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Samson’s Marriage

14 Samson went down to the city of Timnah. He saw a young Philistine woman there. 2When he got back home he said to his father and mother, “I saw a Philistine woman in Timnah. I want you to get her for me. I want to marry her.” 3His father and his mother answered, “But surely there is a woman from the people of Israel that you can marry. Do you have to marry a woman from the Philistine people? Those people are not even circumcised.”* But Samson said, “Get that woman for me! She is the one I want!” 4(Samson’s parents did not know that the Lord wanted this to happen. The Lord was looking for a way to do something against the Philistine people. The Philistine people were ruling over the people of Israel at that time.) 5Samson went down with his father and mother to the city of Timnah. They went as far as the grape fields near that city. At that place, a young lion suddenly roared and jumped at Samson! 6The Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with great power. He tore the lion apart with his bare hands. It seemed easy to him. It was as easy as tearing apart a young goat. But Samson did not tell his father or mother what he had done. 7So Samson went down to the city and talked to the Philistine woman. She pleased him. 8Several days later, Samson came back to marry the Philistine woman. On his way, he went over to look at the dead lion. He found a swarm of bees in the dead lion’s body. They had made some honey. 9Samson got some of the honey with his hands. He walked along eating the honey. When he came to his parents, he gave them some of the honey. They ate it too. But Samson did not tell his parents that he had taken the honey from the body of the dead lion. 10Samson’s father went down to see the Philistine woman. The custom was for the bridegroom to give a party. So Samson gave a party. 11When the {Philistine} people saw that he was having a party, they sent 30 men to be with him. 12Then Samson said to the 30 men, “I want to tell you a story. This party will last for seven days. Try to find the answer during that time. If you can answer the riddle in that time, I will give you 30 linen shirts and 30 changes of clothes. 13But if you can’t find the answer, then you must give me 30 linen shirts and 30 changes of clothes.” So the 30 men said, “Tell us your riddle, we want to hear it.” 14Samson told them this riddle: Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet. The 30 men tried for three days to find the answer, but they couldn’t. 15On the fourth day,* the men came to Samson’s wife. They said, “Did you invite us here just to make us poor? You must trick your husband into telling us the answer to the riddle. If you don’t get the answer for us, we will burn you and all the people in your father’s house to death.” 16So Samson’s wife went to him and began crying. She said, “You just hate me! You don’t really love me! You told my people a riddle, and you won’t tell me the answer.” 17Samson’s wife cried for the rest of the seven days of the party. So he finally gave her the answer to the riddle on the seventh day. He told her because she kept bothering him. Then she went to her people and told them the answer to the riddle. 18So before the sun went down on the seventh day of the party, the Philistine men had the answer. They came to Samson and said, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?” Then Samson said to them, “If you had not plowed with my cow, you would not have solved my riddle!” 19Samson was very angry. The Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with great power. He went down to the city of Ashkelon. In that city he killed 30 {Philistine} men. Then he took all of the clothes and property from the dead bodies. He brought those clothes back and gave them to the men that had answered his riddle. Then he went to his father’s house. 20Samson did not take his wife. The best man at the wedding kept her.

circumcise(d) Cutting the foreskin from a man. In Israel this was proof that a man had made a special agreement to obey God’s laws and teachings. fourth day This is from the ancient Greek translation. The Hebrew has, “seventh day.”

