How a Strong Man Judged the Israelites

Again the Israelite people turned away from God, and so he let the Philistine people from the sea coast country rule over them. The Philistines ruled the Israelites for 40 years.

During that time there was a man from the tribe of Dan whose name was Manoah. He and his wife had not been able to have children, but one day the angel of the Lord appeared to his wife and said, "You are to give birth to a son. Do not drink any wine or beer and when your son is born do not cut his hair because he will be a Nazirite from the time he is born." Now among the Israelites, a person who made a promise to God was not supposed to drink wine or beer and was not to cut his hair for as long as the promise lasted. Such a person was chalked a Nazirite, and their son was a Nazirite all of his life.

When the boy was born, they named him Samson. He grew up to be very strong. He married a Philistine girl, but the marriage only brought trouble. He became angry with the Philistines and later when they killed his wife, he became very angry. He attacked and killed many of the Philistines. Then he went to live in a cave in Judah. The Philistines sent an army to attack the tribe of Judah, so the men of Judah took Samson prisoner and turned him over to the Philistines. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on him, and he broke the ropes that he was tied with. On the Ground he saw the Jawbone from a dead donkey and so he picked it up and killed a thousand Philistines with it. For twenty years he ruled as a judge over the Israelite people.

Later he again fell in love with a Philistine woman, named Delilah. The leaders from the five large Philistine cities came to her and promised to giver her 5500 pieces of silver if she would find out what made him so strong. She wanted the money more than she loved Samson, so she agreed. When she saw Samson she asked him what made him so strong. At first he told her, "If I am tied with seven fresh bowstrings, I will be as weak as anyone else." So while he was asleep she tied him up with seven fresh bowstrings. Then the Philistines attacked him. He woke up and broke the bowstrings. Later she asked him again what made him strong. He said, "If I am tied with new ropes that have never been used, I will be as weak as anyone else." So while he was asleep she tied him up with new unused ropes, but when the Philistines attacked him, he broke the ropes like threads. Again she asked him what made him strong. The third time he told her, "If you weave my long hair in a loom, I will be as weak as anyone else." So while he slept, she wove his hair in a loom but again when the Philistines attacked him, he pulled his hair from the loom and was still strong. The she told him, "You don't really love me, because you haven't told me what makes you strong." Day after day she kept asking him, and so finally he told her the truth, "If my hair is cut, I will be as weak as anyone else." So while he slept, she had a man come and cut off his hair. When the Philistines attacked him, he got up as before. But God had left him and he had lost his strength. The Philistines captured him and put out his eyes. Then they put him in prison and made him work like an animal, turning a mill to grind grain. But in prison his hair grew long again.

One day the Philistines gathered to worship their false god Dagon. They were happy and said, "Our God has given us victory over our enemy." They brought Samson out of prison to make fun of him. Because he was now blind, a boy led him around the building by the hand. He told the boy, "Lead me to the columns that hold up the building. I want to lean on them." So the boy led him to the two columns in the middle of the building. There he prayed, "Lord, give me my strength just this one time more." Then putting one hand on one column and the other hand on the other column, he pushed with all his strength. The columns fell over and the building fell down on top of the people. Samson was killed, and so were the three thousand Philistines gathered in the building. And so he killed more Philistines when he died than he had killed during his lifetime.

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