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Judah Fights the Canaanites

After Joshua died, the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] asked the ·Lord [or Yahweh; C the translation “Lord” (all caps) represents the divine name YHWH, usually pronounced “Yahweh”], “Who will ·be first to go and [lead the] fight for us against the Canaanites?”

The Lord said to them, “·The tribe of Judah [L Judah] will go. [L Look; T Behold] I have ·handed the land over to them [L given the land into his hand].”

·The men of Judah [L Judah] said to ·the men of Simeon, their relatives [L his brother Simeon], “Come and help us fight the Canaanites for our ·land [allotment]. If you do, we will go and help you fight for your ·land [allotment].” So ·the men of Simeon [L Simeon] went with them [C Simeon’s land lay within Judah; Josh. 19:1].

When Judah attacked, the Lord handed over the Canaanites and the Perizzites to them, and they defeated ten thousand men at the city of Bezek. ·There [L At Bezek] they found Adoni-Bezek [C the ruler of the city], and fought him. The men of Judah defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites, but Adoni-Bezek ran away. The men of Judah chased him, and when they caught him, they cut off his thumbs and big toes [C such mutilation was common in the ancient Near East, rendering a king unfit for military service or priestly functions; Lev. 8:23–24].

Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings whose thumbs and big toes had been cut off used to eat scraps that fell from my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” The men of Judah took Adoni-Bezek to Jerusalem, and he died there.

Then the ·men [L sons] of Judah fought against Jerusalem and captured it. They ·attacked with their swords [L struck it with the edge of the sword] and burned the city [C a temporary conquest; David later captured the city; 2 Sam. 5:7].

Later, they went down to fight the Canaanites who lived in the mountains, in the ·dry [or hill] country ·to the south [L in the Negev], and in the ·western hills [or lowland]. 10 ·The men of Judah [L Judah] went to fight against the Canaanites in the city of Hebron (which used to be called Kiriath Arba [Gen. 13:18; 23:2; Josh. 14:15]). And they defeated Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai [Num. 13:22; Josh. 15:14].

Caleb and His Daughter

11 Then they left there and went to fight against the people living in Debir. (In the past Debir had been called Kiriath Sepher.) 12 Before attacking the city, Caleb said, “I will give Acsah, my daughter, as a wife to the man who attacks and captures the city of Kiriath Sepher.” 13 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, captured the city, so Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to Othniel to be his wife. 14 When Acsah came to ·Othniel [L him; C could be Othniel or Caleb], she ·told him to ask [or asked] her father for a field. When she got down from her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What do you want?” [Josh. 15:16–18]

15 Acsah answered him, “·Do me a special favor [L Give me a blessing]. Since you have given me land in ·southern Canaan [L the Negev], also give me springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs [Josh. 15:19].

Fights with the Canaanites

16 The ·Kenite people, who were from the family of [L sons/descendants of the Kenite] Moses’ father-in-law [Ex. 2:16], left the city of palm trees [C Jericho]. They went with the men of Judah to the ·Desert [Wilderness] of Judah to live with them there in ·southern Judah [L the Negev] near the city of Arad.

17 The men of Judah and the men of Simeon [1:3], their ·relatives [brothers], defeated the Canaanites who lived in Zephath. They ·completely destroyed the city [devoted it to the Lord for destruction; see Josh. 2:10; 6:17–19], so they called it Hormah [C sounds like Hebrew for “total destruction”]. 18 The men of Judah captured Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron [C Philistine cities along the coast], and the lands around them.

19 The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took the land in the ·mountains [hill country], but they could not force out the people living on the plain, because they had iron chariots [C wooden chariots with iron fittings]. 20 As Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, and Caleb forced out the three sons of Anak [Num. 14:24; Deut. 1:36; Josh. 14:9–14]. 21 But the people of Benjamin could not ·make the Jebusite people leave [L drive out the Jebusites from] Jerusalem. Since that time the Jebusites have lived with the ·Benjaminites [L sons of Benjamin] in Jerusalem.

22 The ·men [L house] of Joseph went to fight against the city of Bethel, and the Lord was with them. 23 They sent some spies to Bethel (which used to be called Luz). 24 The spies saw a man coming out of the city and said to him, “Show us a way into the city, and we will ·be kind to [have mercy on; or reward] you.” 25 So the man showed them the way into the city. The men of Joseph ·attacked with swords the people in Bethel [L struck the city with the edge of the sword], but they let the man and his family go free. 26 He went to the land where the Hittites lived [C in Syria, north of Israel] and built a city. He named it Luz, which it is called even today.

27 The people of Manasseh did not ·force [drive] out the inhabitants of the cities of Beth Shan, Taanach, Dor, Ibleam, Megiddo, nor the small towns around them, because the Canaanites were determined to stay there. 28 Later, the Israelites grew strong and forced the Canaanites ·to work as slaves [into forced labor], but they did not ·make all the Canaanites leave their land [L drive them out completely]. 29 The people of Ephraim did not ·force [drive] out all of the Canaanites living in Gezer. So the Canaanites continued to live in Gezer with the people of Ephraim. 30 The people of Zebulun did not force out the Canaanites living in the cities of Kitron and Nahalol. They stayed and lived with the people of Zebulun, but Zebulun ·made them work as slaves [forced them into hard labor].

31 The people of Asher did not ·force [drive out] the Canaanites from the cities of Acco, Sidon, Ahlab, Aczib, Helbah, Aphek, and Rehob [C cities on the Mediterranean Sea north of Carmel and inland from the coast]. 32 Since the people of Asher did not ·force [drive] them out, the Canaanites continued to live with them. 33 The people of Naphtali did not ·force [drive] out the people of the cities of Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath [C the region east of Asher]. So they continued to live with the Canaanites in those cities, and the Canaanites ·worked as slaves [did forced labor]. 34 The Amorites forced the Danites back into the ·mountains [hill country] and would not let them come down to live in the plain [Josh. 19:47–48; Judg. 18]. 35 The Amorites were determined to stay in Mount Heres, Aijalon, and Shaalbim. But when the Israelites grew stronger, they made the Amorites ·work as slaves [do forced labor]. 36 The land of the Amorites was from ·Scorpion [or Akrabbim; C Hebrew for “scorpion”] ·Pass [or Ascent; C south of the Dead Sea] to Sela and beyond.

The Angel of the Lord at Bokim

The ·angel [messenger] of the Lord [C an angelic spokesperson for God, sometimes identified with the Lord himself; Gen. 16:7; Ex. 14:19; 23:20] went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up from Egypt and led you to the land I promised to give your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my ·agreement [covenant] with you [Gen. 17:7; Ex. 6:4]. But you must not make an ·agreement [covenant] with the people who live in this land [Ex. 23:32]. You must ·destroy [tear down] their altars [Deut. 7:2].’ But you did not obey me. How could you do this [L What is this you have done]? ·Now I tell you [or Then I told you; Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:12–13], ‘I will not ·force [drive] out the people in this land. They will ·be your enemies [or ensnare you; or be thorns in your side], and their gods will be a ·trap [snare] for you.’”

After the angel gave ·Israel [L the sons/T children of Israel] this message from the Lord, they ·cried loudly [L lifted up their voices and wept]. So they named the place Bokim [C “weeping ones”]. There they offered sacrifices to the Lord.

Joshua Dies

After Joshua ·dismissed [sent away] the people, the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] went to take possession of the land that they had been given. The people ·served [worshiped; remained faithful to] the Lord during the lifetime of Joshua and during the lifetimes of the elders who ·lived after [outlived] Joshua and who had seen what great things the Lord had done for Israel. Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of one hundred ten. They buried him in ·his own land [the territory of his inheritance] at Timnath Heres [C also known as Timnath Serah; Josh. 19:50; 24:30] in the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

The People Disobey

10 After ·those people [L the whole generation] ·had died [L were gathered to their fathers/ancestors], ·their children [L another generation] grew up and did not know the Lord or what he had done for Israel. 11 So ·they [L the sons/T children of Israel] did ·what the Lord said was wrong [L evil in the eyes/sight of the Lord], and they worshiped the ·Baal idols [L Baals; C Baal was the main god of the Canaanites, but had many local manifestations]. 12 They ·quit following [abandoned] the Lord, the God of their ancestors who had brought them out of Egypt. They began to worship the gods of the people who lived around them, and that made the Lord angry. 13 The Israelites ·quit following [abandoned] the Lord and worshiped Baal and Ashtoreth. 14 The Lord was angry with the people of Israel, so he ·handed them over to [gave them into the hand of] ·robbers [raiders; plunderers] who took their possessions. He ·let their enemies who lived around them defeat them [L sold them into the hand of their enemies around them]; they could not ·protect themselves [resist/L stand before them]. 15 When the Israelites went out to fight, ·they always lost, because the Lord was not with them [L the hand of the Lord was against them for harm/evil]. The Lord had sworn to them this would happen. So the Israelites ·suffered very much [were in great distress].

God Chooses Judges

16 Then the Lord ·chose leaders called [L raised up] ·judges [leaders; C not courtroom judges, but leaders who guided the nation through difficult times, sometimes as military commanders], ·who saved the Israelites from [L to deliver them from the hand of] the ·robbers [raiders; plunderers]. 17 But the Israelites did not listen to their ·judges [leaders; v. 16]. They ·were not faithful to God but [L prostituted themselves to and] worshiped other gods instead. Their ancestors had ·obeyed [L walked in the way/path of] the Lord’s commands, but they quickly turned away and did not obey. 18 Whenever the Lord sent ·judges [leaders] to save the Israelites from their enemies, he was with that ·judge [leader] and rescued the people during that ·judge’s [leader’s] lifetime. The Lord ·felt sorry for them [took pity on them; or relented] when they cried for help because of those who ·hurt [oppressed and afflicted] them. 19 But when the ·judges [leaders; 2:16] died, the Israelites ·again sinned [returned to their corrupt ways] and worshiped other gods. They became worse than their ancestors. The Israelites were very stubborn and refused to change their evil ways.

