Judges 15:1-20

Samson fights against the Philistines

1 Later, Samson went to visit his wife at the time of the wheat harvest. He took a young goat with him as a gift. He said to her father, ‘I am going into my wife's room to sleep with her.’ But her father stopped him. 2 He said, ‘I was sure that you hated my daughter. So I have given her to your special friend to be his wife. Look at her younger sister. She is more beautiful. Take her as your wife, instead.’

3 Samson said, ‘This time I will not be guilty when I punish the Philistines!’

4 So he went out and he caught 300 foxes. He tied the foxes in pairs by their tails. He tied some dry grass to each pair of tails. 5 Then he lit the grass with fire. He made the foxes run through the fields where the wheat was growing. The fire destroyed all the Philistines' crops, whether they had already cut it down or not. The fire also destroyed their vines and their olive trees.

6 The Philistines asked, ‘Who did this?’ People said to them, ‘It was Samson, the man who married the young woman in Timnah. He did it because her father gave her to Samson's special friend instead of Samson.’

So the Philistines went and burned the man and his daughter to death. 7 Samson said to them, ‘Because you have done this, I will punish you. I will not stop until your punishment is complete.’ 8 He attacked them with great strength. He killed many of them.

After that, Samson went to live in a cave in the rock of Etam.

9 The Philistine army went to attack Judah. They made their camp near Lehi and they prepared to fight. 10 The men of Judah asked them, ‘Why have you come to attack us?’ The Philistines replied, ‘We have come to catch Samson and take him as our prisoner. We need to punish him in the same way that he has punished us.’

15:9Judah was one of the Israelite tribes.

11 Then 3,000 men of Judah went to the cave where Samson was hiding. They said to him, ‘You know that the Philistines are our rulers. You are causing them to give us trouble.’

Samson said, ‘I have only done to them as they did to me.’

12 The men of Judah said to him, ‘We have come to tie you up as our prisoner. We must let the Philistines take you away.’

Samson said, ‘Promise me that you will not kill me yourselves.’

13 They said, ‘We agree. We will only tie you up and give you to them. We promise that we will not kill you.’

So they tied him up with two new ropes. They took him with them away from the cave.

14 When they arrived at Lehi, the Philistine soldiers shouted happily as they came towards him. But the Lord's Spirit gave Samson great strength. The ropes that tied his arms broke in pieces. They seemed as weak as grass that burns in a fire. They fell from his hands. 15 He saw a bone from the skull of a donkey that had just died. He picked it up and he used it to kill 1,000 Philistine soldiers.

16 Then Samson sang this song:

‘I have used a donkey's skull to kill 1,000 men.

I have made them like many heaps of dead donkeys!’

17 After that, he threw away the bone from the donkey's skull. So people called that place ‘Ramath Lehi’.

15:17Ramath Lehi means ‘Skull-bone Hill’.

18 Samson was now very thirsty. He called out to the Lord for help. He said, ‘You have helped me to win a great battle. Should I now die because I am so thirsty? Then these Philistines would do whatever they want to me.’

19 So God caused a hole to open in the ground near Lehi. Water poured out of it. Samson drank some water and he became strong again. Samson called the spring of water ‘En Hakkore’. It is still there in Lehi.

15:19En Hakkore means ‘The spring of one who calls out for help’.

20 Samson led Israel for 20 years while the Philistines continued to rule the land.