When writing about ancient times, a writer must do a lot of research on daily life–how did people travel? Cook? Make clothing? Work? What were the social circumstances? What was the status of women? What gods were worshipped, and by whom?
In writing DELILAH, I faced one unique challenge–from the Scriptures, we know she existed. But we don’t know much else, and other books that mention her tended to cast her as a demon. But honestly, how many little girls grow up thinking that they want to be beautiful and enticing so they can destroy some man?
I knew that Delilah betrayed Samson–that much is explained in Scripture. But what would make a woman want to do this to a man, especially if she loved him? I knew there had to be more to the story, and more to Delilah’s psyche.
In order to understand the woman, I set out to understand the man. Samson gets a bad rap in most theology books and Bible studies. He is held up as an example of bad behavior because he married a Philistine woman, visited a prostitute, and confided his secret to Delilah. But Scripture tells us that his marriage to the Philistine woman was part of God’s plan, and I could name a LOT of contemporary men who’ve been caught with women who weren’t their wives. We tend to forget that Samson judged (ruled) Israel for twenty years, and that he’s also venerated in the “roll call of faith” found in Hebrews 11.
So where does one start? I hit upon a concept in one of the books about Samson. The author made a very good case of pointing out that Samson felt like a loner–he’d been set apart since before birth, he was a Nazarite, and he found it difficult to relate to his fellow Israelites (most of whom were living in sin at the time–which is why God sent the Philistines to afflict them). So here was a man who felt like a mighty misfit, so he searches for love, as the song says, in “all the wrong places.” And he finds it in Delilah.
Scripture doesn’t tell us whether Delilah was Philistine, Israelite, or something else altogether, so I went with option number three. And because she also feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere, she and Samson find that they are kindred spirits.
Once I started writing, I had Delilah live for a time with a weaver, so I had to learn all about ancient weaving . . . which required learning about how to grow and spin flax. Thank heaven for the internet!
So–tomorrow, THE WRITING.