Week of March 3rd- Judges 1-4 and 13-16 (Period of the Judges)
Chronological reading of major Bible stories will take 61 days to complete if you choose to read a different story each day (7 days/week) or 61 weeks if you focus on one story/week.
For each story that you read, document your thoughts e.g.:
What stood out to you?
What questions did the story raise?
What is your impression of God in this story?
Who are the characters?
Judges 1-4 and 13-16 (Period of the Judges)
1 Joshua died. After that, the people of Israel spoke to the Lord. They asked him, “Who will go up first and fight for us against the people of Canaan?”
2 The Lord answered, “The tribe of Judah will go. I have handed the land over to them.”
3 Then the men of Judah spoke to their fellow Israelites, the men of Simeon. They said, “Come up with us. Come into the territory Joshua gave us. Help us fight against the people of Canaan. Then we’ll go with you into your territory.” So the men of Simeon went with them.
4 When the men of Judah attacked, the Lord helped them. He handed the Canaanites and Perizzites over to them. They struck down 10,000 men at Bezek.
5 Judah found Adoni-Bezek there. They fought against him. They struck down the Canaanites and Perizzites. 6 But Adoni-Bezek ran away. Judah chased him and caught him. Then they cut off his thumbs and big toes.
7 Adoni-Bezek said, “I cut off the thumbs and big toes of 70 kings. I made them pick up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” The men of Judah brought Adoni-Bezek to Jerusalem. That’s where he died.
8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem and took it. They set the city on fire. They killed its people with their swords.
9 After that, the men of Judah went down to fight against the people of Canaan who were living in the central hill country. They also fought against those who were living in the Negev Desert and the western hills.
10 Then the men of Judah marched out against the Canaanites who were living in Hebron. The men of Judah won the battle over Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai. Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba.
11 From Hebron they marched out against the people who were living in Debir. It used to be called Kiriath Sepher.
12 Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah to be married. I’ll give her to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.”
13 Othniel captured it. So Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him to be his wife. Othniel was the son of Kenaz. He was Caleb’s younger brother.
14 One day Acsah came to Othniel. She begged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb spoke to her. He said, “What can I do for you?”
15 She replied, “Do me a special favor. You have given me some land in the Negev Desert. Give me springs of water also.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.
16 Moses’ father-in-law was a Kenite. His family went up from Jericho. They went up with the people of Judah to the Desert of Judah. They went there to live among its people. Those people were living in the Negev Desert near Arad. Jericho was also known as The City of Palm Trees.
17 The men of Judah went with their fellow Israelites, the men of Simeon. They attacked the people of Canaan who were living in Zephath. They set the city apart to the Lord in a special way to be destroyed. That’s why the city was called Hormah.
18 The men of Judah took Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron. They also took the territory that was around each of those cities.
19 The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took over the central hill country. But they weren’t able to drive the people out of the flatlands. That’s because those people used chariots that had some iron parts.
20 Moses had promised to give Hebron to Caleb. So Hebron was given to Caleb. He drove the three sons of Anak out of it.
21 But the people of Benjamin failed to drive out the Jebusites who were living in Jerusalem. So they live there with the people of Benjamin to this very day.
22 The men of Joseph attacked Bethel. The Lord was with them. 23 They sent men to Bethel to check it out. It used to be called Luz.
24 Those who were sent saw a man coming out of the city. They said to him, “Show us how to get into the city. If you do, we’ll see that you are treated well.” 25 So he showed them how to get in.
The men of Joseph killed the people in the city with their swords. But they spared the man from Bethel. They also spared his whole family. 26 Then he went to the land of the Hittites. He built a city there. He called it Luz. That’s still its name to this very day.
27 But the tribe of Manasseh didn’t drive out the people of Beth Shan. They didn’t drive out the people of Taanach, Dor, Ibleam and Megiddo. And they didn’t drive out the people of the settlements that are around those cities either. That’s because the people of Canaan had made up their minds to continue living in that land.
28 Later, Israel became stronger. Then they forced the people of Canaan to work hard for them. But Israel never drove them out completely.
29 The tribe of Ephraim didn’t drive out the Canaanites who were living in Gezer. So they continued to live there among them.
