Judges 13; Judges 14; Judges 15

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Judges 13

1 Again the people of Israel did what the Lord said was wrong. So he handed them over to the Philistines for forty years.
2 There was a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan, who lived in the city of Zorah. He had a wife, but she could not have children.
3 The angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah's wife and said, "You have not been able to have children, but you will become pregnant and give birth to a son.
4 Be careful not to drink wine or beer or eat anything that is unclean,
5 because you will become pregnant and have a son. You must never cut his hair, because he will be a Nazirite, given to God from birth. He will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines."
6 Then Manoah's wife went to him and told him what had happened. She said, "A man from God came to me. He looked like an angel from God; his appearance was frightening. I didn't ask him where he was from, and he didn't tell me his name.
7 But he said to me, 'You will become pregnant and will have a son. Don't drink wine or beer or eat anything that is unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from his birth until the day of his death.'"
8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord: "Lord, I beg you to let the man of God come to us again. Let him teach us what we should do for the boy who will be born to us."
9 God heard Manoah's prayer, and the angel of God came to Manoah's wife again while she was sitting in the field. But her husband Manoah was not with her.
10 So she ran to tell him, "He is here! The man who appeared to me the other day is here!"
11 Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, "Are you the man who spoke to my wife?" The man said, "I am."
12 So Manoah asked, "When what you say happens, what kind of life should the boy live? What should he do?"
13 The angel of the Lord said, "Your wife must be careful to do everything I told her to do.
14 She must not eat anything that grows on a grapevine, or drink any wine or beer, or eat anything that is unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her."
15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, "We would like you to stay awhile so we can cook a young goat for you."
16 The angel of the Lord answered, "Even if I stay awhile, I would not eat your food. But if you want to prepare something, offer a burnt offering to the Lord." (Manoah did not understand that the man was really the angel of the Lord.)
17 Then Manoah asked the angel of the Lord, "What is your name? Then we will honor you when what you have said really happens."
18 The angel of the Lord said, "Why do you ask my name? It is too amazing for you to understand."
19 So Manoah sacrificed a young goat on a rock and offered some grain as a gift to the Lord. Then an amazing thing happened as Manoah and his wife watched.
20 The flames went up to the sky from the altar. As the fire burned, the angel of the Lord went up to heaven in the flame. When Manoah and his wife saw that, they bowed facedown on the ground.
21 The angel of the Lord did not appear to them again. Then Manoah understood that the man was really the angel of the Lord.
22 Manoah said, "We have seen God, so we will surely die."
23 But his wife said to him, "If the Lord wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted our burnt offering or grain offering. He would not have shown us all these things or told us all this."
24 So the woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew, and the Lord blessed him.
25 The Spirit of the Lord began to work in Samson while he was in the city of Mahaneh Dan, between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Judges 14

