Judges 12–14; Psalm 143

Jephthah’s Conflict with Ephraim

12 oThe men of Ephraim were called to arms, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, Why did you cross over to fight against the Ammonites and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house over you with fire. And Jephthah said to them, I and my people had a great dispute with the Ammonites, and when I called you, you did not save me from their hand. And when I saw that you would not save me, pI took my life in my hand and crossed over against the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me? Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought with Ephraim. And the men of Gilead struck Ephraim, because they said, qYou are fugitives of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and Manasseh. And the Gileadites captured rthe fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. And when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, Let me go over, the men of Gilead said to him, Are you an Ephraimite? When he said, No, they said to him, Then say Shibboleth, and he said, Sibboleth, for he could not pronounce it right. Then they seized him and slaughtered him at rthe fords of the Jordan. At that time 42,000 of the Ephraimites fell.

Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in his city in Gilead.1

Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon

After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside his clan, and thirty daughters he brought in from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.

11 After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

13 After him Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty ssons and thirty grandsons, who trode on seventy donkeys, and he judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

The Birth of Samson

13 And the people of Israel again udid what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them vinto the hand of the Philistines for forty years.

There was a certain man of wZorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. xAnd his wife was barren and had no children. yAnd the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful zand drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. aNo razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be za Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall bbegin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines. Then the woman came and told her husband, cA man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. dI did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, but he said to me, eBehold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.

Then Manoah prayed to the Lord and said, O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born. And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field. But Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, Behold, the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me. 11 And Manoah arose and went after his wife and came to the man and said to him, Are you the man who spoke to this woman? And he said, I am. 12 And Manoah said, Now when your words come true, fwhat is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission? 13 And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. 14 She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, gneither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her let her observe.

15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, Please let us detain you and hprepare a young goat for you. 16 And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord. (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.) 17 And Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, iWhat is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you? 18 And the angel of the Lord said to him, jWhy do you ask my name, seeing kit is wonderful? 19 So lManoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to the one who works2 wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. 20 And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, mand they fell on their faces to the ground.

21 The angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. nThen Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord. 22 And Manoah said to his wife, nWe shall surely die, for we have seen God. 23 But his wife said to him, If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these. 24 And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. oAnd the young man grew, and the Lord blessed him. 25 pAnd the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between qZorah and Eshtaol.

Samson’s Marriage

14 rSamson went down to sTimnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. Then he came up and told his father and mother, I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. tNow get her for me as my wife. But his father and mother said to him, Is there not a woman among the daughters uof your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the vuncircumcised Philistines? But Samson said to his father, Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.

His father and mother did not know that it was wfrom the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. xAt that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.

Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring. yThen the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she was right in Samson’s eyes.

After some days he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. He scraped it out into his hands and went on, eating as he went. And he came to his father and mother and gave some to them, and they ate. But he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion.

10 His father went down to the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, for so the young men used to do. 11 As soon as the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. 12 And Samson said to them, zLet me now put a riddle to you. If you can tell me what it is, within athe seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty bchanges of clothes, 13 but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes. And they said to him, Put your riddle, that we may hear it. 14 And he said to them,

Out of the eater came something to eat.

Out of the strong came something sweet.

And in three days they could not solve the riddle.

15 On the fourth3 day they said to Samson’s wife, cEntice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, dlest we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us? 16 And Samson’s wife wept over him and said, eYou only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is. And he said to her, Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you? 17 She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because fshe pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. 18 And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,

What is sweeter than honey?

What is stronger than a lion?

And he said to them,

If you had not plowed with my heifer,

you would not have found out my riddle.

19 gAnd the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and he went down to hAshkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to ihis companion, jwho had been his best man.


My Soul Thirsts for You

A Psalm of David.

143  Hear my prayer, O Lord;

cgive ear to my pleas for mercy!

In your dfaithfulness answer me, in your drighteousness!

eEnter not into judgment with your servant,

for no one living is righteous fbefore you.

For the enemy has pursued my soul;

ghe has crushed my life to the ground;

hhe has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.

Therefore my spirit ifaints within me;

my heart within me is appalled.

jI remember the days of old;

kI meditate on all that you have done;

I ponder the work of your hands.

lI stretch out my hands to you;

mmy soul thirsts for you like na parched land. Selah

oAnswer me quickly, O Lord!

pMy spirit fails!

qHide not your face from me,

rlest I be like those who go down to the pit.

sLet me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,

for in you I ttrust.

uMake me know the way I should go,

vfor to you I lift up my soul.

wDeliver me from my enemies, O Lord!

I have fled to you for refuge.1

10  xTeach me to do your will,

for you are my God!

yLet your good Spirit zlead me

on alevel ground!

11  bFor your name’s sake, O Lord, cpreserve my life!

In your righteousness dbring my soul out of trouble!

12  And in your steadfast love you will ecut off my enemies,

and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,

for I am your fservant.