30 The tribe of Zebulun didn’t drive out the Canaanites who were living in Kitron and Nahalol. So they remained among them. But Zebulun forced the Canaanites to work hard for them.
31 The tribe of Asher didn’t drive out the people who were living in Acco and Sidon. They didn’t drive out the people of Ahlab, Aczib, Helbah, Aphek and Rehob. 32 So the people of Asher lived among the Canaanites who were in the land.
33 The tribe of Naphtali didn’t drive out the people who were living in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath. So the people of Naphtali lived among the Canaanites who were in the land. The people of Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath were forced to work hard for them.
34 The Amorites made the people of Dan stay in the central hill country. They didn’t let them come down into the flatlands. 35 The Amorites made up their minds to stay in Mount Heres. They also stayed in Aijalon and Shaalbim.
But the power of the tribes of Joseph grew. Then the Amorites were forced to work hard for them. 36 The border of the Amorites started at Scorpion Pass. It went to Sela and even past it.
The Angel of the Lord Warns Israel
2 The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim. There he spoke to the people of Israel. “I brought you up out of Egypt,” he said. “I led you into this land. It is the land I promised with an oath to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I said, ‘I will never break the covenant I made with you. 2 So you must not make a covenant with the people of this land. Instead, you must tear down their altars.’
“But you have disobeyed me. Why did you do it? 3 I have something to tell you. I will not drive those people out to make room for you. They will be like thorns in your sides. Their gods will be a trap to you.”
4 The angel of the Lord spoke those things to all of the people of Israel. Then the people began to sob out loud. 5 So that place was called Bokim. The people offered sacrifices to the Lord there.
The People Turn Away From the Lord
6 Joshua sent the people of Israel away. Then they went to take over the land. All of them went to their own shares of land.
7 The people served the Lord as long as Joshua lived. They also served him as long as the elders lived. Those were the elders who lived longer than Joshua did. They had seen all of the great things the Lord had done for Israel.
8 Joshua, the servant of the Lord, died. He was the son of Nun. He was 110 years old when he died. 9 His people buried his body on his own property at Timnath Heres. It’s north of Mount Gaash in the hill country of Ephraim.
10 All of the people of Joshua’s time joined the members of their families who had already died. Then those who were born after them grew up. They didn’t know the Lord. They didn’t know what he had done for Israel.
11 The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They served the gods that were named after Baal. 12 They deserted the Lord, the God of their people. He had brought them out of Egypt. But now the people of Israel followed other gods and worshiped them. They served the gods of the nations that were around them. They made the Lord angry 13 because they deserted him. They served Baal. They also served the goddesses that were named after Ashtoreth.
14 The Lord became angry with Israel. So he handed them over to robbers. The robbers stole everything from them. He gave them over to their enemies who were all around them. Israel wasn’t able to fight against them anymore and win. 15 When Israel went out to fight, the Lord’s power was against them. He let their enemies win the battle over them. The Lord had warned them with an oath that it would happen. And now they were suffering terribly.
16 Then the Lord gave them leaders. The leaders saved them from the power of those robbers. 17 But the people wouldn’t listen to their leaders. They weren’t faithful to the Lord. They joined themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They didn’t obey the Lord’s commands as their people before them had done. They quickly turned away from the path their people had taken.
18 When the Lord gave them a leader, he was with that leader. He saved the people from the power of their enemies. He did it as long as the leader lived. He was very sorry for the people. They groaned because of what their enemies did to them. The enemies beat them down. They treated them badly.
19 But when the leader died, the people returned to their evil ways. The things they did were even more sinful than the things their people before them had done. They followed other gods. They served them. They worshiped them. They refused to give up their evil practices. They wouldn’t change their stubborn ways.
20 So the Lord’s anger burned against the people of Israel. He said, “This nation has broken my covenant. I made it with their people of long ago. But this nation has not listened to me. 21 Joshua left some nations in the land when he died. I will not drive those nations out to make room for you anymore. 22 I will use them to put Israel to the test. I will see whether Israel will live the way I want them to. I will see whether they will follow my path, just as their people did long ago.”
23 The Lord had let those nations remain in the land. He didn’t drive them out right away. He didn’t hand them over to Joshua.
