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Judges 16-18 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Samson Goes to the City of Gaza

16 One day Samson went to the city of Gaza. He saw a prostitute there and went in to stay the night with her. Someone told the people of Gaza, “Samson has come here.” They wanted to kill him, so they surrounded the city. They hid near the city gate and waited all night for him. They were very quiet all night long. They had said to each other, “When morning comes, we will kill Samson.”

But Samson only stayed with the prostitute until midnight. Then he got up and grabbed the doors of the city gate and pulled them loose from the wall. He pulled down the doors, the two posts, and the bars that lock the doors shut. He put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill near the city of Hebron.

Samson and Delilah

Later, Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who was from Sorek Valley.

The rulers of the Philistines went to Delilah and said, “We want to know what makes Samson so strong. Try to trick him into telling you his secret. Then we will know how to capture him and tie him up. Then we will be able to control him. If you do this, each one of us will give you 28 pounds[a] of silver.”

So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me why you are so strong. How could someone tie you up and make you helpless?”

Samson answered, “Someone would have to tie me up with seven fresh, new bowstrings.[b] If someone did that, I would be as weak as any other man.”

Then the rulers of the Philistines brought seven fresh, new bowstrings to Delilah, and she tied Samson with the bowstrings. Some men were hiding in the next room. Delilah said to Samson, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” But Samson easily broke the bowstrings. They snapped like a string when it comes too close to a flame. So the Philistines did not find out the secret of Samson’s strength.

10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “You lied to me. You made me look foolish. Please tell me the truth. How could someone tie you up?”

11 Samson said, “Someone would have to tie me up with new ropes. They would have to tie me with ropes that have not been used before. If someone did that, I would become as weak as any other man.”

12 So Delilah took some new ropes and tied up Samson. Some men were hiding in the next room. Then Delilah called out to him, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” But he broke the ropes easily as if they were threads.

13 Then Delilah said to Samson, “You lied to me again. You made me look foolish. Now, tell me how someone could tie you up.”

Samson said, “If you use the loom to weave the seven braids of hair on my head and tighten it with a pin, I will become as weak as any other man.”

14 Later, Samson went to sleep, so Delilah used the loom to weave the seven braids of hair on his head.[c] Then Delilah fastened the loom to the ground with a tent peg. Again she called out to him, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” Samson pulled up the tent peg, the loom, and the shuttle.[d]

15 Then Delilah said to Samson, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t even trust me? You refuse to tell me your secret. This is the third time you made me look foolish. You haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16 She kept bothering Samson day after day. He got so tired of her asking him about his secret that he felt like he was going to die. 17 Finally, Samson told Delilah everything. He said, “I have never had my hair cut. I was dedicated to God before I was born. If someone shaved my head, I would lose my strength. I would become as weak as any other man.”

18 Delilah saw that Samson had told her his secret. She sent a message to the rulers of the Philistines. She said, “Come back again. Samson has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines came back and brought the money that they had promised to give her.

19 Delilah got Samson to go to sleep with his head lying in her lap. Then she called in a man to shave off the seven braids of Samson’s hair. In this way she made Samson weak, and his strength left him. 20 Then Delilah called out to him, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” He woke up and thought, “I will escape as I did before and free myself.” But Samson did not know that the Lord had left him.

21 The Philistine men captured Samson. They tore out his eyes and took him down to the city of Gaza. Then they put chains on him to keep him from running away. They put him in prison and made him work grinding grain. 22 But his hair began to grow again.

23 The Philistine rulers came together to celebrate. They were going to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They said, “Our god helped us defeat Samson our enemy.” 24 When the Philistines saw Samson, they praised their god. They said,

“This man destroyed our people!
    He killed many of our people!
But our god helped us
    take our enemy!”

25 The people were having a good time at the celebration. So they said, “Bring Samson out. We want to make fun of him.” So they brought Samson from the prison and made fun of him. They made him stand between the columns in the temple of the god Dagon. 26 A servant was holding his hand. Samson said to him, “Put me where I can feel the columns that hold this temple up. I want to lean against them.”

