Samson Troubles the Philistines

At the time of the wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife, taking a young goat with him. He said, “I’m going to my wife’s room,” but her father would not let him go in.

He said to Samson, “I thought you really hated your wife, so I gave her to your best man. Her younger sister is more beautiful. Take her instead.”

But Samson said to them, “This time no one will blame me for hurting you Philistines!” So Samson went out and caught three hundred foxes. He took two foxes at a time, tied their tails together, and then tied a torch to the tails of each pair of foxes. After he lit the torches, he let the foxes loose in the grainfields of the Philistines so that he burned up their standing grain, the piles of grain, their vineyards, and their olive trees.

The Philistines asked, “Who did this?”

Someone told them, “Samson, the son-in-law of the man from Timnah, did because his father-in-law gave his wife to his best man.”

So the Philistines burned Samson’s wife and her father to death. Then Samson said to the Philistines, “Since you did this, I won’t stop until I pay you back!” Samson attacked the Philistines and killed many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.

The Philistines went up and camped in the land of Judah, near a place named Lehi. 10 The men of Judah asked them, “Why have you come here to fight us?”

They answered, “We have come to make Samson our prisoner, to pay him back for what he did to our people.”

11 Then three thousand men of Judah went to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “What have you done to us? Don’t you know that the Philistines rule over us?”

Samson answered, “I only paid them back for what they did to me.”

12 Then they said to him, “We have come to tie you up and to hand you over to the Philistines.”

Samson said to them, “Promise me you will not hurt me yourselves.”

13 The men from Judah said, “We agree. We will just tie you up and give you to the Philistines. We will not kill you.” So they tied Samson with two new ropes and led him up from the cave in the rock. 14 When Samson came to the place named Lehi, the Philistines came to meet him, shouting for joy. Then the Spirit of the Lord entered Samson and gave him great power. The ropes on him weakened like burned strings and fell off his hands! 15 Samson found the jawbone of a dead donkey, took it, and killed a thousand men with it!

16 Then Samson said,

“With a donkey’s jawbone

I made donkeys out of them.

With a donkey’s jawbone

I killed a thousand men!”

17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone. So that place was named Ramath Lehi.[a]

18 Samson was very thirsty, so he cried out to the Lord, “You gave me, your servant, this great victory. Do I have to die of thirst now? Do I have to be captured by people who are not circumcised?” 19 Then God opened up a hole in the ground at Lehi, and water came out. When Samson drank, he felt better; he felt strong again. So he named that spring Caller’s Spring, which is still in Lehi.

20 Samson judged Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.


  1. 15:17 Ramath Lehi This name means “Jawbone Hill.”