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Judges 16.1-21.25

Samson and Delilah

16Once Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute and went in to her. 2The Gazites were told,* ‘Samson has come here.’ So they encircled the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They kept quiet all night, thinking, ‘Let us wait until the light of the morning; then we will kill him.’ 3But Samson lay only until midnight. Then at midnight he rose up, took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two posts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that is in front of Hebron.

4 After this he fell in love with a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5The lords of the Philistines came to her and said to her, ‘Coax him, and find out what makes his strength so great, and how we may overpower him, so that we may bind him in order to subdue him; and we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.’ 6So Delilah said to Samson, ‘Please tell me what makes your strength so great, and how you could be bound, so that one could subdue you.’ 7Samson said to her, ‘If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that are not dried out, then I shall become weak, and be like anyone else.’ 8Then the lords of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not dried out, and she bound him with them. 9While men were lying in wait in an inner chamber, she said to him, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ But he snapped the bowstrings, as a strand of fibre snaps when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.

10 Then Delilah said to Samson, ‘You have mocked me and told me lies; please tell me how you could be bound.’ 11He said to her, ‘If they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak, and be like anyone else.’ 12So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ (The men lying in wait were in an inner chamber.) But he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread.

13 Then Delilah said to Samson, ‘Until now you have mocked me and told me lies; tell me how you could be bound.’ He said to her, ‘If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web and make it tight with the pin, then I shall become weak, and be like anyone else.’ 14So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his head and wove them into the web,* and made them tight with the pin. Then she said to him, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ But he awoke from his sleep, and pulled away the pin, the loom, and the web.

15 Then she said to him, ‘How can you say, “I love you”, when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me three times now and have not told me what makes your strength so great.’ 16Finally, after she had nagged him with her words day after day, and pestered him, he was tired to death. 17So he told her his whole secret, and said to her, ‘A razor has never come upon my head; for I have been a nazirite* to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, then my strength would leave me; I would become weak, and be like anyone else.’

18 When Delilah realized that he had told her his whole secret, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, ‘This time come up, for he has told his whole secret to me.’ Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hands. 19She let him fall asleep on her lap; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. He began to weaken,* and his strength left him. 20Then she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ When he awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had left him. 21So the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles; and he ground at the mill in the prison. 22But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

Samson’s Death

23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon, and to rejoice; for they said, ‘Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.’ 24When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said, ‘Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has killed many of us.’ 25And when their hearts were merry, they said, ‘Call Samson, and let him entertain us.’ So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. They made him stand between the pillars; 26and Samson said to the attendant who held him by the hand, ‘Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, so that I may lean against them.’ 27Now the house was full of men and women; all the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who looked on while Samson performed.

28 Then Samson called to the Lord and said, ‘Lord God, remember me and strengthen me only this once, O God, so that with this one act of revenge I may pay back the Philistines for my two eyes.’* 29And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. 30Then Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines.’ He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. 31Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had judged Israel for twenty years.

Micah and the Levite

17There was a man in the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. 2He said to his mother, ‘The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and even spoke it in my hearing—that silver is in my possession; I took it; but now I will return it to you.’* And his mother said, ‘May my son be blessed by the Lord!’ 3Then he returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother; and his mother said, ‘I consecrate the silver to the Lord from my hand for my son, to make an idol of cast metal.’ 4So when he returned the money to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver, and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into an idol of cast metal; and it was in the house of Micah. 5This man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and teraphim, and installed one of his sons, who became his priest. 6In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.

7 Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the clan of Judah. He was a Levite residing there. 8This man left the town of Bethlehem in Judah, to live wherever he could find a place. He came to the house of Micah in the hill country of Ephraim to carry on his work.* 9Micah said to him, ‘From where do you come?’ He replied, ‘I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to live wherever I can find a place.’ 10Then Micah said to him, ‘Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, a set of clothes, and your living.’* 11The Levite agreed to stay with the man; and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12So Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 13Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because the Levite has become my priest.’

The Migration of Dan

18In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking for itself a territory to live in; for until then no territory among the tribes of Israel had been allotted to them. 2So the Danites sent five valiant men from the whole number of their clan, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it; and they said to them, ‘Go, explore the land.’ When they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they stayed there. 3While they were at Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite; so they went over and asked him, ‘Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?’ 4He said to them, ‘Micah did such and such for me, and he hired me, and I have become his priest.’ 5Then they said to him, ‘Inquire of God that we may know whether the mission we are undertaking will succeed.’ 6The priest replied, ‘Go in peace. The mission you are on is under the eye of the Lord.’

