1Once again the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the LORD handed them over to the Philistines for 40 years.2A certain man from Zorah was named Manoah. He was from the tribe of Dan. Manoah had a wife who wasn't able to have children.3The angel of the LORD appeared to Manoah's wife. He said, "You are not able to have children. But you are going to become pregnant. You will have a baby boy.4Make sure you do not drink any kind of wine. Also make sure you do not eat anything that is 'unclean.'5"You will become pregnant. You will have a son. He must not use a razor on his head. He must not cut his hair. That is because the boy will be a Nazirite. He will be set apart to God from the day he is born. He will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines."6Then the woman went to her husband. She told him, "A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God. His appearance was so amazing that it filled me with great wonder. I didn't ask him where he came from. And he didn't tell me his name.7"But he said to me, 'You will become pregnant. You will have a son. So do not drink any kind of wine. Do not eat anything that is "unclean." That is because the boy will be a Nazirite. He will belong to God in a special way from the day he is born until the day he dies.' "8Then Manoah prayed to the Lord. He said, "Lord, I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again. He told us we would have a son. We want the man of God to teach us how to bring up the boy."9God heard Manoah. And the angel of God came again to the woman. He came while she was out in the field. But her husband Manoah wasn't with her.10The woman hurried to her husband. She told him, "He's here! The man who appeared to me the other day is here!"11Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he spoke to him. He said, "Are you the one who talked to my wife?" "I am," he replied.12So Manoah asked him, "What will happen when your words come true? What rules should we follow for the boy's life and work?"13The angel of the LORD answered him. He said, "Your wife must do everything I have told her to do.14She must not eat anything that comes from grapevines. She must not drink any kind of wine. She must not eat anything that is 'unclean.' She must do everything I have commanded her to do."15Manoah spoke to the angel of the Lord. He said, "We would like you to stay and eat. We want to prepare a young goat for you."16The angel of the LORD replied, "Even if I stay, I will not eat any of your food. But if you still want to prepare a burnt offering, you must offer it to the Lord." Manoah didn't realize it was the angel of the Lord.17Then Manoah asked the angel of the LORD a question. "What is your name?" he said. "We want to honor you when your word comes true."18The angel replied, "Why are you asking me what my name is? You would not be able to understand it."19Manoah got a young goat. He brought it together with the grain offering. He sacrificed it on a rock to the Lord. Then the LORD did an amazing thing. It happened while Manoah and his wife were watching.20A flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven. The angel of the LORD rose up in the flame. When Manoah and his wife saw it, they fell with their faces to the ground.21The angel of the LORD didn't show himself again to Manoah and his wife. Then Manoah realized it was the angel of the Lord.22"We're going to die!" he said to his wife. "We've seen God!"23But his wife answered, "The LORD doesn't want to kill us. If he did, he wouldn't have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from us. He wouldn't have shown us all of those things. He wouldn't have told us we're going to have a son."24Later, the woman had a baby boy. She named him Samson. As he grew up, the LORD blessed him.25The Spirit of the LORD began to work in his life. It happened while he was in Mahaneh Dan. It's between Zorah and Eshtaol.
