Judges 15- 1 Samuel 14
Later on, during the wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat as a present to his wife. He said, “I’m going into my wife’s room to sleep with her,” but her father wouldn’t let him in.
“I truly thought you must hate her,” her father explained, “so I gave her in marriage to your best man. But look, her younger sister is even more beautiful than she is. Marry her instead.”
Samson said, “This time I cannot be blamed for everything I am going to do to you Philistines.” Then he went out and caught 300 foxes. He tied their tails together in pairs, and he fastened a torch to each pair of tails. Then he lit the torches and let the foxes run through the grain fields of the Philistines. He burned all their grain to the ground, including the sheaves and the uncut grain. He also destroyed their vineyards and olive groves.
“Who did this?” the Philistines demanded.
“Samson,” was the reply, “because his father-in-law from Timnah gave Samson’s wife to be married to his best man.” So the Philistines went and got the woman and her father and burned them to death.
“Because you did this,” Samson vowed, “I won’t rest until I take my revenge on you!” So he attacked the Philistines with great fury and killed many of them. Then he went to live in a cave in the rock of Etam.
The Philistines retaliated by setting up camp in Judah and spreading out near the town of Lehi. The men of Judah asked the Philistines, “Why are you attacking us?”
The Philistines replied, “We’ve come to capture Samson. We’ve come to pay him back for what he did to us.”
So 3,000 men of Judah went down to get Samson at the cave in the rock of Etam. They said to Samson, “Don’t you realize the Philistines rule over us? What are you doing to us?”
But Samson replied, “I only did to them what they did to me.”
But the men of Judah told him, “We have come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.”
“All right,” Samson said. “But promise that you won’t kill me yourselves.”
“We will only tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines,” they replied. “We won’t kill you.” So they tied him up with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.
As Samson arrived at Lehi, the Philistines came shouting in triumph. But the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson, and he snapped the ropes on his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists. Then he found the jawbone of a recently killed donkey. He picked it up and killed 1,000 Philistines with it. Then Samson said,
“With the jawbone of a donkey,
I’ve piled them in heaps!
With the jawbone of a donkey,
I’ve killed a thousand men!”
When he finished his boasting, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was named Jawbone Hill.
Samson was now very thirsty, and he cried out to the Lord, “You have accomplished this great victory by the strength of your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of these pagans?” So God caused water to gush out of a hollow in the ground at Lehi, and Samson was revived as he drank. Then he named that place “The Spring of the One Who Cried Out,” and it is still in Lehi to this day.
Samson judged Israel for twenty years during the period when the Philistines dominated the land.
One day Samson went to the Philistine town of Gaza and spent the night with a prostitute. Word soon spread that Samson was there, so the men of Gaza gathered together and waited all night at the town gates. They kept quiet during the night, saying to themselves, “When the light of morning comes, we will kill him.”
But Samson stayed in bed only until midnight. Then he got up, took hold of the doors of the town gate, including the two posts, and lifted them up, bar and all. He put them on his shoulders and carried them all the way to the top of the hill across from Hebron.
Some time later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how he can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver.”
So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me what makes you so strong and what it would take to tie you up securely.”
Samson replied, “If I were tied up with seven new bowstrings that have not yet been dried, I would become as weak as anyone else.”
So the Philistine rulers brought Delilah seven new bowstrings, and she tied Samson up with them. She had hidden some men in one of the inner rooms of her house, and she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But Samson snapped the bowstrings as a piece of string snaps when it is burned by a fire. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
Afterward Delilah said to him, “You’ve been making fun of me and telling me lies! Now please tell me how you can be tied up securely.”
Samson replied, “If I were tied up with brand-new ropes that had never been used, I would become as weak as anyone else.”
So Delilah took new ropes and tied him up with them. The men were hiding in the inner room as before, and again Delilah cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But again Samson snapped the ropes from his arms as if they were thread.
Then Delilah said, “You’ve been making fun of me and telling me lies! Now tell me how you can be tied up securely.”
Samson replied, “If you were to weave the seven braids of my hair into the fabric on your loom and tighten it with the loom shuttle, I would become as weak as anyone else.”
So while he slept, Delilah wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric. Then she tightened it with the loom shuttle. Again she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But Samson woke up, pulled back the loom shuttle, and yanked his hair away from the loom and the fabric.
Then Delilah pouted, “How can you tell me, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t share your secrets with me? You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!” She tormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it.
Finally, Samson shared his secret with her. “My hair has never been cut,” he confessed, “for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.”