20 So the ·Lord became angry with [L anger of the Lord burned against] the Israelites. He said, “These people have ·broken [violated] the ·agreement [covenant] I made with their ancestors. They have not listened to me. 21 I will no longer ·defeat [L drive out before them] the nations who were left when Joshua died. 22 I will use them to test Israel, to see if Israel will keep ·the Lord’s commands [L the way of the Lord to walk in it] as their ancestors did.” 23 In the past the Lord had permitted those nations to stay in the land. He did not quickly ·force [drive] them out or ·help Joshua’s army defeat them [L give them into the hand of Joshua].

These are the nations the Lord did not force to leave. He wanted to test the Israelites who had not ·fought in [experienced; known] the wars of Canaan. (The only reason the Lord left those nations in the land was to teach the descendants of the Israelites who had not fought in those wars how to fight.) These are the nations: the five ·rulers [lords] of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the people of Sidon, and the Hivites who lived in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. Those nations were in the land to test the Israelites—to see if they would obey the commands the Lord had given to their ancestors by [L the hand of] Moses.

The people of Israel lived with the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. The Israelites ·began to marry [L took as wives] the daughters of those people, and they ·allowed their daughters to marry [L gave their daughters to] the sons of those people. Israel also served their gods.

Othniel, the First Judge

The ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] did ·what the Lord said was wrong [L evil in the eyes/sight of the Lord]. They forgot about the Lord their God and served the ·idols of Baal [L Baals; 2:11] and ·Asherah [L Asherahs; C sacred trees or poles dedicated to the goddess Asherah; Deut. 16:21; Judg. 6:25]. So the Lord ·was angry with [L burned in anger against] Israel and allowed ·Cushan-Rishathaim [or Cushan, the Doubly Wicked] king of ·northwest Mesopotamia [or Aram Naharaim; C Naharaim means “two rivers,” referring to Mesopotamia] to rule over the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] for eight years. When Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord ·sent someone to save them [L raised up a deliverer]. Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, saved the Israelites. 10 The Spirit of the Lord ·entered [enpowered; came upon; was upon] Othniel, and he became Israel’s ·judge [leader; 2:16]. When he went to war, the Lord ·handed over to him [L gave into his hand] ·Cushan-Rishathaim [or Cushan, the Doubly Wicked; v. 8] king of ·northwest Mesopotamia [or Aram Naharaim; v. 8]. 11 So the land was at ·peace [rest] for forty years. Then Othniel son of Kenaz died.

Ehud, the Judge

12 Again the ·people [L sons/T children] of Israel did ·what the Lord said was wrong [L evil in the eyes/sight of the Lord]. So the Lord gave Eglon king of Moab power to defeat Israel because of the evil Israel did. 13 Eglon got the ·Ammonites and the Amalekites [L sons/descendants of Ammon and Amalek] to join him. Then he attacked Israel and took the city of palm trees [C Jericho]. 14 So the ·people [L sons; T children] of Israel were ·ruled by [subject to] Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.

15 When the people cried to the Lord, he ·sent someone to save [L raised up a rescuer/T deliverer for] them. He was Ehud, son of Gera from the people of Benjamin, who was ·left-handed [L bound in the right hand]. Israel sent Ehud to give Eglon king of Moab the ·payment [tribute money] he demanded. 16 Ehud made himself a sword with two edges, ·about eighteen inches [L a cubit; C the distance between the elbow and the tip of the fingers] long, and he tied it to his right hip under his clothes. 17 Ehud gave Eglon king of Moab the ·payment [tribute money] he demanded. Now Eglon was a very fat man [C Eglon means “fat calf”]. 18 After he had given Eglon the ·payment [tribute money], Ehud ·sent away [dismissed] the people who had carried it. 19 When he passed the ·statues [images; idols] near Gilgal, he turned around [C Ehud returned to Eglon’s palace and sought a private audience with the king] and said to Eglon, “I have a secret message for you, King Eglon.”

The king said, “·Be quiet [Silence; or Give us privacy]!” Then he sent all of his servants out of the room. 20 Ehud went to King Eglon, as he was sitting alone in the ·room above his summer palace [L cool upper room; C probably a breezy roof-top room with lattice windows; perhaps a bathroom].

Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king stood up from his chair [C perhaps an act of reverence to receive the divine oracle], 21 Ehud reached with his left hand and took out the sword that was tied to his right hip [C the unusual location on the right allowed concealment and caught the king by surprise]. Then he stabbed the sword deep into the king’s belly! 22 Even the handle sank in, and ·the blade came out his back [or his bowels discharged]. The king’s fat covered the whole sword, so Ehud left the sword in Eglon. 23 Then he went out ·of the room [or to the porch/vestibule; or through the latrine] and closed and locked the doors behind him.

24 When the servants returned just after Ehud left, they found the doors to the room locked. So they thought the king was ·relieving himself [L covering his feet; C a euphemism]. 25 They waited for a long time. Finally they became ·worried [anxious; or embarrassed] because he still had not opened the doors. So they got the key and unlocked them and ·saw [L look; T behold] their king lying dead on the floor!

26 While the servants were waiting, Ehud had escaped. He passed by the ·statues [idols; images] and went to Seirah. 27 When he reached the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim he blew the trumpet. The ·people [L sons; T children] of Israel heard it and went down from the hills with Ehud leading them.

28 He said to them, “Follow me! The Lord has ·helped you to defeat [L given into your hand] your enemies, the Moabites.” So Israel followed Ehud and captured the ·crossings [fords] of the Jordan River ·across from [or against] Moab. They did not allow the Moabites to cross the Jordan River. 29 Israel killed about ten thousand strong and able men from Moab; not one escaped. 30 So that day Moab was ·forced to be under the rule of Israel [L subdued/made subject that day under the hand of Israel], and there was ·peace [rest] in the land for eighty years.

Shamgar, the Judge

31 After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath saved Israel. Shamgar killed six hundred Philistines with ·a sharp stick used to guide oxen [an oxgoad].

Deborah, the Woman Judge

After Ehud died, the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] again did ·what the Lord said was wrong [L evil in the eyes/sight of the Lord]. So he ·let them be defeated by [L sold them into the hands of] Jabin, a king of Canaan who ruled in the city of Hazor. Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim, was the commander of Jabin’s army. Because he had nine hundred ·iron [iron-clad; iron-fitted; 1:19] chariots and ·was very cruel to [harshly oppressed] the ·people [L sons; T children] of Israel for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help.

A prophetess named Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was ·judging [leading; 2:16] Israel at that time. Deborah would sit under the Palm Tree of Deborah, which was between the cities of Ramah and Bethel, in the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim. And the ·people [L sons; T children] of Israel would come to her ·to settle their arguments [L for judgment].

Deborah ·sent a message to [or sent for; summoned] Barak son of Abinoam. Barak lived in ·the city of Kedesh, which is in the area of Naphtali [L Kedesh-Naphtali]. Deborah said to Barak, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go and gather ten thousand ·men [L sons] of Naphtali and Zebulun [C two tribes covering most of Israel’s area north of the Jezreel Valley] and lead them to Mount Tabor [C a cone-shaped mountain in Jezreel Valley southwest of Lake Galilee]. I will ·make [L draw/pull out] Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, and his chariots, and his army meet you at the Kishon River. I will ·hand Sisera over to you [L give him into your hand].’”

Then Barak said to Deborah, “I will go if you will go with me, but if you won’t go with me, I won’t go.”

“·Of course [Certainly; L Going] I will go with you,” Deborah answered, “but you will not get ·credit [honor; glory; fame] ·for the victory [L in the road/way/venture you are taking]. The Lord will ·let a woman defeat Sisera [L sell Sisera into the hand of a woman].” So Deborah [L arose and] went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 At Kedesh, Barak ·called [summoned] the people of Zebulun and Naphtali together. ·From them, he gathered ten thousand men to follow him [L Ten thousand men went up at his feet], and Deborah went with him also.

11 Now Heber the Kenite had ·left [separated/moved away from] the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ ·brother-in-law [or father-in-law]. Heber had put up his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim, near Kedesh [C this verse introduces the family of Jael, the woman alluded to by Deborah in v. 9; see v. 17].

12 When Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera gathered his nine hundred ·iron [iron-clad; iron-fitted; v. 3] chariots and all the men with him, from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River.

14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get up! Today is the day the Lord ·will hand over Sisera [L has given Sisera into your hand]. The Lord has ·already cleared the way for [L gone out before] you.” So Barak led ten thousand men down Mount Tabor. 15 As Barak approached, the Lord ·confused [caused to panic; or routed] Sisera and his army and chariots. The Lord defeated them with the [L edge of the] sword, but Sisera ·left [jumped out of] his chariot and ran away on foot. 16 Barak and his men chased Sisera’s chariots and army to Harosheth Haggoyim. ·With their swords [L By the edge of the sword] they killed all of Sisera’s men; not one of them was left alive.

17 But Sisera himself ran away to the tent where Jael lived. She was the wife of Heber, one of the Kenite family groups [v. 11]. ·Heber’s family [L The house of Heber] ·was at peace [or had an alliance] with Jabin king of Hazor. 18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “·Come into my tent [L Turn aside], master! Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So Sisera went into Jael’s tent, and she covered him with a ·rug [or blanket].

19 Sisera said to Jael, “I am thirsty. Please give me some water to drink.” So she opened a ·leather bag [goatskin] of milk and gave him a drink. Then she covered him up.

20 He said to her, “Go stand at the entrance to the tent. If anyone comes and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say, ‘No.’”

21 But Jael, the wife of Heber, took a tent peg and a hammer and ·quietly [secretly] went to Sisera. Since he was very tired, he was in a deep sleep. She hammered the tent peg through the side of Sisera’s ·head [temple; or mouth] and into the ground. And so Sisera died.