3 The Lord left some nations in the land. He left them there in order to put the people of Israel to the test. He did it for all those who hadn’t lived through any of the wars in Canaan. 2 He wanted to teach the men in Israel who had never been in battle before. He wanted them to learn how to fight. 3 So he left the five rulers of the Philistines. He left the people of Canaan and the people of Sidon. He left the Hivites who were living in the Lebanon mountains. They lived in the area that was between Mount Baal Hermon and Lebo Hamath.
4 The Lord left those nations where they were in order to put Israel to the test. He wanted to see whether they would obey his commands. He had given those commands through Moses to their people of long ago.
5 So the people of Israel lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 6 They got married to the daughters of those people. They gave their own daughters to the sons of those people. And they served the gods of those people.
7 The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God. They served the gods that were named after Baal. They also served the goddesses that were named after Asherah.
8 So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel. He gave them over to the power of Cushan-Rishathaim. He was the king of Aram Naharaim. For eight years Israel was under his rule.
9 They cried out to the Lord. Then he gave them a man to save them. His name was Othniel, the son of Kenaz. He was Caleb’s younger brother. 10 The Spirit of the Lord came on Othniel. So he became Israel’s leader. He went to war. The Lord handed Cushan-Rishathaim, the king of Aram, over to him. Othniel overpowered him.
11 So the land was at peace for 40 years. Then Othniel, the son of Kenaz, died.
12 Once again the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Because they did that, the Lord gave Eglon power over Israel. Eglon was the king of Moab. 13 He got the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him. All of them came and attacked Israel. They took over Jericho. Jericho was also known as The City of Palm Trees. 14 For 18 years the people of Israel were under the rule of Eglon, the king of Moab.
15 Again the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then he gave them a man to save them. His name was Ehud, the son of Gera. Ehud was left-handed. He was from the tribe of Benjamin.
The people of Israel sent Ehud to Eglon, the king of Moab. They sent him to give the king what he required them to bring him. 16 Ehud had made a sword that had two edges. It was about a foot and a half long. He tied it to his right leg under his clothes. 17 Eglon, the king of Moab, was a very fat man. Ehud gave him the gift he had brought. 18 After that, he sent away those who had carried it.
19 At the place where some statues of gods stood near Gilgal, Ehud turned back. He said, “King Eglon, I have a secret message for you.
”The king said, “I want everyone to be quiet.” And all of his attendants left him.
20 Then Ehud approached him. King Eglon was sitting alone in the upstairs room of his summer palace. Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” So the king got up from his seat.
21 Then Ehud reached out his left hand. He pulled out the sword that was tied to his right leg. He stuck it into the king’s stomach. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade. The blade came right out the king’s back. Ehud didn’t pull the sword out. And the fat closed over it.
23 Ehud went out to the porch. He shut the doors of the upstairs room behind him. Then he locked them.
24 After he had gone, the servants came. They found the doors of the upstairs room locked. They said, “Eglon must be going to the toilet in the inside room of the house.”
25 They waited for a long time. They waited so long they became worried. But the king still didn’t open the doors of the room. So they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their king. He had fallen to the floor. He was dead.
26 While Eglon’s servants had been waiting, Ehud had gotten away. He passed by the statues of gods and escaped to Seirah. 27 There in the hill country of Ephraim he blew a trumpet. Then he led the people of Israel down from the hills.
28 “Follow me,” Ehud ordered. “The Lord has handed your enemy Moab over to you.
”So they followed him down. They took over the only places where people could go across the Jordan River to get to Moab. They didn’t let anyone go across. 29 At that time they struck down about 10,000 men of Moab. All of those men were strong and powerful. But not even one escaped. 30 That day Moab was brought under the rule of Israel.
So the land was at peace for 80 years.
31 After Ehud, Shamgar became the next leader. He was the son of Anath. He struck down 600 Philistines with a large, pointed stick that was used to drive oxen. He saved Israel too.
4 After Ehud died, the people of Israel once again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.
2 So the Lord gave them over to the power of Jabin. He was a king in Canaan. He ruled in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera. Sisera lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Jabin used 900 chariots that had some iron parts. He treated the people of Israel very badly for 20 years. So they cried out to the Lord for help.
