Samson as Judge
The Birth of Samson
1 The Israelites sinned against the Lord again, and he let the Philistines rule them for forty years.
2 At that time there was a man named Manoah from the town of Zorah. He was a member of the tribe of Dan. His wife had never been able to have children. 3 The Lord's angel appeared to her and said, “You have never been able to have children, but you will soon be pregnant and have a son. 4 Be sure not to drink any wine or beer, or eat any forbidden food; 5 and after your son is born, you must never cut his hair, because from the day of his birth he will be dedicated to God as a nazirite. He will begin the work of rescuing Israel from the Philistines.”
6 Then the woman went and told her husband, “A man of God has come to me, and he looked as frightening as the angel of God. I didn't ask him where he came from, and he didn't tell me his name. 7 But he did tell me that I would become pregnant and have a son. He told me not to drink any wine or beer, or eat any forbidden food, because the boy is to be dedicated to God as a nazirite as long as he lives.”
8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord, “Please, Lord, let the man of God that you sent come back to us and tell us what we must do with the boy when he is born.”
9 God did what Manoah asked, and his angel came back to the woman while she was sitting in the field. Her husband Manoah was not with her, 10 so she ran at once and told him, “Look! The man who came to me the other day has appeared to me again.”
11 Manoah got up and followed his wife. He went to the man and asked, “Are you the man who talked to my wife?”
“Yes,” he answered.
12 Then Manoah said, “Now then, when your words come true, what must the boy do? What kind of a life must he lead?”
13 The Lord's angel answered, “Your wife must be sure to do everything that I have told her. 14 She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine; she must not drink any wine or beer, or eat any forbidden food. She must do everything that I have told her.”
15-16 Not knowing that it was the Lord's angel, Manoah said to him, “Please do not go yet. Let us cook a young goat for you.”
But the angel said, “If I do stay, I will not eat your food. But if you want to prepare it, burn it as an offering to the Lord.”
17 Manoah replied, “Tell us your name, so that we can honor you when your words come true.”
18 The angel asked, “Why do you want to know my name? It is a name of wonder.”
19 So Manoah took a young goat and some grain, and offered them on the rock altar to the Lord who works wonders. 20-21 While the flames were going up from the altar, Manoah and his wife saw the Lord's angel go up toward heaven in the flames. Manoah realized then that the man had been the Lord's angel, and he and his wife threw themselves face downward on the ground. They never saw the angel again.
22 Manoah said to his wife, “We are sure to die, because we have seen God!”
23 But his wife answered, “If the Lord had wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted our offerings; he would not have shown us all this or told us such things at this time.”
24 The woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The child grew and the Lord blessed him. 25 And the Lord's power began to strengthen him while he was between Zorah and Eshtaol in the Camp of Dan.
Samson and the Woman from Timnah
1 One day Samson went down to Timnah, where he noticed a certain young Philistine woman. 2 He went back home and told his father and mother, “There is a Philistine woman down at Timnah who caught my attention. Get her for me; I want to marry her.”
3 But his father and mother asked him, “Why do you have to go to those heathen Philistines to get a wife? Can't you find someone in our own clan, among all our people?”
But Samson told his father, “She is the one I want you to get for me. I like her.”
4 His parents did not know that it was the Lord who was leading Samson to do this, for the Lord was looking for a chance to fight the Philistines. At this time the Philistines were ruling Israel.
5 So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother. As they were going through the vineyards there, he heard a young lion roaring. 6 Suddenly the power of the Lord made Samson strong, and he tore the lion apart with his bare hands, as if it were a young goat. But he did not tell his parents what he had done.
7 Then he went and talked to the young woman, and he liked her. 8 A few days later Samson went back to marry her. On the way he left the road to look at the lion he had killed, and he was surprised to find a swarm of bees and some honey inside the dead body. 9 He scraped the honey out into his hands and ate it as he walked along. Then he went to his father and mother and gave them some. They ate it, but Samson did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the dead body of a lion.
10 His father went to the woman's house, and Samson gave a banquet there. This was a custom among the young men. 11 When the Philistines saw him, they sent thirty young men to stay with him. 12-13 Samson said to them, “Let me tell you a riddle. I'll bet each one of you a piece of fine linen and a change of fine clothes that you can't tell me its meaning before the seven days of the wedding feast are over.”
