Judges 16; Judges 17; Judges 18

1 One day Samson went to Gaza. There he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. 2 The people of Gaza were told, "Samson is here!" So they surrounded the place. They hid and waited for him at the city gate all night long. They didn't make any move against him during the night. They said, "Let's wait until the sun comes up. Then we'll kill him." 3 But Samson stayed there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up. He took hold of the doors of the city gate. He also took hold of the two doorposts. He tore them loose, together with their metal bar. He picked them up and put them on his shoulders. Then he carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron. 4 Some time later, Samson fell in love again. The woman lived in the Valley of Sorek. Her name was Delilah. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went to her. They said, "See if you can get him to tell you the secret of why he's so strong. Find out how we can overpower him. Then we can tie him up. We can bring him under our control. Each of us will give you 28 pounds of silver." 6 So Delilah spoke to Samson. She said, "Tell me the secret of why you are so strong. Tell me how you can be tied up and controlled." 7 Samson answered her, "Let someone tie me up with seven new leather straps. They must be straps that aren't completely dry. Then I'll become as weak as any other man." 8 So the Philistine rulers brought seven new leather straps to her. They weren't completely dry. Delilah tied Samson up with them. 9 Men were hiding in the room. She called out to him. She said, "Samson! The Philistines are attacking you!" But he snapped the leather straps easily. They were like pieces of string that had come too close to a flame. So the secret of why he was so strong wasn't discovered. 10 Delilah spoke to Samson again. "You have made me look foolish," she said. "You told me a lie. Come on. Tell me how you can be tied up." 11 Samson said, "Let someone tie me tightly with new ropes. They must be ropes that have never been used. Then I'll become as weak as any other man." 12 So Delilah got some new ropes. She tied him up with them. Men were hiding in the room. She called out to him. She said, "Samson! The Philistines are attacking you!" But he snapped the ropes off his arms. They fell off just as if they were threads. 13 Delilah spoke to Samson again. "Until now, you have been making me look foolish," she said. "You have been telling me lies. This time really tell me how you can be tied up." He replied, "Weave the seven braids of my hair into the cloth on a loom. Then pin my hair to the loom. If you do, I'll become as weak as any other man." So while Samson was sleeping, Delilah took hold of the seven braids of his hair. She wove them into the cloth on a loom. 14 Then she pinned his hair to the loom. Again she called out to him. She said, "Samson! The Philistines are attacking you!" He woke up from his sleep. He pulled up the pin and the loom, together with the cloth. 15 Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you'? You won't even share your secret with me. This is the third time you have made me look foolish. And you still haven't told me the secret of why you are so strong." 16 She continued to pester him day after day. She nagged him until he was sick and tired of it. 17 So he told her everything. "I've never used a razor on my head," he said. "I've never cut my hair. That's because I've been a Nazirite since the day I was born. A Nazirite is set apart to God. If you shave my head, I won't be strong anymore. I'll become as weak as any other man." 18 Delilah realized he had told her everything. So she sent a message to the Philistine rulers. She said, "Come back one more time. He has told me everything." So the rulers returned. They brought the silver with them. 19 Delilah got Samson to go to sleep on her lap. Then she called for a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair. That's how she began to bring him under her control. And he wasn't strong anymore. 20 She called out, "Samson! The Philistines are attacking you!" He woke up from his sleep. He thought, "I'll go out just as I did before. I'll shake myself free." But he didn't know that the LORD had left him. 21 Then the Philistines grabbed hold of him. They poked his eyes out. They took him down to Gaza. They put bronze chains around him. Then they made him grind grain in the prison. 22 His head had been shaved. But the hair on it began to grow again. 23 The rulers of the Philistines gathered together. They were going to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They were going to celebrate. They said, "Our god has handed our enemy Samson over to us." 24 When the people saw Samson, they praised their god. They said, "Our god has handed our enemy over to us. Our enemy has destroyed our land. He has killed large numbers of our people." 25 After they had drunk a lot of wine, they shouted, "Bring Samson out. Let him put on a show for us." So they called Samson out of the prison. He put on a show for them. They had him stand near the temple pillars. 26 Then he spoke to the servant who was holding his hand. He said, "Put me where I can feel the pillars. I'm talking about the ones that hold the temple up. I want to lean against them." 27 The temple was crowded with men and women. All of the Philistine rulers were there. About 3,000 men and women were on the roof. They were watching Samson put on a show. 28 Then he prayed to the Lord. He said, "LORD and King, show me that you still have concern for me. God, please make me strong just one more time. Let me pay the Philistines back for what they did to my two eyes. Let me do it with only one blow." 29 Then Samson reached toward the two pillars that were in the middle of the temple. They held the temple up. He put his right hand on one of them. He put his left hand on the other. He leaned hard against them. 30 Samson said, "Let me die together with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might. The temple came down on the rulers. It fell on all of the people who were in it. So Samson killed many more Philistines when he died than he did while he lived. 31 Then his brothers went down to get him. So did his father's whole family. All of them brought Samson's body back home. They buried his body in the tomb of his father Manoah. It's between Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson had led Israel for 20 years.
