The Birth of Samson
13 Again the people started doing what the Lord said was wrong. So the Lord allowed the Philistines to rule over them for 40 years.
2 There was a man named Manoah from the city of Zorah. He was from the tribe of Dan. Manoah had a wife, but she was not able to have any children. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “You have not been able to have children. But you will become pregnant and have a son. 4 Don’t drink any wine or any other strong drink. Don’t eat any food that is unclean, 5 because you are pregnant, and you will have a son. He will be dedicated to God in a special way. He will be a Nazirite. So you must never cut his hair. He will be God’s special person from before he is born. He will save the Israelites from the power of the Philistines.”
6 Then the woman went to her husband and told him what had happened. She said, “A man of God came to me. He looked like the angel of God. He frightened me. I didn’t ask him where he was from, and he didn’t tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, ‘You are pregnant and will have a son. Don’t drink any wine or other strong drink. Don’t eat any food that is unclean, because the boy will be dedicated to God in a special way. The boy will be God’s special person from before he is born until the day he dies.’”
8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord. He said, “Lord, I beg you to send the man of God to us again. We want him to teach us what we should do for the boy who will soon be born.”
9 God heard Manoah’s prayer. The angel of God came to the woman again. She was sitting in a field and her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 So the woman ran to tell her husband, “The man is back! The man who came to me the other day is here.”
11 Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, “Are you the same man who spoke to my wife before?”
The angel said, “I am.”
12 So Manoah said, “May what you say happen. Tell me, what kind of life will the boy live? What will he do?”
13 The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Your wife must do everything I told her. 14 She must not eat anything that grows on a grapevine. She must not drink any wine or strong drink. She must not eat any food that is unclean. She must do everything that I have commanded her to do.”
15 Then Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “We would like for you to stay a while. We want to cook a young goat for you to eat.”
16 The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Even if you keep me from leaving, I will not eat your food. But if you want to prepare something, offer a burnt offering to the Lord.” (Manoah did not understand that the man was really the angel of the Lord.)
17 Then Manoah asked the angel of the Lord, “What is your name? We want to know so that we can honor you when what you have said really happens.”
18 The angel of the Lord said, “Why do you ask my name? It is too amazing for you to believe.[a]”
19 Then Manoah sacrificed a young goat on a rock. He offered the goat and a grain offering as a gift to the Lord and to the One Who Does Amazing Things.[b] 20 Manoah and his wife were watching what happened. As the flames went up to the sky from the altar, the angel of the Lord went up to heaven in the fire.
When Manoah and his wife saw that, they bowed down with their faces to the ground. 21 He finally understood that the man was really the angel of the Lord. The angel of the Lord did not appear to Manoah and his wife again. 22 Manoah said to his wife, “We have seen God. Surely we will die because of this.”
23 But his wife said to him, “The Lord does not want to kill us. If he wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted our burnt offering and grain offering. He would not have shown us all these things or told us this.”
24 So the woman had a boy. She named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him. 25 The Spirit of the Lord began to work in Samson while he was in the city of Mahaneh Dan. That city is between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol.
14 Samson went down to the city of Timnah. He saw a young Philistine woman there. 2 When he returned home, he said to his father and mother, “I saw a Philistine woman in Timnah. I want you to get her for me. I want to marry her.”
3 His father and his mother answered, “But surely there is a woman from the Israelites you can marry. Do you have to marry a woman from the Philistines? Their men are not even circumcised.”
But Samson said, “Get that woman for me! She is the one I want!” 4 (Samson’s parents did not know that the Lord wanted this to happen. He was looking for a way to do something against the Philistines. They were ruling over the Israelites at that time.)
5 Samson went down with his father and mother to the city of Timnah. They went as far as the vineyards near that city. There a young lion suddenly roared and jumped at Samson! 6 The Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with great power. He tore the lion apart with his bare hands. It seemed easy to him. It was as easy as tearing apart a young goat. But Samson did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
7 So Samson went down to the city and talked to the Philistine woman. She pleased him. 8 Several days later, Samson came back to marry her. On his way, he went over to look at the dead lion. He found a swarm of bees in its body. They had made some honey. 9 Samson got some of the honey with his hands. He walked along eating the honey. When he came to his parents, he gave them some of the honey, and they ate it too. But Samson did not tell his parents that he had taken the honey from the body of the dead lion.
10 Samson’s father went down to see the Philistine woman. The custom was for the bridegroom to give a party. So Samson gave a party. 11 When the Philistines saw that he was having a party, they sent 30 men to be with him.
12 Then Samson said to the 30 men, “I want to tell you a story. This party will last for seven days. Try to find the answer during that time. If you can answer the riddle in that time, I will give you 30 linen shirts and 30 changes of clothes. 13 But if you cannot find the answer, you must give me 30 linen shirts and 30 changes of clothes.” So the 30 men said, “Tell us your riddle, we want to hear it.”
14 Samson told them this riddle:
“Out of the eater came something to eat.
Out of the strong came something sweet.”
