hammers a tent peg through Sisera’s temple, bringing the curtain down on this drama.

 

Midrash relishes the sexual undertones, justifying Yael’s actions. Pseudo-Philo heightens the sexual tension, embellishing Yael’s appearance and scattering rose petals on the bed. Sisera would like to marry her, with his mother’s approval, and his thirst is because of his “burning soul”. This suggestive scene sometimes stimulated the artistic imagination.

 

History Bible, c. 1430

History Bible, c. 1430

 

This most proper 15th century Flemish illuminated manuscript opens Yael’s house to our view of the master bedroom, where Sisera is primly tucked into bed. The efficient housewife, Yael is about to nail Sisera, between one chore and the next.

 

Salomon de Bray, 1635

Salomon de Bray, 1635

 

Salomon de Bray is the “photographer” who poses the three heroes of the story for posterity: Yael in the foreground – sexy, tough, unflinching and without regret – defiantly displays her weapons; the elderly Deborah assumes a pious pose and Barak, the simple soldier, remains partially in the shadows of the two heroic women.

 

Kevin Rolly

Kevin Rolly

Matt B.

Matt B.

 

In Kevin Rolly’s photomontage, seen from the victim’s angle, Yael descends upon her prey. She is a cold-blooded killer. Using a different medium, Matt B.’s woodcut retells the story with Yael luring Sisera into a trap. Rolled in a rug to hide him from his Israelite pursuers, he is an convenient mark for the coup de grace. The model of both these contemporary renditions of Yael’s deed is the psychological thriller.
The movement from Gothic to Baroque to Modern Art shows the midrashic sensitivities of each period.








Sisera`s mother


Yet another woman is introduced in the song of Deborah: Sisera’s mother, who Deborah portrays as waiting anxiously and expectantly for her son’s return with the spoils of battle. We might think that she is treated sympathetically here, but the use of a widespread ancient Near Eastern motif reveals an entirely different attitude.
Through the window peered Sisera`s mother; behind the lattice she sobbed
Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?
(Judges 5:28)


The motif of the woman at the window usually refers to a prostitute, soliciting her clients, as in an ivory from the palace of 9th century BCE Assyrian king Assurnasirpal II. Thus the actual intention of the biblical account is as a cruel parody.


Woman at the window, British Museum

Woman at the window, British Museum


Albert Joseph Moore – 1861, Tullie House Museum, Carlisle

Albert Joseph Moore – 1861
Tullie House Museum, Carlisle

In contrast, British artist A.J. Moore portrays Sisera’s mother sympathetically, every soldier’s mother, standing by the window and dreading bad news. A contemporary mother might be holding a cell phone, expecting a call from Iraq.

We return to our starting point in order to summarize the adventures of Deborah through the detailed work of Nahum Halevi, pseudonym of Dr. Nathan Moskowitz. This contemporary Jewish American artist fuses all the above elements of Deborah’s resume.


Nahum Levi, Words, Women and War

Nahum Levi, Words, Women and War

Crowned with a palm tree, she also rides into battle, one hand wielding a sword. On her right and below are the troops of Israel, bearing their tribal insignia from Jacob’s blessing in Genesis 49: Barak and his tribesman are crowned with the horns of Naphtali, Zebulon’s representative wears a boat-hat, Joseph’s warrior is crowned with a vine, Benjamin is a wolf and Issachar is a donkey. The tribes terminate in a bright turquoise wedge, in which the Canaanite forces are drowning in the Kishon River.


Above the river, diminutive Yael, still wields her hammer, sitting astride Sisera who lies prone, his knife falling from his hand. The tent is a beautiful patchwork and comely, made-up Yael is dressed to kill.
Finally, returning to Deborah, we see that her left hand holds aloft the scales of justice, modeled after the Latin goddess Justicia.

These scales are central to the painting; one pan holds the victorious sun and is inscribed with the verse from the song of Deborah:

your faithful ones are as the rising sun

In this same verse, the faithful are weighed against God’s enemies; we expect therefore a representative of these enemies in the other pan but observe a woman’s head. This is Sisera’s mother (who has appeared in the preceding verses of Judges 5), framed by the chains of the scale, which reflect the braids of the “woman in the window” ivory, just as the pan is decorated with the same palm-tree balustrade.


In this second episode of Judges, three diverse female personalities emerge, upstaging the male figures: the prophetess, the femme fatale and the grieving mother. Other women, other crises will emerge from the chaos of the following chapters of Judges.








Samson’s women: Manoah’s Wife

Samson, the Bible’s Superman, is not the focus of this essay; rather it is the constellation of women who revolve around him. The first woman on the stage is his mom, another nameless woman, known in the Bible only as the wife of Manoah. We meet her receiving the annunciation of Samson’s birth, from an angel who she thinks is merely a “man of God”. Since we’ve already been told that she is barren, this is a tremendous surprise. Manoah, who missed the annunciation, asks God for a replay, which is granted. Again he is absent, but Mrs. Manoah runs to get him when the stranger appears. Manoah asks about the future of his son, to which the angel replies only regarding the restrictions of Mrs. Manoah’s pregnancy. Manoah then invites the “man of God” to stay for dinner, but is met with an enigmatic decline. When an offering is placed on the altar, the “man” suddenly disappears heavenward. Only then does the couple realize that the “man” was an angel – Mrs. Manoah calms her husband’s terror at this close encounter. From the above description, it is clear that Manoah is nothing more than a clueless foil and his wife is the dominant mover. The link between the three characters is stressed audibly in the Hebrew text by the repeated use of the term ish, man: isha, woman, wife; ishah, her husband and ish haelohim, a man of God. An audience listening to the story would be hearing sh…sh…sh. The tangle between the three has an auditory component.
The artwork that we have on this scene mainly focuses on the relationship between Manoah and his wife, complicated by the arrival of the ish.

 

Hans Collaert II, Samson`s mother

Hans Collaert II, Samson`s mother

 

This engraving from a 17th century book on biblical women, presents a magisterial figure of Mrs. Manoah, large and central, serene and expectant. In the upper right background, we see the explosive revelation of the angel.

 

 

 

– kneeling on either side of the altar, Manoah raises his hands in terror, while his wife clasps her hands calmly in gratitude.
An earlier Dutch version reverses the responses.

 

Philips Galle, Manoah`s sacrifice

Philips Galle, Manoah`s sacrifice

 

Here, Manoah crosses his hands in prayer as he looks up at the ascending angel; simultaneously, his wife buries her head in the ground, fearing the dangerous sight, in complete contradiction to the biblical text.

 

Finally, Rembrandt’s drawing is wild with excitement. The angel lifts off the launching pad of the sacrifice. Manoah on his knees recoils in fear, while his wife stands behind him, gesturing to protect him from his unwarranted panic.

 

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Rembrandt, The Sacrifice of Manoah, 1637-39

 

In a later oil, Rembrandt depicts a devout, intimate couple, both clasping their hands in gratitude. The turmoil of the drawing is absent in the warm, rich shades of the oil.

 

Rembrandt, The Sacrifice of Manoah, 1641

Rembrandt, The Sacrifice of Manoah, 1641

 

Thus, the artists deal in a variety of manners with the biblical dominance of Mrs. Manoah, some of them following the original intention and some reversing the couple’s relationship. Similarly, following a general pattern, the major Midrash on this scene highlights Manoah and makes his wife into a secondary, albeit righteous, character.








Samson’s women: Delilah in the past

Although several more women appear in the continuation of the Samson stories, we will now fast-forward to the most famous of Samson’s women, Delilah. The climax of her relationship with the hero involves his hair, which, as a source of superhuman strength, is not limited to the Bible.

 

Scylla cutting Nisus` lock, Sebastian del Piombo, ca. 1512

Scylla cutting Nisus` lock, Sebastian del Piombo, ca. 1512

 

For example, in this 16th century painting by Sebastian del Piombo of the ancient Greek tale of Scylla, the daughter of King Nisus tries to win the love of his enemy, King Minos, by cutting off her father’s famous purple lock of hair, the secret of his power. To her chagrin, Minos rejects her offering and she is eventually transformed into a bird to prevent her intended suicide.
To get back to our story, Delilah’s similar act of betrayal is not for love, but for money. Her mercenary character is further articulated by contrast with Samson’s first wife, who had also been solicited by Philistines, but her they threatened with death. While both betray Samson, Delilah comes off the worse. Artists portray her as a beautiful femme fatale, but the Bible itself says not a word about her looks.
Likewise, except for being unshorn, in accordance with his nazirite status, there is no description of Samson. But since he performs acts of physical strength, artists have often portrayed him as being muscular.
One of the most famous portrayals of Samson’s downfall is Rubens’ painting of 1609.

 

Samson and Delilah, P.P. Rubens, 1609

Samson and Delilah, P.P. Rubens, 1609

 

The musclebound Samson is dead center of a crowded room, his left arm limply falling to the floor, like a defeated wrestler. Delilah is a luscious whore, attended by her procuress and a barber, who make the scene disturbingly voyeuristic, while the Philistines wait in the shadows. A strong diagonal from upper left to the bare leg in the lower right separates the brazen action from the veiled conspiracy. Thus although Delilah enables Samson’s defeat, she is not the real perpetrator, but merely the lure in a complex plot.
Two nearly contemporary 15th century treatments of the scene portray the couple alone in secluded nature.

