Deli'lah (Heb. Delilah', דּלַילָה, prob. languishing, sc. with lustful desire; Sept. Δαλιδά, Josephus Δαλιλά), a woman who dwelt in the valley of Sorek, beloved by Samson, (Jg 16:4-18). B.C. 1165. Her connection with Samson forms the third and last of those amatory adventures which in his history are so inextricably blended with the craft and prowess of a judge in Israel. She was bribed by the "lords of the Philistines" to win from Samson the secret of his strength, and the means of overcoming it. SEE SAMSON. It is not stated, either in Judges or Josephus, whether she was an Israelite or a Philistine. Nor can this question be determined by reference to the geography of Sorek, since, in the time of the judges, the frontier was shifting and indefinite. The following considerations, however, supply presumptive evidence that she was a Philistine:
1. Her occupation, which seems to have been that of a courtesan of the higher class, a kind of political Hetaera. This view is still more decided in Josephus (who calls her γυνὴ ἑταιριζομένη, and associates her influence over Samson with πότος and συνουσία, Ant. v. 8, 11). He also states more clearly her relation as a political agent to the "lords of the Philistines" (סרָנַים Joseph. οἱ προεστῶτες, οἱ ἄρχοντες Παλαιστίνων; Sept. ἄρχοντες, οἱ τοῦ κοινοῦ; magistrates, political lords, Milton, Sams. Ag. 850, 1195), employing under their directions "liers in wait" (הָאֹרֵב, τὸ ἔνεδρον; comp. Jos 8:14). On the other hand, Chrysostom and many of the fathers have maintained that Delilah was married to Samson (so Milton, 227), a natural but uncritical attempt to save the morality of the Jewish champion. See Jg 16:9,18, as showing an exclusive command of her establishment inconsistent with the idea of matrimonial connection (Patrick, ad loc.). There seems to be little doubt that she was a courtesan; and her employment as a political emissary, together with the large sum which was offered for her services (1100 pieces of silver from each lord = 5500 shekels; comp. Jg 3:3), and the tact which is attributed to her in Judges, but more especially in Josephus, indicates a position not likely to be occupied by any Israelitish woman at that period of national depression. SEE PHILISTINES.
2. The general tendency of the Scripture narrative: the sexual temptation represented as acting upon the Israelites from without (Nu 25:1,6; Nu 31:15-16). SEE HARLOT.
3. The special case of Samson (Jg 14:1; Jg 16:1).
In Milton Delilah appears as a Philistine, and justifies herself to Samson on the ground of patriotism (Sam. Ag. 850, 980).