1 A man named Micah lived in the hill country of Ephraim. 2 He said to his mother, "Someone took 28 pounds of silver from you. I heard you call down a curse because of it. I have the silver with me. I'm the one who took it." Then his mother said, "My son, may the LORD bless you!" 3 He gave the 28 pounds of silver back to his mother. She said to him, "I'm taking an oath and setting my silver apart to the Lord. My son, I want you to use part of it for a statue of a god that is made out of wood or stone and covered with silver. Use the rest of it to have another statue made out of silver. That's why I'll give the silver back to you." 4 He gave the silver back to his mother. She gave five pounds of it to a skilled worker who made things out of silver. He used the silver for the two statues. They were put in Micah's house. 5 That same Micah had a small temple. He made a sacred linen apron and some statues of gods. He prepared one of his sons to serve as his priest. 6 In those days Israel didn't have a king. The people did anything they thought was right. 7 A young Levite had been living in land that belonged to the tribe of Judah. He was from Bethlehem in Judah. 8 He left that town to look for some other place to stay. On his way he came to Micah's house. It was in the hill country of Ephraim. 9 Micah asked him, "Where are you from?" "I'm a Levite," he said. "I'm from Bethlehem in Judah. I'm looking for a place to stay." 10 Then Micah said to him, "Live with me. Be my father and priest. I'll give you four ounces of silver a year. I'll also give you clothes and food." 11 So the Levite agreed to live with him. The young man was just like a son to Micah. 12 Then Micah prepared the Levite to serve as his priest. He lived in Micah's house. 13 Micah said, "Now I know that the LORD will be good to me. This Levite has become my priest."
1 In those days Israel didn't have a king. And in those days the tribe of Dan was looking for a place where they could settle down. They hadn't been able to take over their own share of land among the tribes of Israel. 2 So the people of Dan sent out five warriors from Zorah and Eshtaol. They told them to look the land over and check it out. Those men did it for all of their family groups. The people of Dan told the men, "Go. Check out the land." So they entered the hill country of Ephraim. They went to the house of Micah. That's where they spent the night. 3 When they came near Micah's house, they recognized a voice. It was the voice of the young Levite. So they turned off the road and stopped there. They asked him, "Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?" 4 The Levite told them what Micah had done for him. He said, "He has hired me. I'm his priest." 5 Then they said to him, "Please ask God for advice. Try to find out whether we'll have success on our journey." 6 The priest answered them, "Go in peace. The LORD is pleased with your journey." 7 So the five men left. They came to Laish. There they saw that the people felt secure. They were living in safety. Like the people in Sidon, they weren't expecting anything bad to happen to them. Their land had everything they needed. Things were going very well for them. They lived a long way from the people of Sidon. And they didn't think they would ever need help from anyone else. 8 The men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol. Their people asked them, "What did you find out?" 9 They answered, "Come on! Let's attack them! We've seen that the land is very good. Aren't you going to do something? Don't wait any longer. Go there and take it over. 10 When you get there, you will find people who aren't expecting anything bad to happen to them. Their land has plenty of room. God has handed it over to you. It's a land that has everything you will ever need." 11 So 600 men from the tribe of Dan started out from Zorah and Eshtaol. They were prepared for battle. 12 On their way they set up camp. Their camp was near Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That's why the place is called Mahaneh Dan to this very day. It's west of Kiriath Jearim. 13 From there they went to the hill country of Ephraim. They came to Micah's house. 14 Then the five men who had looked over the land of Laish spoke to the other members of their tribe. They said, "Don't you know that one of these houses has a sacred linen apron in it? Some statues of family gods are there. It also has two statues of other gods in it. One of them is made out of wood or stone. The other is made out of silver. Now you know what to do." 15 So they turned off the road and stopped there. They went to the house of the young Levite. He was at Micah's place. They greeted the young man. 16 The 600 men from Dan stood at the entrance of the gate. They were prepared for battle. 17 The five men who had looked over the land went inside. They took the two statues. They also took the family gods and the linen apron. During that time, the priest stood at the entrance of the gate. The 600 men stood there with him. They were prepared for battle. 18 When those men went into Micah's house and took all of those things, the priest spoke to them. He asked, "What are you doing?" 19 They answered him, "Be quiet! Don't say a word. Come with us. Be our father and priest. You can serve a whole tribe and family group in Israel as our priest. Isn't that better than serving just one man's family?" 20 The priest was glad. He took the linen apron and the family gods. He also took the statue of a god that was made out of wood or stone. Then he left with the people. 21 They put their little children and their livestock in front of them. They also put everything else they owned in front of them. And they turned and went on their way. 22 The men who lived near Micah were called together. Then they left and caught up with the people of Dan. That's because Dan's people hadn't gone very far from Micah's house. 23 Those who lived near Micah shouted at them. The people of Dan turned around and spoke to Micah. "What's the matter with you?" they asked. "Why did you call your men out to fight against us?" 24 He replied, "You took away the gods I made. And you took my priest away. What do I have left? So how can you ask, 'What's the matter with you?' " 25 The people of Dan answered, "Don't argue with us. Some men get angry quickly. They might attack you. Then you and your family will lose your lives." 26 So the people of Dan went on their way. Micah saw that they were too strong for him. So he turned around and went back home. 27 The people of Dan took what Micah had made. They also took his priest. They continued on their way to Laish. They went there to fight against peaceful people who weren't expecting to be attacked. They struck them down with their swords. They burned their city down. 28 No one could save them. They lived a long way from Sidon. And they didn't think they would ever need help from anyone else. Their city was located in a valley near Beth Rehob. The people of Dan rebuilt the city. Then they settled down there. 29 They named it Dan. That's because they traced their family line back to Dan. He was a son of Israel. The city used to be called Laish. 30 There the people of Dan set up the statues of gods for themselves. Jonathan and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan. Jonathan was the son of Gershom, the son of Moses. Jonathan and his sons were priests until the time when the land was captured. 31 They continued to use the statues Micah had made. They used them during the whole time the house of God was in Shiloh.
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