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Judges 16 (New Century Version)

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1 One day Samson went to Gaza and saw a prostitute there. He went in to spend the night with her. 2 When the people of Gaza heard, "Samson has come here!" they surrounded the place and waited for him near the city gate all night. They whispered to each other, "When dawn comes, we will kill Samson!" 3 But Samson only stayed with the prostitute until midnight. Then he got up and took hold of the doors and the two posts of the city gate and tore them loose, along with the bar. He put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces the city of Hebron. 4 After this, Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Valley of Sorek. 5 The Philistine rulers went to Delilah and said, "Find out what makes Samson so strong. Trick him into telling you how we can overpower him and capture him and tie him up. If you do this, each one of us will give you twenty-eight pounds of silver." 6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Tell me why you are so strong. How can someone tie you up and capture you?" 7 Samson answered, "Someone would have to tie me up with seven new bowstrings that have not been dried. Then I would be as weak as any other man." 8 The Philistine rulers brought Delilah seven new bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied Samson with them. 9 Some men were hiding in another room. Delilah said to him, "Samson, the Philistines are here!" But Samson broke the bowstrings like pieces of burned string. So the Philistines did not find out the secret of Samson's strength. 10 Then Delilah said to Samson, "You made a fool of me. You lied to me. Now tell me how someone can tie you up." 11 Samson said, "They would have to tie me with new ropes that have not been used before. Then I would become as weak as any other man." 12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied Samson. Some men were hiding in another room. She called out to him, "Samson, the Philistines are here!" But he broke the ropes as easily as if they were threads. 13 Then Delilah said to Samson, "Again you have made a fool of me. You lied to me. Tell me how someone can tie you up." He said, "Using the loom, weave the seven braids of my hair into the cloth, and tighten it with a pin. Then I will be as weak as any other man." While Samson slept, Delilah wove the seven braids of his hair into the cloth. 14 Then she fastened it with a pin. Again she said to him, "Samson, the Philistines are here!" Samson woke up and pulled out the pin and the loom with the cloth. 15 Then Delilah said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you don't even trust me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me. You haven't told me the secret of your great strength." 16 She kept bothering Samson about his secret day after day until he felt he was going to die! 17 So he told her everything. He said, "I have never had my hair cut, because I have been set apart to God as a Nazirite since I was born. If someone shaved my head, I would lose my strength and be as weak as any other man." 18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything sincerely, she sent a message to the Philistine rulers. She said, "Come back one more time, because he has told me everything." So the Philistine rulers came back to Delilah and brought the silver with them. 19 Delilah got Samson to sleep, lying in her lap. Then she called in a man to shave off the seven braids of Samson's hair. In this way she began to make him weak, and his strength left him. 20 Then she said, "Samson, the Philistines are here!" He woke up and thought, "I'll leave as I did before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the Lord had left him. 21 Then the Philistines captured Samson and tore out his eyes. They took him down to Gaza, where they put bronze chains on him and made him grind grain in the prison. 22 But his hair began to grow again. 23 The Philistine rulers gathered to celebrate and to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They said, "Our god has handed Samson our enemy over to us." 24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, "This man destroyed our country. He killed many of us! But our god handed over our enemy to us." 25 While the people were enjoying the celebration, they said, "Bring Samson out to perform for us." So they brought Samson from the prison, and he performed for them. They made him stand between the pillars. 26 Samson said to the servant holding his hand, "Let me feel the pillars that hold up the temple so I can lean against them." 27 Now the temple was full of men and women. All the Philistine rulers were there, and about three thousand men and women were on the roofn watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, "Lord God, remember me. God, please give me strength one more time so I can pay these Philistines back for putting out my two eyes!" 29 Then Samson turned to the two center pillars that supported the whole temple. He braced himself between the two pillars, with his right hand on one and his left hand on the other. 30 Samson said, "Let me die with these Philistines!" Then he pushed as hard as he could, causing the temple to fall on the rulers and all the people in it. So Samson killed more of the Philistines when he died than when he was alive. 31 Samson's brothers and his whole family went down to get his body. They brought him back and buried him in the tomb of Manoah, his father, between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson was a judge for the people of Israel for twenty years.
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