16 Then Samson went to Gaza and saw a prostitute there, and went in to her. 2 The Gazites were told, “Samson has come here.” So they surrounded the place and waited all night at the gate of the city to ambush him. They kept quiet all night, saying, “In the morning, when it is light, we will kill him.” 3 But Samson lay [resting] until midnight, then at midnight he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two door-posts, and pulled them up, [security] bar and all, and he put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of the hill which is opposite Hebron.
4 After this he fell in love with a [Philistine] woman [living] in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5 So the [five] lords (governors) of the Philistines came to her and said to her, “Persuade him, and see where his great strength lies and [find out] how we may overpower him so that we may bind him to subdue him. And each of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.” 6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies and with what you may be bound and subdued.” 7 Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh cords ([a]tendons) that have not been dried, then I will be weak and be like any [other] man.” 8 Then the Philistine lords brought her seven fresh cords that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9 Now she had men lying in ambush in an inner room. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he broke the cords as a [b]string of tow breaks when it touches fire. So [the secret of] his strength was not discovered.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “See now, you have mocked me and told me lies; now please tell me [truthfully] how you may be bound.” 11 He said to her, “If they bind me tightly with new ropes that have not been used, then I will become weak and be like any [other] man.” 12 So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And the men lying in ambush were in the inner room. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like [sewing] thread.
13 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me and told me lies; tell me [truthfully] with what you may be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven braids of my hair with the web [c][and fasten it with a pin, then I will become weak and be like any other man.” 14 So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks (braids) of his hair and wove them into the web]. And she fastened it with the pin [of the loom] and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and pulled out the pin of the [weaver’s] loom and the web.
Delilah Extracts His Secret
15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times and have not told me where your great strength lies.” 16 When she pressured him day after day with her words and pleaded with him, he was annoyed to death. 17 Then [finally] he told her everything that was in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never been used on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I will become weak and be like any [other] man.”
18 Then Delilah realized that he had told her everything in his heart, so she sent and called for the Philistine lords, saying, “Come up this once, because he has told me everything in his heart.” Then the Philistine lords came up to her and brought the money [they had promised] in their hands. 19 She made Samson sleep on her knees, and she called a man and had him shave off the seven braids of his head. Then she began to abuse Samson, and his strength left him. 20 She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as I have time after time and shake myself free.” For Samson did not know that the Lord had departed from him. 21 Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with [two] bronze chains; and he was forced to be a grinder [of grain into flour at the mill] in the prison. 22 But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved off.
23 Now the Philistine lords gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to celebrate, for they said,
“Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hands!”
24 When the people saw Samson, they praised their god, for they said,
“Our god has handed over our enemy to us,
The ravager of our country,
Who has killed many of us.”
25 Now when they were in high spirits, they said, “Call for Samson, so that he may amuse us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They made him stand between the pillars. 26 Then Samson said to the boy who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the [roof of the] house rests, so that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the house was full of men and women; all the Philistine lords were there, and on the flat roof were about three thousand men and women who looked on while Samson was entertaining them.
Samson Is Avenged
28 Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this one time, O God, and let me take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Samson took hold of the two middle [support] pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, one with his right hand and the other with his left. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he stretched out with all his might [collapsing the support pillars], and the house fell on the lords and on all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life. 31 Then his brothers and his father’s entire [tribal] household came down, took him, and brought him up; and they buried him in the tomb of Manoah his father, [which was] between Zorah and Eshtaol. So Samson had judged Israel for twenty years.(A)
17 There was a man of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. 2 And he said to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver which were taken from you, about which you cursed [the thief] and also spoke about in my hearing, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” And his mother said, “Blessed be my son before the Lord.” 3 He returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother, and she said, “I had truly dedicated the silver from my hand to the Lord for my son (in his name) to make an image [carved from wood and plated with silver] and a cast image [of solid silver]; so now, I will return it to you.” 4 So when he returned the silver to his mother, she took two hundred pieces of silver and gave them to the silversmith who made of it an image [of silver-plated wood] and a cast image [of solid silver]; and they were in the house of Micah. 5 Now the man Micah had a house of gods (shrine), and he made an ephod and teraphim and dedicated and installed one of his sons, who became his [personal] priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
7 Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, from the family [of the tribe] of Judah, who was a [d]Levite; and he was staying there [temporarily]. 8 Then the man left the town of Bethlehem in Judah, to stay wherever he could find a place; and as he journeyed, he came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah. 9 Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to stay wherever I can find a place.” 10 And Micah said to him, “Live here with me and be a father and a [personal] priest to me, and I will give you ten pieces of silver each year, a supply of clothing, and your sustenance (room and board).” So the Levite went in. 11 The Levite agreed to live with the man, and the young man became to Micah like one of his sons. 12 So Micah dedicated (installed) the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in the house of Micah. 13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will favor me and make me prosper because I have a Levite as my priest.”
