Judges 13; Judges 14; Judges 15

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Judges 13

1 The people of Israel again did what the LORD considered evil. So the LORD handed them over to the Philistines for 40 years.
2 There was a man from Zorah named Manoah. Manoah was from the family of Dan. His wife was not able to have children.
3 The Messenger of the LORD appeared to her and said, "You've never been able to have a child, but now you will become pregnant and have a son.
4 Now you must be careful. Don't drink any wine or liquor or eat any unclean food.
5 You're going to become pregnant and have a son. You must never cut his hair because the boy will be a Nazirite dedicated to God from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the power of the Philistines."
6 The woman went to tell her husband. She said, "A man of God came to me. He had a very frightening appearance like the Messenger of God. So I didn't ask him where he came from, and he didn't tell me his name.
7 He told me, 'You're going to become pregnant and have a son. So don't drink any wine or liquor or eat any unclean food because the boy will be a Nazirite dedicated to God from the time he is born until he dies.'"
8 Then Manoah pleaded with the LORD, "Please, Lord, let the man of God you sent come back to us. Let him teach us what we must do for the boy who will be born."
9 God did what Manoah asked. The Messenger of God came back to his wife while she was sitting out in the fields. But her husband Manoah was not with her.
10 The woman ran quickly to tell her husband. She said, "The man who came to me the other day has just appeared to me [again]."
11 Manoah immediately followed his wife. When he came to the man, he asked him, "Are you the man who spoke to my wife?" "Yes," he answered.
12 Then Manoah asked, "When your words come true, how should the boy live and what should he do?"
13 The Messenger of the LORD answered Manoah, "Your wife must be careful to do everything I told her to do.
14 She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevines, drink any wine or liquor, or eat any unclean food. She must be careful to do everything I commanded."
15 Manoah said to the Messenger of the LORD, "Please stay while we prepare a young goat for you to eat."
16 But the Messenger of the LORD responded, "If I stay here, I will not eat any of your food. But if you make a burnt offering, sacrifice it to the LORD." (Manoah did not realize that it was the Messenger of the LORD.)
17 Then Manoah asked the Messenger of the LORD, "What is your name? When your words come true, we will honor you."
18 The Messenger of the LORD asked him, "Why do you ask for my name? It's a name that works miracles."
19 So Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and sacrificed them to the LORD on a rock he used as an altar. While Manoah and his wife watched, the LORD did something miraculous.
20 As the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the Messenger of the LORD went up in the flame. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they immediately bowed down with their faces touching the ground.
21 The Messenger of the LORD didn't appear again to Manoah and his wife. Then Manoah knew that this had been the Messenger of the LORD.
22 So Manoah said to his wife, "We will certainly die because we have seen God."
23 But Manoah's wife replied, "If the LORD wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted our burnt offering and grain offering. He would not have let us see or hear all these things just now."
24 So the woman had a son and named him Samson. The boy grew up, and the LORD blessed him.
25 The LORD's Spirit began to stir in him while he was at Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
GOD'S WORD® is a copyrighted work of God's Word to the Nations. Copyright © 1995 by God's Word to the Nations. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Judges 14

