Many Christians know Samson because of his relationship with Delilah, who betrayed him to the Philistines for 1,100 silver coins. Samson was also a man of incredible strength derived from his uncut hair and a unique judge, unlike any other mentioned in the Bible. Even his death was described in exceptional detail. So how old was he when he died?
Samson was around 40 years old when he died. His age at the time of death has not been mentioned in the Bible. However, by examining key events in Samson’s life and considering the duration of his role as a judge in Israel, we can estimate his age at the time of his death.
Samson is described as a young man (Judges 14:10). A young man is a male who is in the earlier stages of adulthood, most probably in his late teenage years. In the Bible, a man who has attained the age of 20 is also considered an adult. For example, the Lord required only those 20 years and above to give an offering (Exodus 30:14). Additionally, only men 20 years and above were allowed to join and serve in the army.
Early marriage was also encouraged in Judaism, but only if the man was independent. The right age for marriage for a boy at that time was 18-20. Since adulthood begins at 20 years of age according to the Bible, assuming this is also the age he stated his judgeship, and he was a judge for 20 years, that means Samson would have been around 40 years old at the time of his death.
And he [Samson] judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years. Judges 15:20
If we consider the Jewish tradition, Samson was in his late teens (between 18 and 19 years) by the time he married and became a judge. And since we know how long he judged (20 years), it is plausible that Samon died in his 40s after a couple of years as the judge.
How Did Samson Die?
The last part of Samson’s life is narrated in the Book of Judges, Chapter 16:23-31. After Delilah cuts Samson’s hair, he becomes weak, and the Philistines are able to capture him. Samson was then imprisoned in Gaza (Judges 16:21). Eventually, his hair grew back. Later, the Philistines were celebrating their victory and they called Samson to entertain them.
Samson prayed to God and asked for strength one more time to get revenge on the Philistines for removing his eyes. He also prayed to die with the Philistines, and God answered. The life of Samson, as recorded in the book of Judges, ends when he destroys the temple/house of Doga and everyone in it. At that time, around 3000 men and women were watching Samson perform. His family buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah (vs 31).
Who is Samson?
Samson was born and grew up when The Philistines ruled over Israel (Judges 14.4). The birth of Samson was miraculous, just like Jesus. His father (Manoah, of the tribe of Dan) and his mother had been childless for many years (Judges 13:2). An angel appeared to Manoah’s wife and explained that she would conceive a son who should never be shaved. The angel also prophesied that the son would save Israel from the hand of the Philistines (v 5).
Samson is seen as a man chosen and set apart by God when the angel says, “The child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.” According to the Bible, a Nazarite is an individual who takes a vow to consecrate themselves to the Lord. The vow required the Nazirite to avoid several things, including shaving or cutting hair from the head (Numbers 6: 1-8).
Samson’s strength can be summarized using five main actions:
- Through the spirit of the Lord, Samson struck down thirty Philistine men at Ashkelon and stripped them of everything (Judges 14:19)
- He used 300 foxes to set fire to the Philistines’ stacked grain and olive orchards (Judges 15:4)
- He singlehandedly killed 1,000 Philistines using only the jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15:15).
- Through the power of God’s Spirit, he tore a lion to pieces (Judges 14:6)
- He uprooted the gate of the town of Gaza and carried it up a hill in front of Hebron (Judges 16:3)
While these actions show Samson was a strong man, he was also weak. When he married a philistine wife, he gave her people a riddle to solve in seven days. Several days passed, and they were unable to solve the riddle. They threatened to burn Samson’s wife and father-in-law unless she told them the answer to the riddle (Judges 14:15). Samson’s wife repeatedly asked what the riddle was. On the seventh day, he told her.
Samson’s weakness is also portrayed through Delilah, who was asked to find out the source of Samson’s strength in exchange for 1,100 pieces of silver (Judges 16:5). At first, Samson lies that he will no longer be strong when he is tied with seven fresh bowstrings. The second time, Samson tells Delilah that binding him with new ropes that have not been used will make him weak.
The third time Delilah asked what would make Samson weak, he replied, “Weave the seven locks of my head with the web and fasten it tight with the pin” (Judges 16:15). After pleading with him repeatedly, Samson finally revealed that his strength comes from his uncut hair. He explained that once his hair was shaved, he would become as weak as any other man.
Although Samson died with thousands of Philistines, because of his faith in God, he was listed among the heroes who shaped Israel’s history (Hebrews 11:35).
Samson was a man of great strength whom God chose to rescue the people of Israel from the oppression of the Philistines. He was a judge for 20 years and a Nazirite chosen by God from birth. Although his age at the time of death was not mentioned in the Bible, we can infer from context that he was around 40 years old at the time of his demise.