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Alanna Russell

May 7, 2018
English 306-01
Modern Myth Project

Samson and Delilah

A modern retake of the biblical story of Samson appears in the song “Samson” by Regina

Spektor. Spektor’s take on the story of Samson combines the biblical story told from the

perspective of Delilah with a song about lost love. In Judges 13-16 of the Bible, Samson is

chosen by God before his birth to free the Israelites from the Philistines. He is portrayed as a

powerful and strong man who defeats a lion with his bare hands and kills many Philistines by

himself, only because of his God-given strength. Despite the prophecy of Samson defeating the

Philistines, Samson’s lust for women brings him to be with a Philistine named Delilah. She

betrays Samson and cuts off his hair, which was the fuel for his strength. The way in which the

Bible tells the story of Samson and Delilah is very matter-of-factly. Regina Spektor brings to life

an emotional story through her song, out of the narrative of Samson and Delilah that displays a

new side to the tale filled with feelings of lost love and regret.

Spektor brings both adaptation and transformation through her song “Samson” by

showing an altered version of the story of Samson and Delilah. The story of Samson is central to

her song and it tells the story through different eyes. Spektor modernizes the story by telling it

from the perspective of Delilah. She brings new meaning to the biblical story by showing an

alternative side to the story by reimagining that Delilah really did love Samson, even though she

betrayed him. In the Bible, there is mention that Samson does fall in love with Delilah so there

could have been a possibility that she too felt strongly for him despite her betrayal, “And it came

to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And

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the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his

great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to

afflict him; and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver” (Judges 16: 4-

5). So despite the fact that Delilah did betray Samson for money and for her people, Spektor

brings up the possibility that Delilah is remorseful of her actions through her song lyrics. Spektor

sings, “You are my sweetest downfall, I loved you first” showcasing that in Delilah’s mind she

may have had regret for what she did to Samson and that she loved him, while also showing that

the betrayal of Samson led to her own demise.

There is a lot of re-imagination done by Spektor through her song lyrics in order to show

this different side to the story. In particular, Spektor re-envisions the story by describing the part

where Delilah cuts off Samson’s hair. The lyrics of “Samson” shows a more intimate look at the

relationship between Samson and Delilah when Spektor sings, “Your hair was long when we

first met, Samson came to my bed, Told me that my hair was red, Told me I was beautiful, and

came into my bed, Oh, I cut his hair myself one night”. Spektor shows a more personal and

detailed side to this point in the story when Delilah cuts off Samson’s hair in order for him to be

defeated by the Philistines. By showing that there was an actual human relationship between the

two, she brings up the possibility that both Samson and Delilah had to do what they had to do, in

order to appease their god or their people, all while still loving each other.

There is a varying ending to the story in Spektor’s song, when she sings, “Oh, we

couldn't bring the columns down, Yeah, we couldn't destroy a single one, And history books

forgot about us, And the Bible didn't mention us, not even once”. Spektor seems to be

referencing the end of the story when Samson brings down the pillars, killing the Philistines and

himself. She may have re-imagined this ending as a way to show the columns representing the

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obstacles that two people face when they are in love but cannot be together. The part where

“history books forgot about us” is sung, might be Delilah saying that her and Samson’s love

story is not remembered by anyone because it is overshadowed by her betrayal of him.

The changes that Spektor made to the story of Samson and Delilah shows a heart

wrenching but more loving perspective to the story. It is a love song that shows the sadness that

can come with the loss of relationships. She made the story of Samson more accessible to

modern readers by showing the figures in the story with real emotions and turmoil despite the

stoic and detached manner they can be presented to have in the Bible. These changes that

Spektor made in her song are effective because it opens up many new possibilities to the story

while giving us the unknown feelings and regret that Delilah may have had. Also, modernizing

the story of Samson shows new generations of listeners of her song the stories of the Bible and

they might be more inclined to read it and learn about the story of Samson after hearing it. If

someone was listening to the song and they had not read the story of Samson, they would not be

able to understand all of the biblical references that Spektor makes in the song but the overall

theme of a lost love would be understood. A modern listener would understand the song

“Samson” to be about that feeling of loss and sadness that is portrayed throughout the lyrics and

the feeling of regret that a betrayal can have on someone.

The takeaway that modern listeners might have from this song is that there can be more

than meets the eye and that there is surely more going on behind the façade that is presented to

us in a story. Regina Spektor’s take on the character of Delilah in the story of Samson proves this

through her lyrics that show an unseen perception that could very well have been another side to

the story. The characters or figures that are presented in myths or biblical stories can take on new

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lives through the re-imagination that comes with unique interpretations like Spektor’s did in her

song.

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Works Cited

Regina Spektor. Lyrics to “Samson.” Genius, https://genius.com/Regina-spektor-samson-lyrics.

The Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version. Cambridge University Press: 1769; Authorized
King James Bible Online, 2018.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1&version=AKJV