4 Deborah was a prophet. She was the wife of Lappidoth. She was leading Israel at that time. 5 Under The Palm Tree of Deborah she served the people as their judge. That place was between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim. The people of Israel came to her there. They came to have her decide cases for them. She settled matters between them.
6 Deborah sent for Barak. He was the son of Abinoam. Barak was from Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. Deborah said to Barak, “The Lord, the God of Israel, is giving you a command. He says, ‘Go! Take 10,000 men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun with you. Then lead the way to Mount Tabor. 7 I will draw Sisera into a trap. He is the commander of Jabin’s army. I will bring him, his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River. There I will hand him over to you.’”
8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I’ll go. But if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”
9 “All right,” Deborah said. “I’ll go with you. But because of the way you are doing this, you won’t receive any honor. The Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman.
”So Deborah went to Kedesh with Barak. 10 There he sent for Zebulun and Naphtali. And 10,000 men followed him. Deborah also went with him.
11 Heber, the Kenite, had left the other Kenites. They came from the family line of Hobab. He was the brother-in-law of Moses. Heber set up his tent by the large tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.
12 Sisera was told that Barak, the son of Abinoam, had gone up to Mount Tabor. 13 So Sisera gathered together his 900 chariots that had some iron parts. He also gathered all of his men together. He brought them from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! Today the Lord will hand Sisera over to you. Hasn’t the Lord gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor. His 10,000 men followed him.
15 As Barak’s men marched out, the Lord drove Sisera away from the field of battle. He scattered all of Sisera’s chariots. Barak’s men struck down Sisera’s army with their swords. Sisera left his chariot behind. He ran away on foot.
16 But Barak chased Sisera’s chariots and army. He chased them all the way to Harosheth Haggoyim. All of Sisera’s men were killed with swords. Not even one was left.
17 But Sisera ran away on foot. He ran to the tent of Jael. She was the wife of Heber, the Kenite. Sisera ran there because Heber’s family was friendly toward Jabin, the king of Hazor.
18 Jael went out to meet Sisera. “Come in, sir,” she said. “Come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent. Then she covered him up.
19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” So Jael opened a bottle of milk. The bottle was made out of animal skin. She gave him a drink of milk. Then she covered him up again.
20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “Someone might come by and ask you, ‘Is anyone here?’ If that happens, say ‘No.’”
21 But Heber’s wife Jael picked up a tent stake and a hammer. She went quietly over to Sisera. He was lying there, fast asleep. He was very tired. She drove the stake through his head right into the ground. So he died.
22 Barak came by because he was chasing Sisera. Jael went out to meet him. “Come right in,” she said. “I’ll show you the man you are looking for.” So he went in with her. Sisera was lying there with the stake through his head. He was dead.
23 On that day God brought Jabin under Israel’s control. He was a king in Canaan. 24 Israel’s power grew stronger and stronger against Jabin, a king in Canaan. They became so strong that they destroyed him.
Samson Is Born
13 Once again the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to the Philistines for 40 years.
2 A certain man from Zorah was named Manoah. He was from the tribe of Dan. Manoah had a wife who wasn’t able to have children.
3 The angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife. He said, “You are not able to have children. But you are going to become pregnant. You will have a baby boy. 4 Make sure you do not drink any kind of wine. Also make sure you do not eat anything that is ‘unclean.’
5 “You will become pregnant. You will have a son. He must not use a razor on his head. He must not cut his hair. That is because the boy will be a Nazirite. He will be set apart to God from the day he is born. He will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines.”
6 Then the woman went to her husband. She told him, “A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God. His appearance was so amazing that it filled me with great wonder. I didn’t ask him where he came from. And he didn’t tell me his name.
7 “But he said to me, ‘You will become pregnant. You will have a son. So do not drink any kind of wine. Do not eat anything that is “unclean.” That is because the boy will be a Nazirite. He will belong to God in a special way from the day he is born until the day he dies.’”
8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord. He said, “Lord, I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again. He told us we would have a son. We want the man of God to teach us how to bring up the boy.”
9 God heard Manoah. And the angel of God came again to the woman. He came while she was out in the field. But her husband Manoah wasn’t with her. 10 The woman hurried to her husband. She told him, “He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day is here!”