7 The five men went on, and when they came to Laish, they observed the people who were there living securely, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting, lacking* nothing on earth, and possessing wealth.* Furthermore, they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with Aram.* 8When they came to their kinsfolk at Zorah and Eshtaol, they said to them, ‘What do you report?’ 9They said, ‘Come, let us go up against them; for we have seen the land, and it is very good. Will you do nothing? Do not be slow to go, but enter in and possess the land. 10When you go, you will come to an unsuspecting people. The land is broad—God has indeed given it into your hands—a place where there is no lack of anything on earth.’

11 Six hundred men of the Danite clan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, 12and went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. On this account that place is called Mahaneh-dan* to this day; it is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13From there they passed on to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah.

14 Then the five men who had gone to spy out the land (that is, Laish) said to their comrades, ‘Do you know that in these buildings there are an ephod, teraphim, and an idol of cast metal? Now therefore consider what you will do.’ 15So they turned in that direction and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and greeted him. 16While the six hundred men of the Danites, armed with their weapons of war, stood by the entrance of the gate, 17the five men who had gone to spy out the land proceeded to enter and take the idol of cast metal, the ephod, and the teraphim.* The priest was standing by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war. 18When the men went into Micah’s house and took the idol of cast metal, the ephod, and the teraphim, the priest said to them, ‘What are you doing?’ 19They said to him, ‘Keep quiet! Put your hand over your mouth, and come with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one person, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?’ 20Then the priest accepted the offer. He took the ephod, the teraphim, and the idol, and went along with the people.

21 So they resumed their journey, putting the little ones, the livestock, and the goods in front of them. 22When they were some distance from the home of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house were called out, and they overtook the Danites. 23They shouted to the Danites, who turned around and said to Micah, ‘What is the matter that you come with such a company?’ 24He replied, ‘You take my gods that I made, and the priest, and go away, and what have I left? How then can you ask me, “What is the matter?” 25And the Danites said to him, ‘You had better not let your voice be heard among us or else hot-tempered fellows will attack you, and you will lose your life and the lives of your household.’ 26Then the Danites went on their way. When Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his home.

The Danites Settle in Laish

27 The Danites, having taken what Micah had made, and the priest who belonged to him, came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, put them to the sword, and burned down the city. 28There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with Aram.* It was in the valley that belongs to Beth-rehob. They rebuilt the city, and lived in it. 29They named the city Dan, after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel; but the name of the city was formerly Laish. 30Then the Danites set up the idol for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses,* and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the time the land went into captivity. 31So they maintained as their own Micah’s idol that he had made, as long as the house of God was at Shiloh.

The Levite’s Concubine

19In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite, residing in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, took to himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. 2But his concubine became angry with* him, and she went away from him to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there for some four months. 3Then her husband set out after her, to speak tenderly to her and bring her back. He had with him his servant and a couple of donkeys. When he reached* her father’s house, the girl’s father saw him and came with joy to meet him. 4His father-in-law, the girl’s father, made him stay, and he remained with him for three days; so they ate and drank, and he* stayed there. 5On the fourth day they got up early in the morning, and he prepared to go; but the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, ‘Fortify yourself with a bit of food, and after that you may go.’ 6So the two men sat and ate and drank together; and the girl’s father said to the man, ‘Why not spend the night and enjoy yourself?’ 7When the man got up to go, his father-in-law kept urging him until he spent the night there again. 8On the fifth day he got up early in the morning to leave; and the girl’s father said, ‘Fortify yourself.’ So they lingered* until the day declined, and the two of them ate and drank.* 9When the man with his concubine and his servant got up to leave, his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, ‘Look, the day has worn on until it is almost evening. Spend the night. See, the day has drawn to a close. Spend the night here and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow you can get up early in the morning for your journey, and go home.’

10 But the man would not spend the night; he got up and departed, and arrived opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). He had with him a couple of saddled donkeys, and his concubine was with him. 11When they were near Jebus, the day was far spent, and the servant said to his master, ‘Come now, let us turn aside to this city of the Jebusites, and spend the night in it.’ 12But his master said to him, ‘We will not turn aside into a city of foreigners, who do not belong to the people of Israel; but we will continue on to Gibeah.’ 13Then he said to his servant, ‘Come, let us try to reach one of these places, and spend the night at Gibeah or at Ramah.’ 14So they passed by and went on their way; and the sun went down on them near Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin. 15They turned aside there, to go in and spend the night at Gibeah. He went in and sat down in the open square of the city, but no one took them in to spend the night.

