1 Samson went to Gaza. There he saw a prostitute and slept with her. 2 The people of Gaza were told, "Samson's here!" So they surrounded the place and waited all night at the city gate to ambush him. They were quiet all night. They thought, "We'll kill him at dawn." 3 But Samson was in bed [with the prostitute] only until midnight. Then he got up, took hold of the doors, door posts, and bar of the city gate and pulled them out. He carried them on his shoulders to the top of the hill facing Hebron. 4 After [leaving Gaza], he fell in love with a woman in the Sorek Valley. Her name was Delilah. 5 The Philistine rulers came to her and said, "Trick him, and find out what makes him so strong. Find out how we can overpower him. We want to tie him up in order to torture him. Each of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver." 6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me what makes you so strong. How can you be tied up so that someone could torture you?" 7 Samson told her, "If someone ties me up with seven new bowstrings that are not dried out, I will be like any other man." 8 The Philistine rulers brought her seven new bowstrings that were not dried out. She tied Samson up with them. 9 Some men were hiding in the bedroom waiting for her [to tie him up]. Then she said to him, "Samson, the Philistines are attacking!" Samson snapped the bowstrings as a thread snaps when it touches fire. So no one found out why he was so strong. 10 Delilah told Samson, "Look, you're making fun of me by telling me lies. Now, tell me how you can be tied up." 11 Samson told her, "If someone ties me up tightly with new ropes that have never been used, I will be like any other man." 12 So Delilah took some new ropes and tied him up with them. Then she said to him, "Samson, the Philistines are attacking!" Some men were in her bedroom waiting to ambush him. But Samson tore the ropes off his arms as though they were strings. 13 Delilah told Samson, "You're still making fun of me by telling me lies. Tell me how you can be tied up." Samson replied, "Just weave the seven braids of my hair with the other threads in the loom." 14 So Delilah tied his braids to the loom shuttle. Then she said to him, "Samson, the Philistines are attacking!" But Samson woke up and tore his braids and the threads out of the loom shuttle. 15 Delilah said to Samson, "How can you say that you love me when your heart isn't mine? You've made fun of me three times now, but you still haven't told me what makes you so strong." 16 Every day she made his life miserable with her questions. She pestered him until he wished he were dead. 17 Finally, he told her the truth. He told her, "Because I'm a Nazirite, no one has ever cut the hair on my head. I was dedicated to God before I was born. If my hair is ever shaved off, my strength will leave me. Then I'll be like any other man." 18 When Delilah realized that he had told her everything, she sent a message to the Philistine rulers, "Come here once more." (She did this because Samson had told her everything.) So the Philistine rulers arrived with the money in their hands. 19 Delilah put Samson to sleep on her lap. She called for a man to shave off his seven braids. Then she began to torture him because his strength had left him. 20 She said, "Samson, the Philistines are attacking!" Samson woke up. He thought, "I'll get out of this as usual and shake myself free." (He didn't realize that the LORD had left him.) 21 The Philistines grabbed him. They poked out his eyes and took him to the prison in Gaza. They tied him up with double chains and made him grind grain in the mill there. 22 But his hair started to grow back as soon as it was shaved off. 23 Now, the Philistine rulers gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon and to celebrate. They said, "Our god handed Samson, our enemy, over to us." 24 When the people saw him, they praised their god. They said, "Our god gave our enemy, destroyer of our land and killer of so many, into our very hand!" 25 When all the Philistines were enjoying themselves, they said, "Call Samson in to entertain us." Samson was called from the prison, and he made them laugh. They made him stand between two columns. 26 Samson told the young man who was leading him by the hand, "Let me rest. Let me touch the columns on which the building stands so that I can lean against them." 27 The building was filled with people. All the Philistine rulers were there. On the roof there were about three thousand men and women who watched Samson entertain them. 28 Then Samson called to the LORD, "Almighty LORD, please remember me! God, give me strength just one more time! Let me get even with the Philistines for at least one of my two eyes." 29 Samson felt the two middle columns on which the building stood. With his right hand on one column and his left on the other, he pushed hard against them. 30 "Let me die with the Philistines," he said. With that, he pushed with all his might, and the building fell on the rulers and everyone in it. So he killed more Philistines when he died than he had when he was alive. 31 Then his relatives and his father's whole family went to Gaza. They took Samson and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. Samson had judged Israel for 20 years.