 

Samson and Delilah, Andrea Mantegna, c. 1505

Samson and Delilah, Andrea Mantegna, c. 1505

Samson and Delilah, Master E.S.

Samson and Delilah, Master E.S.

 

Mantegna’s oil seems to be three dimensional. It has strange overtones of the Garden of Eden and the Pieta. A serpentine vine winds around the thick trunk of a tree, whose only foliage is heavy clusters of grapes. Delilah, cutting the hair of the sleeping Samson, looks serene and benign; she is seated above Samson in a manner echoing the Virgin cradling the dead Jesus in the Pieta. Tension between apparent benevolence and hidden malevolence is palpable in the fiery background contrasting with the monochrome of the foreground and in the obscure inscription cut into the tree, which says that “a bad woman is three times worse than the Devil”.

 

A German artist known only as “the Master E.S.” portrays the same scene with some strange variations. Samson is a diminutive adolescent, sprouting his first moustache. The much larger Delilah pretends to be guarding the sleeping boy, while in fact she herself is cutting his locks. Like Mantegna’s treatment but in reverse, the bare background contrasts with the frenetic foreground. Thus these 15th century Delilah’s, in extreme contrast to Rubens’, are not overt wantons, but deceptive older women exploiting the naïve “hero”.

 

Rembrandt, Samson and Delilah

Rembrandt, Samson and Delilah

 

In Rembrandt’s drawing of c. 1640, the seduction of Samson is highlighted at center, with the shadowy presence of the Philistines, at left, beyond the curtain. Despite Delilah’s darkened face and her right hand holding the scissors, there is an air of compassion conveyed mainly by Samson’s relaxed embrace, his head nestled against Delilah’s breast. Unlike Rubens’ treatment, which also shows onlookers and is set indoors, Rembrandt’s drawing is not “pornographic”. This Delilah is shrewd, this Samson is pitiable. The composition of the drawing is parallel to Rembrandt’s oil of the same period, which depicts the direct continuation of the plot, in which the Philistines blind Samson.

 

Rembrandt, The Blinding of Samson

Rembrandt, The Blinding of Samson

 

Samson’s flailing leg in the very center of the painting shocks us to attention; the light, entering the tent reveals the hero’s supine bulk, held from above and below by his captors, who are in the act of blinding him. From his grimace, a line leads to a silhouetted spear. Receding into the dark, additional soldiers stand, fearing the hero’s recovery. Delilah, while no longer present in the biblical narrative, is placed by Rembrandt, triumphantly exiting the scene. She holds aloft the magic locks and a pair of scissors, and looks back in wide-eyed wonder, the mirror image of the now blind, defeated Samson. Delilah, like the painting itself, shows no pity, but only cruel amazement at Samson’s fall.








Samson`s women: Modern Delilahs


Moderns have continued to be fascinated by the story of Samson and Delilah, reading it through the prism of a variety of cultural influences.

American Christian artist Kirk Richards, concerned with mythic icons, sits Delilah for her portrait after her betrayal of Samson.




Framed against an incomplete circular window that suggests a fractured halo, she is dressed in pure, luminous white and displays the evidence of her perfidy – scissors and hair. At her feet is her entrepreneurial reward and the rope that could not contain Samson, perhaps hinting at Judas Iscariot’s payment and suicide. This photographic portrayal leaves no room for alternative readings – Delilah is a crass, calculating and unrepentant figure.


In a self-styled Midrash on the alphabet, Nikos Stavroulakis links the story of Samson and Delilah to a verse from Proverbs:
Thoughtlessly he follows her,
Like an ox going to the slaughter,

Like a fool to the stocks for punishment
(Proverbs 7:22)




This linkage of remote texts is a classic technique of Midrashic openings, here amplified by translation into the visual. The wider context of the verse from Proverbs clarifies that the scene is a young man being seduced by a lascivious, married woman. According to this reading, Samson is the naif and Delilah is the experienced wanton, who having concluded her session, turns to us with a wink.

An astonishing transformation of the story of Samson and Delilah occurs in the painting and relief of Erte (Romain de Tyrtov).




A gigantic Samson, black and animal-like, crouches over the diminutive figure of Delilah, dressed exotically in blue. Next, we notice that she is daintily holding chains attached to the beast’s wrist and ankle. Who’s in charge – Beauty or the Beast? What was Erte`s inspiration for such a disproportionate representation of the lovers? We learn that starting in 1925, Erte created Hollywood sets and costumes– could he have read Samson and Delilah in light of the 1932 film classic, King Kong, in which the Beast is subdued because of the beauty of Anne Darrow, as played by Fay Wray?


The motif of bondage, so prominent in the biblical tale of Samson and Delilah, is reflected first when Anne is tied up as a sacrifice to Kong.


But the roles are reversed and Kong becomes the captive.


According to this analysis, Erte reads Delilah not in a moralistic manner, but as an example of the Beauty who, intentionally or not, brings the Beast to his knees.


In summation, Delilah’s character amongst artists, expressed purely visually, range from the shameless whore to the wily older woman to the amoral entrepreneur to the guileless beauty – all of these readings are enabled by the Bible’s minimalist description.


From Achsah the businesswoman, to Deborah the strategist, to Yael the assassin, to the self-assured Manoah’s wife and finally to Delilah the arch-femme fatale – one major aspect of the Book of Judges is assertive, dominant women, who assume these untraditional roles because of the absence of male responsibility, endemic to the period. In attempting to relate to these unusual figures, artists have melded these biblical women with models of their own times.


Article Sources:

Achsah

Babylonian Talmud Temurah 16a
It has been taught: A thousand and seven hundred kal wa homer and gezerah shawah specifications of the Scribes were forgotten during the period of mourning for Moses. Said R. Abbuha: Nevertheless Othniel the son of Kenaz restored [these forgotten teachings] as a result of his dialectics, as it says: And Othniel the son of Kenaz, brother of Caleb, took it; and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. And why was her name called Achsah? Said R. Johanan: Because whosoever saw her was angry with his wife.
And it came to pass as she came unto him that she moved him to ask of her father a field. And she alighted [watiznah] off her ass. What does the word watiznah mean? Raba reported in the name of R. Isaac: She said to him: Just as an ass when it has no food in its trough immediately cries out, so a woman when she has no wheat in her house cries out immediately, [as it says: And Caleb said unto her: What wouldst thou?]. And she answered, Give me a blessing for thou hast given me a south land, implying a house dry [devoid] of all goodness [money]; give me also springs of water, meaning a man in whom is only Torah. And he gave her the upper springs [gulloth] and the lower springs. He said to her: One to whom all the secrets of the upper and lower worlds are revealed, need one ask food from him?

Deborah, Yael and Sisera`s mother

Targum Jonathan Judges 4:5
And she was dwelling in her city at the crowns of Deborah, supporting herself from what was hers. She had palm trees in Jericho, gardens in Ramah, olive trees producing oil in the plain, irrigation ditches in Bethel, fertile earth in Har Hamelech. And the sons of Israel would come up to her for judgment.

Babylonian Talmud Megillah 14a
There were seven prophetesses. Who were these? Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah. Abigail, Hulda and Esther…Deborah, as it is written, Now Deborah a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth. What is meant by a woman of lapidoth [torches]`? [She was so called] because she used to make wicks for the Sanctuary. And she sat under a palm tree. Why just a palm tree? R. Simeon b. Abishalom said: [To avoid] privacy! An­other explanation is: Just as a palm tree has only one heart, so Israel in that generation had only one heart devoted to their Father in heaven.

Babylonian Talmud Nazir 23b
R. Nahman b. Isaac said: A transgression performed with good intention is better than a precept performed with evil intention. But has not Rab Judah, citing Rab said: A man should always occupy himself with the Torah and [its] precepts, even though it be for some ulterior motive, for the result will be that he will eventually do them without ulterior motive? Read then: [A transgression performed with good intention is] as good as a precept performed for an ulterior motive, as it is written, Blessed above women shall Jael be, the wife of Heber the Kenite. Above women in the tent shall she be blessed. and by women in the tent, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah are meant.
R. Johanan said: That wicked wretch [Sisera] had sevenfold intercourse [with Jael] at that time. as it says, At her feet he sank. he fell, he lay, etc. But did she derive pleasure from his intercourse? R. Johanan said: All the favors of the wicked are evil to the righteous. for it says. Take heed to thyself that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.  Now [that he was not to speak] bad we can understand, but why was he not to speak good? Thus it may properly be inferred that the good of such a one is an evil.

Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-Philo, Chapters 30-31
3. And after these things the Lord stirred up against them Jabin king of Hazor, and he began to fight against them, and he had as captain of his might Sisara, who had 8000 chariots of iron. And he came unto the mount Effrem and fought against the people, and Israel feared him greatly, and the people could not stand all the days of Sisara.
4. And when Israel was brought very low, all the children of Israel gathered together with one accord unto the mount of Juda and said: We did call ourselves blessed more than all people, and now, lo, we are brought so low, more than all nations, that we cannot dwell in our land, and our enemies bear rule over us. And now who hath done all this unto us? Is it not our iniquities, because we have forsaken the Lord God of our fathers, and have walked in those things which could not profit us? Now therefore come let us fast seven days, both men and women, and from the least (sic) even to the sucking child. Who knows whether God will be reconciled unto his inheritance, that he destroy not the planting of his vineyard?
5. And after the people had fasted 7 days, sitting in sackcloth, the Lord sent unto them on the 7th day Debbora, who said unto them: Can the sheep that is appointed to the slaughter answer before him that slays it, when both he that slays < . . . > and he that is slain keeps silence, when he is sometimes provoked against it? Now ye were born to be a flock before our Lord. And he led you into the height of the clouds, and subdued angels beneath your feet, and appointed unto you a law, and gave you commandments by prophets, and chastised you by rulers, and showed you wonders not a few, and for your sake commanded the luminaries and they stood still in the places where they were bidden, and when your enemies came upon you he rained hailstones upon them and destroyed them, and Moses and Jesus and Kenaz and Zebul gave you commandments. And ye have not obeyed them. 6. For while they lived, ye showed yourselves as it were obedient unto your God, but when they died, your heart died also. And ye became like unto iron that is thrust into the fire, which when it is melted by the flame becomes as water, but when it is come out of the fire returns unto its hardness. So ye also, while they that admonish you burn you, do show the effect, and when they are dead ye forget all things. 7. And now, behold, the Lord will have compassion upon you this day, not for your sakes, but for his covenant`s sake which he made with your fathers and for his oath`s sake which he swore, that he would not forsake you forever. But know ye that after my decease ye will begin to sin in your latter days. Wherefore the Lord will perform marvelous things among you, and will deliver your enemies into your hands. For your fathers are dead, but God, which made a covenant with them, is life.
XXXI. And Debbora sent and called Barach and said to him: Arise and gird up your loins as a man, and go down and fight against Sisara, For I see the constellations greatly moved in their ranks and preparing to fight for you. I see also the lightning unmoveable in their courses, and setting forth to stay the wheels of the chariots of them that boast in the might of Sisara, who says: I will surely go down in the arm of my might to fight against Israel, and will divide the spoil of them among my servants, and their fair women will I take unto me for concubines. Therefore has the Lord spoken concerning him that the arm of a weak woman shall overcome him, and maidens shall take his spoil, and he also himself shall fall into the hands of a woman.
2. And when Debbora and the people and Barach went down to meet their enemies, immediately the Lord disturbed the goings of his stars, and spoke unto them saying: Hasten and go ye, for our (or your) enemies fall upon you: confound their arms and break the strength of their hearts, for I am come that my people may prevail. For though it be that my people have sinned, yet will I have mercy on them. And when this was said, the stars went forth as it was commanded them and burned up their enemies. And the number of them that were gathered (orburned) and slain in one hour was 90 times 97,000 men. But Sisara they destroyed not, for so it was commanded them.
3. And when Sisara had fled on his horse to deliver his soul, Jahel the wife of Heber the Kenite decked herself with her ornaments and came out to meet him: now the woman was very fair: and when she saw him she said: Come in and take food, and sleep: and in the evening I will send my servants with thee, for I know that thou wilt remember me and recompense me. And Sisara came in, and when he saw roses scattered upon the bed he said: If I be delivered, O Jahel, I will go unto my mother and thou shalt (or Jahel shall) be my wife. 4. And thereafter was Sisara athirst and he said to Jahel: Give me a little water, for I am faint and my soul burns by reason of the flame which I beheld in the stars. And Jahel said unto him: Rest a little while and then you shall drink. 5. And when Sisara was fallen asleep, Jahel went to the flock and milked milk therefrom. And as she milked she said: Behold now, remember, O Lord, when You did divide every tribe and nation upon the earth, did You not choose out Israel only, and did not liken him to any beast save only unto the ram that goes before the flock and leads it? Behold therefore and see how Sisara has thought in his heart saying: I will go and punish the flock of the Most Mighty. And lo, I will take of the milk of the beasts whereunto You did liken your people, and will go and give him to drink, and when he has drunk he shall become weak, and after that I will kill him. And this shall be the sign that You shall give me, O Lord, that, whereas Sisara sleep, when I go in, if he wake and ask me forthwith, saying: Give me water to drink, then I shall know that my prayer has been heard.
6. So Jahel returned and entered in, and Sisara awoke and said to her: Give me to drink, for I burn mightily and my soul is inflamed. And Jahel took wine and mingled it with the milk and gave him to drink, and he drank and fell asleep.
7. But Jahel took a stake in her left hand and drew near unto him saying: If the Lord give me this sign I shall know that Sisara shall fall into my hands. Behold I will cast him upon the ground from off the bed whereon he sleeps, and it shall be, if he perceive it not, that I shall know that he is delivered up. And Jahel took Sisara and pushed him from off the bed upon the earth, but he perceived it not, for he was exceeding faint. And Jahel said: Strengthen in me, O Lord, mine arm this day for Your sake and Your people`s sake, and for them that put their trust in You. And Jahel took the stake and set it upon his temple and smote with the hammer. And as he died Sisara` said to Jahel: Lo, pain has come upon me, Jahel, and I die like a woman. And Jahel said unto him: Go boast yourself before your father in hell, and tell him that you have fallen into (or say, I have been delivered into) the hands of a woman. And she made an end and slew him and laid his body there until Barach should return.
8. Now the mother of Sisara was called Themech, and she sent unto her friends saying: Come, let us go forth together to meet my son, and ye shall see the daughters of the Hebrews whom my son will bring hither to be his concubines.
9. But Barach returned from following after Sisara and was greatly vexed because he found him not, and Jahel came forth to meet him, and said: Come, enter in, you blessed of God, and I will deliver you your enemy whom you followed after and have not found. And Barach went in and found Sisara dead, and said: Blessed be the Lord which sent his spirit and said: Into the hands of a woman shall Sisara be delivered. And when he had so said he cut off the head of Sisara and sent it unto his mother, and gave her a message saying: Receive your son whom you did look for to come with spoil.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book V, Chapter 5.
1. And now it was that the Israelites, taking no warning by their former misfortunes to amend their manners, and neither worshipping God nor submitting to the laws, were brought under slavery by Jabin, the king of the Canaanites, and that before they had a short breathing time after the slavery under the Moabites; for this Jabin out of Hazor, a city that was situate over the Semechonitis, and had in pay three hundred footmen, and ten thousand horsemen, with fewer than three thousand chariots. Sisera was commander of all his army, and was the principal person in the king`s favor. He so sorely beat the Israelites when they fought with him, that he ordered them to pay tribute.
2. So they continued to that hardship for twenty years, as not good enough of themselves to grow wise by their misfortunes. God was willing also hereby the more to subdue their obstinacy and ingratitude towards himself: so when at length they were become penitent, and were so wise as to learn that their calamities arose from their contempt of the laws, they besought Deborah, a certain prophetess among them, (which name in the Hebrew tongue signifies a Bee,) to pray to God to take pity on them, and not to overlook them, now they were ruined by the Canaanites. So God granted them deliverance, and chose them a general, Barak, one that was of the tribe of Naphtali. Now Barak, in the Hebrew tongue, signifies Lightning.
3. So Deborah sent for Barak, and bade him choose out ten thousand young men to go against the enemy, because God had said that that number was sufficient, and promised them victory. But when Barak said that he would not be the general unless she would also go as a general with him, she had indignation at what he said `Thou, O Barak, deliverest up meanly that authority which God hath given thee into the hand of a woman, and I do not reject it!" So they collected ten thousand men, and pitched their camp at Mount Tabor, where, at the king`s command, Sisera met them, and pitched his camp not far from the enemy; whereupon the Israelites, and Barak himself, were so aftrighted at the multitude of those enemies, that they were resolved to march off, had not Deborah retained them, and commanded them to fight the enemy that very day, for that they should conquer them, and God would be their assistance.
4. So the battle began; and when they were come to a close fight, there came down from heaven a great storm, with a vast quantity of rain and hail, and the wind blew the rain in the face of the Canaanites, and so darkened their eyes, that their arrows and slings were of no advantage to them, nor would the coldness of the air permit the soldiers to make use of their swords; while this storm did not so much incommode the Israelites, because it came in their backs. They also took such courage, upon the apprehension that God was assisting them, that they fell upon the very midst of their enemies, and slew a great number of them; so that some of them fell by the Israelites, some fell by their own horses, which were put into disorder, and not a few were killed by their own chariots. At last Sisera, as soon as he saw himself beaten, fled away, and came to a woman whose name was Jael, a Kenite, who received him, when he desired to be concealed; and when he asked for somewhat to drink, she gave him sour milk, of which he drank so unmeasurably that he fell asleep; but when he was asleep, Jael took an iron nail, and with a hammer drove it through his temples into the floor; and when Barak came a little afterward, she showed Sisera nailed to the ground: and thus was this victory gained by a woman, as Deborah had foretold. Barak also fought withJabin at Hazor; and when he met with him, he slew him: and when the general was fallen, Barak overthrew the city to the foundation, and was the commander of the Israelites for forty years.


