Giraudon/Art Resource, NY

Samson slays a thousand Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone in this 15th-century manuscript illustration. Three chapters of the Book of Judges tell his story, making him, along with Gideon, one of the most featured of the “judges.” But of all the “judges,” Samson seems the least judicial. Though he performs many acts of physical prowess—including tearing apart a young lion with his bare hands, carrying away the gates of Gaza and toppling a temple—he is perhaps best known for his lack of judgment over Delilah, the woman he loves. Three times Delilah tries to beguile the secret of his strength from him so that she can deliver him to his Philistine enemies for pay. Despite these botched attempts, Samson ends up confiding the truth to her, that if his hair was cut he would lose his strength. Delilah shaves his head and gives him to the Philistines, who blind him, force him to grind their wheat and entertain them in their temple. Eventually, Samson manages, after praying for strength, to topple the pillars supporting the temple, crushing himself and almost 3,000 Philistines (Judges 16:25–30).