Judges 13:2 - 16

Chapter 13

2 There was a certain man from Zorah of the tribe of Dan whose name was Manoah and whose wife was barren; she had no child. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, ‘Though you are barren and have no child, you will conceive and give birth to a son. 4 Now be careful to drink no wine or strong drink, and to eat no forbidden food. 5 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor must touch his head, for the boy is to be a Nazirite, consecrated to God from birth. He will strike the first blow for Israel’s freedom from the power of the Philistines.’ 6 The woman went and told her husband. ‘A man of God came to me,’ she said to him; ‘his appearance was that of an angel of God, most terrible to see. I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name, 7 but he said to me, “You are going to conceive and give birth to a son. From now on drink no wine or strong drink and eat no forbidden food, for the boy is to be a Nazirite, consecrated to God from his birth to the day of his death.”’

8 Manoah prayed to the Lord, ‘If it is pleasing to you, Lord, let the man of God whom you sent come again to tell us what we are to do for the boy that is to be born.’ 9 God heard Manoah’s prayer, and the angel of God came again to the woman, as she was sitting in the field. Her husband not being with her, 10 the woman ran quickly and said to him, ‘The man who came to me the other day has appeared to me again.’ 11 Manoah went with her at once and approached the man and said, ‘Are you the man who talked with my wife?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘I am.’ 12 ‘Now when your words come true,’ Manoah said, ‘what kind of boy will he be and what will he do?’ 13 The angel of the Lord answered, ‘Your wife must be careful to do all that I told her: 14 she must not taste anything that comes from the vine; she must drink no wine or strong drink, and she must eat no forbidden food. She must do whatever I say.’

15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, ‘May we urge you to stay? Let us prepare a young goat for you.’ 16 The angel replied, ‘Though you urge me to stay, I shall not eat your food; but prepare a whole-offering if you will, and offer that to the Lord.’ Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord, 17 and said to him, ‘What is your name? For we shall want to honour you when your words come true.’

18 The angel of the Lord said to him, ‘How can you ask my name? It is a name of wonder.’ 19 Manoah took a young goat with the proper grain-offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to him whose works are full of wonder. While Manoah and his wife were watching, 20 the flame went up from the altar towards heaven, and the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell face downward to the ground.

21 The angel of the Lord did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. When Manoah realized that it had been the angel of the Lord, 22 he said to his wife, ‘We are doomed to die, for we have seen God.’ 23 But she replied, ‘If the Lord had wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted a whole-offering and a grain-offering at our hands; he would not now have let us see and hear all this.’

24-25 The woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The boy grew up in Mahaneh-dan between Zorah and Eshtaol, and the Lord blessed him, and the spirit of the Lord began to move him.

Chapter 14

1 Samson went down to Timnah, and there a woman, one of the Philistines, caught his notice. 2 On his return he told his father and mother that he had seen this Philistine woman in Timnah and asked them to get her for him as his wife. 3 His parents protested, ‘Is there no woman among your cousins or in all our own people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to find a wife?’ But Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me, because she pleases me.’ 4 Neither his father nor his mother knew that the Lord was at work in this, seeking an opportunity against the Philistines, who at that time held Israel in subjection.

5 Samson went down to Timnah and, when he reached the vineyards there, a young lion came at him growling. 6 The spirit of the Lord suddenly seized him and, without any weapon in his hand, Samson tore the lion to pieces as if it were a kid. He did not tell his parents what he had done. 7 Then he went down and spoke to the woman, and she pleased him.

8 When, after a time, he went down again to make her his wife, he turned aside to look at the carcass of the lion, and saw there was a swarm of bees in it, and honey. 9 He scraped the honey into his hands and went on, eating as he went. When he came to his father and mother, he gave them some and they ate it; but he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey out of the lion’s carcass.

10 His father went down to see the woman, and Samson gave a feast there as the custom of young men was. 11 When the people saw him, they picked thirty companions to escort him. 12 Samson said to them, ‘Let me ask you a riddle. If you can solve it during the seven days of the feast, I shall give you thirty lengths of linen and thirty changes of clothing; 13 but if you cannot guess the answer, then you will give me thirty lengths of linen and thirty changes of clothing.’ ‘Tell us your riddle,’ they said; ‘let us hear it.’