22 ·At that very moment [T And behold] Barak came by Jael’s tent, chasing Sisera. Jael went out to meet him and said, “Come. I will show you the man you are looking for.” So Barak entered her tent, and there Sisera lay dead, with the tent peg in his ·head [temple; or mouth].

23 On that day God ·defeated [subdued; humiliated] Jabin king of Canaan ·in the sight of [L before the sons/T children of] Israel.

24 ·Israel became stronger and stronger [L The hand of sons/T children of Israel pressed harder and harder] against Jabin king of Canaan until finally they destroyed him.

The Song of Deborah

On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:

“·The leaders led Israel [or When locks of hair grow in Israel; C referring to the keeping of a Nazirite vow (Num. 6:5); the Hebrew here is obscure].
    The ·people [nation] ·volunteered to go to battle [answered the call; offered themselves willingly].
    ·Praise [Bless] the Lord!
Listen, kings.
    Pay attention, rulers!
I ·myself [even I] will sing to the Lord.
    I will ·make music [or sing praises] to the Lord, the God of Israel.

Lord, when you came from Seir [C another name for Edom],
    when you marched from the ·land [or fields] of Edom,
the earth shook,
    the ·skies [heavens] ·rained [poured; dropped],
    and the clouds ·dropped [poured] water.
The mountains ·shook [quaked] before the Lord, the God of Mount Sinai,
    before the Lord, the God of Israel!

“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath [3:31],
    in the days of Jael, the ·main roads were empty [highways were deserted; or caravans were no more].
    Travelers went on ·the back roads [winding paths; C because of Canaanite robbers on the highways].
·There were no warriors in Israel [or The villagers/peasants would not fight; or The villagers deserted their villages]
    until ·I [or you], Deborah, arose,
    until ·I [or you] arose to be a mother to Israel.
At that time ·they chose to follow new gods [or God chose new leaders/warriors].
    Because of this, ·enemies fought us at our [war came to the] city gates.
·No one could find a shield or a spear [L A shield, it could not be seen, nor a spear]
    among the forty thousand people of Israel.
My heart is with the ·commanders [leaders; princes] of Israel.
    ·They volunteered freely [or And with those who volunteered freely] from among the people.
·Praise [Bless] the Lord!

10 “You who ride on white [L female] donkeys
    and sit on ·saddle blankets [or rich carpets],
    and you who walk along the road, ·listen [ponder this; or tell of this]!
11 Listen to the sound of the ·singers [village musicians; or those who distribute the water; or those who divide the sheep]
    at the watering holes.
There they tell about the ·victories [or righteous deeds/triumphs] of the Lord,
    the ·victories [or righteous deeds/triumphs] of the Lord’s ·warriors [or villagers; peasantry] in Israel.
Then the Lord’s people went down to the city gates.

12 “Wake up, wake up, Deborah!
    Wake up, wake up, sing a song!
Get up, Barak!
    ·Go capture your enemies [L Take captive your captives], son of Abinoam!

13 “Then ·those who were left [the remnant/survivors] ·came down to the important leaders [or of the nobles/leaders came down].
    The Lord’s people came down to me ·with strong men [or against the mighty].
14 They came from Ephraim ·in the mountains of [or whose roots were in; or who uprooted] Amalek.
    ·Benjamin was among the people who followed you [or They follow you, Benjamin, with your people/soldiers].
From ·the family group of Makir [L Makir], the commanders came down.
    And from Zebulun came those who ·lead [L carry the officer’s/commander’s staff].
15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah.
    The people of Issachar were loyal to Barak
    and ·followed him [were sent under his command; L were sent at his feet] into the valley.
·The Reubenites [L Among the clans of Reuben they] ·thought hard
    about what they would do [greatly searched their hearts; or had great indecision].
16 Why did you stay by the sheepfold?
    Was it to hear the ·music played [whistling] for your ·sheep [flocks]?
·The Reubenites [L Among the clans of Reuben they] ·thought hard
    about what they would do [greatly searched their hearts; or had great indecision].
17 ·The people of Gilead [L Gilead; C the grandson of Manasseh, though the term is used for the tribe of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh east of the Jordan] stayed east of the Jordan River.
    ·People of Dan [L Dan; 1:34], why did you stay by the ships [C Dan remained on the Mediterranean coast rather than help in the battle]?
The people of Asher stayed at the seashore,
    at their ·safe harbors [coves; landings].
18 But the people of Zebulun ·risked their lives [L despised their lives even to death],
    as did the people of Naphtali on the ·battlefield [L heights of the field].

19 “The kings came, and they fought.
    At that time the kings of Canaan fought
at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo.
    But they took away no ·silver or possessions of Israel [plunder of silver].
20 The stars fought from heaven [C personified as God’s army];
    from their ·paths [courses], they fought Sisera.
21 The Kishon River swept Sisera’s men away,
    that ·old river [ancient torrent], the Kishon ·River [torrent; C a rainstorm sent from God swelled the river].
March on, my soul, with strength!
22 Then the horses’ hoofs ·beat [pounded] the ground.
    Galloping, galloping go Sisera’s ·mighty horses [stallions; steeds; L mighty ones].
23 ‘·May the town of Meroz be cursed [L Curse Meroz],’ said the angel of the Lord.
    ‘·Bitterly curse [Utterly curse; L Curse a curse upon] its ·people [inhabitants],
because they did not come to help the Lord.
    ·They did not fight the strong enemy [To help the Lord against the warriors/mighty ones].’

24 “Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite,
    May she be blessed above all women who live in tents.
25 Sisera asked for water,
    but Jael gave him milk.
In a bowl fit for a ·ruler [noble; king],
    she brought him ·cream [or curds].
26 Jael reached out her hand and took the tent peg.
    Her right hand reached for the workman’s hammer.
She ·hit [struck] Sisera! She ·smashed [crushed] his head!
    She ·crushed [shattered] and pierced ·the side of his head [his temple/or mouth]!
27 ·At [or Between] Jael’s feet he ·sank [bowed].
    He fell, and he lay there.
·At [or Between] her feet he ·sank [bowed]. He fell.
    Where Sisera ·sank [bowed], there he fell, dead!

28 “Sisera’s mother looked out through the window.
    She looked through the ·curtains [lattice] and cried out,
‘Why is Sisera’s chariot so late in coming?
    Why are ·sounds of his chariots’ horses [L the chariots’ hoofbeats] delayed?’
29 The wisest of her ·servant ladies [or princesses] answer her,
    ·and [indeed] Sisera’s mother says to herself,
30 ‘Surely they are ·robbing the people they defeated and dividing those things among themselves [L finding and dividing the spoil]!
Each soldier is given a ·girl [L womb; C slang for women] or two.
    ·Maybe Sisera is taking [L For Sisera a plunder of] ·pieces of dyed cloth [or colorful garments].
·Maybe they are even taking [L For spoil/plunder]
    pieces of dyed, embroidered cloth for the necks of the ·victors [plunderers]!’
31 “·Let [May] all your enemies ·die [perish] this way, Lord!
But ·let [may] all the people who love you
be ·as strong as the rising sun [L like the sun rising in its strength]!”

Then there was ·peace [rest] in the land for forty years.

The Midianites Attack Israel

Again the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] did ·what the Lord said was wrong [L evil in the eyes/sight of the Lord]. So for seven years the Lord ·handed them over to [L gave them into the hand of] Midian. Because the ·Midianites were very powerful and were cruel to [L hand of Midian was so strong/oppressive against] Israel, the Israelites made ·hiding places [shelters; dens] in the mountains, in caves, and in ·safe places [strongholds]. Whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites, Amalekites, and other ·peoples [L sons] from the east would come and attack them. They ·camped in the land [L encamped against them] and destroyed the crops that the Israelites had planted as far away as Gaza. They left ·nothing [no sustenance/living thing] for Israel to eat, and no sheep, cattle, or donkeys. The Midianites came with their tents and their ·animals [livestock] ·like swarms of [as numerous as] locusts to ·ruin [ravage; lay waste] the land. There were so many people and camels they could not be counted. Israel ·became very poor [or was weakened; L was brought low] because of the Midianites, so they cried out to the Lord.

When the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] cried out to the Lord ·against [or because of] the Midianites, the Lord sent a prophet to them. He said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you out of Egypt, the ·land [L house] of slavery. I ·saved [rescued; T delivered] you from the [L hand of the] Egyptians and from all those who ·were against [oppressed] you. I ·forced [drove] ·the Canaanites [L them] out of their land and gave it to you. 10 Then I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God. Do not ·worship [fear; reverence] the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.’ But you did not ·obey me [L listen to my voice].”

The Angel of the Lord Visits Gideon

11 The angel of the Lord [C angelic spokesperson for God, sometimes identified with the Lord himself; 2:1; Gen. 16:7; Ex. 14:19; 23:20] came and sat down under the oak tree at Ophrah that belonged to Joash, ·one of the Abiezrite people [L the Abiezrite]. Gideon, Joash’s son, was ·separating some wheat from the chaff [threshing/L beating out wheat] in a winepress to keep the wheat from the Midianites [C in a pit hidden from sight]. 12 The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you, ·mighty [courageous] warrior!”

13 Then Gideon said, “·Sir [My lord], if the Lord is with us, why ·are we having so much trouble [L has all this happened to us]? Where are the ·miracles [wonderful deeds] our ancestors told us about? They said, “Didn’t the Lord bring us up out of Egypt? But now the Lord has ·left [abandoned] us and has ·handed us over to the Midianites [L given us into the hand of Midian].”

14 The Lord turned to Gideon and said, “Go with your strength and ·save [rescue; T deliver] Israel from the ·Midianites [L hand of Midian]. ·I am the one who is sending you. [L Am I not sending you?]

15 But Gideon answered, “Lord, how can I ·save [rescue; T deliver] Israel? My ·family group [clan] is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the ·least important [or youngest] member of my family.”