11 Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he spoke to him. He said, “Are you the one who talked to my wife?”
“I am,” he replied.
12 So Manoah asked him, “What will happen when your words come true? What rules should we follow for the boy’s life and work?”
13 The angel of the Lord answered him. He said, “Your wife must do everything I have told her to do. 14 She must not eat anything that comes from grapevines. She must not drink any kind of wine. She must not eat anything that is ‘unclean.’ She must do everything I have commanded her to do.”
15 Manoah spoke to the angel of the Lord. He said, “We would like you to stay and eat. We want to prepare a young goat for you.”
16 The angel of the Lord replied, “Even if I stay, I will not eat any of your food. But if you still want to prepare a burnt offering, you must offer it to the Lord.” Manoah didn’t realize it was the angel of the Lord.
17 Then Manoah asked the angel of the Lord a question. “What is your name?” he said. “We want to honor you when your word comes true.”
18 The angel replied, “Why are you asking me what my name is? You would not be able to understand it.”
19 Manoah got a young goat. He brought it together with the grain offering. He sacrificed it on a rock to the Lord.
Then the Lord did an amazing thing. It happened while Manoah and his wife were watching. 20 A flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven. The angel of the Lord rose up in the flame. When Manoah and his wife saw it, they fell with their faces to the ground.
21 The angel of the Lord didn’t show himself again to Manoah and his wife. Then Manoah realized it was the angel of the Lord.
22 “We’re going to die!” he said to his wife. “We’ve seen God!”
23 But his wife answered, “The Lord doesn’t want to kill us. If he did, he wouldn’t have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from us. He wouldn’t have shown us all of those things. He wouldn’t have told us we’re going to have a son.”
24 Later, the woman had a baby boy. She named him Samson. As he grew up, the Lord blessed him. 25 The Spirit of the Lord began to work in his life. It happened while he was in Mahaneh Dan. It’s between Zorah and Eshtaol.
Samson Gets Married
14 Samson went down to Timnah. There he saw a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he spoke to his father and mother. He said, “I’ve seen a Philistine woman in Timnah. Get her for me. I want her to be my wife.”
3 His father and mother replied, “Can’t we find a wife for you among your relatives? Isn’t there one among any of our people? Do you have to go to the Philistines to get a wife? They aren’t God’s people. They haven’t even been circumcised.
”But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.”
4 Samson’s parents didn’t know that the Lord wanted things to happen that way. He was working out his plans against the Philistines. That’s because the Philistines were ruling over Israel at that time.
5 Samson went down to Timnah. His father and mother went with him. They approached the vineyards of Timnah. Suddenly a young lion came roaring toward Samson.
6 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with power. He tore the lion apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as he might have torn a young goat apart. But he didn’t tell his father or mother what he had done.
7 Then he went down and talked with the woman. He liked her.
8 Some time later, he was going back to get married to her. But he turned off the road to look at the lion’s dead body. Large numbers of bees and some honey were in it. 9 He dug the honey out with his hands. He ate it as he walked along. Then he joined his parents again. He gave them some honey. They ate it too. But he didn’t tell them he had taken it from the lion’s dead body.
10 Samson’s father went down to see the woman. Samson had a big dinner prepared there. He was following the practice of men when they got married. 11 When the people saw Samson, they gave him 30 companions.
12 “Let me tell you a riddle,” Samson said to the companions. “The dinner will last for seven days. Give me the answer to the riddle before the dinner ends. If you do, I’ll give you 30 linen shirts. I’ll also give you 30 sets of clothes. 13 But suppose you can’t give me the answer. Then you must give me 30 linen shirts. You must also give me 30 sets of clothes.”
“Tell us your riddle,” they said. “Let’s hear it.”
14 Samson replied,“Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet.”For three days they couldn’t give him the answer.
15 On the fourth day they spoke to Samson’s wife. “Get your husband to explain the riddle for us,” they said. “If you don’t, we’ll burn you to death. We’ll burn up everyone in your family. Did you invite us here to rob us?”
16 Then Samson’s wife threw herself on him. She sobbed, “You hate me! You don’t really love me. You have given my people a riddle. But you haven’t told me the answer.”
“I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother,” he replied. “So why should I explain it to you?”