14 So he said to them:

‘Out of the eater came something to eat;
out of the strong came something sweet.’

At the end of three days they had failed to guess the answer. 15 On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, ‘Coax your husband and make him explain the riddle to you, or we shall burn you and your father’s house. Did you invite us here to beggar us?’ 16 So Samson’s wife wept on his shoulder and said, ‘You only hate me, you do not love me. You have asked my kinsfolk a riddle and you have not told it to me.’ He said to her, ‘I have not told it even to my father and mother; and am I to tell it to you?’ 17 But she wept on his shoulder every day until the seven feast days were ended, and on the seventh day, because she pestered him so, he told her, and she told the riddle to her kinsfolk.

18 So on the seventh day the men of the city said to Samson just before he entered the bridal chamber:

‘What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?’

He replied, ‘If you had not ploughed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle.’ 19 Then the spirit of the Lord suddenly seized him, and he went down to Ashkelon, where he killed thirty men, took their belts, and gave their clothes to the men who had answered his riddle; then in a furious temper he went off to his father’s house. 20 Samson’s wife was given in marriage to the one who had been his groomsman.

Chapter 15

1 After a while, during the time of wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife, taking a young goat as a present for her. He said, ‘I am going to my wife in our bridal chamber,’ but her father would not let him in. 2 He said, ‘I was sure that you were really hostile to her, so I gave her in marriage to your groomsman. Her young sister is better than she is—take her instead.’ 3 Samson said, ‘This time I shall settle my score with the Philistines; I shall do them some real harm.’ 4 He went and caught three hundred jackals and got some torches; he tied the jackals tail to tail and fastened a torch between each pair of tails. 5 He then lit the torches and turned the jackals loose in the standing grain of the Philistines, setting fire to standing grain and sheaves, as well as to vineyards and olive groves.

6 ‘Who has done this?’ the Philistines demanded, and when they were told that it was Samson, because the Timnite, his father-in-law, had taken his wife and given her to his groomsman, they came and burnt her and her father to death. 7 Samson said to them, ‘If you do things like that, I swear I will be revenged on you before I have done.’ 8 He smote them hip and thigh, causing great slaughter; and after that he went down to live in a cave in the Rock of Etam.

9 The Philistines came up and pitched camp in Judah, and overran Lehi. 10 The Judahites said, ‘Why have you attacked us?’ They answered, ‘We have come to take Samson prisoner, and do to him as he did to us.’ 11 Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the Rock of Etam, where they said to Samson, ‘Surely you know that the Philistines are our masters? Now look what you have done to us.’ He answered, ‘I only did to them as they had done to me.’ 12 They told him, ‘We have come down to bind you and hand you over to the Philistines.’ ‘Swear to me that you will not set upon me yourselves,’ he said. 13 ‘No, we shall not kill you,’ they answered; ‘we shall only bind you and hand you over to them.’ They bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the cave in the Rock.

14 When Samson came to Lehi, the Philistines met him with shouts of triumph; but the spirit of the Lord suddenly seized him, the ropes on his arms became like burnt tow, and his bonds melted away. 15 He came on the fresh jaw-bone of a donkey, and seizing it he slew a thousand men. 16 He made up this saying:

‘With the jaw-bone of a donkey
I have flayed them like donkeys;
with the jaw-bone of a donkey
I have slain a thousand men.’

17 Having said this he threw away the jaw-bone; and he called that place Ramath-lehi [Jaw-bone Hill].

18 He began to feel very thirsty and cried aloud to the Lord, ‘You have let me, your servant, win this great victory, and must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?’ 19 God split open the Hollow of Lehi and water came out of it. Samson drank, his strength returned, and he revived. This is why to this day the spring in Lehi is called En-hakkore [Crier’s Spring].

