Skip to content

How Old Was Samson When He Died?

Around forty years ago, a new board game called ‘Trivial Pursuit’ became all the craze as people tried to answer basic questions about science, history, geography, entertainment, literature, and sports. Growing up in a pastor’s home, it wasn’t long before we owned a version of the game known as Bible Trivia. On the box was the phrase, “The Game Where Trivia is Not Trivial.” The questions ranged from easy – “How many books are there in the Bible?” (66); to advanced – “What did God create on the fifth day of creation?” (birds and marine animals); or difficult – “What was the name of Goliath’s brother?” (Just for fun, I’ll include the answer to that question at the end of this article).

One question that was not included in the game was this: How old was Samson when he died? That’s because the answer is not easy, advanced, or even difficult, but rather almost impossible. This article will attempt to answer this question about Samson’s age when he died.

So, How old was Samson when he died? Does the Bible say how many years Samson lived before he killed thousands of Philistines by pushing down the pillars of a coliseum, ultimately ending his own life as well? Well, let’s find out..

How Old Was Samson When He Died, According to the Bible?

The life of Samson as recorded in the biblical book of Judges comes to an abrupt climax at the end of Judges 16 by saying,

“Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived. Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.”

Now, often throughout the Old Testament, the end of a person’s life was recorded in the following manner: The name of a certain person lived a total number of years, and then they died. Another variation found in the Bible said that a particular person lived a certain number of years, then they breathed their last and died, and they were gathered to their people. (See the list of people along with the number of years they lived in Genesis 5 or passages like Genesis 25:17 for some examples).

However, there is no such statement about Samson at the end of his life. In fact, the Book of Judges does not mention how old any of the judges were when they died. The Scripture only tells us how long each of them ruled over the people of Israel during the time of the judges.

Decoding Samson’s Age At Death: How Old Was He When He Died?

How Old Was Samson When He Died?
Image – biblepics CC4.0

Even though the Bible never directly indicates Samson’s age when he died, perhaps we can find the answer indirectly. His story can be found in chapters 13-16 of the Book of Judges. We are told of Samson’s birth in Judges 13. The text says in Judges 13:1 that the Israelites had suffered under the persecution of the Israelites for 40 years. An angel then appeared to a man named Manoah and his wife who were childless telling them that they would give birth to a son who would be the next deliverer for the Israelites (see Judges 13:5).

The following chapter (Judges 14) describes how Samson convinced his parents to arrange a marriage between himself and a Gentile girl who lived among the Philistines. Several Jewish and biblical commentaries indicate that a young boy could get married with the consent of his parents from age 13 to age 21, and without their consent after the age of 21. Therefore, we can deduce that Samson was most likely in his young teens when he was first betrothed in marriage. However, the marriage never happened because of a dispute Samson had with the guests at the wedding. As a side note, I often jest with newly engaged young men about the dangers of calling their fiancé offensive names and potentially ruining their chances of getting married by showing them Judges 14:18 where Samson refers to his bride as a cow! “If you had not plowed with my heifer,” he said, “you would not have solved my riddle.”

Putting that aside, What about the riddle of Samson’s age when he died? We can safely assume that in Judges 14 he was between the ages of thirteen and twenty-one. Then chapter 15 begins by saying, “later on,” without indicating a specific time frame. However, the context seems to indicate that the events of chapter 15 occur just a few months later. Then chapter fifteen ends with these words: “Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines” (Judges 15:20). This would mean that Samson most likely lived to be between thirty-three (13+20) and forty-one (21+20) years of age at the time of his death.

Chapter sixteen details the final events of Samson’s life. He is seduced by a woman named Delilah who eventually convinces him to reveal the secret of his strength. When she cuts off his hair, Samson loses his power and is captured by the Philistines. They gouged out his eyes and put him in prison. However, according to Judges 16:22, over the course of time, Samson’s hair begins to grow back and his strength was restored. This allowed him to topple down the coliseum killing himself and thousands of Philistines.

At the most, the events of chapter sixteen probably occur over a one to two year period. If these events are part of the twenty years mentioned in chapter fifteen as part of Samson’s rulership, then he would have been between 33 and 41 when he died. However, if his imprisonment and death occurred one to two years later, then he could have been between 34/35 and 42/43 years of age.

Ultimately, there is no definitive answer to this question of Samson’s age when he died, which is why the question was never included in that Bible Trivia game. As for the name of Goliath’s brother, 1 Chronicles 20:5 says that his name was Lahmi.

Dr. Richard Sams is a top Biblical and Religious educator, who holds a Doctor of Ministry degree (Evangelism and Church Growth emphasis) from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. He has two masters’ degrees (Master of Divinity and Master of the Arts of Religion) from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg and also serves on the Pastoral Leadership Advisory Board of Liberty University. Moreover, Richard Sams has been serving as a pastor (Pastoral Ministry) at Calhoun Baptist Church in Calhoun, KY, from the past Nineteen years. He loves practically imparting biblical truths to the next generation, while occasionally conduct spiritual challenges on his facebook page