17 She cried during the whole seven days the dinner was going on. So on the seventh day he finally told her the answer to the riddle. That’s because she kept on asking him to tell her. Then she explained the riddle to her people.
18 Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town spoke to Samson. They said,“What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?”Samson said to them,“You have plowed with my young cow. If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t have known the answer to my riddle.”
19 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with power. He went down to Ashkelon. He struck down 30 of their men. He took everything they had with them. And he gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Samson was burning with anger as he went up to his father’s house.
20 Samson’s wife was given to someone else. She was given to a friend of Samson. The friend had helped him at his wedding.
Samson Gets Even With the Philistines
15 Later on, Samson went to visit his wife. He took a young goat with him. He went at the time the wheat was being gathered. He said, “I’m going to my wife’s room.” But her father wouldn’t let him go in.
2 Her father said, “I was sure you really hated her. So I gave her to your friend. Isn’t her younger sister more beautiful? Take her instead.”
3 Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines. I’m going to hurt them badly.”
4 So he went out and caught 300 foxes. He tied them in pairs by their tails. Then he tied a torch to each pair of tails. 5 He lit the torches. He let the foxes loose in the fields of grain that belonged to the Philistines. He burned up the grain that had been cut and stacked. He burned up the grain that was still growing. He also burned up the vineyards and olive trees.
6 The Philistines asked, “Who did this?” They were told, “Samson did. He’s the son-in-law of the man from Timnah. Samson did it because his wife was given to his friend.”So the Philistines went up and burned the woman and her father to death.
7 Samson said to them, “Is that how you act? Then I won’t stop until I pay you back.” 8 He struck them down with heavy blows. He killed many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave. It was in the rock of Etam.
9 The Philistines went up and camped in Judah. They spread out near Lehi. 10 The men of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight against us?”
“We’ve come to take Samson as our prisoner,” they answered. “We want to do to him what he did to us.”
11 Then 3,000 men from Judah went to get Samson. They went down to the cave that was in the rock of Etam. They said to Samson, “Don’t you realize the Philistines are ruling over us? What have you done to us?”
Samson answered, “I only did to them what they did to me.”
12 The men of Judah said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up. We’re going to hand you over to the Philistines.”
Samson said, “Take an oath and promise me you won’t kill me yourselves.”
13 “We agree,” they answered. “We’ll only tie you up and hand you over to them. We won’t kill you.” So they tied him up with two new ropes. They led him up from the rock.
14 Samson approached Lehi. The Philistines came toward him shouting. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with power. The ropes on his arms became like burned thread. They dropped off his hands. 15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey. He grabbed hold of it and struck down 1,000 men.
16 Then Samson said,“By using a donkey’s jawbone I’ve made them look like donkeys.By using a donkey’s jawbone I’ve struck down 1,000 men.”
17 Samson finished speaking. Then he threw the jawbone away. That’s why the place was called Ramath Lehi.
18 Samson was very thirsty. So he cried out to the Lord. He said, “You have helped me win this great battle. Do I have to die of thirst now? Must I fall into the power of people who haven’t even been circumcised? They aren’t your people.”
19 Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi. Water came out of it. When Samson drank the water, his strength returned. He felt as good as new. So the spring was called En Hakkore. It’s still there in Lehi.
20 Samson led Israel for 20 years. In those days the Philistines were in the land.
Samson and Delilah
16 One day Samson went to Gaza. There he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her.
2 The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place. They hid and waited for him at the city gate all night long. They didn’t make any move against him during the night. They said, “Let’s wait until the sun comes up. Then we’ll kill him.”
3 But Samson stayed there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up. He took hold of the doors of the city gate. He also took hold of the two doorposts. He tore them loose, together with their metal bar. He picked them up and put them on his shoulders. Then he carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
4 Some time later, Samson fell in love again. The woman lived in the Valley of Sorek. Her name was Delilah.
5 The rulers of the Philistines went to her. They said, “See if you can get him to tell you the secret of why he’s so strong. Find out how we can overpower him. Then we can tie him up. We can bring him under our control. Each of us will give you 28 pounds of silver.”
6 So Delilah spoke to Samson. She said, “Tell me the secret of why you are so strong. Tell me how you can be tied up and controlled.”