1 When Samson went to Timnah, he saw a young Philistine woman.
2 He went [home] and told his father and mother, "I've seen a Philistine woman at Timnah. Now get her for me so that I can marry her."
3 His father and mother asked him, "Aren't there any women among our relatives or all our people? Do you have to marry a woman from those godless Philistines?" But Samson told his father, "Get her for me! She's the one I want!"
4 His father and mother didn't know that the LORD was behind this. The LORD was looking for an opportunity to do something to the Philistines. (At that time the Philistines were ruling Israel.)
5 Samson went with his father and mother to Timnah. When they were coming to the vineyards of Timnah, a young roaring lion met Samson.
6 The LORD's Spirit came over him. With his bare hands, he tore the lion apart as if it were a young goat. He didn't tell his parents what he had done.
7 Then he went to talk to the young woman. She was the one he wanted.
8 Later he went back to marry her. [On his way] he left the road to look at the lion he had killed. He saw a swarm of bees and some honey in the lion's dead body.
9 He scraped [the honey] into his hands and ate it as he walked along. When he came to his father and mother, he gave them some of the honey to eat. He didn't tell them he had scraped it out of the lion's dead body.
10 After his father went to see the woman, Samson threw a party. (This is what young men used to do.)
11 When [her family] saw him, they chose 30 of their friends to be with him.
12 Then Samson said to them, "Let me tell you a riddle. If you solve it during the seven days of the party, I'll give you 30 linen shirts and 30 changes of clothes.
13 But if you can't solve it, you will give me the same things." They responded, "Tell us your riddle! Let's hear it!"
14 So Samson said to them, "From the eater came something to eat. From the strong one came something sweet." For three days they couldn't solve the riddle.
15 On the fourth day they said to Samson's wife, "Trick your husband into solving the riddle for us. If you don't, we'll burn you and your family to death. Did the two of you invite us [just to make us poor]?"
16 So Samson's wife cried on his shoulder. She said, "You hate me! You don't really love me! You gave my friends a riddle and didn't tell me the answer." Samson replied, "I haven't even told my father and mother, so why should I tell you?"
17 But she cried on his shoulder for the rest of the seven days of the party. Finally, on the seventh day he told her the answer because she made his life miserable. Then she told her friends the answer to the riddle.
18 So before sundown on the seventh day, the men of the city said to him, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" Samson replied, "If you hadn't used my cow to plow, you wouldn't know my riddle now."
19 When the LORD's Spirit came over him, he went to Ashkelon and killed 30 men there. He took their clothes and gave them to the men who solved the riddle. He was angry, and he went to his father's house.
20 Samson's wife was given to his best man.
GOD'S WORD® is a copyrighted work of God's Word to the Nations. Copyright © 1995 by God's Word to the Nations. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Judges 15

1 Later, during the wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife. He took a young goat along for her. He said, "I'm going to sleep with my wife in her bedroom." But her father would not let him go in.
2 Her father said, "I thought you hated her. So I gave her to your best man. Isn't her younger sister better looking? Marry her instead!"
3 Samson said to him, "This time I won't be guilty when I get even with the Philistines, even though I'm going to do something terrible to them."
4 So Samson caught 300 foxes. He tied them together in pairs by their tails. Then he fastened a torch between their tails.
5 He set the torches on fire and released the foxes in the Philistines' grain fields. So he set fire to all their grain, whether it was stacked or in the fields. Their olive orchards also caught on fire.
6 Some Philistines asked, "Who did this?" They were told, "Samson! He's the son-in-law of the man at Timnah. Samson did it because the man at Timnah took Samson's wife and gave her to his best man." So the Philistines burned Samson's wife and her father to death.
7 Samson said to them, "If that's how you're going to act, I'll get even with you before I stop."
8 So he attacked them violently and slaughtered them. Then he went to live in a cave in the cliff at Etam.
9 The Philistines came, camped in Judah, and overran Lehi.
10 The men of Judah asked, "Why did you come to fight us?" The Philistines answered, "We've come to tie up Samson and do to him what he did to us."
11 So 3,000 men from Judah went to the cave in the cliff at Etam. They said to Samson, "Don't you know that the Philistines rule us? Why have you done this to us?" Samson replied, "I did to them what they did to me."
12 So the men from Judah told him, "We've come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines." Samson said to them, "Swear to me that you won't harm me yourselves."
13 They told him, "We promise we'll only tie you up and hand you over to them. We certainly won't kill you." So they tied him up with two new ropes and brought him back from the cliff.
14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines met him with shouts [of triumph]. But the LORD's Spirit came over him. The ropes on his arms became like strings burned in a fire, and those on his hands snapped.
15 Samson found the jawbone from a donkey that had just died. He picked it up and killed 1,000 men with it.
16 Then Samson said, "With a jawbone from a donkey, I've made two piles of them. With a jawbone from a donkey, I've killed a thousand men."
17 When he finished saying this, he threw the jawbone away. He called that place Ramath Lehi [Jawbone Hill].
18 Samson was very thirsty. So he called out to the LORD and said, "You have given me this great victory. But now I'll die from thirst and fall into the power of godless men."
19 So God split open the hollow place at Lehi, and water gushed out. Samson drank some water. Then he was refreshed and revived. So he called the place En Hakkore [Spring of the One Who Calls Out]. It is still there at Lehi today.
20 Samson judged Israel for 20 years during the time of the Philistines.
GOD'S WORD® is a copyrighted work of God's Word to the Nations. Copyright © 1995 by God's Word to the Nations. All rights reserved. Used by permission.