Tana deBei Eliyahu Raba 9

Deborah, wife of Lapidot, was a prophetess; she led Israel at that time (Judges 4) – What was so special about Deborah that she both judged Israel at that time and prophesied to them? Was not Phineas son of Elazar alive at the time? I call heaven and earth to witness regarding Israel and the pagans, man and woman, slave and slave girl – each is evaluated according to his/her actions, and in accordance with them does the holy spirit rest on him/her. So they said, Deborah`s husband was uneducated; his wife said to him, come and I will make wicks for you to take to the Temple in Shiloh. Perhaps if you are in the company of the pious people there you will earn a place in the world to come. He would make wicks that were thick, in order to produce much light; therefore he was called Lapidot (torches).
Bless the Lord who repays each man according to his actions, in accordance with the precept: as a man judges so is he judged. Therefore it is said, Deborah, wife of Lapidot, was a prophetess…She used to sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would come to her for decisions. Our sages taught, just as Samuel sat [in judgment] in Ramah, so Deborah sat in Ramah (as it is said) She used to sit under the palm. The sages taught that there were only enough Torah scholars in Israel at the time to encircle a palm tree.
Another explanation for she used to sit under the palm – since it is unbecoming for a woman to be alone [with a man] inside a house, Deborah went and sat under the shade of a palm tree and taught Torah publicly.

Leviticus Rabah 23: 10
10. There were three who fled from transgression and with whom the Holy One, blessed be He, united His name. They are: Joseph, Jael, and Palti.. Whence of Jael? From the fact that it says, And Jael went out to meet Sisera ... and she covered him with a semikah (Judg. IV, 18). What is the meaning of `with a semikah`? Our Rabbis here [Palestine] say it means with a sudra, while our Rabbis there [Babylon] say it means with a cloak. Resh Lakish remarked: We have searched the whole of the Scripture and have not found any article the name of which is`semikah. `. What then is `semikah`? It denotes: `shemi koh` (My name is here); My name testifies in regard to her that this wicked fellow had no contact with her.
 

Tanhuma Shemot 16
And Moses went and returned to Jethro, his father-in-law (Exod. 4:18). Scripture says elsewhere in reference to this verse: A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity(Prov. 17: 17). Who was this friend? It was Jethro, who welcomed Moses after he fled from Pharaoh. From this you learn that if any­one undertakes to perform a good deed (even if he does not do it), that good deed will never cease recurring in his home. Jethro welcomed into his home a redeemer who had fled from his enemy, and so from his house there descended one who welcomed an enemy who was fleeing from a redeemer and slew him. Who was this enemy? Sisera, as it is said: How­beit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite... then Jael took a tent pin,etc. (ludg. 4:17, 21). And it is also written: And the children. of the Kenite, Moses` father-in­-law(ibid. 1: 16). Hence it says: A brother is born for adversity(Prov. 17: 17).

R. Levi ben Gershom on Judges 4:4
Thus Deborah judged Israel then. I believe that at the time that Israel returned to the Lord, she would judge them and she was the cause of their repentance, for it is improbable that when  Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord Deborah did not reprove them for this, being a prophetess. Support for this comes from the words She judged Israel at that time 
 

Samson`s women

Genesis 49: 16 - 18
Dan shall govern his people, As one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent by the road, A viper by the path, That bites the horse’s heels So that his rider is thrown backward. I wait for Your deliverance, O Lord!

Numbers 7: 66 - 67
On the tenth day, it was the chieftain of the Danites, Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai.His offering: one silver bowl weighing 130 shekels and one silver basin of 70 shekels by the sanctuary weight, both filled with choice flour with oil mixed in, for a meal offering;  
 