16 The Lord answered him, “I will be with you. ·It will seem as if the Midianites you are fighting are only one man [or You will strike down the whole Midian army; L You will strike/defeat Midian as one man].”

17 Then Gideon said to the Lord, “If ·you are pleased with me [L I have found favor in your eyes], give me ·proof [a sign] that it is really you talking with me. 18 Please ·wait here [L do not leave] until I come back to you. Let me bring my offering and set it in front of you.”

And the Lord said, “I will ·wait [stay] until you return.”

19 So Gideon went in and ·cooked [prepared] a young goat, and with ·twenty quarts [L an ephah] of flour, made ·bread without yeast [unleavened bread]. Then he put the meat into a basket and the broth into a pot. He brought them out and ·gave [presented; offered] them to ·the angel [L him] under the oak tree.

20 The angel of God [6:11] said to Gideon, “Put the meat and the ·bread without yeast [unleavened bread] on that rock over there. Then pour the broth on them.” And Gideon did as he was told. 21 The angel of the Lord touched the meat and the bread with the end of ·the stick that was in his hand [L his staff]. Then fire jumped up from the rock and completely burned up the meat and the bread! And the angel of the Lord disappeared! 22 Then Gideon ·understood [realized; saw] he had been talking to the angel of the Lord. So Gideon cried out, “[Oh no; Alas; L Aha] ·Lord God [Sovereign Lord]! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

23 But the Lord said to Gideon, “·Calm down [L Peace to you]! Don’t be afraid! You will not die!”

24 So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and named it The Lord Is Peace. ·It still [L To this day it] stands at Ophrah, ·where the Abiezrites live [L of the Abiezrite].

Gideon Tears Down the Altar of Baal

25 That same night the Lord said to Gideon, “Take the bull that belongs to your father and a second bull seven years old. Pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the ·Asherah idol [or Asherah pole; L Asherah; C a Canaanite fertility goddess; 3:7] beside it. 26 Then build an altar to the Lord your God ·with its stones in the right order [or in the proper manner] on this ·high ground [stronghold]. ·Kill and burn a [Sacrifice as a burnt offering the] second bull on this altar, using the wood from the Asherah idol.”

27 So Gideon got ten of his servants and did what the Lord had told him to do. But Gideon was afraid that his family and the men of the city might see him, so he did it at night, not in the daytime.

28 When the men of the city got up the next morning, ·they saw that [L look; T behold] the altar for Baal ·had been destroyed [L was cut down] and that the ·Asherah idol [Asherah pole; L Asherah; v. 25] beside it had been cut down! They also saw the altar Gideon had built and the second bull that had been sacrificed on it. 29 The men of the city asked each other, “Who did this?”

After they ·asked many questions [made a careful investigation], someone told them, “Gideon son of Joash did this.”

30 So the men of the city said to Joash, “Bring your son out. He has pulled down the altar of Baal and cut down the ·Asherah idol [Asherah pole; L Asherah] beside it. He must die!”

31 But Joash said to ·the angry crowd around [L all those who stood against] him, “·Are you going to take Baal’s side [or Are you pleading Baal’s case; or Does Baal need you to defend him]? Are you going to ·defend [save; rescue; T deliver] him? Anyone who ·takes Baal’s side [or pleads his case; or thinks Baal needs defending] will be killed by morning! If Baal is a god, let him fight for himself. It’s his altar that has been pulled down.” 32 So on that day Gideon got the name Jerub-Baal, which means “let Baal ·fight against him [or plead his own case; or defend himself],” because Gideon pulled down Baal’s altar.

Gideon Defeats Midian

33 All the Midianites, the Amalekites, and other ·peoples from [L sons of] the east ·joined together [assembled; formed an alliance] and came across the Jordan River and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 But the Spirit of the Lord ·entered [empowered; came upon; clothed] Gideon, and he blew a trumpet to call the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers to all of Manasseh, calling them to follow him. He also sent messengers to the people of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. So they also went up to meet Gideon and his men.

36 Then Gideon said to God, “·You said you would help me save Israel [L If you are about to deliver Israel by my hand, as you said…]. 37 [L Look; T Behold] I will put ·some wool [a wool fleece] on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the ·wool [fleece] but all of the ground is dry, then I will know that you will ·use me to save Israel [L save Israel by my hand], as you said.” 38 And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning and squeezed the ·wool [fleece], he got a full bowl of water from it.

39 Then Gideon said to God, “Don’t ·be angry with [L let your anger burn against] me if I ask just one more thing. Please let me make one more test. Let only the ·wool [fleece] be dry while the ground around it gets wet with dew.” 40 That night God did that very thing. Just the ·wool [fleece] was dry, but the ground around it was wet with dew.

Early in the morning Jerub-Baal (also called Gideon) and all his men set up their camp at the spring of Harod [C at the foot of Mount Gilboa]. The Midianites were camped north of them in the valley [C of Jezreel] at the bottom of the hill called Moreh. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men ·to defeat the Midianites [L for me to give Midian into your hand]. I don’t want the Israelites to brag ·that they saved themselves [L saying, “My own hand has saved/T delivered me”]. So now, ·announce to [L call into the ears of] the ·people [nation; army], ‘Anyone who is ·afraid [L fearful and trembling] may leave Mount Gilead [C probably another name for Gilboa] and go back home.’” So twenty-two thousand men returned home, but ten thousand remained.

Then the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take the men down to the water, and I will ·test [sort; sift out] them for you there. If I say, ‘This man will go with you,’ he will go. But if I say, ‘That one will not go with you,’ he will not go.”

So Gideon led the men down to the water. There the Lord said to him, “Separate them into those who drink water by lapping it up like a dog [C with cupped hand making a bowl] and those who ·bend down [kneel] to drink [C with faces in the water].” There were three hundred men who used their hands to bring water to their mouths, ·lapping it as a dog does [L lapping]. All the rest ·got down on their knees [kneeled] to drink.

Then the Lord said to Gideon, “Using the three hundred men who lapped the water, I will save you and ·hand Midian over to you [L give the Midianites into your hand]. Let all the others go home.” So Gideon sent the rest of Israel ·to their homes [L each to his tent]. But he kept three hundred men and took the ·jars [provisions] and the trumpets of those who left.

Now the camp of Midian was in the valley below Gideon. That night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up. Go down and attack the camp of the Midianites, because I will give ·them to you [L it into your hands]. 10 But if you are afraid to go down, take your servant Purah with you. 11 When you come to the camp of Midian, you will hear what they are saying. Then ·you will not be afraid [L your hands will be strengthened] to attack the camp.”

Gideon Is Encouraged

So Gideon and his servant Purah went down to the ·edge [outposts; guardposts] of the enemy camp. 12 The Midianites, the Amalekites, and all the ·peoples from [L sons of] the east were camped in that valley. ·There were so many of them they seemed like locusts [L …like locusts in numbers/greatness]. Their camels could not be counted because they were as many as the grains of sand on the seashore!

13 When Gideon came to the enemy camp, he heard a man telling his friend about a dream. He was saying, “[L Look; T Behold] I dreamed that a loaf of barley bread rolled into the camp of Midian. It hit the tent so hard that the tent turned over and fell flat!”

14 The man’s friend said, “·Your dream is about [L This can be nothing except] the sword of Gideon son of Joash, a man of Israel. God ·will hand [L has given into his hand] Midian and the whole army over to him!”

15 When Gideon heard about the dream and what it meant, he ·worshiped God [L bowed in worship]. Then Gideon went back to the camp of Israel and called out to them, “Get up! The Lord has handed the army of Midian ·over to you [L into your hand]!” 16 Gideon divided the three hundred men into three ·groups [companies; divisions]. He gave each man a trumpet and an empty jar with a burning torch inside.

17 Gideon told the men, “Watch me and do what I do. When I get to the edge of the camp, do what I do. 18 Surround the enemy camp. When I and everyone with me blow our trumpets, you blow your trumpets, too. Then shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!’”

Midian Is Defeated

19 So Gideon and the one hundred men with him came to the edge of the enemy camp at the beginning of the middle watch of the night, just after they had ·changed guards [posted sentries; set the watch]. Then Gideon and his men blew their trumpets and smashed their jars. 20 All three groups of Gideon’s men blew their trumpets and smashed their jars. They held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands. Then they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 Each of Gideon’s men ·stayed [stood] in his place around the camp, but the Midianites began shouting and running to escape.

22 When Gideon’s three hundred men blew their trumpets, the Lord ·made all the Midianites fight each other with their swords [L set the sword of a man against his companion]! The enemy army ran away to the city of Beth Shittah toward Zererah. They ran as far as the border of Abel Meholah, near the city of Tabbath [C toward the southeast]. 23 Then men of Israel from Naphtali, Asher, and all of Manasseh were called out to chase the Midianites. 24 Gideon sent messengers through all the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim, saying, “Come down and attack the Midianites. Take control of the ·Jordan River [L waters; C the shallow crossing points] as far as Beth Barah before the Midianites can get to it.”

So they called out all the men of Ephraim, who took control of the ·Jordan River [waters of the Jordan ahead of them; 3:28] as far as Beth Barah. 25 The men of Ephraim captured two ·princes [leaders; commanders] of Midian named Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb and Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb, and they continued chasing the Midianites. They brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, ·who was east of [or who was beside/across; L from beyond] the Jordan River.

The men of Ephraim asked Gideon, “·Why did you treat us this way [L What is this thing you have done to us]? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight against Midian?” They argued ·angrily [fiercely; greatly] with Gideon.

But he answered them, “·I have not done as well as you! [L What have I done compared to you?] The ·small part you did [L the gleanings of Ephraim; C picking up the leftover grapes after harvest] was better than ·all that my people of Abiezer did [L the vintage/grape harvest of Abiezer]. God ·let you capture [L gave into your hand] Oreb and Zeeb, the ·princes [leaders; commanders] of Midian. ·How can I compare what I did with what you did [L What did I do in comparison]?” When the men of Ephraim heard Gideon’s answer, ·they were not as angry anymore [they calmed down; L their spirit declined/subsided].