“Tell us your riddle,” they said. “Let's hear it.”
14 He said,
“Out of the eater came something to eat;
Out of the strong came something sweet.”
Three days later they had still not figured out what the riddle meant.
15 On the fourth day they said to Samson's wife, “Trick your husband into telling us what the riddle means. If you don't, we'll set fire to your father's house and burn you with it. You two invited us so that you could rob us, didn't you?”
16 So Samson's wife went to him in tears and said, “You don't love me! You just hate me! You told my friends a riddle and didn't tell me what it means!”
He said, “Look, I haven't even told my father and mother. Why should I tell you?” 17 She cried about it for the whole seven days of the feast. But on the seventh day he told her what the riddle meant, for she nagged him so about it. Then she told the Philistines. 18 So on the seventh day, before Samson went into the bedroom, the men of the city said to him,
“What could be sweeter than honey?
What could be stronger than a lion?”
“If you hadn't been plowing with my cow,
You wouldn't know the answer now.”
19 Suddenly the power of the Lord made him strong, and he went down to Ashkelon, where he killed thirty men, stripped them, and gave their fine clothes to the men who had solved the riddle. After that, he went back home, furious about what had happened, 20 and his wife was given to the man that had been his best man at the wedding.
1 Some time later Samson went to visit his wife during the wheat harvest and took her a young goat. He told her father, “I want to go to my wife's room.”
But he wouldn't let him go in. 2 He told Samson, “I really thought that you hated her, so I gave her to your friend. But her younger sister is prettier, anyway. You can have her, instead.”
3 Samson said, “This time I'm not going to be responsible for what I do to the Philistines!” 4 So he went and caught three hundred foxes. Two at a time, he tied their tails together and put torches in the knots. 5 Then he set fire to the torches and turned the foxes loose in the Philistine wheat fields. In this way he burned up not only the wheat that had been harvested but also the wheat that was still in the fields. The olive orchards were also burned. 6 When the Philistines asked who had done this, they learned that Samson had done it because his father-in-law, a man from Timnah, had given Samson's wife to a friend of Samson's. So the Philistines went and burned the woman to death and burned down her father's house.
7 Samson told them, “So this is how you act! I swear that I won't stop until I pay you back!” 8 He attacked them fiercely and killed many of them. Then he went and stayed in the cave in the cliff at Etam.
Samson Defeats the Philistines
9 The Philistines came and camped in Judah, and attacked the town of Lehi. 10 The men of Judah asked them, “Why are you attacking us?”
They answered, “We came to take Samson prisoner and to treat him as he treated us.” 11 So these three thousand men of Judah went to the cave in the cliff at Etam and said to Samson, “Don't you know that the Philistines are our rulers? What have you done to us?”
He answered, “I did to them just what they did to me.”
12 They told him, “We have come here to tie you up, so we can hand you over to them.”
Samson said, “Give me your word that you won't kill me yourselves.”
13 “All right,” they said, “we are only going to tie you up and hand you over to them. We won't kill you.” So they tied him up with two new ropes and brought him back from the cliff.
14 When he got to Lehi, the Philistines came running toward him, shouting at him. Suddenly the power of the Lord made him strong, and he broke the ropes around his arms and hands as if they were burnt thread. 15 Then he found a jawbone of a donkey that had recently died. He reached down and picked it up, and killed a thousand men with it. 16 So Samson sang,
“With the jawbone of a donkey I killed a thousand men;
With the jawbone of a donkey I piled them up in piles.”
17 After that, he threw the jawbone away. The place where this happened was named Ramath Lehi.
18 Then Samson became very thirsty, so he called to the Lord and said, “You gave me this great victory; am I now going to die of thirst and be captured by these heathen Philistines?” 19 Then God opened a hollow place in the ground there at Lehi, and water came out of it. Samson drank it and began to feel much better. So the spring was named Hakkore; it is still there at Lehi.