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book V, Chapter 8
1. AFTER Abdon was dead, the Philistines overcame the Israelites, and received tribute of them for forty years; from which distress they were delivered after this manner: -
2. There was one Manoah, a person of such great virtue, that he had few men his equals, and without dispute the principal person of his country. He had a wife celebrated for her beauty, and excelling her contemporaries. He had no children; and, being uneasy at his want of posterity, he entreated God to give them seed of their own bodies to succeed them; and with that intent he came constantly into the suburbs together with his wife; which suburbs were in the Great Plain. Now he was fond of his wife to a degree of madness, and on that account was unmeasurably jealous of her. Now, when his wife was once alone, an apparition was seen by her: it was an angel of God, and resembled a young man beautiful and tall, and brought her the good news that she should have a son, born by God`s providence, that should be a goodly child, of great strength; by whom, when he was grown up to man`s estate, the Philistines should be afflicted. He exhorted her also not to poll his hair, and that he should avoid all other kinds of drink, (for so had God commanded,) and be entirely contented with water. So the angel, when he had delivered that message, went his way, his coming having been by the will of God.
3. Now the wife informed her husband when he came home of what the angel had said, who showed so great an admiration of the beauty and tallness of the young man that had appeared to her, that her husband was astonished, and out of himself for jealousy, and such suspicions as are excited by that passion: but she was desirous of having her husband`s unreasonable sorrow taken away; accordingly she entreated God to send the angel again, that he might be seen by her husband. So the angel came again by the favor of God, while they were in the suburbs, and appeared to her when she was alone without her husband. She desired the angel to stay so long till she might bring her husband; and that request being granted, she goes to call Manoah. When he saw the angel he was not yet free from suspicion, and he desired him to inform him of all that he had told his wife; but when he said it was sufficient that she alone knew what he had said, he then requested of him to tell who he was, that when the child was born they might return him thanks, and give him a present. He replied that he did not want any present, for that he did not bring them the good news of the birth of a son out of the want of anything. And when Manoah had entreated him to stay, and partake of his hospitality, he did not give his consent. However he was persuaded, at the earnest request of Manoah to stay so long as while he brought him one mark of his hospitality; so he slew a kid of the goats, and bid his wife boil it. When all was ready, the angel enjoined him to set the loaves and the flesh, but without the vessels, upon the rock; which when they had done, he touched the flesh with the rod which he had in his hand, which, upon the breaking out of a flame, was consumed, together with the loaves; and the angel ascended openly, in their sight, up to heaven, by means of the smoke, as by a vehicle. Now Manoah was afraid that some danger would come to them from this sight of God; but his wife bade him be of good courage, for that God appeared to them for their benefit.
4. So the woman proved with child, and was careful to observe the injunctions that were given her; and they called the child, when he was born, Samson, which name signifies one that is strong. So the child grew apace; and it appeared evidently that he would be a prophet, both by the moderation of his diet, and the permission of his hair to grow.
5. Now when he once came with his parents to Timnath, a city of the Philistines, when there was a great festival, he fell in love with a maid of that country, and he desired of his parents that they would procure him the damsel for his wife: but they refused so to do, because she was not of the stock of Israel; yet because this marriage was of God, who intended to convert it to the benefit of the Hebrews, he over-persuaded them to procure her to be espoused to him. And as he was continually coming to her parents, he met a lion, and though he was naked, he received his onset, and strangled him with his hands, and cast the wild beast into a woody piece of ground on the inside of the road.
6. And when he was going another time to the damsel, he lit upon a swarm of bees making their combs in the breast of that lion; and taking three honey-combs away, he gave them, together with the rest of his presents, to the damsel. Now the people of Timnath, out of a dread of the young man`s strength, gave him during the time of the wedding-feast (for he then feasted them all) thirty of the most stout of their youth, in pretense to be his companions, but in reality to be a guard upon him, that he might not attempt to give them any disturbance. Now as they were drinking merrily and playing, Samson said, as was usual at such times, Come, if I propose you a riddle, and you can expound it in these seven days` thee, I will give you every one a linen shirt and a garment, as the reward of your wisdom." So they being very ambitious to obtain the glory of wisdom, together with the gains, desired him to propose his riddle. He, "That a devourer produced sweet food out of itself, though itself were very disagreeable." And when they were not able, in three days` time, to find out the meaning of the riddle, they desired the damsel to discover it by the means of her husband, and tell it them; and they threatened to burn her if she did not tell it them. So when the damsel entreated Samson to tell it her, he at first refused to do it; but when she lay hard at him, and fell into tears, and made his refusal to tell it a sign of his unkindness to her, he informed her of his slaughter of a lion, and how he found bees in his breast, and carried away three honey-combs, and brought them to her. Thus he, suspecting nothing of deceit, informed her of all, and she revealed it to those that desired to know it. Then on the seventh day, whereon they were to expound the riddle proposed to them, they met together before sun-setting, and said, "Nothing is more disagreeable than a lion to those that light on it, and nothing is sweeter than honey to those that make use of it." To which Samson made this rejoinder: "Nothing is more deceitful than a woman for such was the person that discovered my interpretation to you." Accordingly he gave them the presents he had promised them, making such Askelonites as met him upon the road his prey, who were themselves Philistines also. But he divorced this his wife; and the girl despised his anger, and was married to his companion, who made the former match between them.
7. At this injurious treatment Samson was so provoked, that he resolved to punish all the Philistines, as well as her: so it being then summer-time, and the fruits of the land being almost ripe enough for reaping, he caught three hundred foxes, and joining lighted torches to their tails, he sent them into the fields of the Philistines, by which means the fruits of the fields perished. Now when the Philistines knew that this was Samson`s doing, and knew also for what cause he did it, they sent their rulers to Timnath, and burnt his former wife, and her relations, who had been the occasion of their misfortunes.
8. Now when Samson had slain many of the Philistines in the plain country, he dwelt at Etam, which is a strong rock of the tribe of Judah; for the Philistines at that time made an expedition against that tribe: but the people of Judah said that they did not act justly with them, in inflicting punishments upon them while they paid their tribute, and this only on account of Samson`s offenses. They answered, that in case they would not be blamed themselves, they must deliver up Samson, and put him into their power. So they being desirous not to be blamed themselves, came to the rock with three thousand armed men, and complained to Samson of the bold insults he had made upon the Philistines, who were men able to bring calamity upon the whole nation of the Hebrews; and they told him they were come to take him, and to deliver him up to them, and put him into their power; so they desired him to bear this willingly. Accordingly, when he had received assurance from them upon oath, that they would do him no other harm than only to deliver him into his enemies` hands, he came down from the rock, and put himself into the power of his countrymen. Then did they bind him with two cords, and lead him on, in order to deliver him to the Philistines; and when they came to a certain place, which is now called the Jaw-bone, on account of the great action there performed by Samson, though of old it had no particular name at all, the Philistines, who had pitched their camp not far off, came to meet them with joy and shouting, as having done a great thing, and gained what they desired; but Samson broke his bonds asunder, and catching up the jaw-bone of an ass that lay down at his feet, fell upon his enemies, and smiting them with his jaw-bone, slew a thousand of them, and put the rest to flight and into great disorder.
9. Upon this slaughter Samson was too proud of what he had performed, and said that this did not come to pass by the assistance of God, but that his success was to be ascribed to his own courage; and vaunted himself, that it was out of a dread of him that some of his enemies fell and the rest ran away upon his use of the jaw-bone; but when a great thirst came upon him, he considered that human courage is nothing, and bare his testimony that all is to be ascribed to God, and besought him that he would not be angry at anything he had said, nor give him up into the hands of his enemies, but afford him help under his affliction, and deliver him from the misfortune he was under. Accordingly God was moved with his entreaties, and raised him up a plentiful fountain of sweet water at a certain rock whence it was that Samson called the place the Jaw-bone, and so it is called to this day.
10. After this fight Samson held the Philistines in contempt, and came to Gaza, and took up his lodgings in a certain inn. When the rulers of Gaza were informed of his coming thither, they seized upon the gates, and placed men in ambush about them, that he might not escape without being perceived; but Samson, who was acquainted with their contrivances against him, arose about midnight, and ran by force upon the gates, with their posts and beams, and the rest of their wooden furniture, and carried them away on his shoulders, and bare them to the mountain that is over Hebron, and there laid them down.
