Judges 16; Judges 17; Judges 18

1 One day Samson traveled to Gaza. While there, he saw a prostitute and had sex with her. 2 The word spread among the people of Gaza, "Samson has come here!" So they circled around and waited in ambush for him all night at the city gate. They kept quiet all night long, thinking, We'll kill him at the first light in the morning. 3 But Samson slept only half the night. He got up in the middle of the night, grabbed the doors of the city gate and the two gateposts, and pulled them up with the bar still across them. He put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of the hill that is beside Hebron. 4 Some time after this, in the Sorek Valley, Samson fell in love with a woman whose name was Delilah. 5 The rulers of the Philistines confronted her and said to her, "Seduce him and find out what gives him such great strength and what we can do to overpower him, so that we can tie him up and make him weak. Then we'll each pay you eleven hundred pieces of silver." 6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me what gives you such great strength and how you can be tied up and made weak." 7 Samson replied to her, "If someone ties me up with seven fresh bowstrings that aren't dried out, I'll become weak. I'll be like any other person." 8 So the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that weren't dried out, and she tied him up with them. 9 While an ambush was waiting for her signal in an inner room, she called out to him, "Samson, the Philistines are on you!" And he snapped the bowstrings like a thread of fiber snaps when it touches a flame. So the secret of his strength remained unknown. 10 Then Delilah said to Samson, "You made a fool out of me and lied to me. Now please tell me how you can really be tied up!" 11 He replied to her, "If someone ties me up with new ropes that haven't been used for work, I'll become weak. I'll be like any other person." 12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him up with them. Then she called out to him, "Samson, the Philistines are on you!" Once again, an ambush was waiting in an inner room. Yet he snapped them from his arms like thread. 13 And Delilah said to Samson, "Up to now, you've made a fool out of me and lied to me. Tell me how you can be tied up!" He responded to her, "If you weave the seven braids of my hair into the fabric on a loom and pull it tight with a pin, then I'll become weak. I'll be like any other person." 14 So she got him to fall asleep, wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric on a loom, and pulled it tight with a pin. Then she called out to him, "Samson, the Philistines are on you!" He woke up from his sleep and pulled loose the pin, the loom, and the fabric. 15 Delilah said to him, "How can you say, ‘I love you,' when you won't trust me? Three times now you've made a fool out of me and not told me what gives you such great strength!" 16 She nagged him with her words day after day and begged him until he became worn out to the point of death. 17 So he told her his whole secret. He said to her, "No razor has ever touched my head, because I've been a nazirite for God from the time I was born. If my head is shaved, my strength will leave me, and I'll become weak. I'll be like every other person." 18 When Delilah realized that he had told her his whole secret, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, "Come one more time, for he has told me his whole secret." The rulers of the Philistines came up to her and brought the silver with them. 19 She got him to fall asleep with his head on her lap. Then she called a man and had him shave off the seven braids of Samson's hair. He began to weaken, and his strength left him. 20 She called out, "Samson, the Philistines are on you!" He woke up from his sleep and thought, I'll escape just like the other times and shake myself free. But he didn't realize that the LORD had left him. 21 So the Philistines captured him, put out his eyes, and took him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze chains, and he worked the grinding mill in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again right after it had been shaved. 23 The rulers of the Philistines gathered together to make a great sacrifice to their god Dagon and to hold a celebration. They cheered, "Our god has handed us Samson our enemy!" 24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, for they said, "Our god has handed us our enemy, the very one who devastated our land and killed so many of our people." 25 At the height of the celebration, they said, "Call for Samson so he can perform for us!" So they called Samson from the prison, and he performed in front of them. Then they had him stand between the pillars. 26 Samson said to the young man who led him by the hand, "Put me where I can feel the pillars that hold up the temple, so I can lean on them." 27 Now the temple was filled with men and women. All the rulers of the Philistines were there, and about three thousand more men and women were on the roof watching as Samson performed. 28 Then Samson called out to the LORD, "LORD God, please remember me! Make me strong just this once more, God, so I can have revenge on the Philistines, just one act of revenge for my two eyes." 29 Samson grabbed the two central pillars that held up the temple. He leaned against one with his right hand and the other with his left. 30 And Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" He strained with all his might, and the temple collapsed on the rulers and all the people who were in it. So it turned out that he killed more people in his death than he did during his life. 31 His brothers and his father's entire household traveled down, carried him back up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had led Israel for twenty years.
