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Samson Serves as Judge

15 Later, during the wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife. He took a young goat along for her. He said, “I’m going to sleep with my wife in her bedroom.”

But her father would not let him go in. Her father said, “I thought you hated her. So I gave her to your best man. Isn’t her younger sister better looking? Marry her instead!”

Samson said to him, “This time I won’t be guilty when I get even with the Philistines, even though I’m going to do something terrible to them.” So Samson caught 300 foxes. He tied them together in pairs by their tails. Then he fastened a torch between their tails. He set the torches on fire and released the foxes in the Philistines’ grain fields. So he set fire to all their grain, whether it was stacked or in the fields. Their olive orchards also caught on fire.

Some Philistines asked, “Who did this?”

They were told, “Samson! He’s the son-in-law of the man at Timnah. Samson did it because the man at Timnah took Samson’s wife and gave her to his best man.” So the Philistines burned Samson’s wife and her father to death.

Samson said to them, “If that’s how you’re going to act, I’ll get even with you before I stop.” So he attacked them violently and slaughtered them. Then he went to live in a cave in the cliff at Etam.

The Philistines came, camped in Judah, and overran Lehi. 10 The men of Judah asked, “Why did you come to fight us?”

The Philistines answered, “We’ve come to tie up Samson and do to him what he did to us.”

11 So 3,000 men from Judah went to the cave in the cliff at Etam. They said to Samson, “Don’t you know that the Philistines rule us? Why have you done this to us?”

Samson replied, “I did to them what they did to me.”

12 So the men from Judah told him, “We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.”

Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you won’t harm me yourselves.”

13 They told him, “We promise we’ll only tie you up and hand you over to them. We certainly won’t kill you.” So they tied him up with two new ropes and brought him back from the cliff.

14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines met him with shouts of triumph. But the Ruach Yahweh came over him. The ropes on his arms became like strings burned in a fire, and those on his hands snapped.

15 Samson found the jawbone from a donkey that had just died. He picked it up and killed 1,000 men with it. 16 Then Samson said,

“With a jawbone from a donkey,
I’ve made two piles of them.
With a jawbone from a donkey,
I’ve killed a thousand men.”

17 When he finished saying this, he threw the jawbone away. He called that place Ramath Lehi [Jawbone Hill].

18 Samson was very thirsty. So he called out to Yahweh and said, “You have given me this great victory. But now I’ll die from thirst and fall into the power of godless men.”

19 So Elohim split open the hollow place at Lehi, and water gushed out. Samson drank some water. Then he was refreshed and revived. So he called the place En Hakkore [Spring of the One Who Calls Out]. It is still there at Lehi today.

20 Samson judged Israel for 20 years during the time of the Philistines.