11. However, he at length transgressed the laws of his country, and altered his own regular way of living, and imitated the strange customs of foreigners, which thing was the beginning of his miseries; for he fell in love with a woman that was a harlot among the Philistines: her name was Delilah, and he lived with her. So those that administered the public affairs of the Philistines came to her, and, with promises, induced her to get out of Samson what was the cause of that his strength, by which he became unconquerable to his enemies. Accordingly, when they were drinking, and had the like conversation together, she pretended to admire the actions he had done, and contrived to get out of him by subtlety, by what means he so much excelled others in strength. Samson, in order to delude Delilah, for he had not yet lost his senses, replied, that if he were bound with seven such green withs of a vine as might still be wreathed, he should be weaker than any other man. The woman said no more then, but told this to the rulers of the Philistines, and hid certain of the soldiers in ambush within the house; and when he was disordered in drink and asleep, she bound him as fast as possible with the withs; and then upon her awakening him, she told him some of the people were upon him; but he broke the withs, and endeavored to defend himself, as though some of the people were upon him. Now this woman, in the constant conversation Samson had with her, pretended that she took it very ill that he had such little confidence in her affections to him, that he would not tell her what she desired, as if she would not conceal what she knew it was for his interest to have concealed. However, he deluded her again, and told her, that if they bound him with seven cords, he should lose his strength. And when, upon doing this, she gained nothing, he told her the third thee, that his hair should be woven into a web; but when, upon doing this, the truth was not yet discovered, at length Samson, upon Delilah`s prayer, (for he was doomed to fall into some affliction,) was desirous to please her, and told her that God took care of him, and that he was born by his providence, and that "thence it is that I suffer my hair to grow, God having charged me never to poll my head, and thence my strength is according to the increase and continuance of my hair." When she had learned thus much, and had deprived him of his hair, she delivered him up to his enemies, when he was not strong enough to defend himself from their attempts upon him; so they put out his eyes, and bound him, and had him led about among them.
12. But in process of time Samson`s hair grew again. And there was a public festival among the Philistines, when the rulers, and those of the most eminent character, were feasting together; (now the room wherein they were had its roof supported by two pillars) so they sent for Samson, and he was brought to their feast, that they might insult him in their cups. Hereupon he, thinking it one of the greatest misfortunes, if he should not be able to revenge himself when he was thus insulted, persuaded the boy that led him by the hand, that he was weary and wanted to rest himself, and desired he would bring him near the pillars; and as soon as he came to them, he rushed with force against them, and overthrew the house, by overthrowing its pillars, with three thousand men in it, who were all slain, and Samson with them. And such was the end of this man, when he had ruled over the Israelites twenty years. And indeed this man deserves to be admired for his courage and strength, and magnanimity at his death, and that his wrath against his enemies went so far as to die himself with them. But as for his being ensnared by a woman, that is to be ascribed to human nature, which is too weak to resist the temptations to that sin; but we ought to bear him witness, that in all other respects he was one of extraordinary virtue. But his kindred took away his body, and buried it in Sarasat his own country, with the rest of his family.

Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-philo, Chapters 42 - 43
XLII. Now there was a man of the tribe of Dan, whose name was Manue, the son of Edoc, the son of Odo, the son of Eriden, the son of Phadesur, the son of Dema, the son of Susi, the son of Dan. And he had a wife whose name was Eluma, the daughter of Remac. And she was barren and bare him no child. And when Manue her husband said to her day by day: Lo, the Lord hath shut up thy womb, that thou shouldest not bear; set me free, therefore, that I may take an other wife lest I die without issue. And she said: The Lord hath not shut up me from bearing, but thee, that I should bear no fruit. And he said to her: Let the law make plain our trial.
2. And as they contended day by day and both of them were sore grieved because they lacked fruit, upon a certain night the woman went up into the upper chamber and prayed saying: Do thou, O Lord God of all flesh, reveal unto me whether unto my husband or unto me it is not given to beget children, or to whom it is forbidden or to whom allowed to bear fruit, that to whom it is forbidden, the same may mourn for his sins, because he continueth without fruit. Or if both of us be deprived, reveal this also unto us, that we may bear our sin and keep silence before thee.
3. And the Lord hearkened to her voice and sent her his angel in the morning, and said unto her: Thou art the barren one that bringeth not forth, and thou art the womb which is forbidden, to bear fruit. But now hath the Lord heard thy voice and looked upon thy tears and opened thy womb. And behold thou shalt conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Samson, for he shall be holy unto thy Lord. But take heed that he taste not of any fruit of the vine, neither eat any unclean thing, for as himself hath said, he shall deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines. And when the angel of the Lord had spoken these words he departed from her.
4. And she came unto her husband into the house and said unto him: Lo, I lay mine hand upon my mouth and will keep silence before thee all my days, because it was in vain that I boasted myself, and believed not thy words. For the angel of the Lord came unto me to-day, and showed me, saying: Eluma, thou art barren, but thou shalt conceive and bear a son.
5. And Manue believed not his wife. And he was ashamed and grieved and went up, he also, into the upper chamber and prayed saying: Lo, I am not worthy to hear the signs and wonders which God hath wrought in us, or to see the face of his messenger.
6. And it came to pass while he thus spake, the angel of the Lord came yet again unto his wife. Now she was in the field and Manue was in his house. And the angel said unto her: Run and call unto thine husband, for God hath accounted him worthy to hear my voice.
7. And the woman ran and called to her husband, and he hasted and came unto the angel in the field in Ammo (?), which said unto him: Go in unto thy wife and do quickly all these things. But he said to him: Yet see thou to it, Lord, that thy word be accomplished upon thy servant. And he said: It shall be so.
8. And Manue said unto him: If I were able, I would persuade thee to enter into mine house and eat bread with me, and know that when thou goest away I would give thee gifts to take with thee that thou mightest offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God. And the angel said unto him: I will not go in with thee into thine house, neither eat thy bread, neither will I receive thy gifts. For if thou offerest a sacrifice of that which is not thine, I cannot show favour unto thee.
9. And Manue built an altar upon the rock, and offered sacrifices and burnt offerings. And it came to pass when he had cut up the flesh and laid it upon the holy place, the angel put forth his hand and touched it with the end of his sceptre. And there came forth fire out of the rock and consumed the burnt offerings and sacrifices. And the angel went up from him with the flame of the fire.
10. But Manue and his wife when they saw that, fell upon their faces and said: We shall surely die, because we have seen the Lord face to face. And it sufficed me not that I saw him, but I did also ask, his name, knowing not that he was the minister of God. Now the angel that came was called Phadahel.
XLIII. And it came to pass in the time of those days, that Eluma conceived and bare a son and called his name Samson. And the Lord was with him. And when he was begun to grow up, and sought to fight against the Philistines, he took him a wife of the Philistines. And the Philistines burned her with fire, for they were brought very low by Samson.
2. And after that Samson entered into (or was enraged against) Azotus. And they shut him in and compassed the city about and said: Behold, now is our adversary delivered into our hands. Now therefore let us gather ourselves together and succour the souls one of another. And when Samson was arisen in the night and saw the city closed in he said: Lo, now, these fleas have shut me up in their city. And now shall the Lord be with me, and I will go forth by their gates and fight against them.
3. And he went and set his left hand under the bar of the gate and shook it and threw down the gate of the wall. One of the gates he held in his right hand for a shield, and the other he laid upon his shoulders and bare it away, and because he had no sword he pursued after the Philistines with it, and killed therewith 25,000 men. And he lifted up all the purtenances of the gate and set them up on a mountain.
4. Now concerning the lion which he slew, and the jawbone of the ass wherewith he smote the Philistines, and the bands which he brake off from his arms as it were of themselves, and the foxes which he caught, are not these things written in the book of the Judges?
5. Then Samson went down unto Gerara, a city of the Philistines, and saw there an harlot whose name was Dalila, and was led away after her, and took her to him to wife. And God said: Behold, now Samson is led astray by his eyes and hath forgotten the mighty works which I have wrought with him, and is mingled with the daughters of the Philistines, and hath not considered my servant Joseph which was in a strange land and became a crown unto his brethren because he would not afflict his seed. Now therefore shall his concupiscence be a stumbling-block unto Samson, and his mingling shall be his destruction, and I will deliver him to his enemies and they shall blind him. Yet in the hour of his death will I remember him, and will avenge him yet once upon the Philistines.
6. And after these things his wife was importunate unto him, saying unto him: Show me thy strength, and wherein is thy might. So shall I know that thou lovest me. And when Samson had deceived her three times, and she continued importunate unto him every day, the fourth time he showed her his heart. But she made him drunk, and when he slumbered she called a barber, and he shaved the seven locks of his head, and his might departed from him, for so had himself revealed unto her. And she called the Philistines, and they smote Samson, and blinded him, and put him in prison.
7. And it came to pass in the day of their banqueting, that they called for Samson that they might mock him. And he being-bound between two pillars prayed saying: O Lord God of my fathers, hear me yet this once, and strengthen me that I may die with these Philistines: for this sight of the eyes which they have taken from me was freely given unto me by thee. And Samson added saying: Go forth, O my soul, and be not grieved. Die, O my body, and weep not for thyself. 8. And he took hold upon the two pillars of the house and shook them. And the house fell and all that was in it and slew all them that were round about it, and the number of them was 40,000 men and women. And the brethren of Samson came down and all his father`s house, and took him and buried him in the sepulchre of his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.

