Bible: Judges 13-16

Samson’s Birth

13:1 The Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight, 1  so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines for forty years.

13:2 There was a man named Manoah from Zorah, from the Danite tribe. His wife was infertile and childless. 2  13:3 The Lord’s angelic 3  messenger appeared to the woman and said to her, “You 4  are infertile and childless, 5  but you will conceive and have a son. 13:4 Now be careful! Do not drink wine or beer, and do not eat any food that will make you ritually unclean. 6  13:5 Look, you will conceive and have a son. 7  You must never cut his hair, 8  for the child will be dedicated to God 9  from birth. He will begin to deliver Israel from the power 10  of the Philistines.”

13:6 The woman went and said to her husband, “A man sent from God 11  came to me! He looked like God’s angelic messenger – he was very awesome. 12  I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not tell me his name. 13:7 He said to me, ‘Look, you will conceive and have a son. 13  So now, do not drink wine or beer and do not eat any food that will make you ritually unclean. 14  For the child will be dedicated 15  to God from birth till the day he dies.’

13:8 Manoah prayed to the Lord, 16  “Please, Lord, allow the man sent from God 17  to visit 18  us again, so he can teach 19  us how we should raise 20  the child who will be born.” 13:9 God answered Manoah’s prayer. 21  God’s angelic messenger visited 22  the woman again while she was sitting in the field. But her husband Manoah was not with her. 13:10 The woman ran at once and told her husband, 23 Come quickly, 24  the man who visited 25  me the other day has appeared to me! 13:11 So Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he met 26  the man, he said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife?” 27  He said, “Yes.” 28  13:12 Manoah said, “Now, when your announcement comes true, 29  how should the child be raised and what should he do? 30  13:13 The Lord’s messenger told 31  Manoah, “Your wife should pay attention to everything I told her. 32  13:14 She should not drink 33  anything that the grapevine produces. She must not drink wine or beer, and she must not eat any food that will make her ritually unclean. 34  She should obey everything I commanded her to do.” 13:15 Manoah said to the Lord’s messenger, “Please stay here awhile, 35  so we can prepare a young goat for you to eat.” 36  13:16 The Lord’s messenger said to Manoah, “If I stay, 37  I will not eat your food. But if you want to make a burnt sacrifice to the Lord, you should offer it.” (He said this because Manoah did not know that he was the Lord’s messenger.) 38  13:17 Manoah said to the Lord’s messenger, “Tell us your name, so we can honor you when your announcement comes true.” 39  13:18 The Lord’s messenger said to him, “You should not ask me my name, because you cannot comprehend it.” 40  13:19 Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered them on a rock to the Lord. The Lord’s messenger did an amazing thing as Manoah and his wife watched. 41  13:20 As the flame went up from the altar toward the sky, the Lord’s messenger went up in it 42  while Manoah and his wife watched. They fell facedown 43  to the ground.

13:21 The Lord’s messenger did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. After all this happened Manoah realized that the visitor had been the Lord’s messenger. 44  13:22 Manoah said to his wife, “We will certainly die, because we have seen a supernatural being! 45  13:23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted the burnt offering and the grain offering from us. 46  He would not have shown us all these things, or have spoken to us like this just now.”

13:24 Manoah’s wife 47  gave birth to a son and named him Samson. 48  The child grew and the Lord empowered 49  him. 13:25 The Lord’s spirit began to control him 50  in Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Samson’s Unconsummated Marriage

14:1 Samson went down to Timnah, where a Philistine girl caught his eye. 51  14:2 When he got home, 52  he told his father and mother, “A Philistine girl in Timnah has caught my eye. 53  Now get her for my wife.” 14:3 But his father and mother said to him, “Certainly you can find a wife among your relatives or among all our 54  people! You should not have to go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines.” 55  But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, 56  because she is the right one for me.” 57  14:4 Now his father and mother did not realize this was the Lord’s doing, 58  because he was looking for an opportunity to stir up trouble with the Philistines 59  (for at that time the Philistines were ruling Israel).

14:5 Samson went down to Timnah. When he approached 60  the vineyards of Timnah, he saw a roaring young lion attacking him. 61  14:6 The Lord’s spirit empowered 62  him and he tore the lion 63  in two with his bare hands 64  as easily as one would tear a young goat. But he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.