16 Then at evening there was an old man coming from his work in the field. The man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was residing in Gibeah. (The people of the place were Benjaminites.) 17When the old man looked up and saw the wayfarer in the open square of the city, he said, ‘Where are you going and where do you come from?’ 18He answered him, ‘We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, from which I come. I went to Bethlehem in Judah; and I am going to my home.* Nobody has offered to take me in. 19We your servants have straw and fodder for our donkeys, with bread and wine for me and the woman and the young man along with us. We need nothing more.’ 20The old man said, ‘Peace be to you. I will care for all your wants; only do not spend the night in the square.’ 21So he brought him into his house, and fed the donkeys; they washed their feet, and ate and drank.

Gibeah’s Crime

22 While they were enjoying themselves, the men of the city, a depraved lot, surrounded the house, and started pounding on the door. They said to the old man, the master of the house, ‘Bring out the man who came into your house, so that we may have intercourse with him.’ 23And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, ‘No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Since this man is my guest, do not do this vile thing. 24Here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do whatever you want to them; but against this man do not do such a vile thing.’ 25But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine, and put her out to them. They wantonly raped her, and abused her all through the night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. 26As morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light.

27 In the morning her master got up, opened the doors of the house, and when he went out to go on his way, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28‘Get up,’ he said to her, ‘we are going.’ But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey; and the man set out for his home. 29When he had entered his house, he took a knife, and grasping his concubine he cut her into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. 30Then he commanded the men whom he sent, saying, ‘Thus shall you say to all the Israelites, “Has such a thing ever happened* since the day that the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt until this day? Consider it, take counsel, and speak out.”

The Other Tribes Attack Benjamin

20Then all the Israelites came out, from Dan to Beer-sheba, including the land of Gilead, and the congregation assembled in one body before the Lord at Mizpah. 2The chiefs of all the people, of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand foot-soldiers bearing arms. 3(Now the Benjaminites heard that the people of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the Israelites said, ‘Tell us, how did this criminal act come about?’ 4The Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered, ‘I came to Gibeah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to spend the night. 5The lords of Gibeah rose up against me, and surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me, and they raped my concubine until she died. 6Then I took my concubine and cut her into pieces, and sent her throughout the whole extent of Israel’s territory; for they have committed a vile outrage in Israel. 7So now, you Israelites, all of you, give your advice and counsel here and now.’

8 All the people got up as one, saying, ‘We will not any of us go to our tents, nor will any of us return to our houses. 9But now this is what we will do to Gibeah: we will go up* against it by lot. 10We will take ten men of a hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred of a thousand, and a thousand of ten thousand, to bring provisions for the troops, who are going to repay* Gibeah of Benjamin for all the disgrace that they have done in Israel.’ 11So all the men of Israel gathered against the city, united as one.

12 The tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, ‘What crime is this that has been committed among you? 13Now then, hand over those scoundrels in Gibeah, so that we may put them to death, and purge the evil from Israel.’ But the Benjaminites would not listen to their kinsfolk, the Israelites. 14The Benjaminites came together out of the towns to Gibeah, to go out to battle against the Israelites. 15On that day the Benjaminites mustered twenty-six thousand armed men from their towns, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah. 16Of all this force, there were seven hundred picked men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair, and not miss. 17And the Israelites, apart from Benjamin, mustered four hundred thousand armed men, all of them warriors.

18 The Israelites proceeded to go up to Bethel, where they inquired of God, ‘Which of us shall go up first to battle against the Benjaminites?’ And the Lord answered, ‘Judah shall go up first.’

19 Then the Israelites got up in the morning, and encamped against Gibeah. 20The Israelites went out to battle against Benjamin; and the Israelites drew up the battle line against them at Gibeah. 21The Benjaminites came out of Gibeah, and struck down on that day twenty-two thousand of the Israelites. 23*The Israelites went up and wept before the Lord until the evening; and they inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall we again draw near to battle against our kinsfolk the Benjaminites?’ And the Lord said, ‘Go up against them.’ 22The Israelites took courage, and again formed the battle line in the same place where they had formed it on the first day.

24 So the Israelites advanced against the Benjaminites on the second day. 25Benjamin moved out against them from Gibeah the second day, and struck down eighteen thousand of the Israelites, all of them armed men. 26Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went back to Bethel and wept, sitting there before the Lord; they fasted that day until evening. Then they offered burnt-offerings and sacrifices of well-being before the Lord. 27And the Israelites inquired of the Lord (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28and Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, ministered before it in those days), saying, ‘Shall we go out once more to battle against our kinsfolk the Benjaminites, or shall we desist?’ The Lord answered, ‘Go up, for tomorrow I will give them into your hand.’

