Judges 16

1One day Samson went to the city of Gaza. He saw a prostitute there. He went in to stay the night with her. 2Someone told the people of Gaza, “Samson has come here.” They wanted to kill Samson, so they surrounded the city. They hid near the city gate and waited all night for Samson. They were very quiet all night long. They had said to each other, “When morning comes, we will kill Samson.” 3But Samson only stayed with the prostitute until midnight. Samson got up at midnight. Samson grabbed the doors of the city gate and pulled them loose from the wall. Samson pulled down the doors, the two posts, and the bars that lock the door shut. Samson put those things on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill near the city of Hebron. 4Later, Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah. She was from Sorek Valley. 5The rulers of the Philistine people went to Delilah. They 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 of silver.” 6So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me why you are so strong. How could someone tie you up and make you helpless?” 7Samson answered, “Someone would have to tie me up with seven fresh, new bowstrings. If someone did that, I would be weak like any other man.” 8Then the rulers of the Philistine people brought seven fresh, new bowstrings to Delilah. Delilah tied up Samson with the bowstrings. 9Some 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 Philistine people did not find out the secret of Samson’s strength. 10Then Delilah said to Samson, “You lied to me! You made me look foolish. Please tell me the truth, how could someone tie you up?” 11Samson 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.” 12So 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. He broke them like they were threads. 13Then 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.” 14Later, Samson went to sleep. So Delilah used the loom to weave the seven braids of hair on his head. 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! 15Then 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.” 16She 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. 17Finally, 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, then I would lose my strength. I would become as weak as any other man.” 18Delilah saw that Samson had told her his secret. She sent a message to the rulers of the Philistine people. She said, “Come back again. Samson has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistine people came back to Delilah. They brought the money that they had promised to give her. 19Delilah got Samson to go to sleep while he was 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. Samson’s strength left him. 20Then Delilah called out to him, “Samson, the Philistine men are going to capture you!” He woke up and thought, “I will escape like I did before and free myself.” But Samson did not know that the Lord had left him. 21The 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 Samson in prison and made him work grinding grain. 22But Samson’s hair began to grow again. 23The rulers of the Philistine people 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.” 24When the Philistine people saw Samson, they praised their god. They said, This man destroyed our people! This man killed many of our people! But our god helped us take our enemy! 25The 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 Samson stand between the columns in the temple of the god Dagon. 26A servant was holding Samson’s hand. Samson said to him, “Put me where I can feel the columns that hold this temple up. I want to lean against them.” 27The temple was crowded with men and women. All the rulers of the Philistine people were there. There were about 3,000 men and women on the roof of the temple. They were laughing and making fun of Samson. 28Then Samson said a prayer to the Lord. He said, “Lord All-Powerful, remember me. God, please give me strength one more time. Let me do this one thing to punish these Philistines for tearing out my two eyes!” 29Then Samson held the two columns in the center of the temple. These two columns 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. 30Samson said, “Let me die with these Philistines!” Then he pushed as hard as he could. And the temple fell on the rulers and all the people in it. In this way, Samson killed many more Philistine people when he died than when he was alive. 31Samson’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. That tomb is between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson was a judge for the people of Israel for 20 years.

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