14:7 Samson continued on down to Timnah 65  and spoke to the girl. In his opinion, she was just the right one. 66  14:8 Some time later, when he went back to marry 67  her, he turned aside to see the lion’s remains. He saw 68  a swarm of bees in the lion’s carcass, as well as some honey. 14:9 He scooped it up with his hands and ate it as he walked along. When he returned 69  to his father and mother, he offered them some and they ate it. But he did not tell them he had scooped the honey out of the lion’s carcass. 70 

14:10 Then Samson’s father accompanied him to Timnah for the marriage. 71  Samson hosted a party 72  there, for this was customary for bridegrooms 73  to do. 14:11 When the Philistines saw he had no attendants, they gave him thirty groomsmen who kept him company. 74  14:12 Samson said to them, “I will give you a riddle. If you really can solve it during the seven days the party lasts, 75  I will give you thirty linen robes and thirty sets 76  of clothes. 14:13 But if you cannot solve it, 77  you will give me thirty linen robes and thirty sets of clothes.” They said to him, “Let us hear your riddle.” 78  14:14 He said to them,

“Out of the one who eats came something to eat;

out of the strong one came something sweet.”

They could not solve the riddle for three days.

14:15 On the fourth 79  day they said to Samson’s bride, “Trick your husband into giving the solution to the riddle. 80  If you refuse, 81  we will burn up 82  you and your father’s family. 83  Did you invite us here 84  to make us poor? 85  14:16 So Samson’s bride cried on his shoulder 86  and said, “You must 87  hate me; you do not love me! You told the young men 88  a riddle, but you have not told me the solution.” He said to her, “Look, I have not even told my father or mother. Do you really expect me to tell you? 89  14:17 She cried on his shoulder 90  until the party was almost over. 91  Finally, on the seventh day, he told her because she had nagged him so much. 92  Then she told the young men the solution to the riddle. 93  14:18 On the seventh day, before the sun set, the men of the city said to him,

“What is sweeter than honey?

What is stronger than a lion?”

He said to them,

“If you had not plowed with my heifer, 94 

you would not have solved my riddle!

14:19 The Lord’s spirit empowered him. He went down to Ashkelon and murdered thirty men. He took their clothes 95  and gave them 96  to the men who had solved the riddle. He was furious as he went back home. 97  14:20 Samson’s bride was then given to his best man. 98 

Samson Versus the Philistines

15:1 Sometime later, during the wheat harvest, 99  Samson took a young goat as a gift and went to visit his bride. 100  He said to her father, 101  “I want to have sex with my bride in her bedroom!” 102  But her father would not let him enter. 15:2 Her father said, “I really thought 103  you absolutely despised 104  her, so I gave her to your best man. Her younger sister is more attractive than she is. Take her instead! 105  15:3 Samson said to them, 106  “This time I am justified in doing the Philistines harm! 107  15:4 Samson went and captured three hundred jackals 108  and got some torches. He tied the jackals in pairs by their tails and then tied a torch to each pair. 109  15:5 He lit the torches 110  and set the jackals loose in the Philistinesstanding grain. He burned up the grain heaps and the standing grain, as well as the vineyards and olive groves. 15:6 The Philistines asked, 111 Who did this?” They were told, 112 Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because the Timnite 113  took Samson’s 114  bride and gave her to his best man.” So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father. 115  15:7 Samson said to them, “Because you did this, 116  I will get revenge against you before I quit fighting.” 117  15:8 He struck them down and defeated them. 118  Then he went down and lived for a time in the cave in the cliff of Etam.

15:9 The Philistines went up and invaded 119  Judah. They arrayed themselves for battle 120  in Lehi. 15:10 The men of Judah said, “Why are you attacking 121  us?” The Philistines 122  said, “We have come up to take Samson prisoner so we can do to him what he has done to us.” 15:11 Three thousand men of Judah went down to the cave in the cliff of Etam and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? Why have you done this to us?” He said to them, “I have only done to them what they have done to me.” 15:12 They said to him, “We have come down to take you prisoner so we can hand you over to the Philistines.” Samson said to them, “Promise me 123  you will not kill 124  me.” 15:13 They said to him, “We promise! 125  We will only take you prisoner and hand you over to them. We promise not to kill you.” They tied him up with two brand new ropes and led him up from the cliff. 15:14 When he arrived in Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they approached him. But the Lord’s spirit empowered 126  him. The ropes around his arms were like flax dissolving in 127  fire, and they 128  melted away from his hands. 15:15 He happened to see 129  a solid 130  jawbone of a donkey. He grabbed it 131  and struck down 132  a thousand men. 15:16 Samson then said,

With the jawbone of a donkey

I have left them in heaps; 133 

with the jawbone of a donkey

I have struck down a thousand men!