20 Samson was judge over Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.

Chapter 16

1 Samson went to Gaza, and seeing a prostitute there he lay with her. 2 The people of Gaza heard that Samson had come, and they gathered round and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. During the night, however, they took no action, saying to themselves, ‘When dawn comes we shall kill him.’ 3 Samson stayed in bed till midnight; but then he rose, took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two gateposts, and pulled them out, bar and all; he hoisted them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill east of Hebron.

4 Afterwards Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived by the wadi of Sorek. 5 The lords of the Philistines went up to her and said, ‘Cajole him and find out what gives him his great strength, and how we can overpower and bind him and render him helpless. We shall each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.’

6 Delilah said to Samson, ‘Tell me, what gives you your great strength? How could you be bound and made helpless?’ 7 ‘If I were bound with seven fresh bowstrings not yet dry,’ replied Samson, ‘then I should become no stronger than any other man.’ 8 The lords of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings not yet dry, and she bound him with them. 9 She had men concealed in the inner room, and she cried, ‘Samson, the Philistines are upon you!’ Thereupon he snapped the bowstrings as a strand of tow snaps at the touch of fire, and his strength was not impaired.

10 Delilah said to Samson, ‘You have made a fool of me and lied to me. Now tell me this time how you can be bound.’ 11 He said to her, ‘If I were tightly bound with new ropes that have never been used, then I should become no stronger than any other man.’ 12 Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them. Then, with men concealed in the inner room, she cried, ‘Samson, the Philistines are upon you!’ But he snapped the ropes off his arms like thread.

13 Delilah said to him, ‘You are still making a fool of me, still lying to me. Tell me: how can you be bound?’ He said, ‘Take the seven loose locks of my hair, weave them into the warp, and drive them tight with the beater; then I shall become no stronger than any other man.’ So she lulled him to sleep, wove the seven loose locks of his hair into the warp, drove them tight with the beater, and cried, ‘Samson, the Philistines are upon you!’ He woke from sleep and pulled away the warp and the loom with it.

15 She said to him, ‘How can you say you love me when you do not confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and have not told me what gives you your great strength.’ 16 She so pestered him with these words day after day, pressing him hard and wearying him to death, 17 that he told her the whole secret. ‘No razor has touched my head,’ he said, ‘because I am a Nazirite, consecrated to God from the day of my birth. If my head were shaved, then my strength would leave me, and I should become no stronger than any other man.’

18 Delilah realized that he had told her his secret, and she sent word to the lords of the Philistines: ‘Come up at once,’ she said; ‘he has told me his secret.’ The lords of the Philistines came, bringing the money with them. 19 She lulled Samson to sleep on her lap, and then summoned a man to shave the seven locks of his hair. She was now making him helpless. When his strength had left him, 20 she cried, ‘Samson, the Phihstines are upon you!’ He woke from his sleep and thought, ‘I will go out as usual and shake myself;’ he did not know that the Lord had left him. 21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. There they bound him with bronze fetters, and he was set to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But his hair, after it had been shaved, began to grow again.

23 The lords of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon, and to rejoice and say, ‘Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy.’ 24 The people, when they saw him, praised their god, chanting:

‘Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands,
the scourge of our land who piled it with our dead.’

25 When they grew merry, they said, ‘Call Samson, and let him entertain us.’ When Samson was summoned from prison, he was a source of entertainment to them. They then stood him between the pillars, 26 and Samson said to the boy who led him by the hand, ‘Put me where I can feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I may lean against them.’ 27 The temple was full of men and women, and all the lords of the Philistines were there, and there were about three thousand men and women on the roof watching the entertainment.

28 Samson cried to the Lord and said, ‘Remember me, Lord God, remember me: for this one occasion, God, give me strength, and let me at one stroke be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.’ 29 He put his arms round the two central pillars which supported the temple, his right arm round one and his left round the other and, bracing himself, 30 he said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines.’ Then Samson leaned forward with all his might, and the temple crashed down on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those he had killed in his life.

31 His brothers and all his father’s family came down, carried him up to the grave of his father Manoah between Zorah and Eshtaol, and buried him there. He had been judge over Israel for twenty years.

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