Gideon Captures Two Kings

When Gideon and his three hundred men came to the Jordan River, they were ·tired [exhausted], but they chased the enemy across to the other side. Gideon said to the men of Succoth, “Please give my soldiers some loaves of bread because they are ·very tired [exhausted]. I am chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”

But the ·leaders [princes; officials] of Succoth said, “Why should we give your soldiers bread? ·You haven’t caught Zebah and Zalmunna yet [L Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your hand?].”

Then Gideon said, “·The Lord will surrender [L When the Lord surrenders] Zebah and Zalmunna to me. After that, I will ·whip [beat; tear; L thresh] your skin with thorns and briers from the ·desert [wilderness].”

Gideon left Succoth and went up to the city of Peniel and ·asked them for food [L spoke this to them]. But the people of Peniel gave him the same answer as the people of Succoth. So Gideon said to the men of Peniel, “·After I win the victory [L When I return in peace], I will return and pull down this tower.”

10 Zebah and Zalmunna and their army were in the city of Karkor. About fifteen thousand men were left of the armies of the ·peoples [L sons] of the east. Already one hundred twenty thousand ·soldiers [L men who draw the sword] had ·been killed [fallen in battle]. 11 Gideon went up the road of those who live in tents [C the route taken by caravans or nomads] east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and he attacked the ·enemy army [camp] ·when they did not expect it [in a surprise attack; L while they were secure]. 12 Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian, ran away, but Gideon chased and captured them and ·frightened away [routed; caused to panic] their army.

13 Then Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle by the ·Pass [or Ascent] of Heres. 14 Gideon captured a young man from Succoth and ·asked him some questions [interrogated him]. So the young man wrote down for Gideon the names of seventy-seven ·officers [princes; leaders] and elders of Succoth.

Gideon Punishes Succoth

15 When Gideon came to Succoth, he said to the people of that city, “·Here are [L Look!; T Behold!] Zebah and Zalmunna. You ·made fun of [taunted; insulted] me by saying, ‘Why should we give bread to your tired men? ·You have not caught Zebah and Zalmunna yet [L Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your hand?].’” 16 So Gideon took the elders of the city and ·punished them [taught them a lesson] with thorns and briers from the ·desert [wilderness]. 17 He also pulled down the tower of Peniel and killed the people in that city.

18 Gideon asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “What were the men like that you killed on Mount Tabor?”

They answered, “They were like you. Each one of them looked like ·a prince [L sons of a king].”

19 Gideon said, “Those were my brothers, my mother’s sons. As surely as the Lord lives, I would not kill you if you had spared them.” 20 Then Gideon said to Jether, his oldest son, “Kill them.” But Jether was only a boy and was afraid, so he did not draw his sword.

21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said to Gideon, “Come on. ·Kill us [L Do it] yourself. As the saying goes, ‘·It takes a man to do a man’s job [L As is a man, so is his strength; C it was honorable to be killed by a great warrior, but humiliating to be killed by a boy].’” So Gideon got up and killed Zebah and Zalmunna and took the ·decorations [L crescent-shaped ornaments] off their camels’ necks.

Gideon Makes an Idol

22 The people of Israel said to Gideon, “You ·saved [rescued; T delivered] us from the Midianites. Now, we want you and your son and your grandson to rule over us [C to establish a royal dynasty].”

23 But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will be your ruler.” 24 He said, “I want you to do this one thing for me. I want each of you to give me a gold earring from ·the things you took in the fighting [L his plunder].” (The Ishmaelites [C related to the Midianites, and sometimes identified with them; Gen. 37:25–28] wore gold earrings.)

25 They said, “We will ·gladly [indeed] give you what you want.” So they spread out a ·coat [cloak; garment], and everyone threw down an earring from ·what he had taken [his plunder]. 26 The gold earrings weighed ·about forty-three pounds [L 1,700 shekels of gold]. This did not count the ·decorations [L crescent-shaped ornaments], ·necklaces [pendants], and purple robes worn by the kings of Midian, nor the chains from the camels’ necks. 27 Gideon used the gold to make a ·holy vest [ephod; C perhaps in imitation of the high priest and used to discern God’s will; Ex. 29:2–5], which he put in his hometown of Ophrah. But all the Israelites ·were unfaithful to God [L prostituted themselves] and worshiped it, so it became a ·trap [snare; cause of sin] for Gideon and his family.

The Death of Gideon

28 So Midian was ·under the rule of [subdued before] ·Israel [L the sons/T children of Israel]; they did not ·cause trouble anymore [L raise its head again]. And the land had ·peace [rest] for forty years, ·as long as Gideon was alive [L in the days of Gideon].

29 Jerub-Baal [C another name for Gideon; 6:32] son of Joash went to his home to live. 30 He had seventy sons ·of his own [L who went out from his loins], because he had many wives. 31 He had a ·slave woman [concubine; C a secondary wife, of lower status than a primary wife but higher than a common servant] who lived in Shechem, and he had a son by her, whom he named Abimelech [C “My father is king”]. 32 So Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age. He was buried in the tomb of Joash, his father, in Ophrah, ·where the Abiezrites live [L of the Abiezrites].

33 As soon as Gideon died, the ·people [L sons; T children] of Israel ·were again unfaithful to God and followed [L prostituted themselves to] the Baals. They made Baal-Berith their god. 34 The ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] did not remember the Lord their God, who had ·saved [rescued; T delivered] them from all their enemies living all around them. 35 And they were not ·kind [loyal; faithful] to the family of Jerub-Baal, also called Gideon, for all the good he had done for Israel.

Abimelech Becomes King

Abimelech [8:31] son of Jerub-Baal [C Gideon; 6:32] went to his ·uncles [L mother’s brothers] in the city of Shechem. He said to ·his uncles [L them] and all of his mother’s ·family group [clan], “·Ask [or Whisper to; L Speak in the ears of] the ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] of Shechem, ‘Is it better for the seventy sons of Gideon to rule over you or for one man to rule?’ Remember, I am your ·relative [L bone and your flesh].”

Abimelech’s ·uncles [mother’s brothers] ·spoke to [or whispered to; L spoke in the ears of] all the ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] of Shechem about this [L for him; on his behalf]. And ·they decided [they were inclined; L their heart was stretched] to follow Abimelech, because they said, “He is our ·relative [brother].” So the leaders of Shechem gave Abimelech about ·one and three-quarter pounds [L seventy pieces/coins] of silver from the temple of the god Baal-Berith [8:33]. Abimelech used the silver to hire some worthless, reckless men, who ·followed him wherever he went [L went after him]. He went to Ophrah, the hometown of his father, and murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal [C Gideon; 6:32]. He killed them all on one stone. But Jerub-Baal’s youngest son, Jotham, hid from Abimelech and ·escaped [survived; was left]. Then all of the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo [C “house of the fill”; probably the earthen structure on which the Tower of Shechem (v. 46) was built] gathered beside the ·great tree [oak] by the pillar [C likely an object of pagan worship] in Shechem. There they made Abimelech their king.

Jotham’s Story

When Jotham heard this, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim. He shouted to the people: “Listen to me, you ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] of Shechem, so that God will listen to you! One day the trees decided to ·appoint [L anoint] a king to rule over them. They said to the olive tree, ‘·You be king [Rule; Reign] over us!’

“But the olive tree said, ‘Men and gods are honored by my oil. Should I ·stop making it [L cease my fatness/abundance] and go and sway over the other trees?’ [C Ancient kings were sometimes compared to trees, providing shelter and protection for their subjects.]

10 “Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and ·be king [rule; reign] over us!’

11 “But the fig tree answered, ‘Should I stop making my sweet and good fruit and go and sway over the other trees?’

12 “Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and ·be king [rule; reign] over us!’

13 “But the vine answered, ‘My new wine makes men and gods happy. Should I stop making it and go and sway over the trees?’

14 “Then all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and ·be king [rule; reign] over us.’

15 “But the thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to ·appoint [L anoint] me king over you, come and ·find shelter [take refuge] in my shade! But if not, let fire come out of the thornbush and ·burn up [consume; devour] the cedars of Lebanon!’ [C A worthless thornbush provides no shelter and burns hot and quick (Ps. 58:9), igniting the great cedars of Lebanon (the most valuable trees in the ancient Near East); see v. 20.]

16 “Now, ·were you completely honest and sincere [L if you acted in truth and integrity/blamelessness] when you made Abimelech king? ·Have you [L And if you have] been fair to Jerub-Baal [C Gideon; 6:32] and his ·family [L house]? ·Have [L And if] you treated him as ·you should [L his hands deserved]? 17 Remember, my father fought for you and risked his life to ·save [rescue; T deliver] you from the ·power of the Midianites [L hand of Midian]. 18 But now you have ·turned [revolted; risen up] against my father’s ·family [L house] and have killed his seventy sons on one stone [v. 5]. You have made Abimelech, the son of my father’s ·slave girl [maidservant], king over the ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] of Shechem just because he is your ·relative [brother]! 19 So then, if you have ·been honest and sincere [acted in truth and integrity/blamelessness] to Jerub-Baal [C Gideon; 6:32] and his ·family [L house] today, ·be happy with [rejoice in] Abimelech as your king. And may he ·be happy with [rejoice in] you! 20 But if not, may fire come out of Abimelech and completely burn you ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] of Shechem and Beth Millo [C the cedars of Lebanon in the allegory; v. 15]! Also may fire come out of the ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] of Shechem and Beth Millo and burn up Abimelech!”

21 Then Jotham ran away and escaped to the city of Beer [C meaning “well”]. He lived there because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech.

