1 One day Samson went to the Philistine city of Gaza, where he met a prostitute and went to bed with her. 2 The people of Gaza found out that Samson was there, so they surrounded the place and waited for him all night long at the city gate. They were quiet all night, thinking to themselves, "We'll wait until daybreak, and then we'll kill him." 3 But Samson stayed in bed only until midnight. Then he got up and took hold of the city gate and pulled it up - doors, posts, lock, and all. He put them on his shoulders and carried them far off to the top of the hill overlooking Hebron. 4 After this, Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in Sorek Valley. 5 The five Philistine kings went to her and said, "Trick Samson into telling you why he is so strong and how we can overpower him, tie him up, and make him helpless. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver." 6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me what makes you so strong. If someone wanted to tie you up and make you helpless, how could he do it?" 7 Samson answered, "If they tie me up with seven new bowstrings that are not dried out, I'll be as weak as anybody else." 8 So the Philistine kings brought Delilah seven new bowstrings that were not dried out, and she tied Samson up. 9 She had some men waiting in another room, so she shouted, "Samson! The Philistines are coming!" But he snapped the bowstrings just as thread breaks when fire touches it. So they still did not know the secret of his strength. 10 Delilah told Samson, "Look, you've been making a fool of me and not telling me the truth. Please tell me how someone could tie you up." 11 He told her, "If they tie me with new ropes that have never been used, I'll be as weak as anybody else." 12 So Delilah got some new ropes and tied him up. Then she shouted, "Samson! The Philistines are coming!" The men were waiting in another room. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like thread. 13 Delilah said to Samson, "You're still making a fool of me and not telling me the truth. Tell me how someone could tie you up." He told her, "If you weave my seven locks of hair into a loom, and make it tight with a peg, I'll be as weak as anybody else." 14 Delilah then lulled him to sleep, took his seven locks of hair, and wove them into the loom. She made it tight with a peg and shouted, "Samson! The Philistines are coming!" But he woke up and pulled his hair loose from the loom. 15 So she said to him, "How can you say you love me, when you don't mean it? You've made a fool of me three times, and you still haven't told me what makes you so strong." 16 She kept on asking him, day after day. He got so sick and tired of her bothering him about it 17 that he finally told her the truth. "My hair has never been cut," he said. "I have been dedicated to God as a nazirite from the time I was born. If my hair were cut, I would lose my strength and be as weak as anybody else." 18 When Delilah realized that he had told her the truth, she sent a message to the Philistine kings and said, "Come back one more time. He has told me the truth." Then they came and brought the money with them. 19 Delilah lulled Samson to sleep in her lap and then called a man, who cut off Samson's seven locks of hair. Then she began to torment him, for he had lost his strength. 20 Then she shouted, "Samson! The Philistines are coming!" He woke up and thought, "I'll get loose and go free, as always." He did not know that the Lord had left him. 21 The Philistines captured him and put his eyes out. They took him to Gaza, chained him with bronze chains, and put him to work grinding at the mill in the prison. 22 But his hair started growing back. 23 The Philistine kings met together to celebrate and offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They sang, "Our god has given us victory over our enemy Samson!" 24 They were enjoying themselves, and so they said, "Call Samson, and let's make him entertain us!" When they brought Samson out of the prison, they made him entertain them and made him stand between the columns. When the people saw him, they sang praise to their god: "Our god has given us victory over our enemy, who devastated our land and killed so many of us!" 26 Samson said to the boy who was leading him by the hand, "Let me touch the columns that hold up the building. I want to lean on them." 27 The building was crowded with men and women. All five Philistine kings were there, and there were about three thousand men and women on the roof, watching Samson entertain them. 28 Then Samson prayed, "Sovereign Lord, please remember me; please, God, give me my strength just this one time more, so that with this one blow I can get even with the Philistines for putting out my two eyes." 29 So Samson took hold of the two middle columns holding up the building. Putting one hand on each column, he pushed against them 30 and shouted, "Let me die with the Philistines!" He pushed with all his might, and the building fell down on the five kings and everyone else. Samson killed more people at his death than he had killed during his life. 31 His brothers and the rest of his family came down to get his body. They took him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had been Israel's leader for twenty years.
