The Jews kept on in their sins, and took no pains to please the Lord, and so fell into the hands of the Philistines.
And there was at that time a man in Israel whose name was Manoah. Both he and his wife served the Lord; and they had no child. And God sent one of his angels to the wife of Manoah to tell her that she should have a son who was to be brought up to serve the Lord, and to do his work.
Ere long Manoah and his wife had a son, to whom they gave the name of Samson.
And the child grew, and the Lord blest him. And when he was grown up he went to Tinmuth, where he met a Philistine woman and fell in love with her.
Then his parents plead with him to find a wife in Israel, and not to take this one who was no friend to his race. But Samson would not give her up.
So they went with him to Tinmuth. And on the way a lion ran out and roared at him. And Samson put his arms round the beast and tore him with his hands as if he had been a young kid. But he did not tell his father and mother what he had done.
The time soon came when Samson was to set the Jews free from the Philistines. And he went down to one of their towns and slew a few of their men, and then went back to his own home, while his wife stayed in Tinmuth.
When it was time to bring the wheat in from the field, Samson went down to see his wife, and took with him a young kid. But when he came to the house her father would not let him go in, and told him that she was his wife no more, but had gone to live with some one else. Then Samson was in a great rage, and he went and caught more than ten score foxes, and set bits of wood on fire, and tied these firebrands to their tails, and let them loose in the fields and vineyards of the Philistines.
And they set fire to the grain, and burnt it all up.
And the grapevines and fruit trees were burnt, and much harm was done.
When the Philistines found out that it was Samson who had done this they took his wife and her father and burnt them to death. And Samson fought and slew a host of the Philistines, and then went on the top of a high rock called Etam to stay there.
Then a crowd of men went up with a rush to the top of the rock, and they said to Samson, We have come to bind thee, that we may give thee into the hands of the Philistines.
Samson made them swear that they would not put him to death, and they bound him with strong cords and brought him down from the rock.
As they drew near the camp of the Philistines a great shout went up from the men there. And the Lord gave Samson such strength that he broke the cords from his arms as if they had been burnt threads.
And Samson took up the jawbone of an ass, and with it he fought the Philistines and slew a host of them.
Then a great thirst came on him, and there was no well near from which he could drink. And he grew so weak that he cried out to the Lord not to let him die of thirst or fall into the hands of his foes.
And the Lord made a spring at that place and water ran out, and when Samson had drunk, his strength came back to him.
Samson came to the town of Gaza, and went in a house there. Now the Philistines dwelt in Gaza, and when they heard that Samson was there they shut the gates of the town, and kept watch near them all night. They said when the day dawns we will kill him.
But in the dead of the night Samson rose up and came to the gates of the town, and when he found them shut he took them up—posts, bar and all—and bore them a long way off to the top of a hill.
Samson’s hair had not been cut, and it had grown thick and long. And there was a woman named Delilah whom Samson used to go and see. And when the Philistines heard of it they came to her and told her if she would find out how they might bind Samson and bear him off, they would give her a large sum of gold.
So when Samson came to Delilah’s house she said to him, Tell me, I pray thee what makes thee so strong, and with what thou couldst be bound and not break loose?
Samson said if they bound him with seven green withes—that is, cords made out of soft twigs—he would be so weak that he could not break them.
When Delilah told this to the Philistines they brought her seven green withes, and Samson let her bind him with them. Now she had men hid in her house who were to take Samson if he could not break the twigs. And when she had bound him she cried out, The Philistines seize thee, Samson! And as soon as she had said these words he broke the green withes as if they were burnt threads.
Then Delilah knew that Samson made fun of her and told her lies, and she said once more, Tell me, I pray thee, with what thou canst be bound and not break loose.
Samson told her if he were bound with new ropes, which had not been used, that his strength would leave him, and he would be too weak to break them.
So she took new ropes and bound him. But ere the men who were hid in the room could spring out and take him, Samson broke the ropes from his arms as if they had been threads.
Then Delilah told Samson that he did but mock her and tell her lies, and she begged him to let her know how he might be bound.
And he said if she would weave his hair with the web in the loom his strength would go from him. And she wove his long hair in with the web, and made it fast with a large peg that was part of the loom.
Then she cried out, and Samson rose up and went off with the great peg, and the whole of the web that was in the loom.
Then she said he did not love her or he would not make sport of her in this way. And she teased him each day, and gave him no peace, so that at last he had to tell her the truth.
He said his hair had not been cut since he was born, and if it were shaved off he would lose all his strength.
It was wrong for Samson to tell her this, for she was bad at heart and not a true friend. But he did not know then how great was his sin.
Delilah knew that this time Samson had told her the truth; so she sent for the Philistines to come up to her house.
Then while Samson slept, she had a man come in and shave all the hair from his head. And when this was done she cried out, The Philistines seize thee, Samson.
And he woke from his sleep, and knew not his strength had gone from him.
Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with chains of brass. And they made him fast to a millstone, and he had to work hard to grind their corn.
While he was shut up in jail Samson had time to think of his sins, and he no doubt cried out to the Lord to keep him. For his hair grew out and his strength came back. But the Philistines did not know this.
They had made their own god, and its name was Dagon. And they thought that Dagon gave Samson into their hands, and loud was their praise of him. And all the Philistines met in the large house that had been built for Dagon that they might bow down to their god and give him thanks.
The crowd was great, and their hearts were full of joy. And they said, Send for Samson that he may make sport for us. And poor blind Samson was brought in, and sat down in their midst. And those in the house and those on the roof made sport of him in all sorts of ways.
And Samson put his arms round two of the great posts that held up the house. And he bent down, and the house fell, and most of the Philistines were killed. Samson died with them, and by his death slew more of the foes of Israel than he had slain in all his life.