27 The temple was crowded with men and women. All the Philistine rulers were there. There were about 3000 men and women on the roof of the temple. They were laughing and making fun of Samson. 28 Then Samson said a prayer to the Lord, “Lord God, remember me. God, please give me strength one more time. Let me do this one thing to punish these Philistines for tearing out both of my eyes!” 29 Then Samson took hold of the two columns in the center of the temple that supported the whole temple. He braced himself between the two columns. One column was at his right side and the other at his left side. 30 Samson said, “Let me die with these Philistines!” Then he pushed as hard as he could, and the temple fell on the rulers and everyone in it. In this way Samson killed many more Philistines when he died than when he was alive.

31 Samson’s brothers and all the people in his father’s family went down to get his body. They brought him back and buried him in his father’s tomb, which is between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson was a judge for the Israelites for 20 years.

Micah’s Idols

17 There was a man named Micah who lived in the hill country of Ephraim. Micah said to his mother, “Do you remember that someone stole 28 pounds[e] of silver from you? I heard you say a curse about that. Well, I have the silver. I took it.”

His mother said, “The Lord bless you, my son.”

Micah gave the 28 pounds of silver back to his mother. Then she said, “I will give this silver as a special gift to the Lord. I will give it to my son so that he can make a statue and cover it with the silver. So now, son, I give the silver back to you.”

But Micah gave the silver back to his mother. So she took about 5 pounds[f] of the silver and gave them to a silversmith.[g] He used the silver to make a statue covered with silver. The statue was put in Micah’s house. Micah had a temple for worshiping idols. He made an ephod[h] and some house idols. Then Micah chose one of his sons to be his priest. (At that time the Israelites did not have a king, so everyone did what they thought was right.)

There was a young man who was a Levite from the city of Bethlehem in Judah. He had been living among the tribe of Judah. He left Bethlehem to look for another place to live. As he was traveling, he came to Micah’s house in the hill country of the land of Ephraim. Micah asked him, “Where have you come from?”

The young man answered, “I am a Levite from the city of Bethlehem in Judah. I am looking for a place to live.”

10 Then Micah said to him, “Live with me. Be my father and my priest. I will give you 4 ounces[i] of silver each year. I will also give you clothes and food.”

The Levite did what Micah asked. 11 The young Levite agreed to live with Micah. He became like one of Micah’s own sons. 12 Micah chose him to be his priest. So the young man became a priest and lived in Micah’s house. 13 And Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will be good to me. I know this because I have a man from the tribe of Levi to be my priest.”

Dan Captures the City of Laish

18 At that time the Israelites did not have a king. And the tribe of Dan was still looking for a place to live. They did not have their own land yet. The other tribes of Israel already had their land, but the tribe of Dan had not taken their land yet.

So the tribe of Dan sent five soldiers to look for some land. They went to search for a good place to live. These five men were from the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. They were chosen because they were from all the families of Dan. They were told, “Go, look for some land.”

The five men came to the hill country of Ephraim. They came to Micah’s house and spent the night there. When the five men came close to Micah’s house, they heard the voice of the young Levite. They recognized his voice, so they stopped at Micah’s house. They asked the young man, “Who brought you to this place? What are you doing? Why are you here?”

The young man told them what Micah had done for him. “Micah hired me,” he said. “I am his priest.”

So they said to him, “Please ask God if our search for a place to live will be successful.”

The priest said to the five men, “Yes. Go in peace. The Lord will lead you on your way.”

So the five men left. They came to the city of Laish and saw that the people of that city lived in safety. They were ruled by the people of Sidon. Everything was peaceful and quiet. The people had plenty of everything, and they didn’t have any enemies nearby to hurt them. Also they lived a long way from the city of Sidon, and they did not have any agreements with the people of Aram.[j]

The five men went back to the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. Their relatives asked them, “What did you learn?”

The five men answered, “We have found some land, and it is very good. We should attack them. Don’t wait! Let’s go and take that land! 10 When you come to that place, you will see that there is plenty of land. There is plenty of everything there. You will also see that the people are not expecting an attack. Surely God has given that land to us.”

