Could You Turn Down 15 Million Bucks?

Delilah was a sell-out to the Philistines. Like Judas, she accepted money in exchange for betraying someone very close to her. But I recently discovered a detail that blows my mind about the story of Samson.

The Philistines offered Delilah the equivalent of 15 MILLION dollars in today’s money (see the IVP OT Bible Background Commentary by Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas).

Delilah assured the Philistines she would find out the elusive secret to Samson’s strength. After three failed attempts, Delilah finally nagged Samson to death and he gave in and told her that his long hair brought him strength.

This is what’s known as a king’s ransom. Israel had no kings, so the judges were the top rulers (Samson ruled Israel as judge for 20 years). The Philistines were willing to pay top dollar to wipe out their destructive enemy.

Of course, she cut his hair, he lost his strength, the Philistines hauled him away, and made him a slave with his eyes gouged out. But then his hair grew back and he took down their temple during a big party, taking out a couple thousand Philistines along with himself. We never find out what happened to Delilah nor whether she was even paid for her services.

So we give Delilah a bad reputation. And though I’m not justifying her actions, I wonder, could I have turned down 15 million dollars? Could you?

We give people in the Bible a hard time for their decisions, but they were humans just as much as you and I are humans.