1 Once there was a man named Micah who lived in the Ephraim highlands. 2 He said to his mother, "The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you led you to declare a curse and even to repeat it when I could hear. I have that silver. I'm the one who took it, and now I'll give it back to you." His mother replied, "May the LORD bless you, my son!" 3 When he gave the eleven hundred pieces of silver back to his mother, she said, "I wholeheartedly devote this silver to the LORD, to be made into a sculpted image and a molded image for my son." 4 So he gave the silver back to his mother, and she took two hundred pieces of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who used it for a sculpted image and a molded image. And they were placed in Micah's house. 5 This man Micah had his own sanctuary. He made a priestly vest and divine images and appointed one of his sons to be his personal priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel; each person did what they thought to be right. 7 Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, from the area of the Judahite clan. He was a Levite residing there as an immigrant. 8 The man left the town of Bethlehem in Judah to settle as an immigrant wherever he could find a place. He came to Micah's house in the Ephraim highlands while he was making his way. 9 "Where are you from?" Micah asked him. He replied, "I'm a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I'm looking to settle as an immigrant anywhere I can find a place." 10 So Micah said to him, "Stay with me and be a father and a priest to me, and I'll give you ten pieces of silver a year, a set of clothes, and your basic needs." 11 The Levite agreed to stay with him; and the young man became like one of his own sons. 12 Micah appointed the Levite so that the young man became his personal priest and lived in Micah's sanctuary. 13 And Micah said to himself, Now I know that the LORD will give me good things, because a Levite has become my priest.
1 In those days there was no king in Israel. Also in those days the tribe of Dan was searching for a territory of their own to live in, since no permanent territory had been assigned to them among the tribes of Israel up to that point. 2 The Danites sent five men from their whole clan, strong men from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy on the land and explore it. They told them, "Go explore the land." So they went into the Ephraim highland as far as Micah's house, and they spent the night there. 3 When they were in the area of Micah's house, they recognized the accent of the young Levite. They turned in there and said to him, "Who brought you here? What are you doing in these parts? What is there for you here?" 4 "Micah has done a lot for me," he replied to them. "He hired me to be his personal priest." 5 They said to him, "Ask for an answer from God so we can know whether we'll be successful on this trip we've taken." 6 The priest replied to them, "Go in peace. The LORD is watching over you on this trip you've taken." 7 So the five men journeyed on until they reached Laish. There they saw that its people were living without worry in the same way as the Sidonians, undisturbed and secure. Nobody held back anything in the land, so no one had to hoard. Yet they lived far away from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone else. 8 When the men came back to their relatives at Zorah and Eshtaol, they asked them, "What did you find?" 9 "Come on," they replied, "let's march up against them! Indeed, we've seen the land, and it's very good. Right now you're doing nothing! Don't hold back from going and taking possession of the land. 10 When you arrive, you'll come upon a secure people and a wide-open land, because God has given to you a place where nothing on earth is lacking." 11 At this, six hundred men from the Danite clan at Zorah and Eshtaol set out armed for battle. 12 They marched up and made camp at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. This is why the place west of Kiriath-jearim is still known as Dan's Camp today. 13 From there they crossed into the Ephraim highlands and came to Micah's house. 14 Then the five men who had gone to spy on the land around Laish reported to their relatives, "Did you know that there is a priestly vest, divine images, a sculpted image, and a molded image in these buildings? Now think about what you should do!" 15 So they turned in there and went to the young Levite's house in Micah's compound and greeted him. 16 While the six hundred Danites armed for battle stood at the entrance of the gate, 17 the five men who had gone to spy on the land moved up, went inside, and took the sculpted image, the priestly vest, the divine images, and the molded image. The priest was standing at the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed for battle 18 when these five entered Micah's sanctuary and took the sculpted image, the priestly vest, the divine images, and the molded image. The priest said to them, "What are you doing?" 19 "Shut up!" they said to him. "Put your hand over your mouth! Come with us and be a father and a priest for us. Would you rather be a priest for one man's household or a priest for a tribe and a clan in Israel?" 20 The priest was convinced, so he took the priestly vest, the divine images, and the sculpted image and went along with the people. 21 They headed back on their way, but they put the children, the livestock, and the prized possessions in front of them. 22 After they had gone a good distance away from Micah's house, the men who were in the houses around Micah's home were summoned for battle and caught up to the Danites. 23 They called out to the Danites, who turned around and said to Micah, "Why have you summoned men for battle?" 24 Micah replied, "You've taken my gods that I made, and the priest, and have gone off! What do I have left? How can you ask me what is wrong?" 25 But the Danites said to him, "Don't raise your voice with us or else hotheaded men will attack you, and you and your household will lose your lives." 26 Then the Danites went on their way. When Micah realized that they were too strong for him, he turned around and went home. 27 The Danites took along the things that Micah had made, as well as the priest who had been with him, and came to Laish, to a people who were undisturbed and secure. They killed the people and burned down the city. 28 No one was there to rescue them because the city was far away from Sidon and had no dealings with anyone else. It was in the Beth-rehob Valley. They rebuilt the city and settled in it. 29 They renamed the city Dan, after their ancestor Dan who had been one of Israel's sons; but in fact, the original name of the city was Laish. 30 The Danites set up the sculpted image for themselves, and Jonathan son of Gershom and grandson of Moses, and his sons became priests for the Danite tribe until the land went into exile. 31 They kept for themselves the sculpted image that Micah had made throughout the whole time that God's sanctuary was in Shiloh.
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