Leviticus Rabbah 9:9
Bar Kappara said another thing: Great is peace, for in the Prophets, too, did Scripture report a prevarication which was used for the purpose of maintaining peace between husband and wife, as it is said, And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her: Behold now, thou art barren, and hast not borne,. but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son (Judg. XIII, 3) When he spoke to Manoah, the angel did not say thus, but: Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware (ib. 13)-­ For all that, she needs medicinal drugs.
 

Numbers Rabbah 10:5
Speak unto the children of Israel  (VI, 2), viz. to those who make the vow of the nazirite. and say unto them (ib.): this is to exhort the court regarding the matter, that they shall not allow the nazirite to transgress against his naziriteship. If they see that he wishes to annul his naziriteship they must bring pressure to bear upon him so that he shall keep his word. This serves to teach you that the great are exhorted concerning the small and are punished on their account if they fail to reprove them. In the same strain it says, And they shall stumble, a man through his brother (Lev. XXVI, 37), meaning, one for the iniquity of another. This teaches that all Israel are surety for each other.
When either man or woman shall clearly utter, etc. (VI, 2). This bears on the text, And there was a certain man of Zorah, etc. (Judg. XIII, 2).
And there was (wayyehi).  R. Levi said: In every instance where ` wayyehi ` is used it can only signify distress. In the case of, Now it came to pass (wayyehi) in the days of Ahasuerus (Est. I, 1) there was Haman. In the case of, And it came to pass (wayyehi) in the days when the judges judged (Ruth I,1)-There was a famine (ib.). In the case of, And it came to pass (wayyehi), when men began to multiply (Gen. VI, 1), it followed, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men, etc. (ib. 2).  In the case of, And it came to pass (wayyehi) in the days of Amraphel (ib. XIV, 1)- They made war (ib. 2). In the case of, And it came to pass (wayyehi), when Joshua was by Jericho, etc. (Josh. V, 13)- There stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand (ib.).? In the case of, So the Lord was (wayyehi) with Joshua (ib. VI, 27). The children of Israel committed a trespass concerning the devoted thing (ib. VII, 1). In the case of, And it came to pass, (wayyehi) when Samuel was old (I Sam. VIII, 1), His sons walked not in his ways (ib. 3). In the case of, And David had (wayyehi) great success in all his ways (ib. XVIII, 14), Saul eyed David (ib. 9). In the case of, ` And there was (wayyehi) a certain man of Zora- Manoah said unto his wife: We shall surely die (Judg. XIII, 22). Wayyehi. R. Judan said: In every instance where the expression is used in connection with a righteous man it indicates that his worth is equal to that of thirty-one righteous men, the numerical value of wayyehi.  A certain (ehad) man.  In every instance where ehad (one) occurs it denotes that the one to whom the term is applied was great. Of the Holy One, blessed be He, it says, ehad, ` for it is written, The Lord is one (Deut. VI, 4), implying that there is none in the world like Him. It was the same with Abraham, Abraham was one (Ezek. XXXIII, 24): in those days there was none like him. Of Israel it is written, And who is like Thy people Israel, a nation one in the earth (I Chron. XVII, 21)- there is none among the nations like them. Likewise it says of Abimelech, One of the people might easily have lain (Gen. XXVI, 10), because he was a king. So also of Elkanah it says ehad one (I Sam. I, 1)5 because there was none in his?generation like him.
Of Zorah. If a man`s name and the name of his city are stated, it may be taken for granted that the man is from that city; if his name is given but not the name of his city it may be taken for granted that he is from Jerusalem. Of the family of the Danites (Judg. XIII, 2). Since Zorah belonged to Judah, as it is written, Eshtaol, and Zorah, and Ashnah (Josh. XV, 33) and Zorah belonged to Dan as it is written, And the border of their inheritance was Zorah, and Eshtaol (ib. XIX, 41) it was consequently necessary to [explain that he was of the family of the Danites. It does not say of the tribe but of the family of the Danites This teaches that his father was of Dan and Manoah`s mother was of Judah. In allusion to this it was that Jacob said, Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel (Gen. XLIX, 16), meaning as the unique among the tribes, namely Judah. The reason then why he [Samson) was compared to Judah is because he was from the land of Judah and his mother came from Judah, and while Manoah was of Dan his wife was of Judah, Samson thus proves to be both of the tribe of Dan and of the tribe of Judah. This, in fact, tallies with what the Sages have said: Samson`s mother was named Hazlelponi and she traced her family descent to the tribe of Judah; as it says, And the name of their sister was Hazlelponi (I Chron, IV, 3).
Whose name was Manoah (Judg. XIII, 2). The wicked precede their names; as, Nabal is his name (I Sam. XXV, 25), Goliath was his name (ib. XVII,4) Sheba the son of Bichri by name (II Sam. XX, 21). In the case of the righteous, however, the name precedes them; as, And his name was Elkanah (I Sam. I, 1), Whose name was Jesse (ib. XVII, 12), And his name was Boas (Ruth II, 1), Whose name was Mordecai (Est. II, 5), And his name was Manoah. In this they are like their Creator of whom it says, But by My name Lord  (Ex. VI, 2).
Manoah. Why was he called by the name of Manoah (rest)? Because he was privileged to speak to an angel, and prophecy is called menuhah` (rest); as it says, Seraiah was a prince of rest-menuhah (Jer. LI, 59), which teaches that Baruch, son of Neriah, attained to the privilege of divine inspiration; [menuhah - rest - bearing the same connotation] as in the verse, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (Isa. XI, 2). And his wife was barren, and bore not (Judg. XIII, 2). This teaches that there was a quarrel between Manoah and his wife, he saying to her, ‘You are barren and this is the reason why you do not bear,’ while she said to him, ‘You are barren and this is the reason why I have not borne.’ But in fact Manoah was not barren, as it says, And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman (ib. 3). From this you may learn that Manoah`s wife was a righteous woman, since she was privileged to have an angel speaking with her, making peace between her and her husband and telling her that it was she who was barren and was preventing conception, not her husband. This was the reason why he spoke with her. And because she saw an angel she was called by the name of Zlelponi, which signifies that she turned her face (ponah) to look at the angel. `Zalal` can only apply to an angel; as you read, Forasmuch as they are come under the shadow of (zel) my roof (Gen. XIX, 8), In the latter case, where Lot was more righteous than his wife, the angels came under the shadow of his roof, and not under the shadow of her roof, but here, the angel came to her because she was righteous. This is the reason why she was called ` Hazlel ‘. Why does it say ` Hazlel ` and not ` Hazel ‘? Because he appeared to the woman twice; once in the city and once in the field. And said unto her: Behold now, thou art barren, and hast not borne (Judg. Ioc. cit.). He informed her that it was she that was barren and that she did not bear children on that account. This was in order to make peace between her and her husband, for she had a grievance against her husband owing to the fact that she bore no children. But thou shalt conceive, and bear a son (ib.): From now onward you will obtain conception and bear a son. Now therefore beware (ib.4) He admonished her not to drink vinegar of wine or vinegar of strong drink, or any infusion of grapes, all of which prohibitions merely act as a safeguard against the use of wine, in order that the nazirite might not be led to drink wine. This is the reason why Scripture has prohibited them. Drink no wine nor strong drink (ib.). This is to be understood literally; as you read, He shall abstain from wine and strong drink (Num. VI, 3). And eat not any unclean thing (Judg. Ioc. cit.). ‘Unclean thing’ means simply forbidden; the Torah warns the nazirite not to eat any such thing. Of any thing that cometh of the grape-vine (ib. XIII, 14); in consonance with the text, Nor eat fresh grapes or dried... nothing that is made of the grape-vine (Num. VI, 3f.). For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son (Judg. XIII, 5). From this it follows that the semen of that night was retained in the orifice of her matrix and that she did not discharge it until the angel said to her, ` Thou shalt conceive, and bear a son’(ib. 3), when the womb immediately allowed that drop to make its way in. And no morah shall come upon his head (ib. 5). The meaning of ` morah ` may be inferred from the text, There shall no razor come upon his head (Num. VI, 5). Why was the razor called by the name of `morah’?  Because the hair is ‘afraid’ of nothing but the razor which shaves it off in a manner that mars it; accordingly you read, Neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard (Lev. XIX, 27). For the child shall be a nazirite unto God from the womb (Judg. XIII, 5). The Holy One, blessed be He, foresaw that Samson would go wherever his eyes led him, and He therefore admonished him to be a nazirite; that he should not drink wine, because wine leads to lewdness. Now, if while he was a nazirite he went wherever his eyes directed him, surely, had he been drinking, there would have never been any remedy for him at all, by reason of his headstrong pursuit after lewdness. What is the purport of the statement, 'From the womb ‘? To confirm to what Scripture says, Before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee (Jer. I, 5). What, however, does it say of the wicked? The wicked are estranged from the womb; the speakers of lies go astray as soon as they are born (Ps. LVIII, 4). In the same strain it says, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, etc. (ib. I, 7). And he shall begin (yahel) to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines (Judg. XIII, 5): On him shall rest (halah) the prophecy of Jacob, who said, Dan shall judge his people ... Dan shall be a serpent in the way... I wait for Thy salvation, O Lord (Gen. XLIX, 16 ff.). Then the woman came... his countenance was like the countenance of the angel, etc. (Judg. XIII, 6). From this it follows that the Shechinah rested only on those who possessed an imposing mien. But he said unto me: Behold, thou shalt conceive, etc. (ib. 7). She did not, however, disclose to him that he had said, ‘Behold now, thou art barren,’ for she did not like to disclose her imperfection. For the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from the womb to the day of his death (ib.). She added ` To the day of his death’because she did not know what the future would be, but the angel, who knew that he was destined to lose his naziriteship at the hands of Delilah, did not say, 'Unto the day of his death.’ Then Manoah entreated (wayy`etar) the Lord, and said: Oh, Lord, I pray Thee, let the man, etc. (ib. 8). R. Simeon b. Lakish said: Why was the prayer of righteous men compared to a pitchfork (‘ether)?  To inform you that just as the pitchfork turns the grain in the storehouse over from one place to the other, so the prayer of righteous men turns the Attribute of Cruelty into the Attribute of Mercy. And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah (ib. 9). Why did the angel return to the woman and not come to Manoah? In order not to render nugatory his first communication, which he had made to the woman. Another reason: In order to endear her to him. And the woman made haste, and ran, etc. (ib. 10). This teaches that all the actions of righteous men are performed with alacrity. That came unto me that day (ib.). It does not say ‘to-day’, but ‘that day’. This teaches that the angel did not reappear to her until the following day, for Manoah did not pray before the following day, during the morning service, in accordance with what you read, O Lord, in the morning shalt Thou hear my voice, etc. (Ps. V, 4). This teaches that righteous men make sure of their ground before doing anything. And he said: I am (Judg. XIII, 11). He meant: ‘I am the same as at first and will be the same in the end, for I do not change my word.’ And Manoah said: Now let thy word come (ib. 12). Manoah said to him: ‘Until now, what I have heard was from a woman, and women are not qualified to give directions nor are their words to be relied upon, "But now let thy word come"; I wish to hear from your own mouth, because I do not rely upon her words; she may have changed something while speaking, or omitted or added something. What shall be the rule for the child (ib.). What form of naziriteship shall the child be required to observe after he is born? And what shall be done with him? (ib.): What shall his mother do before that, during all the days when she is pregnant with him?’ And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah: Of all that I said unto the woman (ib. 13). This he said in order to show honour to the woman and to endear her to him. Let her beware (ib.). He admonished her regarding vinegar of wine, vinegar of strong drink,or of grapes. She may not eat of anything that cometh of the grape-vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink (ib. 14). This is to be understood literally. Nor eat any unclean thing (ib.) is to be understood in the sense of the text, Nor eat fresh grapes or dried (Num. VI, 3). All that I commanded her let her observe (Judg. Ioc. cit.): what he had told her regarding, ` No razor shall come upon his head )ib. 5). And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord: I pray thee, let us detain thee--na`azerah (ib. 15). Manoah implied: We have been shut off from procreation (azurim)- "azar’ bearing the same meaning as in the text, For the Lord had fast closed up (‘azor ‘azar) all the wombs (Gen. XX, 18)--and you have brought us the good tidings of relief; let us celebrate the joyous occasion with you!-’’azar’bearing the same meaning as in the text, On the eighth day ye shall have a solemn assembly (‘azereth). That we may make ready a kid for thee (Judg. XIII, 15). You have made us rejoice, so let us rejoice together over a kid of the goats for there can be no joy except over meat. And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah: Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread (ib. 16). The angel said to him: ‘It is not the practice of the prophets of the Lord to accept reward for their prophecy.’ What does it say of the false prophets? And ye have profaned Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for crumbs of bread, to slay, etc. (Ezek. XIII, 19). On the other hand, what does it say of the true prophets? But he said: As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none (II Kings V, 16). And if thou wilt make ready a burnt-offering, thou must offer it unto the Lord (Judg. XIII, 16). The angel intimated that one must offer a burnt-offering to the Lord for good tidings, even as Abraham had done when the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, Unto thy seed will I give this land (Gen. XII, 7); instantly Abraham built an altar in thankfulness for the good tidings, for thus it is written, He builded there an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him (ib.); and ‘altar’is inconceivable without an offering. For Manoah knew not that he was the angel of the Lord (Judg. loc. cit.). Why is this stated? Because, since his wife had told him, His countenance was like the countenance of the angel of God, very terrible, she thought that Manoah recognised him to be an angel, and yet invited him to eat, presumably because he was under a false impression, thinking that there was such a thing as eating in heaven. Consequently it says, ` Manoah knew not that he was the angel of the Lord’and for this reason he invited him to eat. If, however, he had known that he was an angel he would not have asked him to eat, for he knew perfectly well that there is no such thing as eating in heaven. But why did he not recognise him? From this you may infer that when the prophets went on an errand of the Holy One, blessed be He, the Holy Spirit which rested upon them gave them an awe-inspiring appearance in the eyes of those that saw them, so that all were afraid of them, for they looked like angels. And why is it that the angels who came to bring to Sarah the tidings of her conception did eat, while this one would not eat? Because those angels, when they first appeared to Abraham, did so in the form of wayfarers. When he brought them into his house, as was his wont, and invited them to eat they did not like to deprive him of the exercise of hospitality, and so they ate with him. After they had eaten they delivered their message and it did not seem as though they had received payment for their message. But this angel first delivered his message, and if he had eaten with him it would have appeared as though he were receiving payment for his message. Consequently he refrained from eating. And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord: What is thy name ? (ib. 17). Not having recognised that he was an angel he asked him his name. That when thy words come to pass we may do thee honour (ib.): Manoah said to him: ‘Tell me your name so that I may inquire in what place I can find you when your prophecy comes true, and give you a present.’ ` That... we may do thee honour’can only allude to a present; as you read, For I will promote thee unto very great honour (Num. XXII, 17). And the angel of the Lord said unto him: Wherefore askest thou after my name? (Judg. XIII, 18). The angel said to him: ‘You do not need to know my name, since you are not destined ever to see me again.’ Hence it is written, Seeing it is hidden (ib.). Of himself he said it, namely, that he would be hidden from him and that he would never see him again; as you read, Such knowledge is hidden for me (Ps. CXXXIX, 6). Another explanation of ‘Seeing it is hidden’. The angel said to him: ‘I am not able to tell you my name for the Holy One, blessed be He, gives us a name to accord with the errand on which He sends us.’ Thus ` Seeing it is hidden (‘peli ‘) " means: in accordance with each particular wonder which He performs through us he gives us a different name. Another explanation of ‘Seeing it is hidden (peli)’ is that the angel called his own name ‘Peli’in accordance with his errand. He came to make Samson a nazirite-as you read, For the child shall be a nazirite unto God-and consequently he called himself by the name of ‘Peli’, in accordance with what Scripture says, when either man or woman shall clearly (yafli)  utter a vow (VI, 2)