15:17 When he finished speaking, he threw the jawbone down 134  and named that place Ramath Lehi. 135 

15:18 He was very thirsty, so he cried out to the Lord and said, “You have given your servant 136  this great victory. But now must I die of thirst and fall into hands of the Philistines? 137  15:19 So God split open the basin 138  at Lehi and water flowed out from it. When he took a drink, his strength 139  was restored and he revived. For this reason he named the spring 140  En Hakkore. 141  It remains in Lehi to this very day. 15:20 Samson led 142  Israel for twenty years during the days of Philistine prominence. 143 

Samson’s Downfall

16:1 Samson went to Gaza. There he saw a prostitute and went in to have sex with her. 144  16:2 The Gazites were told, 145 Samson has come here!” So they surrounded the town 146  and hid all night at the city gate, waiting for him to leave. 147  They relaxed 148  all night, thinking, 149 He will not leave 150  until morning comes; 151  then we will kill him! 16:3 Samson spent half the night with the prostitute; then he got up in the middle of the night and left. 152  He grabbed the doors of the city gate, as well as the two posts, and pulled them right off, bar and all. 153  He put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of a hill east of Hebron. 154 

16:4 After this Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley. 16:5 The rulers of the Philistines went up to visit her and said to her, “Trick him! Find out what makes him so strong and how we can subdue him and humiliate 155  him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred silver pieces.”

16:6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me what makes you so strong and how you can be subdued and humiliated.” 156  16:7 Samson said to her, “If they tie me up with seven fresh 157  bowstrings 158  that have not been dried, I will become weak and be just like any other man.” 16:8 So the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings which had not been dried and they tied him up with them. 16:9 They hid 159  in the bedroom and then she said to him, “The Philistines are here, 160  Samson!” He snapped the bowstrings as easily as a thread of yarn snaps when it is put close to fire. 161  The secret of his strength was not discovered. 162 

16:10 Delilah said to Samson, “Look, you deceived 163  me and told me lies! Now tell me how you can be subdued.” 16:11 He said to her, “If they tie me tightly with brand new ropes that have never been used, 164  I will become weak and be just like any other man.” 16:12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are here, 165  Samson!” (The Philistines were hiding in the bedroom.) 166  But he tore the ropes 167  from his arms as if they were a piece of thread.

16:13 Delilah said to Samson, “Up to now you have deceived me and told me lies. Tell me how you can be subdued.” He said to her, “If you weave the seven braids of my hair 168  into the fabric on the loom 169  and secure it with the pin, I will become weak and be like any other man.” 16:14 So she made him go to sleep, wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric on the loom, fastened it with the pin, and said to him, “The Philistines are here, 170  Samson!” 171  He woke up 172  and tore away the pin of the loom and the fabric.

16:15 She said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you will not share your secret with me? 173  Three times you have deceived me and have not told me what makes you so strong.” 16:16 She nagged him 174  every day and pressured him until he was sick to death of it. 175  16:17 Finally he told her his secret. 176  He said to her, “My hair has never been cut, 177  for I have been dedicated to God 178  from the time I was conceived. 179  If my head 180  were shaved, my strength would leave me; I would become weak, and be just like all other men.” 16:18 When Delilah saw that he had told her his secret, 181  she sent for 182  the rulers of the Philistines, saying, “Come up here again, for he has told me 183  his secret.” 184  So the rulers of the Philistines went up to visit her, bringing the silver in their hands. 16:19 She made him go to sleep on her lap 185  and then called a man in to shave off 186  the seven braids of his hair. 187  She made him vulnerable 188  and his strength left him. 16:20 She said, “The Philistines are here, 189  Samson!” He woke up 190  and thought, 191 I will do as I did before 192  and shake myself free.” But he did not realize that the Lord had left him. 16:21 The Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him in bronze chains. He became a grinder in the prison. 16:22 His hair 193  began to grow back after it had been shaved off.

Samson’s Death and Burial

16:23 The rulers of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate. They said, “Our god has handed Samson, our enemy, over to us.” 16:24 When the people saw him, 194  they praised their god, saying, “Our god has handed our enemy over to us, the one who ruined our land and killed so many of us! 195 

16:25 When they really started celebrating, 196  they said, “Call for Samson so he can entertain us!” So they summoned Samson from the prison and he entertained them. 197  They made him stand between two pillars. 16:26 Samson said to the young man who held his hand, “Position me so I can touch the pillars that support the temple. 198  Then I can lean on them.” 16:27 Now the temple 199  was filled with men and women, and all the rulers of the Philistines were there. There were three thousand men and women on the roof watching Samson entertain. 16:28 Samson called to the Lord, “O Master, Lord, 200  remember me! Strengthen me just one more time, O God, so I can get swift revenge 201  against the Philistines for my two eyes! 16:29 Samson took hold of the two middle pillars that supported the temple 202  and he leaned against them, with his right hand on one and his left hand on the other. 16:30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” He pushed hard 203  and the temple collapsed on the rulers and all the people in it. He killed many more people in his death than he had killed during his life. 204  16:31 His brothers and all his family 205  went down and brought him back. 206  They buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led 207  Israel for twenty years.

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