Delilah realized he had finally told her the truth, so she sent for the Philistine rulers. “Come back one more time,” she said, “for he has finally told me his secret.” So the Philistine rulers returned with the money in their hands.Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair. In this way she began to bring him down, and his strength left him.
Then she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!”
When he woke up, he thought, “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him.
So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison.
But before long, his hair began to grow back.
The Philistine rulers held a great festival, offering sacrifices and praising their god, Dagon. They said, “Our god has given us victory over our enemy Samson!”
When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, “Our god has delivered our enemy to us! The one who killed so many of us is now in our power!”
Half drunk by now, the people demanded, “Bring out Samson so he can amuse us!” So he was brought from the prison to amuse them, and they had him stand between the pillars supporting the roof.
Samson said to the young servant who was leading him by the hand, “Place my hands against the pillars that hold up the temple. I want to rest against them.” Now the temple was completely filled with people. All the Philistine rulers were there, and there were about 3,000 men and women on the roof who were watching as Samson amused them.
Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.” Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands, he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.
Later his brothers and other relatives went down to get his body. They took him back home and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol, where his father, Manoah, was buried. Samson had judged Israel for twenty years.
There was a man named Micah, who lived in the hill country of Ephraim. One day he said to his mother, “I heard you place a curse on the person who stole 1,100 pieces of silver from you. Well, I have the money. I was the one who took it.”
“The Lord bless you for admitting it,” his mother replied. He returned the money to her, and she said, “I now dedicate these silver coins to the Lord. In honor of my son, I will have an image carved and an idol cast.”
So when he returned the money to his mother, she took 200 silver coins and gave them to a silversmith, who made them into an image and an idol. And these were placed in Micah’s house. Micah set up a shrine for the idol, and he made a sacred ephod and some household idols. Then he installed one of his sons as his personal priest.
In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.
One day a young Levite, who had been living in Bethlehem in Judah, arrived in that area. He had left Bethlehem in search of another place to live, and as he traveled, he came to the hill country of Ephraim. He happened to stop at Micah’s house as he was traveling through. “Where are you from?” Micah asked him.
He replied, “I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am looking for a place to live.”
“Stay here with me,” Micah said, “and you can be a father and priest to me. I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, plus a change of clothes and your food.” The Levite agreed to this, and the young man became like one of Micah’s sons.
So Micah installed the Levite as his personal priest, and he lived in Micah’s house. “I know the Lord will bless me now,” Micah said, “because I have a Levite serving as my priest.”
Now in those days Israel had no king. And the tribe of Dan was trying to find a place where they could settle, for they had not yet moved into the land assigned to them when the land was divided among the tribes of Israel. So the men of Dan chose from their clans five capable warriors from the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol to scout out a land for them to settle in.
When these warriors arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, they came to Micah’s house and spent the night there. While at Micah’s house, they recognized the young Levite’s accent, so they went over and asked him, “Who brought you here, and what are you doing in this place? Why are you here?” He told them about his agreement with Micah and that he had been hired as Micah’s personal priest.
Then they said, “Ask God whether or not our journey will be successful.”
“Go in peace,” the priest replied. “For the Lord is watching over your journey.”
So the five men went on to the town of Laish, where they noticed the people living carefree lives, like the Sidonians; they were peaceful and secure. The people were also wealthy because their land was very fertile. And they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby.
When the men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their relatives asked them, “What did you find?”
The men replied, “Come on, let’s attack them! We have seen the land, and it is very good. What are you waiting for? Don’t hesitate to go and take possession of it. When you get there, you will find the people living carefree lives. God has given us a spacious and fertile land, lacking in nothing!”
So 600 men from the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. They camped at a place west of Kiriath-jearim in Judah, which is called Mahaneh-dan to this day. Then they went on from there into the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah.
The five men who had scouted out the land around Laish explained to the others, “These buildings contain a sacred ephod, as well as some household idols, a carved image, and a cast idol. What do you think you should do?”Then the five men turned off the road and went over to Micah’s house, where the young Levite lived, and greeted him kindly. As the 600 armed warriors from the tribe of Dan stood at the entrance of the gate, the five scouts entered the shrine and removed the carved image, the sacred ephod, the household idols, and the cast idol. Meanwhile, the priest was standing at the gate with the 600 armed warriors.
When the priest saw the men carrying all the sacred objects out of Micah’s shrine, he said, “What are you doing?”
“Be quiet and come with us,” they said. “Be a father and priest to all of us. Isn’t it better to be a priest for an entire tribe and clan of Israel than for the household of just one man?”