1 There was a man named Micah from the mountain region of Ephraim. 2 He told his mother, "You were upset about the 1,100 pieces of silver that were taken from you. I even heard you put a curse on them. Here's the silver. I took it!" His mother said, "The LORD bless you, my son!" 3 So Micah gave the 1,100 pieces of silver back to his mother. Then his mother said, "I dedicate this silver to the LORD for my son's benefit. I want to make a carved idol and a metal idol. So now I'm giving the silver back to you." 4 When Micah returned the silver to his mother, she took 200 pieces of the silver and gave it to a silversmith. He made a carved idol and a metal idol. Both were placed in Micah's home. 5 Micah owned a shrine. He also made an ephod and household idols. He ordained one of his sons to be his priest. 6 In those days Israel didn't have a king. Everyone did whatever he considered right. 7 There was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah. (Bethlehem belongs to the family of Judah.) He was a Levite but was living in Bethlehem. 8 This man left Bethlehem in Judah to live wherever he could find [a place]. He came to Micah's house in the mountains of Ephraim to carry on his work. 9 Micah asked him, "Where do you come from?" The man told him, "I'm a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah. I'm going to live wherever I can find [a place]." 10 Micah told him, "Stay with me! Be a father and a priest to me. I'll give you ten pieces of silver a year, a set of clothes, and your room and board." The Levite accepted the offer 11 and agreed to live with Micah. The young man became like one of Micah's sons. 12 Micah ordained the Levite. So the young man became his priest and a part of his family. 13 Then Micah said, "Now I know that the LORD will be good to me. I have a Levite for my priest."
1 In those days Israel didn't have a king. And in those days the tribe of Dan was looking for a place to live. Up to that time they had not received land as an inheritance among the tribes of Israel as they should have. 2 So all the families of Dan sent out five qualified men from Zorah and Eshtaol. They were sent to spy throughout the land and explore it. They were told, "Go and explore the land!" They came to Micah's house in the mountains of Ephraim. They spent the night there. 3 While they were at Micah's house, they recognized the young Levite's voice. So they stopped to ask him, "Who brought you here? What are you doing here? Why are you here?" 4 The Levite told them what Micah had done for him and added, "Micah hired me, so I became his priest." 5 They said to him, "Please find out from God if our journey will be successful." 6 The priest told them, "Go in peace. The LORD approves of your journey." 7 The five men left there and came to the city of Laish. They saw that the people there lived without a care. These people were like the people of Sidon. They were peaceful and secure. There was no one around who threatened to take away their property by force. They were far from the people of Sidon and totally independent. 8 The men went back to their relatives in Zorah and Eshtaol. Their relatives asked them, "What did you find?" 9 They replied, "Get up, let's attack Laish. We saw the land. It's very good! "Don't just sit there! Go at once and take the land. 10 When you get there, you will come to a secure people. The land is wide open to you. God will hand it over to you. It's a place where you will have everything you could want." 11 So 600 men from the tribe of Dan left Zorah and Eshtaol armed for war. 12 They camped at Kiriath Jearim in Judah. This is why the place just west of Kiriath Jearim is still called Mahaneh Dan [The Camp of Dan] today. 13 From there they marched to the mountains of Ephraim as far as Micah's house. 14 Then the five men who had gone to spy throughout the land around Laish spoke up. They said to the other men of Dan, "Do you know that there's an ephod, a carved idol, a metal idol, and household idols in these houses? What do you think we should do?" 15 So they stopped and entered Micah's house and greeted the young Levite. 16 The 600 armed men from Dan stood at the entrance to the city. 17 The five men who had gone to spy throughout the land went inside. They took the carved idol, the ephod, the household idols, and the metal idol. The priest stood at the entrance to the city with the 600 armed men. 18 When these men entered Micah's house and took the carved idol, the ephod, the household idols, and the metal idol, the priest asked them, "What are you doing?" 19 They told him, "Keep quiet! Don't say a word! Come with us and be our father and priest. Is it better for you to be a priest for one man's house or for a tribe in Israel and its families?" 20 The priest was content. He took the ephod, the household idols, and the carved idol and went with the people. 21 When they left, they put their children, livestock, and property in front of them. 22 When they had already gone some distance from Micah's house, Micah's neighbors were called together to help him catch up to the people of Dan. 23 They shouted at them. But the people of Dan turned around and said to Micah, "What's your problem? Why did you call your neighbors together to attack us?" 24 Micah answered, "You've taken away the gods I made as well as my priest. What do I have left? How can you say to me, 'What's your problem?'" 25 The people of Dan replied, "Don't make another sound, or some violent men will attack you. Then you and your family will lose your lives." 26 The people of Dan went on their way. Micah saw they were stronger than he was, so he turned around and went home. 27 The people of Dan took what Micah had made and the man who had become his priest and went to the city of Laish. They attacked a peaceful and secure people, killed them all with swords, and burned their city. 28 There was no one to rescue them because their city was far from Sidon and totally independent. The city was in the valley that belonged to Beth Rehob. The people of Dan rebuilt the city and lived in it. 29 They named the city Dan in honor of their ancestor Dan, Israel's son. Originally, the city was called Laish. 30 The people of Dan set up the carved idol for themselves. Jonathan (son of Gershom and grandson of Moses) and his descendants were priests for Dan's tribe until the people living in that land were taken captive. 31 So they set up for themselves the carved idol Micah had made. It stayed there the whole time the house of God was at Shiloh.