Samson Makes Trouble for the Philistines

15 At the time of the wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife. He took a young goat with him as a gift. He said, “I am going to my wife’s room.” But her father would not let Samson go in. 2Her father said to Samson, “I thought you hated her. So I let her marry the best man at the wedding. Her younger sister is more beautiful. Take her younger sister.” 3But Samson said to him, “Now I have a good reason to hurt you Philistine people. No one will blame me now.” 4So Samson went out and caught 300 foxes. He took two foxes at a time and tied their tails together to make pairs. Then he tied a torch between the tails of each pair of foxes. 5Samson lit the torches that were between the foxes’ tails. Then he let the foxes run through the grain fields of the Philistine people. In this way, he burned up the plants growing in their fields and the stacks of grain they had cut. He also burned up their fields of grapes and their olive trees. 6The Philistine people asked, “Who did this?” Someone told them, “Samson, the son-in-law of the man from Timnah, did this. He did this because his father-in-law gave Samson’s wife to the best man at his wedding.” So the Philistine people burned Samson’s wife and her father to death. 7Then Samson said to the Philistine people, “You did this bad thing to me. So now I will do bad things to you. Then I will be finished with you!” 8Then Samson attacked the Philistine people. He killed many of them. Then he went and stayed in a cave. The cave was in a place named the Rock of Etam. 9Then the Philistine people went to the land of Judah. They stopped near a place named Lehi. Their army camped there {and prepared for war}. 10The men of the family group of Judah asked them, “Why have you Philistine people come here to fight us?” They answered, “We have come to get Samson. We want to make him our prisoner. We want to punish him for the things he did to our people.” 11Then 3000 men from the family group of Judah went to Samson. They went to the cave near the Rock of Etam. They said to him, “What have you done to us? Don’t you know that the Philistine people rule over us?” Samson answered, “I only punished them for the things they did to me.” 12Then they said to Samson, “We have come to tie you up. We will give you to the Philistine people.” Samson said to the men from Judah, “Promise me that you yourselves will not hurt me.” 13The men from Judah said, “We agree. We will just tie you up and give you to the Philistine people. We promise that we will not kill you.” So they tied Samson with two new ropes. They led him up from the cave in the rock. 14When Samson came to the place called Lehi, the Philistine people came to meet him. They were shouting from joy. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with great power. {Samson broke the ropes.} The ropes seemed weak like burnt strings. The ropes fell off his arms as if they had melted. 15Samson found a jawbone of a donkey that had died. He took the jawbone and killed 1,000 Philistine men with it. 16Then Samson said, With a donkey’s jawbone I killed 1,000 men! With a donkey’s jawbone I piled* them into a tall pile. 17When Samson finished speaking, he threw the jawbone down. So that place was named Ramath Lehi.* 18Samson was very thirsty. So he cried to the Lord. He said, “I am your servant. You gave me this great victory. Please don’t let me die from thirst now! Please don’t let me be captured by men who are not even circumcised!” 19There is a hole in the ground at Lehi. God made that hole crack open, and water came out. Samson drank that water and felt better. He felt strong again. So he named that water spring En Hakkore.* It is still there in the city of Lehi today. 20So Samson was a judge for the people of Israel for 20 years. That was during the time of the Philistine people.

piled In Hebrew, the word “pile” is like the word, “donkey.” Ramath Lehi This name means “Jawbone Heights.” En Hakkore This means “The spring of the one that calls.”

Samson Goes to the City of Gaza

16 One day Samson went to the city of Gaza. He saw a prostitute there. He went in to stay the night with her. 2Someone told the people of Gaza, “Samson has come here.” They wanted to kill Samson, so they surrounded the city. They hid near the city gate and waited all night for Samson. They were very quiet all night long. They had said to each other, “When morning comes, we will kill Samson.” 3But Samson only stayed with the prostitute until midnight. Samson got up at midnight. Samson grabbed the doors of the city gate and pulled them loose from the wall. Samson pulled down the doors, the two posts, and the bars that lock the door shut. Samson put those things on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill near the city of Hebron.

