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Judges 13:1–16:31

BIRTH OF SAMSON

13 The Israelites again did what was evil in the Lord’s sight,e so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines forty years. There was a certain man from Zorah,f from the family of Dan, whose name was Manoah; his wife was unable to conceive and had no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “It is true that you are unable to conceive and have no children, but you will conceive and give birth to a son. Now please be careful not to drink wine or beer,g or to eat anything unclean;h for indeed, you will conceive and give birth to a son. You must never cut his hair,B because the boy will be a Naziritei to God from birth, and he will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines.”

Then the woman went and told her husband, “A man of God came to me. He looked like the awe-inspiring angel of God. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. He said to me, ‘You will conceive and give birth to a son. Therefore, do not drink wine or beer, and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from birth until the day of his death.’ ”

Manoah prayedj to the Lord and said, “Please, Lord, let the man of God you sent come again to us and teach us what we should do for the boy who will be born.”

God listenedk toC Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman. She was sitting in the field, and her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 The woman ran quickly to her husband and told him, “The man who came to me the other day has just come back!”

11 So Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he asked, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife?”

“I am,” he said.

12 Then Manoah asked, “When your words come true, what will be the boy’s responsibilities and work?”

13 The angel of the Lord answered Manoah, “Your wife needs to do everything I told her. 14 She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine or drink wine or beer. And she must not eat anything unclean. Your wife must do everything I have commanded her.”

15 “Please stay here,” Manoah told him, “and we will prepare a young goatl for you.”

16 The angel of the Lord said to him, “If I stay, I won’t eat your food. But if you want to prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord.” (Manoah did not know he was the angel of the Lord.)

17 Then Manoah said to him, “What is your name, so that we may honor you when your words come true?”

18 “Why do you ask my name,” the angel of the Lord asked him, “since it is beyond understanding.”a

19 Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered them on a rock to the Lord, who did something miraculousA while Manoah and his wife were watching. 20 When the flame went up from the altar to the sky, the angel of the Lord went up in its flame. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell facedown on the ground. 21 The angel of the Lord did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Then Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord.

22 “We’re certainly going to die,” he said to his wife, “because we have seen God!”b

23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had intended to kill us, he wouldn’t have accepted the burnt offering and the grain offering from us, and he would not have shown us all these things or spoken to us like this.”

24 So the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson.c The boy grew,d and the Lord blessed him. 25 Then the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in the Camp of Dan,B between Zorah and Eshtaol.e

SAMSON’S RIDDLE

14 Samson went down to Timnahf and saw a young Philistine woman there. He went back and told his father and his mother: “I have seen a young Philistine woman in Timnah. Now get her for me as a wife.”

But his father and mother said to him, “Can’t you find a young woman among your relatives or among any of our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines for a wife?”

But Samson told his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” Now his father and mother did not know this was from the Lord,g who wanted the Philistines to provide an opportunity for a confrontation.C At that time, the Philistines were ruling Israel.

Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother and came to the vineyards of Timnah. Suddenly a young lion came roaring at him, the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully onh him, and he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he did not tell his father or mother what he had done. Then he went and spoke to the woman, because she seemed right to Samson.

After some time, when he returned to marry her, he left the road to see the lion’s carcass, and there was a swarm of bees with honey in the carcass. He scooped some honey into his hands and ate it as he went along. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them and they ate it. But he did not tell them that he had scooped the honey from the lion’s carcass.i

10 His father went to visit the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, as young men were accustomed to do. 11 When the Philistines saw him, they brought thirty men to accompany him.

12 “Let me tell you a riddle,”j Samson said to them. “If you can explain it to me during the seven days of the feast and figure it out, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes. 13 But if you can’t explain it to me, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.”

“Tell us your riddle,” they replied.D “Let’s hear it.”

14 So he said to them:

Out of the eater came something to eat,

and out of the strong came something sweet.

After three days, they were unable to explain the riddle. 15 On the fourthE day they said to Samson’s wife, “Persuade your husband to explain the riddle to us, or we will burn you and your father’s family to death. Did you invite us here to rob us?”

16 So Samson’s wife came to him, weeping, and said, “You hate me and don’t love me!k You told my people the riddle, but haven’t explained it to me.”

“Look,” he said,F “I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother, so why should I explain it to you?”

17 She wept the whole seven days of the feast, and at last, on the seventh day, he explained it to her, because she had nagged him so much. Then she explained it to her people. 18 On the seventh day, before sunset, the men of the city said to him:

What is sweeter than honey?

What is stronger than a lion?

So he said to them:

If you hadn’t plowed with my young cow,

you wouldn’t know my riddle now!

19 The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on him, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men. He stripped them and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. In a rage, Samson returned to his father’s house, 20 and his wife was given to one of the men who had accompanied him.

SAMSON’S REVENGE

15 Later on, during the wheat harvest,a Samson took a young goat as a gift and visited his wife. “I want to go to my wife in her room,” he said. But her father would not let him enter.

“I was sure you hated her,” her father said, “so I gave her to one of the men who accompanied you. Isn’t her younger sister more beautiful than she is? Why not take her instead?”

Samson said to them, “This time I will be blamelessb when I harm the Philistines.” So he went out and caught three hundred foxes.c He took torches, turned the foxes tail-to-tail, and put a torch between each pair of tails. Then he ignited the torches and released the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned the piles of grain and the standing grain as well as the vineyards and olive groves.d

Then the Philistines asked, “Who did this?”

They were told, “It was Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because he took Samson’s wife and gave her to his companion.” So the Philistines went to her and her father and burned them to death.

Then Samson told them, “Because you did this, I swear that I won’t rest until I have taken vengeance on you.” He tore them limb from limbA and then went down and stayed in the cave at the rock of Etam.

The Philistines went up, camped in Judah, and raided Lehi. 10 So the men of Judah said, “Why have you attacked us?”

They replied, “We have come to tie Samson up and pay him back for what he did to us.”

11 Then three thousand men of Judah went to the cave at the rock of Etam, and they asked Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines rule us?e What have you done to us?”

“I have done to them what they did to me,” he answered.B

12 They said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.”

Then Samson told them, “Swear to me that you yourselves won’t kill me.”

13 “No,” they said,C “we won’t kill you, but we will tie you up securely and hand you over to them.” So they tied him up with two new ropesf and led him away from the rock.

14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came to meet him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on him, and the ropes that were on his arms and wrists became like burnt flax and fell off. 15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand, took it, and killed a thousand men with it. 16 Then Samson said:

With the jawbone of a donkey

I have piled them in heaps.

With the jawbone of a donkey

I have killed a thousand men.

17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone and named that place Ramath-lehi.D 18 He became very thirsty and called out to the Lord: “You have accomplished this great victory through your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 So God split a hollow place in the ground at Lehi, and water came out of it. After Samson drank, his strength returned, and he revived.g That is why he named it En-hakkore,E which is still in Lehi today. 20 And he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.

SAMSON AND DELILAH

16 Samson went to Gaza,h where he saw a prostitute and went to bed with her. When the Gazites heard that Samson was there, they surrounded the place and …

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