Danites Seek Territory
18 In those days there was no king in Israel; and in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance [of land] for themselves to live in, for until then an [e]inheritance had not been allotted to them as a possession among the tribes of Israel. 2 So the sons of Dan sent from the total number of their [extended] family five brave men from Zorah and Eshtaol, to scout the land and to explore it; and they said to them, “Go, explore the land.” They came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. 3 When they passed near Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young man, the Levite, and they turned aside there and said to him, “Who brought you here? And what are you doing in this place? And what do you have here?” 4 And he said to them, “Micah has done this and that for me, and he has hired me and I have become his priest.” 5 And they said to him, “Please ask of God, so that we may know whether our journey on which we are going will be successful.” 6 The priest said to them, “Go in peace; the journey on which you are going is acceptable to the Lord.”
7 Then the five men went on and came to Laish and saw the people who were there, [how they were] living securely in the style of the Sidonians, quiet and peaceful; and there was no oppressive magistrate in the land humiliating them in anything, and they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. 8 The five men came back [home] to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, and their brothers said to them, “What do you have to report?” 9 They said, “Arise, let us go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good (fertile). Will you sit still and do nothing? Do not hesitate to go, to enter, to take possession of the land. 10 When you enter, you will come to people [feeling] safe and secure with a spacious land [widely extended on all sides]; for God has given it into your hands—a place where there is no lack of anything that is on the earth.”
11 Then from the [tribal] family of the Danites, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, six hundred men armed with weapons of war set out. 12 They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. Therefore they have called that place [f]Mahaneh-dan to this day; it is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13 They went on from there to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house.
Danites Take Micah’s Idols
14 Then the five men who had gone to scout the country of Laish said to their relatives, “Do you know that there are in these houses an ephod, teraphim, an image [of silver-plated wood], and a cast image [of solid silver]? Now therefore, consider what you should do.” 15 So they turned in that direction and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and asked him how he was doing. 16 Now the six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were of the sons of Dan, stood at the entrance of the gate. 17 Now the five men who had gone to scout the land went up and entered the house and took the image [of silver-plated wood], the ephod, the teraphim, and the cast image [of solid silver], while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war. 18 When these [five men] went into Micah’s house and took the [plated] image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the cast image, the priest asked them, “What are you doing?” 19 They said to him, “Keep quiet, put your hand over your mouth and come with us, and be a father and a priest to us. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or to be a priest to a tribe and family in Israel?” 20 The priest’s heart was glad [to hear that], and he took the ephod, the teraphim, and the image, and went among the people.
21 So they turned and left, and they put the children, the livestock, and the valuables and supplies in front of them. 22 When they had gone some distance from the house of Micah, the men who were [living] in the houses near Micah’s house assembled [as a militia] and overtook the sons of Dan. 23 They shouted to the Danites, who turned and said to Micah, “What is your reason for assembling [against us]?” 24 He said, “You have taken away my gods which I have made, and the priest, and have gone away; what else do I have left? How can you say to me, ‘What is your reason?’” 25 The sons of Dan said to him, “Do not let your voice [of complaint] be heard among us, or else angry men will assault you and you will lose your life, along with the lives of [everyone in] your household.” 26 Then the Danites went on their way; and Micah saw that they were too strong for him, so he turned and went back to his house.
27 They took the [idolatrous] things that Micah had made, and his priest, and they came to Laish, to a people who were quiet and secure; and they struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire. 28 And there was no one to rescue them because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone. It was in the valley which belongs to Beth-rehob. And they rebuilt the city and lived in it. 29 They named the city Dan, after Dan their forefather who was born to Israel (Jacob); however, the original name of the city was Laish. 30 The [tribe of] the sons of Dan set up the image [of silver-plated wood] for themselves; and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of [g]Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity and exile from the land. 31 So they set up for themselves Micah’s [silver-plated wooden] image which he had made, and kept it throughout the time that the house (tabernacle) of God was at Shiloh.
- Judges 16:7 Animal tendons were used as bowstrings. When they were freshly cut, they would contract as they dried, and Samson pretended that he would be incapacitated at that point.
- Judges 16:9 I.e. candle wick.
- Judges 16:13 The passage in brackets is found in Greek, but not in any Hebrew mss.
- Judges 17:7 I.e. not one of the descendants of Judah, but living among them.
- Judges 18:1 Their original tribal allotment (Josh 19:40-48) was sufficient; the problem was that they did not subdue the Amorites (Judg 1:34) and the Philistines, who controlled the territory.
- Judges 18:12 I.e. the camp of Dan.
- Judges 18:30 Changed to Manasseh in the Hebrew text.