Ovid, Metamorphoses, 8
King Minos, while the fair wind moved their ship, was laying waste the land of Megara. He gathered a great army round the walls built by Alcathous, where reigned in splendor King Nisus—mighty and renowned in war—upon the center of whose hoary head a lock of purple hair was growing.—Its proved virtue gave protection to his throne.
…the daughter of king Nisus loved to mount the walls and strike the sounding stone with pebbles: so, when the war began, she often viewed the dreadful contest from that height; until, so long the hostile camp remained, she had become acquainted with the names, and knew the habits, horses and the arms of many a chief, and could discern the signs of their Cydonean quivers. More than all, the features of King Minos were engraved upon the tablets of her mind…She had a wild desire to open to the enemy the heavy brass-bound gates, or anything that Minos could desire.
…my father keeps the keys, and he alone is my obstruction, and the innocent account of my despair. Would to the Gods I had no father! Is not man the God of his own fortune, though his idle prayers avail not to compel his destiny? Another woman crazed with passionate desires, which now inflame me, would not hesitate, but with a fierce abandon would destroy whatever checked her passion. Who is there with love to equal mine? I dare to go through flames and swords; but swords and flames are not now needed, for I only need my royal father`s lock of purple hair. More precious than fine gold, it has a power to give my heart all that it may desire.”
[81] While Scylla said this, night that heals our cares came on, and she grew bolder in the dark. And now it is the late and silent hour when slumber takes possession of the breast. Outwearied with the cares of busy day; then as her father slept, with stealthy tread she entered his abode, and there despoiled, and clipped his fatal lock of purple hair. Concealing in her bosom the sad prize of crime degenerate, she at once went forth a gate unguarded, and with shameless haste sped through the hostile army to the tent of Minos, whom, astonished, she addressed: “Only my love has led me to this deed. The daughter of King Nisus, I am called the maiden Scylla. Unto you I come and offer up a power that will prevail against my country, and I stipulate no recompense except yourself. Take then this purple hair, a token of my love.—Deem it not lightly as a lock of hair held idly forth to you; it is in truth my father`s life.” And as she spoke she held out in her guilty hand the prize, and begged him to accept it with her love.
[142] And as she spoke, she leaped into the waves, and followed the receding ships—for strength from passion came to her. And soon she clung unwelcome, to the sailing Gnossian ship. Meanwhile, the Gods had changed her father`s form and now he hovered over the salt deep, a hawk with tawny wings. So when he saw his daughter clinging to the hostile ship he would have torn her with his rending beak;—he darted towards her through the yielding air. In terror she let go, but as she fell the light air held her from the ocean spray; her feather-weight supported by the breeze; she spread her wings, and changed into a bird. They called her “Ciris” when she cut the wind, and “Ciris”—cut-the-lock—remains her name.

Babylonian Talmud Baba Bathra 91a
The mother of Samson [was named] Zlelponith, and his sister, Nashyan.

Babylonian Talmud Sotah 9b - 10a
MISHNAH. SAMSON WENT AFTER [THE DESIRE OF] HIS EYES; THEREFORE THE PHILISTINES PUT OUT HIS EYES, AS IT IS SAID, AND THE PHILISTINES LAID HOLD ON HIM, AND PUT OUT HIS EYES…
GEMARA. Our Rabbis have taught: Samson rebelled [against God] through his eyes, as it is said: And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me, because she is pleasing in my eyes; therefore the Philistines put out his eyes, as it is said: And the Philistines laid hold on him and put out his eyes. But it is not so; for behold it is written: But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord!  — When he went [to choose a wife] he nevertheless followed his own inclinations.
It has been taught: Rabbi says: The beginning of his [Samson`s] degeneration occurred in Gaza; therefore he received his punishment in Gaza. `The beginning of his [Samson`s] degeneration was in Gaza`, as it is written: And Samson went to Gaza, and saw there an harlot etc.;  `therefore he received his punishment in Gaza, as it is written: And they brought him down to Gaza.  But behold it is written: And Samson went down to Timnah!  — Nevertheless the beginning of his degeneration occurred in Gaza.
And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman inthe valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.  It has been taught: Rabbi says: If her name had not been called Delilah, she was fit that it should be so called. She weakened his strength, she weakened his heart, she weakened his actions. `She weakened his strength`, as it is written: And his strength went from him.  `She weakened his hear`, as it is written: And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart.  `She weakened his actions` since the Shechinah departed from him, as it is written: But he knew not that the Lord had departed from him.
And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart. How did she know this?  R. Hanin said in the name of Rab: Words of truth are recognisable. Abaye said: She knew that this righteous man would not utter the Divine Name in vain; when he exclaimed: I have been a Nazirite unto God, she said: Now he has certainly spoken the truth.
And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him. What means and urged him? R. Isaac of the School of R. Ammi said: At the time of the consummation, she detached herself from him.
Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing. What means any unclean thing? Furthermore, had she [Samson`s mother] up to then eaten unclean things? R. Isaac of the School of R. Ammi said: [She had hitherto eaten] things forbidden to a Nazirite.
But God clave the hollow place that is in Lehi.  R. Isaac of the School of R. Ammi said: He [Samson] lusted for what was unclean; therefore his life was made dependent upon an unclean thing.
And the spirit of the Lord began, etc.  R. Hama b. Hanina said: Jacob`s prophecy became fulfilled, as it is written: Dan shall be a serpent in the way.
To move him in Mahaneh-Dan.  R. Isaac of the School of R. Ammi said: This teaches that the Shechinah kept ringing in front of him like a bell;  it is written here to move him [lefa`amo] in Mahaneh-Dan, and it is written elsewhere A golden bell [pa`amon] and a pomegranate.Between Zorah and Eshtaol  — R. Assi said: Zorah and Eshtaol are two great mountains, and Samson uprooted them and ground one against the other.
And he shall begin to save Israel.  R. Hama b. Hanina said: The oath of Abimelech became void, as it is written: That thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son`s son.
And the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.  Wherewith did He bless him? — Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: With his physique which was like that of other men but his manly strength was like a fast-flowing stream.
And Samson called unto the Lord, and said: O Lord God, remember me, I pray Thee and strengthen me, I pray Thee, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.  Rab said: Samson spoke before the Holy One, blessed be He, Sovereign of the Universe, Remember on my behalf the twenty years I judged Israel, and never did I order anyone to carry my staff from one place to another.
And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes. Why just foxes? — R. Aibu b. Nagari said in the name of R. Hiyya b. Abba: Samson declared: Let [the animal] come which turns backward  and exact punishment of the Philistines who went back on their oath.
It has been taught: R. Simeon the Pious said: The width between Samson`s shoulders was sixty cubits, as it is said: And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight and laid hold of the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and plucked them up, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders; and there is a tradition that the gates of Gaza were not less than sixty cubits [in width].
And he did grind in the prison house. R. Johanan said: `Grind` means nothing else than [sexual] transgression; and thus it is stated: Then let my wife grind unto another.  It teaches that everyone brought his wife to him to the prison that she might bear a child by him [who would be as strong as he was]. R. Papa said: That is what the proverb tells, `Before the wine-drinker [set] wine, before a ploughman a basket of roots.`
R. Johanan also said: Whoever is faithless, his wife is faithless to him; as it is said: If mine heart have been enticed unto a woman, and I have laid wait at my neighbour`s door and it continues, Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her. That is what the proverb tells, `He among the full-grown pumpkins and his wife among the young ones`.
R. Johanan also said: Samson judged Israel in the same manner as their Father in heaven; as it is said: Dan shall judge his people as One.  R. Johanan also said: Samson was called by the name of the Holy One, blessed be He; as it is said: For the Lord God is a sun and a shield. According to this argument, [his name] may not be erased!  — The intention is that [his name] was typical of the name of the Holy One, blessed be He; as the Holy One, blessed be He, shields the whole world, so Samson shielded Israel during his generation.
R. Johanan also said: Balaam was lame in one leg, as it is said: And he went shefi;  Samson was lame in both legs, as it is said: An adder in the path.
Our Rabbis have taught: Five were created after the likeness of Him Who is above, and all of them incurred punishment on account of [the feature which distinguished] them: Samson in his strength, Saul in his neck…