Abimelech Fights Against Shechem

22 Abimelech ruled Israel for three years. 23 Then God sent an evil spirit to make trouble between Abimelech and the ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] of Shechem so that they ·turned [revolted; acted treacherously] against him. 24 God did this to repay [avenge] the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerub-Baal [C Gideon; 6:32] and to make their brother Abimelech pay for their spilled blood, together with the ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] of Shechem who ·helped him murder [L strengthened his hand to kill] his brothers. 25 The ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] of Shechem were against Abimelech then and put men on the hilltops in ambush to rob everyone going by. And Abimelech was told.

26 A man named Gaal son of Ebed and his brothers ·moved into [came to] Shechem, and the ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] of Shechem ·trusted [or gave their allegiance to] him. 27 They went out to the vineyards to pick grapes, and they ·squeezed [stomped/trod on] the grapes. Then they had a feast in the temple of their god, where they ate and drank and cursed Abimelech. 28 Gaal son of Ebed said, “·We are the men of Shechem. Who is Abimelech [L Who is Abimelech and who is Shechem] that we should serve him? Isn’t he one of Jerub-Baal’s [C Gideon’s] sons, and isn’t Zebul his ·officer [deputy; lieutenant]? ·We should serve [L Serve…!] the men of Hamor, Shechem’s father. Why should we serve Abimelech? 29 If you made me commander of these people, I would get rid of Abimelech. I would say to him, ‘·Get your army ready [Muster your troops; Strengthen your army] and come out to battle.’”

30 Now when Zebul, the ·ruler [governor] of ·Shechem [L the city], heard what Gaal son of Ebed said, ·he was very angry [L his anger burned]. 31 He sent messengers to Abimelech ·secretly [deceptively; or in Arumah], saying, “Gaal son of Ebed and Gaal’s brothers have come to Shechem, and they are ·turning [inciting; stirring up] the city against you! 32 You and your men should get up during the night and ·hide [lie in wait; set an ambush] in the fields outside the city. 33 As soon as the sun comes up in the morning, ·attack [raid; rush upon] the city. When Gaal and his men come out to fight you, do what ·you can to them [L your hand finds to do].”

34 So Abimelech and all his soldiers got up during the night and ·hid near [lay in wait outside; set an ambush against] Shechem in four groups. 35 Gaal son of Ebed went out and was standing at the entrance to the city gate. As he was standing there, Abimelech and his soldiers came out of their ·hiding places [ambush].

36 When Gaal saw the soldiers, he said to Zebul, “Look! There are people coming down from the mountains!”

But Zebul said, “You are seeing the shadows of the mountains. The shadows just look like people.”

37 But again Gaal said, “Look, there are people coming down from the ·center of the land [or navel of the earth; Ezek. 38:12], and there is a group coming from the ·fortune-tellers’ tree [diviner’s oak; C a place where fortunes were told; ironically, Gaal’s fortune had been sealed]!”

38 Zebul said to Gaal, “Where is your ·bragging [L mouth] now? You said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ ·You made fun of [Didn’t you mock/insult/despise…?] these men. Now go out and fight them.”

39 So Gaal led the ·men [leading citizens; lords] of Shechem out to fight Abimelech. 40 Abimelech ·and his men chased them [L chased him], and many of Gaal’s men ·were killed [or fell wounded] before they could get back to the city gate. 41 While Abimelech stayed at Arumah, Zebul forced Gaal and his brothers to leave Shechem.

42 The next day the people of Shechem went out to the fields. When Abimelech was told about it, 43 he separated his men into three groups and ·hid them [set an ambush; lay in wait] in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he jumped up and ·attacked [struck; slew] them. 44 Abimelech and his ·group [force; company] ran to the entrance gate to the city. The other two groups ran out to the people in the fields and struck them down. 45 Abimelech and his men fought the city of Shechem all day until they captured it and killed its people. Then he ·tore it down [razed/leveled the city] and ·threw salt over the ruins [L sowed it with salt; C to symbolize destruction and desolation; Deut. 29:23; Ps. 107:34].

The Tower of Shechem Burns

46 When the ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] who were in the Tower of Shechem [C either a nearby town or a structure within Shechem; v. 6] heard what had happened to Shechem, they gathered in the ·safest room [stronghold; inner chamber] of the temple of El Berith [9:4]. 47 Abimelech heard that all the ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] of the Tower of Shechem had gathered there. 48 So he and all his men went up Mount Zalmon [C near Shechem]. Abimelech took an ax and cut some ·branches [brushwood] and put them on his shoulders. He said to all those with him, “Hurry! Do what I have done!” 49 So all those men cut ·branches [brushwood] and followed Abimelech and piled them against the ·safest room [stronghold; inner chamber] of the temple. Then they set them on fire and burned ·the people inside [L the stronghold over them]. So all the people who were at the Tower of Shechem also died—about a thousand men and women.

Abimelech’s Death

50 Then Abimelech went to the city of Thebez. He ·surrounded the city, attacked it, [L besieged/encamped against Thebez] and captured it. 51 But inside the city was a strong ·tower [or fortress], so all the men, women, and ·leaders [leading citizens; lords] of that city ran to the tower. When they got inside, they locked the door behind them. Then they climbed up to the roof of the tower [C to fight back and avoid the fate of the people of Shechem; v. 49]. 52 Abimelech came to the tower to attack it. He approached the door of the tower to set it on fire, 53 but as he came near, a woman dropped a ·grinding stone [L upper millstone; C the smaller stone (about 10 inches long) that was rolled by hand over the top of the larger lower millstone; Deut. 24:6] on his head, crushing his skull.

54 He quickly called to the officer who carried his armor and said, “Draw your sword and kill me. I don’t want people to say, ‘A woman killed Abimelech [C a humiliation for a warrior; 4:17–24; 1 Sam. 31:4].’” So ·the officer [his servant; or the young man] stabbed Abimelech, and he died. 55 When the people of Israel saw Abimelech was dead, they all returned ·home [L each man to his place].

56 In that way God ·punished [repaid; returned to] Abimelech for all the evil he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers. 57 God also ·punished [repaid; L returned on the heads of] the men of Shechem for the evil they had done. So the curse spoken by Jotham, the son of Jerub-Baal [C Gideon], came ·true [L on them].

Tola, the Judge

10 ·After Abimelech died [L After Abimelech], another ·judge [leader; 2:16] ·came [arose] to save Israel. He was Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo. Tola was from the people of Issachar and lived in the city of Shamir in the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim. Tola ·judged [led; 2:16] Israel for twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried in Shamir.

Jair, the Judge

After ·Tola died [L him], Jair ·from the region of Gilead [L the Gileadite] ·judged [led; 2:16] Israel for twenty-two years. Jair had thirty sons, who rode thirty donkeys [12:14]. These thirty sons controlled thirty towns in Gilead, which are called the ·Towns [L Havvoth; C Hebrew for “towns” or “tent-villages”] of Jair to this day. Jair died and was buried in the city of Kamon.

The Ammonites Trouble Israel

Again the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] did ·what the Lord said was wrong [L evil in the eyes/sight of the Lord]. They ·worshiped [served] ·Baal and Ashtoreth [L the Baals and Ashtoreths; 2:11–13; C referring to the idols of these gods found throughout Israel], the gods of Aram [C these included Hadad, Mot, Anath, and Rimon], Sidon [C Baal and Ashtoreth], Moab [C Chemosh; Num. 21:29], and Ammon [C Molech; 1 Kin. 11:7], and the gods of the Philistines [C Dagon; 16:23]. The Israelites ·left [abandoned; forsook] the Lord and stopped serving him. So the Lord ·was angry with [L burned with anger against] them and ·handed them over to [L gave them into the hand of] the Philistines and the Ammonites. In the same year those people ·destroyed [L shattered and crushed; C from two Hebrew words that sound similar] the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] who lived east of the Jordan River in the region of Gilead, where the Amorites lived. So the Israelites suffered for eighteen years. The Ammonites then crossed the Jordan River to fight the people of Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim, causing much ·trouble [distress] to the people of Israel. 10 So the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] cried out to the Lord, “We have sinned against you. We ·left [abandoned; forsook] our God and ·worshiped [served] the ·Baal idols [L Baals].”

11 The Lord answered the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel], “When the Egyptians, Amorites, Ammonites, Philistines, 12 Sidonians, Amalekites, and Maonites ·were cruel to [oppressed] you, you cried out to me, and ·I saved [L did I not save/rescue/T deliver…?] you [L from their hand]. 13 But now you have ·left [abandoned; forsaken] me again and have ·worshiped [served] other gods. So I ·refuse to [will no longer] save you again. 14 You have chosen those gods. So go ·call [cry out] to them for help. Let them ·save [rescue; T deliver] you when you are in ·trouble [distress].”

15 But the ·people [L sons; T children] of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned. Do to us whatever ·you want [you see fit; L is good in your eyes], but please ·save [rescue; T deliver] us today!” 16 Then the Israelites threw away the foreign gods among them, and they worshiped the Lord again. So ·he felt sorry for them [or he could no longer bear it; or he grew impatient; L his spirit grew short] when he saw their suffering.

17 The ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon] ·gathered for war [were called to arms] and camped in Gilead. The Israelites gathered and camped at Mizpah. 18 The leaders of the people of Gilead said, “Who will lead us to attack the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon]? He will become the head of all those who live in Gilead.”

Jephthah Is Chosen as Leader

11 Jephthah was a ·strong soldier [mighty warrior] from Gilead [C a region east of the Jordan]. His father was named Gilead, and his mother was a prostitute. Gilead’s wife had several sons. When they grew up, they forced Jephthah to leave his home, saying to him, “You will not get any of our father’s ·property [inheritance], because you are the son of another woman.” So Jephthah ran away from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob [C region northeast of Gilead; 2 Sam. 10:6, 8]. There some ·worthless [good-for-nothing; trouble-making] men began to ·follow [or travel with] him.

