The opera tells the story of the Israelites and their oppression by the Philistines, and is set in ancient Gaza. Samson, the victorious hero of the Israelites, has killed the overseer, Abimelech, at the temple of Dagon. The High Priest wants revenge and sends out Delilah, a Philistine woman, to discover the secret of Samson's superhuman strength.
Samson immediately falls in love with Delilah and is then betrayed by her, enabling his enemies to blind and imprison him. During the following bacchanal, the blinded Samson, with faith and determination, destroys the temple and buries the Philistines in a last show of strength and courage.