7 Samson answered her, “Let someone tie me up with seven new leather straps. They must be straps that aren’t completely dry. Then I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
8 So the Philistine rulers brought seven new leather straps to her. They weren’t completely dry. Delilah tied Samson up with them.
9 Men were hiding in the room. She called out to him. She said, “Samson! The Philistines are attacking you!” But he snapped the leather straps easily. They were like pieces of string that had come too close to a flame. So the secret of why he was so strong wasn’t discovered.
10 Delilah spoke to Samson again. “You have made me look foolish,” she said. “You told me a lie. Come on. Tell me how you can be tied up.”
11 Samson said, “Let someone tie me tightly with new ropes. They must be ropes that have never been used. Then I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
12 So Delilah got some new ropes. She tied him up with them. Men were hiding in the room. She called out to him. She said, “Samson! The Philistines are attacking you!” But he snapped the ropes off his arms. They fell off just as if they were threads.
13 Delilah spoke to Samson again. “Until now, you have been making me look foolish,” she said. “You have been telling me lies. This time really tell me how you can be tied up.
”He replied, “Weave the seven braids of my hair into the cloth on a loom. Then pin my hair to the loom. If you do, I’ll become as weak as any other man.
”So while Samson was sleeping, Delilah took hold of the seven braids of his hair. She wove them into the cloth on a loom. 14 Then she pinned his hair to the loom.
Again she called out to him. She said, “Samson! The Philistines are attacking you!” He woke up from his sleep. He pulled up the pin and the loom, together with the cloth.
15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you’? You won’t even share your secret with me. This is the third time you have made me look foolish. And you still haven’t told me the secret of why you are so strong.”
16 She continued to pester him day after day. She nagged him until he was sick and tired of it.
17 So he told her everything. “I’ve never used a razor on my head,” he said. “I’ve never cut my hair. That’s because I’ve been a Nazirite since the day I was born. A Nazirite is set apart to God. If you shave my head, I won’t be strong anymore. I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
18 Delilah realized he had told her everything. So she sent a message to the Philistine rulers. She said, “Come back one more time. He has told me everything.” So the rulers returned. They brought the silver with them.
19 Delilah got Samson to go to sleep on her lap. Then she called for a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair. That’s how she began to bring him under her control. And he wasn’t strong anymore.
20 She called out, “Samson! The Philistines are attacking you!”He woke up from his sleep. He thought, “I’ll go out just as I did before. I’ll shake myself free.” But he didn’t know that the Lord had left him.
21 Then the Philistines grabbed hold of him. They poked his eyes out. They took him down to Gaza. They put bronze chains around him. Then they made him grind grain in the prison. 22 His head had been shaved. But the hair on it began to grow again.
23 The rulers of the Philistines gathered together. They were going to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They were going to celebrate. They said, “Our god has handed our enemy Samson over to us.”
24 When the people saw Samson, they praised their god. They said,“Our god has handed our enemy over to us. Our enemy has destroyed our land. He has killed large numbers of our people.”
25 After they had drunk a lot of wine, they shouted, “Bring Samson out. Let him put on a show for us.” So they called Samson out of the prison. He put on a show for them.
They had him stand near the temple pillars. 26 Then he spoke to the servant who was holding his hand. He said, “Put me where I can feel the pillars. I’m talking about the ones that hold the temple up. I want to lean against them.”
27 The temple was crowded with men and women. All of the Philistine rulers were there. About 3,000 men and women were on the roof. They were watching Samson put on a show.
28 Then he prayed to the Lord. He said, “Lord and King, show me that you still have concern for me. God, please make me strong just one more time. Let me pay the Philistines back for what they did to my two eyes. Let me do it with only one blow.”
29 Then Samson reached toward the two pillars that were in the middle of the temple. They held the temple up. He put his right hand on one of them. He put his left hand on the other. He leaned hard against them.
30 Samson said, “Let me die together with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might. The temple came down on the rulers. It fell on all of the people who were in it. So Samson killed many more Philistines when he died than he did while he lived.
31 Then his brothers went down to get him. So did his father’s whole family. All of them brought Samson’s body back home. They buried his body in the tomb of his father Manoah. It’s between Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson had led Israel for 20 years.