1Samson went down to Timnah. There he saw a young Philistine woman.2When he returned, he spoke to his father and mother. He said, "I've seen a Philistine woman in Timnah. Get her for me. I want her to be my wife."3His father and mother replied, "Can't we find a wife for you among your relatives? Isn't there one among any of our people? Do you have to go to the Philistines to get a wife? They aren't God's people. They haven't even been circumcised." But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me."4Samson's parents didn't know that the LORD wanted things to happen that way. He was working out his plans against the Philistines. That's because the Philistines were ruling over Israel at that time.5Samson went down to Timnah. His father and mother went with him. They approached the vineyards of Timnah. Suddenly a young lion came roaring toward Samson.6Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Samson with power. He tore the lion apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as he might have torn a young goat apart. But he didn't tell his father or mother what he had done.7Then he went down and talked with the woman. He liked her.8Some time later, he was going back to get married to her. But he turned off the road to look at the lion's dead body. Large numbers of bees and some honey were in it.9He dug the honey out with his hands. He ate it as he walked along. Then he joined his parents again. He gave them some honey. They ate it too. But he didn't tell them he had taken it from the lion's dead body.10Samson's father went down to see the woman. Samson had a big dinner prepared there. He was following the practice of men when they got married.11When the people saw Samson, they gave him 30 companions.12"Let me tell you a riddle," Samson said to the companions. "The dinner will last for seven days. Give me the answer to the riddle before the dinner ends. If you do, I'll give you 30 linen shirts. I'll also give you 30 sets of clothes.13But suppose you can't give me the answer. Then you must give me 30 linen shirts. You must also give me 30 sets of clothes." "Tell us your riddle," they said. "Let's hear it."14Samson replied, "Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet." For three days they couldn't give him the answer.15On the fourth day they spoke to Samson's wife. "Get your husband to explain the riddle for us," they said. "If you don't, we'll burn you to death. We'll burn up everyone in your family. Did you invite us here to rob us?"16Then Samson's wife threw herself on him. She sobbed, "You hate me! You don't really love me. You have given my people a riddle. But you haven't told me the answer." "I haven't even explained it to my father or mother," he replied. "So why should I explain it to you?"17She cried during the whole seven days the dinner was going on. So on the seventh day he finally told her the answer to the riddle. That's because she kept on asking him to tell her. Then she explained the riddle to her people.18Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town spoke to Samson. They said, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" Samson said to them, "You have plowed with my young cow. If you hadn't, you wouldn't have known the answer to my riddle."19Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Samson with power. He went down to Ashkelon. He struck down 30 of their men. He took everything they had with them. And he gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Samson was burning with anger as he went up to his father's house.20Samson's wife was given to someone else. She was given to a friend of Samson. The friend had helped him at his wedding.
1Later on, Samson went to visit his wife. He took a young goat with him. He went at the time the wheat was being gathered. He said, "I'm going to my wife's room." But her father wouldn't let him go in.2Her father said, "I was sure you really hated her. So I gave her to your friend. Isn't her younger sister more beautiful? Take her instead."3Samson said to them, "This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines. I'm going to hurt them badly."4So he went out and caught 300 foxes. He tied them in pairs by their tails. Then he tied a torch to each pair of tails.5He lit the torches. He let the foxes loose in the fields of grain that belonged to the Philistines. He burned up the grain that had been cut and stacked. He burned up the grain that was still growing. He also burned up the vineyards and olive trees.6The Philistines asked, "Who did this?" They were told, "Samson did. He's the son-in-law of the man from Timnah. Samson did it because his wife was given to his friend." So the Philistines went up and burned the woman and her father to death.7Samson said to them, "Is that how you act? Then I won't stop until I pay you back."8He struck them down with heavy blows. He killed many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave. It was in the rock of Etam.9The Philistines went up and camped in Judah. They spread out near Lehi.10The men of Judah asked, "Why have you come to fight against us?" "We've come to take Samson as our prisoner," they answered. "We want to do to him what he did to us."11Then 3,000 men from Judah went to get Samson. They went down to the cave that was in the rock of Etam. They said to Samson, "Don't you realize the Philistines are ruling over us? What have you done to us?" Samson answered, "I only did to them what they did to me."12The men of Judah said to him, "We've come to tie you up. We're going to hand you over to the Philistines." Samson said, "Take an oath and promise me you won't kill me yourselves."13"We agree," they answered. "We'll only tie you up and hand you over to them. We won't kill you." So they tied him up with two new ropes. They led him up from the rock.14Samson approached Lehi. The Philistines came toward him shouting. Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Samson with power. The ropes on his arms became like burned thread. They dropped off his hands.15He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey. He grabbed hold of it and struck down 1,000 men.16Then Samson said, "By using a donkey's jawbone I've made them look like donkeys. By using a donkey's jawbone I've struck down 1,000 men."17Samson finished speaking. Then he threw the jawbone away. That's why the place was called Ramath Lehi.18Samson was very thirsty. So he cried out to the Lord. He said, "You have helped me win this great battle. Do I have to die of thirst now? Must I fall into the power of people who haven't even been circumcised? They aren't your people."19Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi. Water came out of it. When Samson drank the water, his strength returned. He felt as good as new. So the spring was called En Hakkore. It's still there in Lehi.20Samson led Israel for 20 years. In those days the Philistines were in the land.