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Tamara Lempicka, detail of painting

Bad Bible Women: Delilah

Woman in red dress with New York taxi

Bible People: Delilah
Born to be bad

A male lion with fearsome teeth in its open mouth

Bible People: Samson
She done him wrong: Samson's Story

Ancient gold pendant

Bible Archaeology: Jewelry
Wealth and freedom
what Delilah wanted

Hair styles of ancient Assyrian warriors - similar to Samson's

Warriors: Samson
Samson, one of the Bible's Top Warriors




Movie 'Pretty Woman'

Bible study activities
has a list of films about 'fallen women' - modern day Delilahs?







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Life of Jesus Christ

what really happened

historical background


    Philistines versus Hebrews

Delilah and Samson lived out their lives in a time of social turmoil. All over the Mediterranean and the Middle East, people and nations were on the move and the Hebrew tribes, coming up from Egypt, were among these migratory groups.

The land  they entered was already occupied by Canaanites and Philistines, who held the area now covered by Israel and Lebanon. These two groups governed the land, particularly the fertile plains and sea-ports, through a sophisticated system of city-states. All that the Israelite tribes could do was try to gain a foothold in the sparsely populated, less fertile hill territories.The Canaanites and Philistines naturally resisted this intrusion, as the stories of Delilah and Samson show only too well. The Philistines were more technologically advanced than the Israelites, and suppressed Israelite ambition by forbidding them to have their own metal-processing workshops. 

Young Middle Eastern woman in richly embroidered clothingThis meant that the Hebrews/Israelites could not manufacture effective weapons - something that is implied when Samson uses the jaw-bone of an ass as a weapon to slaughter his enemies. The message of the story is that, with or without iron weapons, the Israelites will fight their enemies.

The Philistines

Nowadays the word ' Philistine'  has come to mean someone who is uncouth or uncultured, but at the time of the Bible stories the Philistines were probably more sophisticated than the Hebrews. Excavations in the coastal plain (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ashdod) have uncovered decorated pottery: two-handled jugs or bowls, buff in colour, with a creamy grey wash, painted in red and black with geometric designs or swans pluming themselves. This pottery is similar to Mycenaean ware, suggesting there were close ties between the Philistines and Greece during the Iron Age.

It was the Philistines'  central organization which, together with iron weapons, allowed them to dominate the loosely linked Hebrew tribes - and eventually pushed the tribes into electing a king (Saul, then David) who would unify them and make them strong enough to fight back.

The Temple of Dagon

If you want to see what the Temple of Dagon was like, go to the Jerusalem Temple.  
This page has a photograph of the Egyptian Temple of Dendur, now housed in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. It was probably similar in design to a Philistine temple. 
Note especially the huge double pillars at the front of the building.


Philistine temple, model taken from excavations at Tel Qasile, Israel

Above: reconstruction of a Philistine temple, 
based on excavations at Tel Qasile, Israel (see the real thing below)

Excavated Philistine temple at Tel Qasile: note two pillars, as in the story of Samson's death

Painting depicting the moment when Samson demolished the two main columns of the Temple of Dagon

Painting showing Samson using all his strength 
to topple the columns of the Temple of Dagon



For additional information on the lives of women in the Bible, see the links to


Ancient gold necklace


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Egyptian wall carving of a captured Philistine warrior 

Map showing territory of the Philistines


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Copyright 2006 Elizabeth Fletcher