After a time the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon] fought against Israel. When the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon] made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to Jephthah to bring him back from Tob. They said to him, “Come and ·lead our army [L be our commander/ruler] so we can fight the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon].”

But Jephthah said to them, “Didn’t you hate me? You forced me to leave my father’s house. Why are you coming to me now that you are in trouble?”

The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “·It is because of those troubles that [For that reason; or Despite that; Nevertheless][a] we come to you now. Please come with us and fight against the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon]. You will be the ·ruler [leader; head] over everyone who lives in Gilead.”

Then Jephthah answered, “If you take me back to Gilead to fight the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon] and the Lord helps me win, ·I will be your ruler [or will I really be your ruler/leader/head?].”

10 The elders of Gilead said to him, “The Lord ·is listening to everything we are saying [is our witness; or will mediate for us; L will hear between us; C an oath formula]. ·We promise to do all that you tell us to do [or …if we do not do as you say].” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him their ·leader [head; ruler] and ·commander of their army [or chief; leader]. Jephthah repeated all of his words in front of the Lord at Mizpah [C either to further ratify them or to confirm God’s direction].

Jephthah Sends Messengers to the Ammonite King

12 Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon], asking, “What ·have you got against Israel [L to me and to you]? ·Why have you [L …that you have] come to attack our land?”

13 The king of the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon] answered the messengers of Jephthah, “We are fighting Israel because you took our land when you came up from Egypt. You took our land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River to the Jordan River. Now give our land back to us peacefully.”

14 Jephthah sent the messengers to the Ammonite king again. 15 They said:

“This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or Ammon. 16 When the Israelites came up out of Egypt, they went through the ·desert [wilderness] to the Red Sea and then to Kadesh. 17 Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Please let ·the people of Israel [L us] ·go across [pass through] your land [Num. 20:14–17].’ But the king of Edom ·refused [L would not listen]. They sent the same message to the king of Moab, but he also refused. So the Israelites stayed at Kadesh.

18 “Then the Israelites went through the ·desert [wilderness] around the borders of the lands of Edom and Moab. Israel went east of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon River [C the border of Moab]. They did not cross it to go into the land of Moab.

19 “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of the city of Heshbon, asking, ‘Let the people of Israel pass through your land to go to our ·land [place].’ 20 But Sihon did not trust the Israelites to cross his land. So he ·gathered all of his people [mobilized his army] and camped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.

21 “But the Lord, the God of Israel, handed Sihon and his army ·over to [L into the hand of] Israel. All ·the land [or that territory] of the Amorites became the property of Israel. 22 So Israel took all the ·land [territory] of the Amorites from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River, from the desert to the Jordan River [Num. 21:21–30].

23 “It was the Lord, the God of Israel, who ·forced [drove] out the Amorites ahead of his people Israel. So do you think you can ·make them leave [take possession of it]? 24 ·Take [L Will you not possess…?] the land that your god Chemosh [C the chief god of the Moabites, which the Amorites were evidently also worshiping] has given you. We will live in the land the Lord our God has ·given [L dispossessed before] us!

25 “Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab [Num. 22–24]? Did he ever quarrel or fight with the people of Israel? 26 For three hundred years the Israelites have lived in Heshbon and Aroer and the towns around them and in all the cities along the Arnon River. Why have you not taken these cities back in all that time? 27 I have not sinned against you, but you are sinning against me by making war on me. May the Lord, the Judge, decide today whether the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] or the Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon] are right.”

28 But the king of the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon] ·ignored [would not listen to] this message from Jephthah.

Jephthah’s Promise

29 Then the Spirit of the Lord ·entered [empowered; came/was upon; 3:10; 6:34] Jephthah. Jephthah passed through Gilead and Manasseh and the city of Mizpah in Gilead to the land of the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon]. 30 Jephthah made a ·promise [vow] to the Lord, saying, “If you will ·hand over the Ammonites to me [L give the sons of Ammon into my hand], 31 I will ·give you [offer; sacrifice] as a burnt offering [Lev. 1:1–17] the first thing that comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return ·from the victory [L in peace]. It will be the Lord’s.”

32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon], and the Lord ·handed them over to him [L gave them into his hand]. 33 Jephthah ·struck them down [crushed/defeated them with a great slaughter] from the city of Aroer to the area of Minnith, twenty cities in all, and as far as the city of Abel Keramim. So the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon] were ·defeated [subdued] by the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel].

34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, [L look; T behold] his daughter was the first one to come out to meet him, ·playing a tambourine [L with tambourines] and dancing [Ex. 15:20]. She was his only child; he had no other sons or daughters. 35 When Jephthah saw his daughter, he tore his clothes [C to show his sorrow] and said, “[L Ah!] My daughter! You have ·made me so sad [devastated me; brought me to my knees]. You have brought me disaster! I ·made a promise [have given my word; L opened my mouth] to the Lord, and I cannot ·break it [recant; L return]!”

36 Then his daughter said, “Father, you ·made a promise [gave your word; L opened your mouth] to the Lord. So do to me just what ·you promised [L came out of your mouth], because the Lord ·helped you defeat [avenged you of; or vindicated you before] your enemies, the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon].” 37 She also said, “But let me do one thing. Let me be alone for two months to go ·to [L down and up in] the mountains. Let me and my friends go and ·cry together since I will never marry [L weep for my virginity].”

38 Jephthah said, “Go.” So he sent her away for two months. She and her friends ·stayed [walked] in the mountains and ·cried for her because she would never marry [L wept for her virginity]. 39 After two months she returned to her father, and Jephthah did to her what he had ·promised [vowed; v. 31]. Jephthah’s daughter ·never had a husband [or died a virgin; L never knew a man; C some claim Jephthah committed her to lifelong service as a virgin at the sanctuary (Ex. 38:8); more likely, he literally fulfilled his rash vow (see next verse)].

From this came a custom in Israel that 40 every year the young women of Israel would go out for four days to ·remember [commemorate] the daughter of Jephthah from Gilead.

Jephthah and Ephraim

12 The men of Ephraim called all their soldiers together and crossed the river to the town of Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, “Why didn’t you call us to help you fight the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon]? We will burn your house down ·with you in it [over you].”

Jephthah answered them, “My people and I fought a great battle against the ·Ammonites [L sons/descendants of Ammon]. I called you, but you didn’t ·come to help me [L save/rescue/T deliver me from their hand]. When I saw that you would not help me, I risked my own life and went against the Ammonites. The Lord ·handed them over to me [L gave them into my hand]. So why have you come to fight against me today?”

Then Jephthah called the men of Gilead together and fought the men of Ephraim. The men of Gilead struck them down because the Ephraimites had said, “You men of Gilead are ·nothing but deserters [or fugitives; or renegades] from Ephraim—living ·between [or in the territory of] Ephraim and Manasseh.” The men of Gilead captured the ·crossings [fords; 3:28] of the Jordan River ·that led to the country of [opposite] Ephraim. A person from Ephraim trying to escape would say, “Let me cross the river.” Then the men of Gilead would ask him, “Are you from Ephraim?” If he replied no, they would say to him, “Say the word ‘Shibboleth [the word means “flood” or “stream” in Hebrew].’” The men of Ephraim could not say that word correctly [C the difference in accent gave them away (cf. Matt. 26:73)]. So if the person from Ephraim said, “Sibboleth,” the men of Gilead would kill him at the ·crossing [ford]. So forty-two thousand people from Ephraim were killed at that time.

Jephthah ·judged [led; 2:16] Israel for six years. Then Jephthah, the man from Gilead, died and was buried in a town in Gilead.

Ibzan, the Judge

After Jephthah died, Ibzan from Bethlehem ·judged [led; 2:16] Israel. He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He ·let his daughters marry [L gave them in marriage to] men who were not in his ·family group [clan], and he brought thirty women who were not in his tribe to be wives for his sons. Ibzan ·judged [led] Israel for seven years. 10 Then he died and was buried in Bethlehem.

Elon, the Judge

11 After Ibzan died, Elon from the tribe of Zebulun ·judged [led; 2:16] Israel. He ·judged [led] Israel for ten years. 12 Then Elon, the man of Zebulun, died and was buried in the city of Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

Abdon, the Judge

13 After Elon died, Abdon son of Hillel from the city of Pirathon ·judged [led; 2:16] Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys [10:4]. He ·judged [led] Israel for eight years. 15 Then Abdon son of Hillel died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the ·mountains [hill country] where the Amalekites lived.

The Birth of Samson

13 Again the ·people [L sons; T children] of Israel did ·what the Lord said was wrong [L evil in the eyes/sight of the Lord]. So he ·handed them over to [L gave them into the hand of] the Philistines for forty years.

There was a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan, who lived in the city of Zorah [C fifteen miles west of Jerusalem; v. 25]. He had a wife, but she [L was barren/infertile and] could not have children [C a cause of both sadness and shame; Gen. 11:30; 29:31]. The ·angel [messenger] of the Lord [C angelic spokesperson for God, sometimes identified with the Lord himself; 2:1; 6:11; Gen. 16:7; Ex. 14:19; 23:20] appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “·You [L Look/T Behold, you are barren and] have not been able to have children, but you will ·become pregnant [conceive] and give birth to a son. Be careful not to drink wine or ·beer [or other fermented drink; T strong drink; C an alcoholic beverage made from grain] or eat anything that is unclean [C in a ritual sense], because you will ·become pregnant [conceive] and have a son. You must never cut his hair, because he will be a Nazirite [Num. 6:1–12], given to God from ·birth [L the womb]. He will begin to ·save [rescue; T deliver] Israel from the ·power [hand] of the Philistines.”

Then Manoah’s wife went to him and told him what had happened. She said, “A man from God came to me. He looked like an angel from God; ·his appearance was frightening [very terrifying/awesome]. I didn’t ask him where he was from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he said to me, ‘You will ·become pregnant [conceive] and will have a son. Don’t drink wine or ·beer [or other fermented drink; T strong drink; v. 4] or eat anything that is unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite [v. 5] to God from his birth until the day of his death.’”