1 There was once a man named Micah, who lived in the hill country of Ephraim. 2 He told his mother, "When someone stole those eleven hundred pieces of silver from you, you put a curse on the robber. I heard you do it. Look, I have the money. I am the one who took it." His mother said, "May the Lord bless you, my son!" 3 He gave the money back to his mother, and she said, "To keep the curse from falling on my son, I myself am solemnly dedicating the silver to the Lord. It will be used to make a wooden idol covered with silver. So now I will give the pieces of silver back to you." 4 Then he gave them back to his mother. She took two hundred of the pieces of silver and gave them to a metalworker, who made an idol, carving it from wood and covering it with the silver. It was placed in Micah's house. 5 This man Micah had his own place of worship. He made some idols and an ephod, and appointed one of his sons as his priest. 6 There was no king in Israel at that time; everyone did whatever they wanted. 7 At that same time there was a young Levite who had been living in the town of Bethlehem in Judah. 8 He left Bethlehem to find another place to live. While he was traveling, he came to Micah's house in the hill country of Ephraim. 9 Micah asked him, "Where do you come from?" He answered, "I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah. I am looking for a place to live." 10 Micah said, "Stay with me. Be my adviser and priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, some clothes, and your food." 11 The young Levite agreed to stay with Micah and became like a son to him. 12 Micah appointed him as his priest, and he lived in Micah's home. 13 Micah said, "Now that I have a Levite as my priest, I know that the Lord will make things go well for me."
1 There was no king in Israel at that time. In those days the tribe of Dan was looking for territory to claim and settle in because they had not yet received any land of their own among the tribes of Israel. 2 So the people of Dan chose five qualified men out of all the families in the tribe and sent them from the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol with instructions to explore the land and spy on it. When they arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, they stayed at Micah's house. 3 While they were there, they recognized the accent of the young Levite, so they went up to him and asked, "What are you doing here? Who brought you here?" 4 He answered, "I have an arrangement with Micah, who pays me to serve as his priest." 5 They said to him, "Please ask God if we are going to be successful on our trip." 6 The priest answered, "You have nothing to worry about. The Lord is taking care of you on this trip." 7 So the five men left and went to the town of Laish. They saw how the people there lived in security like the Sidonians. They were a peaceful, quiet people, with no argument with anyone; they had all they needed. They lived far away from the Sidonians and had no dealings with any other people. 8 When the five men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, the people asked them what they had found out. 9 "Come on," they replied. "Let's attack Laish. We saw the land, and it's very good. Don't stay here doing nothing; hurry! Go on in and take it over! 10 When you get there, you will find that the people don't suspect a thing. It is a big country; it has everything a person could want, and God has given it to you." 11 So six hundred men from the tribe of Dan left Zorah and Eshtaol, ready for battle. 12 They went up and camped west of Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That is why the place is still called Camp of Dan. 13 They went on from there and came to Micah's house in the hill country of Ephraim. 14 Then the five men who had gone to spy on the country around Laish said to their companions, "Did you know that here in one of these houses there is a wooden idol covered with silver? There are also other idols and an ephod. What do you think we should do?" 15 So they went into Micah's house, where the young Levite lived, and asked the Levite how he was getting along. 16 Meanwhile the six hundred Danite soldiers, ready for battle, were standing at the gate. 17 The five spies went straight on into the house and took the wooden idol covered with silver, the other idols, and the ephod, while the priest stayed at the gate with the six hundred armed men. 18 When the men went into Micah's house and took the sacred objects, 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 priest and adviser. Wouldn't you rather be a priest for a whole Israelite tribe than for the family of one man?" 20 This made the priest very happy, so he took the sacred objects and went along with them. 21 They turned around and started off, with their children, their livestock, and their belongings going ahead. 22 They had traveled a good distance from the house when Micah called his neighbors out for battle. They caught up with the Danites 23 and shouted at them. The Danites turned around and asked Micah, "What's the matter? Why all this mob?" 24 Micah answered, "What do you mean, "What's the matter?' You take my priest and the gods that I made, and walk off! What have I got left?" 25 The Danites told him, "You had better not say anything else unless you want these men to get angry and attack you. You and your whole family would die." 26 Then the Danites went on. Micah saw that they were too strong for him, so he turned and went back home. 27 After the Danites had taken the priest and the things that Micah had made, they went and attacked Laish, that town of peaceful, quiet people which was in the same valley as Bethrehob. They killed the inhabitants and burned the town. There was no one to save them, because Laish was a long way from Sidon, and they had no dealings with any other people. The Danites rebuilt the town and settled down there. 29 They changed its name from Laish to Dan, after their ancestor Dan, the son of Jacob. 30 The Danites set up the idol to be worshiped, and Jonathan, the son of Gershom and grandson of Moses, served as a priest for the Danites, and his descendants served as their priests until the people were taken away into exile. 31 Micah's idol remained there as long as the Tent where God was worshiped remained at Shiloh.