The 30 men tried for three days to find the answer, but they couldn’t.
15 On the fourth day,[c] the men came to Samson’s wife. They said, “Did you invite us here just to make us poor? You must trick your husband into telling us the answer to the riddle. If you don’t get the answer for us, we will burn you and everyone in your father’s house to death.”
16 So Samson’s wife went to him and began crying. She said, “You just hate me! You don’t really love me! You told my people a riddle, and you will not tell me the answer.”
Samson said to her, “Look, I have not even told my father and mother. So why should I tell you?”
17 Samson’s wife cried for the rest of the seven days of the party. So he finally gave her the answer to the riddle on the seventh day. He told her because she kept bothering him. Then she went to her people and told them the answer to the riddle.
18 So before the sun went down on the seventh day of the party, the Philistine men had the answer. They came to Samson and said,
“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?”
Then Samson said to them,
“If you had not plowed with my cow,
you would not have solved my riddle!”
19 Samson was very angry. The Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with great power. He went down to the city of Ashkelon and killed 30 Philistine men. He took all the clothes and property from the dead bodies and gave them to the men who had answered his riddle. Then he went to his father’s house. 20 So Samson’s wife was given to his best man.
Samson Makes Trouble for the Philistines
15 At the time of the wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife. He took a young goat with him as a gift. He said, “I am going to my wife’s room.”
But her father would not let Samson go in. 2 He said, “I thought you hated her, so I let her marry the best man at the wedding. Her younger sister is more beautiful. Take her younger sister.”
3 But Samson said to him, “Now I have a good reason to hurt you Philistines. No one will blame me now.”
4 So Samson went out and caught 300 foxes. He took two foxes at a time and tied their tails together to make pairs. Then he tied a torch between the tails of each pair of foxes. 5 He lit the torches that were between the foxes’ tails and let them run through the grain fields of the Philistines. In this way he burned up the plants growing in their fields and the stacks of grain they had cut. He also burned up their vineyards and their olive trees.
6 The Philistines asked, “Who did this?”
Someone told them, “Samson, the son-in-law of the man from Timnah, did this. He did this because his father-in-law gave Samson’s wife to the best man at his wedding.” So the Philistines burned Samson’s wife and her father to death.
7 Then Samson said to the Philistines, “You did this bad thing to me, so now I will do bad things to you. Then I will be finished with you!”
8 Samson attacked the Philistines and killed many of them. Then he went and stayed in a cave in a place named the Rock of Etam.
9 The Philistines went to the land of Judah and stopped near a place named Lehi. Their army camped there. 10 The men of the tribe of Judah asked them, “Why have you Philistines come here to fight us?”
They answered, “We have come to get Samson. We want to make him our prisoner. We want to punish him for what he has done to our people.”
11 Then 3000 men from the tribe of Judah went to the cave near the Rock of Etam and said to Samson, “What have you done to us? Don’t you know that the Philistines rule over us?”
Samson answered, “I only punished them for what they did to me.”
12 Then they said to Samson, “We have come to tie you up. We will give you to the Philistines.”
Samson said to the men from Judah, “Promise me that you yourselves will not hurt me.”
13 The men from Judah said, “We agree. We will just tie you up and give you to the Philistines. We promise that we will not kill you.” So they tied Samson with two new ropes and led him up from the cave in the rock.
14 When Samson came to the place called Lehi, the Philistines came to meet him. They were shouting with joy. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with great power. Samson broke the ropes—they were like burned strings falling from his arms and the ropes on his hands seemed to melt away. 15 Samson found a jawbone of a dead donkey and killed 1000 Philistine men with it.
16 Then Samson said,
“With a donkey’s jawbone,
I killed 1000 men!
With a donkey’s jawbone,
I piled[d] them into a tall pile.”
17 When Samson finished speaking, he threw the jawbone down. So that place was named Ramath Lehi.[e]
18 Samson was very thirsty. So he cried to the Lord. He said, “I am your servant. You gave me this great victory. Please don’t let me die from thirst now. Please don’t let me be captured by men who are not even circumcised.”
19 There is a hole in the ground at Lehi. God made that hole crack open, and water came out. Samson drank the water and felt better. He felt strong again. So he named that water spring En Hakkore.[f] It is still there in the city of Lehi today.
20 Samson was a judge for the Israelites for 20 years during the time of the Philistines.
- Judges 13:18 It is … believe Or “It is Pelei.” This means “amazing” or “wonderful.” This is like the name “Wonderful Counselor” in Isa. 9:6.
- Judges 13:19 the Lord … Amazing Things Or “the Lord Who Does Amazing Things.” Both of these are names for God, but Manoah didn’t know the man was really the angel of the Lord.
- Judges 14:15 fourth day This is from the ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text has “seventh day.”
- Judges 15:16 piled In Hebrew, the word “pile” is like the word “donkey.”
- Judges 15:17 Ramath Lehi This name means “Jawbone Heights.”
- Judges 15:19 En Hakkore This name means “The spring of the one who calls.”