20 Samson led Israel for twenty years while the Philistines ruled the land.
Samson at Gaza
1 One day Samson went to the Philistine city of Gaza, where he met a prostitute and went to bed with her. 2 The people of Gaza found out that Samson was there, so they surrounded the place and waited for him all night long at the city gate. They were quiet all night, thinking to themselves, “We'll wait until daybreak, and then we'll kill him.” 3 But Samson stayed in bed only until midnight. Then he got up and took hold of the city gate and pulled it up—doors, posts, lock, and all. He put them on his shoulders and carried them far off to the top of the hill overlooking Hebron.
Samson and Delilah
4 After this, Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in Sorek Valley. 5 The five Philistine kings went to her and said, “Trick Samson into telling you why he is so strong and how we can overpower him, tie him up, and make him helpless. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”
6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me what makes you so strong. If someone wanted to tie you up and make you helpless, how could he do it?”
7 Samson answered, “If they tie me up with seven new bowstrings that are not dried out, I'll be as weak as anybody else.”
8 So the Philistine kings brought Delilah seven new bowstrings that were not dried out, and she tied Samson up. 9 She had some men waiting in another room, so she shouted, “Samson! The Philistines are coming!” But he snapped the bowstrings just as thread breaks when fire touches it. So they still did not know the secret of his strength.
10 Delilah told Samson, “Look, you've been making a fool of me and not telling me the truth. Please tell me how someone could tie you up.”
11 He told her, “If they tie me with new ropes that have never been used, I'll be as weak as anybody else.”
12 So Delilah got some new ropes and tied him up. Then she shouted, “Samson! The Philistines are coming!” The men were waiting in another room. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like thread.
13 Delilah said to Samson, “You're still making a fool of me and not telling me the truth. Tell me how someone could tie you up.”
He told her, “If you weave my seven locks of hair into a loom, and make it tight with a peg, I'll be as weak as anybody else.”
14 Delilah then lulled him to sleep, took his seven locks of hair, and wove them into the loom. She made it tight with a peg and shouted, “Samson! The Philistines are coming!” But he woke up and pulled his hair loose from the loom.
15 So she said to him, “How can you say you love me, when you don't mean it? You've made a fool of me three times, and you still haven't told me what makes you so strong.” 16 She kept on asking him, day after day. He got so sick and tired of her bothering him about it 17 that he finally told her the truth. “My hair has never been cut,” he said. “I have been dedicated to God as a nazirite from the time I was born. If my hair were cut, I would lose my strength and be as weak as anybody else.”
18 When Delilah realized that he had told her the truth, she sent a message to the Philistine kings and said, “Come back one more time. He has told me the truth.” Then they came and brought the money with them. 19 Delilah lulled Samson to sleep in her lap and then called a man, who cut off Samson's seven locks of hair. Then she began to torment him, for he had lost his strength. 20 Then she shouted, “Samson! The Philistines are coming!” He woke up and thought, “I'll get loose and go free, as always.” He did not know that the Lord had left him. 21 The Philistines captured him and put his eyes out. They took him to Gaza, chained him with bronze chains, and put him to work grinding at the mill in the prison. 22 But his hair started growing back.
The Death of Samson
23 The Philistine kings met together to celebrate and offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They sang, “Our god has given us victory over our enemy Samson!” 24-25 They were enjoying themselves, and so they said, “Call Samson, and let's make him entertain us!” When they brought Samson out of the prison, they made him entertain them and made him stand between the columns. When the people saw him, they sang praise to their god: “Our god has given us victory over our enemy, who devastated our land and killed so many of us!” 26 Samson said to the boy who was leading him by the hand, “Let me touch the columns that hold up the building. I want to lean on them.” 27 The building was crowded with men and women. All five Philistine kings were there, and there were about three thousand men and women on the roof, watching Samson entertain them.
28 Then Samson prayed, “Sovereign Lord, please remember me; please, God, give me my strength just this one time more, so that with this one blow I can get even with the Philistines for putting out my two eyes.” 29 So Samson took hold of the two middle columns holding up the building. Putting one hand on each column, he pushed against them 30 and shouted, “Let me die with the Philistines!” He pushed with all his might, and the building fell down on the five kings and everyone else. Samson killed more people at his death than he had killed during his life.
31 His brothers and the rest of his family came down to get his body. They took him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had been Israel's leader for twenty years.