Judges 16; Judges 17; Judges 18

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.
1 There was a man named Micah who lived in the mountains of Ephraim. 2 He said to his mother, "I heard you speak a curse about the twenty-eight pounds of silver that were taken from you. I have the silver with me; I took it." His mother said, "The Lord bless you, my son!" 3 Micah gave the twenty-eight pounds of silver to his mother. Then she said, "I will give this silver to the Lord. I will have my son make an idol and a statue. So I will give the silver back to you." 4 When he gave the silver back to his mother, she took about five pounds and gave it to a silversmith. With it he made an idol and a statue, which stood in Micah's house. 5 Micah had a special holy place, and he made a holy vest and some household idols. Then Micah chose one of his sons to be his priest. 6 At that time Israel did not have a king, so everyone did what seemed right. 7 There was a young man who was a Leviten from the city of Bethlehem in Judah who was from the people of Judah. 8 He left Bethlehem to look for another place to live, and on his way he came to Micah's house in the mountains of Ephraim. 9 Micah asked him, "Where are you from?" He answered, "I'm a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah. I'm looking for a place to live." 10 Micah said to him, "Live with me and be my father and my priest. I will give you four ounces of silver each year and clothes and food." So the Levite went in. 11 He agreed to live with Micah and became like one of Micah's own sons. 12 Micah made him a priest, and he lived in Micah's house. 13 Then Micah said, "Now I know the Lord will be good to me, because I have a Levite as my priest."
1 At that time Israel did not have a king. And at that time the tribe of Dan was still looking for a land where they could live, a land of their own. The Danites had not yet been given their own land among the tribes of Israel. 2 So, from their family groups, they chose five soldiers from the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out and explore the land. They were told, "Go, explore the land." They came to the mountains of Ephraim, to Micah's house, where they spent the night. 3 When they came near Micah's house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. So they stopped there and asked him, "Who brought you here? What are you doing here? Why are you here?" 4 He told them what Micah had done for him, saying "He hired me. I am his priest." 5 They said to him, "Please ask God if our journey will be successful." 6 The priest said to them, "Go in peace. The Lord is pleased with your journey." 7 So the five men left. When they came to the city of Laish, they saw that the people there lived in safety, like the people of Sidon. They thought they were safe and had plenty of everything. They lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone else. 8 When the five men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their relatives asked them, "What did you find?" 9 They answered, "We have seen the land, and it is very good. We should attack them. Aren't you going to do something? Don't wait! Let's go and take that land! 10 When you go, you will see there is plenty of land -- plenty of everything! The people are not expecting an attack. Surely God has handed that land over to us!" 11 So six hundred Danites left Zorah and Eshtaol ready for war. 12 On their way they set up camp near the city of Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is named Mahaneh Dann to this day. 13 From there they traveled on to the mountains of Ephraim. Then they came to Micah's house. 14 The five men who had explored the land around Laish said to their relatives, "Do you know in one of these houses there are a holy vest, household gods, an idol, and a statue? You know what to do." 15 So they stopped at the Levite's house, which was also Micah's house, and greeted the Levite. 16 The six hundred Danites stood at the entrance gate, wearing their weapons of war. 17 The five spies went into the house and took the idol, the holy vest, the household idols, and the statue. The priest and the six hundred men armed for war stood by the entrance gate. 18 When the spies went into Micah's house and took the image, the holy vest, the household idols, and the statue, the priest asked them, "What are you doing?" 19 They answered, "Be quiet! Don't say a word. Come with us and be our father and priest. Is it better for you to be a priest for one man's house or for a tribe and family group in Israel?" 20 This made the priest happy. So he took the holy vest, the household idols, and the idol and went with the Danites. 21 They left Micah's house, putting their little children, their animals, and everything they owned in front of them. 22 When they had gone a little way from Micah's house, the men who lived near Micah were called out and caught up with them. 23 The men with Micah shouted at the Danites, who turned around and said to Micah, "What's the matter with you? Why have you been called out to fight?" 24 Micah answered, "You took my gods that I made and my priest. What do I have left? How can you ask me, 'What's the matter?'" 25 The Danites answered, "You should not argue with us. Some of our angry men might attack you, killing you and your family." 26 Then the Danites went on their way. Micah knew they were too strong for him, so he turned and went back home. 27 Then the Danites took what Micah had made and his priest and went on to Laish. They attacked those peaceful people and killed them with their swords and then burned the city. 28 There was no one to save the people of Laish. They lived too far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with anyone else. Laish was in a valley near Beth Rehob. The people of Dan rebuilt the city and lived there. 29 They changed the name of Laish to Dan, naming it for their ancestor Dan, one of the sons of Israel. 30 The people of Dan set up the idols in the city of Dan. Jonathan son of Gershom, Moses' son, and his sons served as priests for the tribe of Dan until the land was captured. 31 The people of Dan set up the idols Micah had made as long as the Holy Tent of God was in Shiloh.