Samson and Delilah

4Later, Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah. She was from Sorek Valley. 5The rulers of the Philistine people went to Delilah. They said, “We want to know what makes Samson so strong. Try to trick him into telling you his secret. Then we will know how to capture him and tie him up. Then we will be able to control him. If you do this, each one of us will give you 28 pounds* of silver.” 6So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me why you are so strong. How could someone tie you up and make you helpless?” 7Samson answered, “Someone would have to tie me up with seven fresh, new bowstrings.* If someone did that, I would be weak like any other man.” 8Then the rulers of the Philistine people brought seven fresh, new bowstrings to Delilah. Delilah tied up Samson with the bowstrings. 9Some men were hiding in the next room. Delilah said to Samson, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” But Samson easily broke the bowstrings. They snapped like a string when it comes too close to a flame. So the Philistine people did not find out the secret of Samson’s strength. 10Then Delilah said to Samson, “You lied to me! You made me look foolish. Please tell me the truth, how could someone tie you up?” 11Samson said, “Someone would have to tie me up with new ropes. They would have to tie me with ropes that have not been used before. If someone did that, I would become as weak as any other man.” 12So Delilah took some new ropes and tied up Samson. Some men were hiding in the next room. Then Delilah called out to him, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” But he broke the ropes easily. He broke them like they were threads. 13Then Delilah said to Samson, “You lied to me again! You made me look foolish. Now, tell me how someone could tie you up.” Samson said, “If you use the loom* to weave the seven braids* of hair on my head and tighten it with a pin, I will become as weak as any other man.” Later, Samson went to sleep. So Delilah used the loom to weave the seven braids of hair on his head.* 14Then Delilah fastened {the loom to the ground} with a tent peg. Again she called out to him, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” Samson pulled up the tent peg, the loom,* and the shuttle!* 15Then Delilah said to Samson, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t even trust me? You refuse to tell me your secret. This is the third time you made me look foolish. You haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16She kept bothering Samson day after day. He got so tired of her asking him about his secret that he felt like he was going to die. 17Finally, Samson told Delilah everything. He said, “I have never had my hair cut. I was dedicated to God before I was born. If someone shaved my head, then I would lose my strength. I would become as weak as any other man.” 18Delilah saw that Samson had told her his secret. She sent a message to the rulers of the Philistine people. She said, “Come back again. Samson has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistine people came back to Delilah. They brought the money that they had promised to give her. 19Delilah got Samson to go to sleep while he was lying in her lap. Then she called in a man to shave off the seven braids* of Samson’s hair. In this way she made Samson weak. Samson’s strength left him. 20Then Delilah called out to him, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” He woke up and thought, “I will escape like I did before and free myself.” But Samson did not know that the Lord had left him. 21The Philistine men captured Samson. They tore out his eyes, and took him down to the city of Gaza. Then they put chains on him to keep him from running away. They put Samson in prison and made him work grinding grain. 22But Samson’s hair began to grow again. 23The rulers of the Philistine people came together to celebrate. They were going to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon.* They said, “Our god helped us defeat Samson our enemy.” 24When the Philistine people saw Samson, they praised their god. They said, This man destroyed our people! This man killed many of our people! But our god helped us take our enemy! 25The people were having a good time at the celebration. So they said, “Bring Samson out. We want to make fun of him.” So they brought Samson from the prison and made fun of him. They made Samson stand between the columns in the temple of the god Dagon. 26A servant was holding Samson’s hand. Samson said to him, “Put me where I can feel the columns that hold this temple up. I want to lean against them.” 27The temple was crowded with men and women. All the rulers of the Philistine people were there. There were about 3,000 men and women on the roof* of the temple. They were laughing and making fun of Samson. 28Then Samson said a prayer to the Lord. He said, “Lord All-Powerful, remember me. God, please give me strength one more time. Let me do this one thing to punish these Philistines for tearing out my two eyes!” 29Then Samson held the two columns in the center of the temple. These two columns supported the whole temple. He braced himself between the two columns. One column was at his right side and the other at his left side. 30Samson said, “Let me die with these Philistines!” Then he pushed as hard as he could. And the temple fell on the rulers and all the people in it. In this way, Samson killed many more Philistine people when he died than when he was alive. 31Samson’s brothers and all the people in his father’s family went down to get his body. They brought him back and buried him in his father’s tomb. That tomb is between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson was a judge for the people of Israel for 20 years.

28 pounds Literally, “1,100 {shekels}.” fresh, new bowstrings Bowstrings were often made from sinew which is brittle after it becomes old and dry. loom A machine for making cloth from thread. braids Hair that has been twisted together like a rope. So Delilah … head This is found in the ancient Greek translation. It is not in in the Hebrew text. shuttle The tool used to pull the threads back and forth on a loom to make cloth. Dagon The Canaanite people worshiped this false god hoping he would give them a good harvest of grain. This was probably the most important god for the Philistine people. roof In ancient Israel, a roof was often flat and used like another room.

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