29 So Israel stationed men in ambush around Gibeah. 30Then the Israelites went up against the Benjaminites on the third day, and set themselves in array against Gibeah, as before. 31When the Benjaminites went out against the army, they were drawn away from the city. As before they began to inflict casualties on the troops, along the main roads, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah, as well as in the open country, killing about thirty men of Israel. 32The Benjaminites thought, ‘They are being routed before us, as previously.’ But the Israelites said, ‘Let us retreat and draw them away from the city towards the roads.’ 33The main body of the Israelites drew back its battle line to Baal-tamar, while those Israelites who were in ambush rushed out of their place west* of Geba. 34There came against Gibeah ten thousand picked men out of all Israel, and the battle was fierce. But the Benjaminites did not realize that disaster was close upon them.

35 The Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel; and the Israelites destroyed twenty-five thousand one hundred men of Benjamin that day, all of them armed.

36 Then the Benjaminites saw that they were defeated.*

The Israelites gave ground to Benjamin, because they trusted to the troops in ambush that they had stationed against Gibeah. 37The troops in ambush rushed quickly upon Gibeah. Then they put the whole city to the sword. 38Now the agreement between the main body of Israel and the men in ambush was that when they sent up a cloud of smoke out of the city 39the main body of Israel should turn in battle. But Benjamin had begun to inflict casualties on the Israelites, killing about thirty of them; so they thought, ‘Surely they are defeated before us, as in the first battle.’ 40But when the cloud, a column of smoke, began to rise out of the city, the Benjaminites looked behind them—and there was the whole city going up in smoke towards the sky! 41Then the main body of Israel turned, and the Benjaminites were dismayed, for they saw that disaster was close upon them. 42Therefore they turned away from the Israelites in the direction of the wilderness; but the battle overtook them, and those who came out of the city* were slaughtering them in between.* 43Cutting down* the Benjaminites, they pursued them from Nohah* and trod them down as far as a place east of Gibeah. 44Eighteen thousand Benjaminites fell, all of them courageous fighters. 45When they turned and fled towards the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, five thousand of them were cut down on the main roads, and they were pursued as far as Gidom, and two thousand of them were slain. 46So all who fell that day of Benjamin were twenty-five thousand arms-bearing men, all of them courageous fighters. 47But six hundred turned and fled towards the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and remained at the rock of Rimmon for four months. 48Meanwhile, the Israelites turned back against the Benjaminites, and put them to the sword—the city, the people, the animals, and all that remained. Also the remaining towns they set on fire.

The Benjaminites Saved from Extinction

21Now the Israelites had sworn at Mizpah, ‘No one of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.’ 2And the people came to Bethel, and sat there until evening before God, and they lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. 3They said, ‘O Lord, the God of Israel, why has it come to pass that today there should be one tribe lacking in Israel?’ 4On the next day, the people got up early, and built an altar there, and offered burnt-offerings and sacrifices of well-being. 5Then the Israelites said, ‘Which of all the tribes of Israel did not come up in the assembly to the Lord?’ For a solemn oath had been taken concerning whoever did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah, saying, ‘That one shall be put to death.’ 6But the Israelites had compassion for Benjamin their kin, and said, ‘One tribe is cut off from Israel this day. 7What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by the Lord that we will not give them any of our daughters as wives?’

8 Then they said, ‘Is there anyone from the tribes of Israel who did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah?’ It turned out that no one from Jabesh-gilead had come to the camp, to the assembly. 9For when the roll was called among the people, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there. 10So the congregation sent twelve thousand soldiers there and commanded them, ‘Go, put the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead to the sword, including the women and the little ones. 11This is what you shall do; every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall devote to destruction.’ 12And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man and brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

13 Then the whole congregation sent word to the Benjaminites who were at the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them. 14Benjamin returned at that time; and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead; but they did not suffice for them.

15 The people had compassion on Benjamin because the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. 16So the elders of the congregation said, ‘What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since there are no women left in Benjamin?’ 17And they said, ‘There must be heirs for the survivors of Benjamin, in order that a tribe may not be blotted out from Israel. 18Yet we cannot give any of our daughters to them as wives.’ For the Israelites had sworn, ‘Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to Benjamin.’ 19So they said, ‘Look, the yearly festival of the Lord is taking place at Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.’ 20And they instructed the Benjaminites, saying, ‘Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, 21and watch; when the young women of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards and each of you carry off a wife for himself from the young women of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22Then if their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them, “Be generous and allow us to have them; because we did not capture in battle a wife for each man. But neither did you incur guilt by giving your daughters to them.” 23The Benjaminites did so; they took wives for each of them from the dancers whom they abducted. Then they went and returned to their territory, and rebuilt the towns, and lived in them. 24So the Israelites departed from there at that time by tribes and families, and they went out from there to their own territories.

25 In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.

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