The young priest was quite happy to go with them, so he took along the sacred ephod, the household idols, and the carved image. They turned and started on their way again, placing their children, livestock, and possessions in front of them.
When the people from the tribe of Dan were quite a distance from Micah’s house, the people who lived near Micah came chasing after them. They were shouting as they caught up with them. The men of Dan turned around and said to Micah, “What’s the matter? Why have you called these men together and chased after us like this?”
“What do you mean, ‘What’s the matter?’” Micah replied. “You’ve taken away all the gods I have made, and my priest, and I have nothing left!”
The men of Dan said, “Watch what you say! There are some short-tempered men around here who might get angry and kill you and your family.” So the men of Dan continued on their way. When Micah saw that there were too many of them for him to attack, he turned around and went home.
Then, with Micah’s idols and his priest, the men of Dan came to the town of Laish, whose people were peaceful and secure. They attacked with swords and burned the town to the ground. There was no one to rescue the people, for they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby. This happened in the valley near Beth-rehob.
Then the people of the tribe of Dan rebuilt the town and lived there. They renamed the town Dan after their ancestor, Israel’s son, but it had originally been called Laish.
Then they set up the carved image, and they appointed Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, as their priest. This family continued as priests for the tribe of Dan until the Exile. So Micah’s carved image was worshiped by the tribe of Dan as long as the Tabernacle of God remained at Shiloh.
Now in those days Israel had no king. There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. But she became angry with him and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem.
After about four months, her husband set out for Bethlehem to speak personally to her and persuade her to come back. He took with him a servant and a pair of donkeys. When he arrived at her father’s house, her father saw him and welcomed him. Her father urged him to stay awhile, so he stayed three days, eating, drinking, and sleeping there.
On the fourth day the man was up early, ready to leave, but the woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Have something to eat before you go.” So the two men sat down together and had something to eat and drink. Then the woman’s father said, “Please stay another night and enjoy yourself.” The man got up to leave, but his father-in-law kept urging him to stay, so he finally gave in and stayed the night.
On the morning of the fifth day he was up early again, ready to leave, and again the woman’s father said, “Have something to eat; then you can leave later this afternoon.” So they had another day of feasting. Later, as the man and his concubine and servant were preparing to leave, his father-in-law said, “Look, it’s almost evening. Stay the night and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow you can get up early and be on your way.”
But this time the man was determined to leave. So he took his two saddled donkeys and his concubine and headed in the direction of Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). It was late in the day when they neared Jebus, and the man’s servant said to him, “Let’s stop at this Jebusite town and spend the night there.”
“No,” his master said, “we can’t stay in this foreign town where there are no Israelites. Instead, we will go on to Gibeah. Come on, let’s try to get as far as Gibeah or Ramah, and we’ll spend the night in one of those towns.” So they went on. The sun was setting as they came to Gibeah, a town in the land of Benjamin, so they stopped there to spend the night. They rested in the town square, but no one took them in for the night.
That evening an old man came home from his work in the fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was living in Gibeah, where the people were from the tribe of Benjamin. When he saw the travelers sitting in the town square, he asked them where they were from and where they were going.
“We have been in Bethlehem in Judah,” the man replied. “We are on our way to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim, which is my home. I traveled to Bethlehem, and now I’m returning home. But no one has taken us in for the night, even though we have everything we need. We have straw and feed for our donkeys and plenty of bread and wine for ourselves.”
“You are welcome to stay with me,” the old man said. “I will give you anything you might need. But whatever you do, don’t spend the night in the square.” So he took them home with him and fed the donkeys. After they washed their feet, they ate and drank together.
While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him.”
The old man stepped outside to talk to them. “No, my brothers, don’t do such an evil thing. For this man is a guest in my house, and such a thing would be shameful. Here, take my virgin daughter and this man’s concubine. I will bring them out to you, and you can abuse them and do whatever you like. But don’t do such a shameful thing to this man.”
But they wouldn’t listen to him. So the Levite took hold of his concubine and pushed her out the door. The men of the town abused her all night, taking turns raping her until morning. Finally, at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman returned to the house where her husband was staying. She collapsed at the door of the house and lay there until it was light.
When her husband opened the door to leave, there lay his concubine with her hands on the threshold. He said, “Get up! Let’s go!” But there was no answer. So he put her body on his donkey and took her home.
When he got home, he took a knife and cut his concubine’s body into twelve pieces. Then he sent one piece to each tribe throughout all the territory of Israel.
Everyone who saw it said, “Such a horrible crime has not been committed in all the time since Israel left Egypt. Think about it! What are we going to do? Who’s going to speak up?”