Bible: Judges 14-16

Samson’s Unconsummated Marriage

14:1 Samson went down to Timnah, where a Philistine girl caught his eye. 1  14:2 When he got home, 2  he told his father and mother, “A Philistine girl in Timnah has caught my eye. 3  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 4  people! You should not have to go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines.” 5  But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, 6  because she is the right one for me.” 7  14:4 Now his father and mother did not realize this was the Lord’s doing, 8  because he was looking for an opportunity to stir up trouble with the Philistines 9  (for at that time the Philistines were ruling Israel).

14:5 Samson went down to Timnah. When he approached 10  the vineyards of Timnah, he saw a roaring young lion attacking him. 11  14:6 The Lord’s spirit empowered 12  him and he tore the lion 13  in two with his bare hands 14  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 15  and spoke to the girl. In his opinion, she was just the right one. 16  14:8 Some time later, when he went back to marry 17  her, he turned aside to see the lion’s remains. He saw 18  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 19  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. 20 

14:10 Then Samson’s father accompanied him to Timnah for the marriage. 21  Samson hosted a party 22  there, for this was customary for bridegrooms 23  to do. 14:11 When the Philistines saw he had no attendants, they gave him thirty groomsmen who kept him company. 24  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, 25  I will give you thirty linen robes and thirty sets 26  of clothes. 14:13 But if you cannot solve it, 27  you will give me thirty linen robes and thirty sets of clothes.” They said to him, “Let us hear your riddle.” 28  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 29  day they said to Samson’s bride, “Trick your husband into giving the solution to the riddle. 30  If you refuse, 31  we will burn up 32  you and your father’s family. 33  Did you invite us here 34  to make us poor? 35  14:16 So Samson’s bride cried on his shoulder 36  and said, “You must 37  hate me; you do not love me! You told the young men 38  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? 39  14:17 She cried on his shoulder 40  until the party was almost over. 41  Finally, on the seventh day, he told her because she had nagged him so much. 42  Then she told the young men the solution to the riddle. 43  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, 44 

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 45  and gave them 46  to the men who had solved the riddle. He was furious as he went back home. 47  14:20 Samson’s bride was then given to his best man. 48 

Samson Versus the Philistines

15:1 Sometime later, during the wheat harvest, 49  Samson took a young goat as a gift and went to visit his bride. 50  He said to her father, 51  “I want to have sex with my bride in her bedroom!” 52  But her father would not let him enter. 15:2 Her father said, “I really thought 53  you absolutely despised 54  her, so I gave her to your best man. Her younger sister is more attractive than she is. Take her instead! 55  15:3 Samson said to them, 56  “This time I am justified in doing the Philistines harm! 57  15:4 Samson went and captured three hundred jackals 58  and got some torches. He tied the jackals in pairs by their tails and then tied a torch to each pair. 59  15:5 He lit the torches 60  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, 61 Who did this?” They were told, 62 Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because the Timnite 63  took Samson’s 64  bride and gave her to his best man.” So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father. 65  15:7 Samson said to them, “Because you did this, 66  I will get revenge against you before I quit fighting.” 67  15:8 He struck them down and defeated them. 68  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 69  Judah. They arrayed themselves for battle 70  in Lehi. 15:10 The men of Judah said, “Why are you attacking 71  us?” The Philistines 72  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 73  you will not kill 74  me.” 15:13 They said to him, “We promise! 75  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 76  him. The ropes around his arms were like flax dissolving in 77  fire, and they 78  melted away from his hands. 15:15 He happened to see 79  a solid 80  jawbone of a donkey. He grabbed it 81  and struck down 82  a thousand men. 15:16 Samson then said,

With the jawbone of a donkey

I have left them in heaps; 83 

with the jawbone of a donkey

I have struck down a thousand men!

15:17 When he finished speaking, he threw the jawbone down 84  and named that place Ramath Lehi. 85 

15:18 He was very thirsty, so he cried out to the Lord and said, “You have given your servant 86  this great victory. But now must I die of thirst and fall into hands of the Philistines? 87  15:19 So God split open the basin 88  at Lehi and water flowed out from it. When he took a drink, his strength 89  was restored and he revived. For this reason he named the spring 90  En Hakkore. 91  It remains in Lehi to this very day. 15:20 Samson led 92  Israel for twenty years during the days of Philistine prominence. 93 

Samson’s Downfall

16:1 Samson went to Gaza. There he saw a prostitute and went in to have sex with her. 94  16:2 The Gazites were told, 95 Samson has come here!” So they surrounded the town 96  and hid all night at the city gate, waiting for him to leave. 97  They relaxed 98  all night, thinking, 99 He will not leave 100  until morning comes; 101  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. 102  He grabbed the doors of the city gate, as well as the two posts, and pulled them right off, bar and all. 103  He put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of a hill east of Hebron. 104 

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 105  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.” 106  16:7 Samson said to her, “If they tie me up with seven fresh 107  bowstrings 108  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 109  in the bedroom and then she said to him, “The Philistines are here, 110  Samson!” He snapped the bowstrings as easily as a thread of yarn snaps when it is put close to fire. 111  The secret of his strength was not discovered. 112 

16:10 Delilah said to Samson, “Look, you deceived 113  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, 114  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, 115  Samson!” (The Philistines were hiding in the bedroom.) 116  But he tore the ropes 117  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 118  into the fabric on the loom 119  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, 120  Samson!” 121  He woke up 122  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? 123  Three times you have deceived me and have not told me what makes you so strong.” 16:16 She nagged him 124  every day and pressured him until he was sick to death of it. 125  16:17 Finally he told her his secret. 126  He said to her, “My hair has never been cut, 127  for I have been dedicated to God 128  from the time I was conceived. 129  If my head 130  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, 131  she sent for 132  the rulers of the Philistines, saying, “Come up here again, for he has told me 133  his secret.” 134  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 135  and then called a man in to shave off 136  the seven braids of his hair. 137  She made him vulnerable 138  and his strength left him. 16:20 She said, “The Philistines are here, 139  Samson!” He woke up 140  and thought, 141 I will do as I did before 142  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 143  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, 144  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! 145 

16:25 When they really started celebrating, 146  they said, “Call for Samson so he can entertain us!” So they summoned Samson from the prison and he entertained them. 147  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. 148  Then I can lean on them.” 16:27 Now the temple 149  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, 150  remember me! Strengthen me just one more time, O God, so I can get swift revenge 151  against the Philistines for my two eyes! 16:29 Samson took hold of the two middle pillars that supported the temple 152  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 153  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. 154  16:31 His brothers and all his family 155  went down and brought him back. 156  They buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led 157  Israel for twenty years.

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