11 So 600 men from the tribe of Dan left the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. They were ready for war. 12 On their way to the city of Laish, they stopped near the city of Kiriath Jearim in the land of Judah. They set up a camp there. That is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is named Mahaneh Dan[k] to this very day. 13 From there the 600 men traveled on to the hill country of Ephraim. Then they came to Micah’s house.

14 So the five men who had explored the land around Laish spoke. They said to their relatives, “There is an ephod in one of these houses. And there are also household gods, a carved statue, and a silver idol. You know what to do.” 15 So they stopped at Micah’s house, where the young Levite lived. They asked the young man how he was. 16 The 600 men from the tribe of Dan stood at the entrance of the gate. They all had their weapons and were ready for war. 17-18 The five spies went into the house. The priest stood just outside by the gate with the 600 men who were ready for war. The men took the carved idol, the ephod, the household idols, and the silver idol. The young Levite priest said, “What are you doing?”

19 The five men answered, “Be quiet! Don’t say a word. Come with us. Be our father and our priest. You must choose. Is it better for you to be a priest for just one man or for a whole tribe of Israelites with many family groups?”

20 This made the Levite happy. So he took the ephod, the household idols, and the idol. He went with the men from the tribe of Dan.

21 Then the 600 men from the tribe of Dan and the Levite priest turned and left Micah’s house. They put their little children, their animals, and all their things in front of them.

22 The men from the tribe of Dan went a long way from that place. But the people living near Micah met together. Then they began chasing the men of Dan and caught up with them. 23 The men with Micah were shouting at the men of Dan. The men of Dan turned around and said to Micah, “What’s the problem? Why are you shouting?”

24 Micah answered, “You men from Dan took my idols. I made them for myself. You have also taken my priest. What do I have left now? How can you ask me, ‘What’s the problem?’”

25 The men from the tribe of Dan answered, “You had better not argue with us. Some of our men become angry easily. If you shout at us, they will attack you. You and your families will be killed.”

26 Then the men of Dan turned around and went on their way. Micah knew that these men were too strong for him, so he went back home.

27 So the men of Dan took the idols that Micah made. They also took the priest who had been with Micah. Then they came to Laish. They attacked the people living in Laish. Those people were at peace. They were not expecting an attack. The men of Dan killed them with their swords and then burned the city. 28 The people living in Laish did not have anyone to rescue them. They lived too far from the city of Sidon for the people there to help. And the people of Laish did not have any agreements with the people of Aram—so they did not help them. The city of Laish was in a valley, which belonged to the town of Beth Rehob. The people from Dan built a new city in that place, and it became their home. 29 The people of Dan gave the city a new name. That city had been called Laish, but they changed the name to Dan. They named the city after their ancestor Dan, one of the sons of Israel.

30 The people of the tribe of Dan set up the idol in the city of Dan. They made Jonathan son of Gershom their priest. Gershom was the son of Moses.[l] Jonathan and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time when the Israelites were taken into captivity. 31 The people of Dan set up for themselves the idol that Micah had made. That idol was there the whole time that the house of God was in Shiloh.


  1. Judges 16:5 28 pounds Literally, “1100 shekels” (12.6 kg).
  2. Judges 16:7 fresh, new bowstrings Bowstrings were often made from sinew (tendons) which is brittle after it becomes old and dry.
  3. Judges 16:14 so Delilah … head This is found in the ancient Greek version but not in the standard Hebrew text.
  4. Judges 16:14 shuttle The tool used to pull the threads back and forth on a loom to make cloth.
  5. Judges 17:2 28 pounds Literally, “1100 shekels” (12.6 kg). Also in verse 3.
  6. Judges 17:4 about 5 pounds Literally, “200 shekels” (2.3 kg).
  7. Judges 17:4 silversmith A person who makes things from silver.
  8. Judges 17:5 ephod This may have been a special vest or coat like that worn by the high priest (see Ex. 28:2-14), or it may have been a kind of idol. Also in 18:14.
  9. Judges 17:10 4 ounces Literally, “10 shekels” (115 g).
  10. Judges 18:7 they did not have … Aram Or “they did not have any dealings with people.”
  11. Judges 18:12 Mahaneh Dan This name means “The Camp of Dan.”
  12. Judges 18:30 Moses Or “Manasseh.”
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

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