1 Samson went down to the city of Timnah where he saw a Philistine woman.
2 When he returned home, he said to his father and mother, "I saw a Philistine woman in Timnah. I want you to get her for me so I can marry her."
3 His father and mother answered, "Surely there is a woman from Israel you can marry. Do you have to marry a woman from the Philistines, who are not circumcised?" But Samson said, "Get that woman for me! She is the one I want!"
4 (Samson's parents did not know that the Lord wanted this to happen because he was looking for a way to challenge the Philistines, who were ruling over Israel at this time.)
5 Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, as far as the vineyard near there. Suddenly, a young lion came roaring toward Samson!
6 The Spirit of the Lord entered Samson with great power, and he tore the lion apart with his bare hands. For him it was as easy as tearing apart a young goat. But Samson did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
7 Then he went down to the city and talked to the Philistine woman, and he liked her.
8 Several days later Samson went back to marry her. On his way he went over to look at the body of the dead lion and found a swarm of bees and honey in it.
9 Samson got some of the honey with his hands and walked along eating it. When he came to his parents, he gave some to them. They ate it, too, but Samson did not tell them he had taken the honey from the body of the dead lion.
10 Samson's father went down to see the Philistine woman. And Samson gave a feast, as was the custom for the bridegroom.
11 When the people saw him, they sent thirty friends to be with him.
12 Samson said to them, "Let me tell you a riddle. Try to find the answer during the seven days of the feast. If you can, I will give you thirty linen shirts and thirty changes of clothes.
13 But if you can't, you must give me thirty linen shirts and thirty changes of clothes." So they said, "Tell us your riddle so we can hear it."
14 Samson said, "Out of the eater comes something to eat. Out of the strong comes something sweet." After three days, they had not found the answer.
15 On the fourthn day they said to Samson's wife, "Did you invite us here to make us poor? Trick your husband into telling us the answer to the riddle. If you don't, we will burn you and everyone in your father's house."
16 So Samson's wife went to him, crying, and said, "You hate me! You don't really love me! You told my people a riddle, but you won't tell me the answer." Samson said, "I haven't even told my father or mother. Why should I tell you?"
17 Samson's wife cried for the rest of the seven days of the feast. So he finally gave her the answer on the seventh day, because she kept bothering him. Then she told her people the answer to the riddle.
18 Before sunset on the seventh day of the feast, the Philistine men had the answer. They came to Samson and said, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" Then Samson said to them, "If you had not plowed with my young cow, you would not have solved my riddle!"
19 Then the Spirit of the Lord entered Samson and gave him great power. Samson went down to the city of Ashkelon and killed thirty of its men and took all that they had and gave the clothes to the men who had answered his riddle. Then he went to his father's house very angry.
20 And Samson's wife was given to his best man.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Judges 15

1 At the time of the wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife, tak- ing a young goat with him. He said, "I'm going to my wife's room," but her father would not let him go in.
2 He said to Samson, "I thought you really hated your wife, so I gave her to your best man. Her younger sister is more beautiful. Take her instead."
3 But Samson said to them, "This time no one will blame me for hurting you Philistines!"
4 So Samson went out and caught three hundred foxes. He took two foxes at a time, tied their tails together, and then tied a torch to the tails of each pair of foxes.
5 After he lit the torches, he let the foxes loose in the grainfields of the Philistines so that he burned up their standing grain, the piles of grain, their vineyards, and their olive trees.
6 The Philistines asked, "Who did this?" Someone told them, "Samson, the son-in-law of the man from Timnah, did because his father-in-law gave his wife to his best man." So the Philistines burned Samson's wife and her father to death.
7 Then Samson said to the Philistines, "Since you did this, I won't stop until I pay you back!"
8 Samson attacked the Philistines and killed many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.
9 The Philistines went up and camped in the land of Judah, near a place named Lehi.
10 The men of Judah asked them, "Why have you come here to fight us?" They answered, "We have come to make Samson our prisoner, to pay him back for what he did to our people."
11 Then three thousand men of Judah went to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, "What have you done to us? Don't you know that the Philistines rule over us?" Samson answered, "I only paid them back for what they did to me."
12 Then they said to him, "We have come to tie you up and to hand you over to the Philistines." Samson said to them, "Promise me you will not hurt me yourselves."
13 The men from Judah said, "We agree. We will just tie you up and give you to the Philistines. We will not kill you." So they tied Samson with two new ropes and led him up from the cave in the rock.
14 When Samson came to the place named Lehi, the Philistines came to meet him, shouting for joy. Then the Spirit of the Lord entered Samson and gave him great power. The ropes on him weakened like burned strings and fell off his hands!
15 Samson found the jawbone of a dead donkey, took it, and killed a thousand men with it!
16 Then Samson said, "With a donkey's jawbone I made donkeys out of them. With a donkey's jawbone I killed a thousand men!"
17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone. So that place was named Ramath Lehi.
18 Samson was very thirsty, so he cried out to the Lord, "You gave me, your servant, this great victory. Do I have to die of thirst now? Do I have to be captured by people who are not circumcised?"
19 Then God opened up a hole in the ground at Lehi, and water came out. When Samson drank, he felt better; he felt strong again. So he named that spring Caller's Spring, which is still in Lehi.
20 Samson judged Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.