13 The Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight, 1 so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines for forty years.
2 There was a man named Manoah from Zorah, from the Danite tribe. His wife was infertile and childless. 2 3 The Lord’s angelic 3 messenger appeared to the woman and said to her, “You 4 are infertile and childless, 5 but you will conceive and have a son. 4 Now be careful! Do not drink wine or beer, and do not eat any food that will make you ritually unclean. 6 5 Look, you will conceive and have a son. 7 You must never cut his hair, 8 for the child will be dedicated to God 9 from birth. He will begin to deliver Israel from the power 10 of the Philistines.”
6 The woman went and said to her husband, “A man sent from God 11 came to me! He looked like God’s angelic messenger – he was very awesome. 12 I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not tell me his name. 7 He said to me, ‘Look, you will conceive and have a son. 13 So now, do not drink wine or beer and do not eat any food that will make you ritually unclean. 14 For the child will be dedicated 15 to God from birth till the day he dies.’”
8 Manoah prayed to the Lord, 16 “Please, Lord, allow the man sent from God 17 to visit 18 us again, so he can teach 19 us how we should raise 20 the child who will be born.” 9 God answered Manoah’s prayer. 21 God’s angelic messenger visited 22 the woman again while she was sitting in the field. But her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 The woman ran at once and told her husband, 23 “Come quickly, 24 the man who visited 25 me the other day has appeared to me!” 11 So Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he met 26 the man, he said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife?” 27 He said, “Yes.” 28 12 Manoah said, “Now, when your announcement comes true, 29 how should the child be raised and what should he do?” 30 13 The Lord’s messenger told 31 Manoah, “Your wife should pay attention to everything I told her. 32 14 She should not drink 33 anything that the grapevine produces. She must not drink wine or beer, and she must not eat any food that will make her ritually unclean. 34 She should obey everything I commanded her to do.” 15 Manoah said to the Lord’s messenger, “Please stay here awhile, 35 so we can prepare a young goat for you to eat.” 36 16 The Lord’s messenger said to Manoah, “If I stay, 37 I will not eat your food. But if you want to make a burnt sacrifice to the Lord, you should offer it.” (He said this because Manoah did not know that he was the Lord’s messenger.) 38 17 Manoah said to the Lord’s messenger, “Tell us your name, so we can honor you when your announcement comes true.” 39 18 The Lord’s messenger said to him, “You should not ask me my name, because you cannot comprehend it.” 40 19 Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered them on a rock to the Lord. The Lord’s messenger did an amazing thing as Manoah and his wife watched. 41 20 As the flame went up from the altar toward the sky, the Lord’s messenger went up in it 42 while Manoah and his wife watched. They fell facedown 43 to the ground.
21 The Lord’s messenger did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. After all this happened Manoah realized that the visitor had been the Lord’s messenger. 44 22 Manoah said to his wife, “We will certainly die, because we have seen a supernatural being!” 45 23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted the burnt offering and the grain offering from us. 46 He would not have shown us all these things, or have spoken to us like this just now.”
24 Manoah’s wife 47 gave birth to a son and named him Samson. 48 The child grew and the Lord empowered 49 him. 25 The Lord’s spirit began to control him 50 in Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
14 Samson went down to Timnah, where a Philistine girl caught his eye. 1 2 When he got home, 2 he told his father and mother, “A Philistine girl in Timnah has caught my eye. 3 Now get her for my wife.” 3 But his father and mother said to him, “Certainly you can find a wife among your relatives or among all our 4 people! You should not have to go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines.” 5 But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, 6 because she is the right one for me.” 7 4 Now his father and mother did not realize this was the Lord’s doing, 8 because he was looking for an opportunity to stir up trouble with the Philistines 9 (for at that time the Philistines were ruling Israel).
5 Samson went down to Timnah. When he approached 10 the vineyards of Timnah, he saw a roaring young lion attacking him. 11 6 The Lord’s spirit empowered 12 him and he tore the lion 13 in two with his bare hands 14 as easily as one would tear a young goat. But he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
7 Samson continued on down to Timnah 15 and spoke to the girl. In his opinion, she was just the right one. 16 8 Some time later, when he went back to marry 17 her, he turned aside to see the lion’s remains. He saw 18 a swarm of bees in the lion’s carcass, as well as some honey. 9 He scooped it up with his hands and ate it as he walked along. When he returned 19 to his father and mother, he offered them some and they ate it. But he did not tell them he had scooped the honey out of the lion’s carcass. 20
10 Then Samson’s father accompanied him to Timnah for the marriage. 21 Samson hosted a party 22 there, for this was customary for bridegrooms 23 to do. 11 When the Philistines saw he had no attendants, they gave him thirty groomsmen who kept him company. 24 12 Samson said to them, “I will give you a riddle. If you really can solve it during the seven days the party lasts, 25 I will give you thirty linen robes and thirty sets 26 of clothes. 13 But if you cannot solve it, 27 you will give me thirty linen robes and thirty sets of clothes.” They said to him, “Let us hear your riddle.” 28 14 He said to them,
“Out of the one who eats came something to eat;
out of the strong one came something sweet.”
They could not solve the riddle for three days.
15 On the fourth 29 day they said to Samson’s bride, “Trick your husband into giving the solution to the riddle. 30 If you refuse, 31 we will burn up 32 you and your father’s family. 33 Did you invite us here 34 to make us poor?” 35 16 So Samson’s bride cried on his shoulder 36 and said, “You must 37 hate me; you do not love me! You told the young men 38 a riddle, but you have not told me the solution.” He said to her, “Look, I have not even told my father or mother. Do you really expect me to tell you?” 39 17 She cried on his shoulder 40 until the party was almost over. 41 Finally, on the seventh day, he told her because she had nagged him so much. 42 Then she told the young men the solution to the riddle. 43 18 On the seventh day, before the sun set, the men of the city said to him,
“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?”
He said to them,
“If you had not plowed with my heifer, 44
you would not have solved my riddle!”
19 The Lord’s spirit empowered him. He went down to Ashkelon and murdered thirty men. He took their clothes 45 and gave them 46 to the men who had solved the riddle. He was furious as he went back home. 47 20 Samson’s bride was then given to his best man. 48
15 Sometime later, during the wheat harvest, 1 Samson took a young goat as a gift and went to visit his bride. 2 He said to her father, 3 “I want to have sex with my bride in her bedroom!” 4 But her father would not let him enter. 2 Her father said, “I really thought 5 you absolutely despised 6 her, so I gave her to your best man. Her younger sister is more attractive than she is. Take her instead!” 7 3 Samson said to them, 8 “This time I am justified in doing the Philistines harm!” 9 4 Samson went and captured three hundred jackals 10 and got some torches. He tied the jackals in pairs by their tails and then tied a torch to each pair. 11 5 He lit the torches 12 and set the jackals loose in the Philistines’ standing grain. He burned up the grain heaps and the standing grain, as well as the vineyards and olive groves. 6 The Philistines asked, 13 “Who did this?” They were told, 14 “Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because the Timnite 15 took Samson’s 16 bride and gave her to his best man.” So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father. 17 7 Samson said to them, “Because you did this, 18 I will get revenge against you before I quit fighting.” 19 8 He struck them down and defeated them. 20 Then he went down and lived for a time in the cave in the cliff of Etam.
9 The Philistines went up and invaded 21 Judah. They arrayed themselves for battle 22 in Lehi. 10 The men of Judah said, “Why are you attacking 23 us?” The Philistines 24 said, “We have come up to take Samson prisoner so we can do to him what he has done to us.” 11 Three thousand men of Judah went down to the cave in the cliff of Etam and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? Why have you done this to us?” He said to them, “I have only done to them what they have done to me.” 12 They said to him, “We have come down to take you prisoner so we can hand you over to the Philistines.” Samson said to them, “Promise me 25 you will not kill 26 me.” 13 They said to him, “We promise! 27 We will only take you prisoner and hand you over to them. We promise not to kill you.” They tied him up with two brand new ropes and led him up from the cliff. 14 When he arrived in Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they approached him. But the Lord’s spirit empowered 28 him. The ropes around his arms were like flax dissolving in 29 fire, and they 30 melted away from his hands. 15 He happened to see 31 a solid 32 jawbone of a donkey. He grabbed it 33 and struck down 34 a thousand men. 16 Samson then said,
“With the jawbone of a donkey
I have left them in heaps; 35
with the jawbone of a donkey
I have struck down a thousand men!”
17 When he finished speaking, he threw the jawbone down 36 and named that place Ramath Lehi. 37
18 He was very thirsty, so he cried out to the Lord and said, “You have given your servant 38 this great victory. But now must I die of thirst and fall into hands of the Philistines?” 39 19 So God split open the basin 40 at Lehi and water flowed out from it. When he took a drink, his strength 41 was restored and he revived. For this reason he named the spring 42 En Hakkore. 43 It remains in Lehi to this very day. 20 Samson led 44 Israel for twenty years during the days of Philistine prominence. 45