Then Manoah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, I beg you to let the man of God come to us again. Let him teach us what we should do for the boy who will be born to us.”

God heard Manoah’s prayer, and the ·angel [messenger] of God came to Manoah’s wife again while she was sitting in the field. But her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 So she ran to tell him, “·He is here [L Look; T Behold]! The man who ·appeared [came] to me the other day is here!”

11 Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife?”

The man said, “I am.”

12 So Manoah asked, “When what you say happens, what kind of life should the boy live? What ·should he do [is his mission/vocation]?”

13 The ·angel [messenger] of the Lord said, “Your wife must be careful to do everything I told her to do. 14 She must not eat anything that grows on a grapevine, or drink any wine or ·beer [or other fermented drink; T strong drink; v. 4], or eat anything that is unclean [C in a ritual sense]. She must do everything I have commanded her.”

15 Manoah said to the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord, “We would like you to stay awhile so we can cook a young goat for you.”

16 The ·angel [messenger] of the Lord answered, “Even if I stay awhile, I would not eat your food. But if you want to prepare something, offer a burnt offering [Lev. 1:1–17] to the Lord.” (Manoah did not understand that the man was really the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord.)

17 Then Manoah asked the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord, “What is your name? Then we will honor you when what you have said really happens.”

18 The ·angel [messenger] of the Lord said, “Why do you ask my name? It is ·too amazing for you to understand [beyond comprehension; wonderful; Is. 9:6].” 19 So Manoah sacrificed a young goat on a rock and offered ·some grain as a gift [a grain/gift/tribute offering; Lev. 2:1] to the Lord. Then ·an amazing thing happened [or the Lord did an amazing thing] as Manoah and his wife watched. 20 As the flames went up to ·the sky [heaven] from the altar, the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord ·went up [ascended] in the flame. When Manoah and his wife saw that, they bowed facedown on the ground. 21 The ·angel [messenger] of the Lord did not appear to them again. Then Manoah ·understood [realized; knew] that the man was really the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord. 22 Manoah said, “We have seen ·God [or a divine being; C Hebrew: Elohim; v. 3], so we will surely die [6:23; Gen. 16:13].”

23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted our burnt offering [Lev. 1:1–17] or ·grain [L gift; tribute] offering [Lev. 2:1]. He would not have shown us all these things or told us all this.”

24 So the woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson [C related to the Hebrew word for “sun”; perhaps “sun-like” or “light from God”; Mal. 4:2]. He grew, and the Lord blessed him. 25 The Spirit of the Lord began to ·work in Samson [move/stir/empower him] while he was in the city of Mahaneh Dan, between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol.

Samson’s First Marriage

14 Samson went down to the city of Timnah where he saw ·a Philistine woman [L one of the daughters of the Philistines]. When he returned home, he said to his father and mother, “I saw ·a Philistine woman [L one of the daughers of the Philistines] in Timnah. I want you to get her for me so I can marry her.”

His father and mother answered, “·Surely there is [L Is there not…?] a woman from ·Israel [L the daughters of your brothers/relatives] you can marry. Do you have to marry a woman from the uncircumcised Philistines [Deut. 7:1–3]?”

But Samson said, “Get that woman for me! She is ·the one I want [L right in my eyes]!” (Samson’s parents did not know that ·the Lord wanted this to happen [this was from the Lord] because he was looking for a ·way [opportunity] to challenge the Philistines, who were ruling over Israel at this time.) Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, as far as the vineyard near there. ·Suddenly [T And behold], a young lion came roaring toward Samson! The Spirit of the Lord ·entered Samson with great power [empowered/came upon/rushed upon him; 3:10; 6:34; 11:29], and he tore the lion apart with his bare hands. ·For him it was as easy as tearing apart [L …as one tears] a young goat. But Samson did not tell his father or mother what he had done. Then he went down to the city and talked to the Philistine woman, and ·he liked her [L she was right in Samson’s eyes].

Several days later Samson went back to ·marry [get; take] her. On his way he went over to look at the body of the dead lion and ·found [T behold, there was] a swarm of bees and honey in it. Samson ·got [scooped; scraped] some of the honey with his hands and walked along eating it. When he came to his parents, he gave some to them. They ate it, too, but Samson did not tell them he had ·taken [scooped; scraped] the honey from the body of the dead lion [C touching the carcass violated Samson’s Nazirite vow; 13:5, 7; Num. 6:6].

10 Samson’s father went down to see the Philistine woman. And Samson gave a feast, as was the custom for the ·bridegroom [L young men]. 11 When the people saw him, they sent thirty ·friends [companions; groomsmen] to be with him.

Samson’s Riddle

12 Samson said to them, “Let me tell you a riddle. Try to find the answer during the seven days of the feast. If you can, I will give you thirty linen ·shirts [garments] and thirty changes of clothes. 13 But if you can’t, you must give me thirty linen ·shirts [garments] and thirty changes of clothes.”

So they said, “Tell us your riddle so we can hear it.”

14 Samson said,

“Out of the eater comes something to eat.
    Out of the strong comes something sweet.”

After three days, they had not ·found the answer [solved the riddle].

15 On the fourth[b] day they said to Samson’s wife, “Did you invite us here to make us poor? ·Trick [Entice; Coax] your husband into telling us the answer to the riddle. If you don’t, we will burn you and everyone in your father’s house.”

16 So Samson’s wife went to him, crying, and said, “You hate me! You don’t really love me! You told ·my people [L the sons of my people] a riddle, but you won’t tell me the answer.”

Samson said, “I haven’t even told my father or mother. Why should I tell you?”

17 Samson’s wife cried for the rest of the seven days of the feast. So he finally gave her the answer on the seventh day, because she kept ·bothering [nagging; pressing] him. Then she told ·her [L the sons of her] people the answer to the riddle.

18 Before sunset on the seventh day of the feast, the Philistine men had the answer. They came to Samson and said,

“What is sweeter than honey?
    What is stronger than a lion?”

Then Samson said to them,

“If you had not plowed with my ·young cow [heifer; C referring to his wife],
    you would not have solved my riddle!”

19 Then the Spirit of the Lord ·entered Samson and gave him great power [empowered/came upon/rushed upon him; v. 6]. Samson went down to the city of Ashkelon [C a Philistine capital] and killed thirty of its men and took all that they had and gave the clothes to the men who had answered his riddle. Then he went to his father’s house very angry. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to his best man [C one of those companions who had attended the feast].

Samson Troubles the Philistines

15 At the time of the wheat harvest [C late May or early June], Samson went to visit his wife, taking a young goat with him [C as a gift]. 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 [companion; 14:20]. ·Her younger sister is [L Is not her younger sister…?] more beautiful. Take her instead.”

But Samson said to them, “This time ·no one will blame me [I am justified/blameless/innocent] for hurting you Philistines!” So Samson went out and caught three hundred ·foxes [or jackals]. He took two at a time, tied their tails together, and then tied a torch to the tails of each pair of ·foxes [or jackals]. After he lit the torches, he let the ·foxes [or jackals] loose in the grainfields of the Philistines so that he burned up their standing grain, the ·piles [heaps; shocks] 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 [L Timnite], did because his father-in-law gave his wife to his ·best man [companion].”

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 [get revenge on you]!” Samson ·attacked the Philistines and killed many of them [L struck them down calf on thigh with a great slaughter]. 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 [spreading out near; or overrunning/raiding] 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 [L do to him as he did to us].”

11 Then three thousand men of Judah went to the ·cave [cleft] 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 [L did to them] what they did to me.”

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

Samson said to them, “Promise me you will not ·hurt [attack; come against] me yourselves.”

13 The men from Judah said, “·We agree [L No; C meaning they wouldn’t hurt him]. We will just ·tie you up [bind you] 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 Lehi, the Philistines came to meet him, ·shouting for joy [or with shouts of triumph; L shouting]. Then the Spirit of the Lord ·entered Samson and gave him great power [came upon/rushed upon/empowered him; 14:19]. The ropes on him weakened like burned ·strings [flax] and [L his bonds] fell off his hands! 15 Samson found the ·jawbone [L fresh jawbone; C not yet decayed] of a ·dead donkey [T ass], took it, and ·killed [L struck down] a thousand men with it!

16 Then Samson said,

“With a donkey’s jawbone
    I ·made donkeys out of them [or have piled them in heaps].
With a donkey’s jawbone
    I ·killed [L struck down] a thousand men!”

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

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 [or these pagans; L the uncircumcised]?” 19 Then God ·opened up a hole in the ground [L split open the basin/hollow place] at Lehi, and water came out. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he ·felt better [revived]. So he named that spring ·Caller’s Spring [or Spring of the One Who Cries Out; L En Hakkore], which is still in Lehi.

20 Samson ·judged [led] Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.

Samson Goes to the City of Gaza

16 One day Samson went to Gaza and saw a prostitute there. He went in ·to spend the night with her [L to her; C a euphemism for sexual relations]. When the people of Gaza heard, “Samson has come here!” they surrounded the place and ·waited for him [set an ambush; lay in wait] near the city gate all night. They whispered to each other, “·When dawn comes [At the morning light], we will kill Samson!”

But Samson only stayed with the prostitute until midnight. Then he got up and took hold of the doors and the two posts of the city gate and tore them loose, along with the bar. He put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces the city of Hebron.

Samson and Delilah

After this, Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Valley of Sorek. The Philistine ·rulers [lords] went to Delilah and said, “Find out what makes Samson so strong. ·Trick [Seduce; Entice] him into telling you how we can overpower him and tie him up and ·capture [subdue] him. If you do this, each one of us will give you ·twenty-eight pounds [L eleven hundred pieces] of silver.”

So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me why you are so strong. How can someone tie you up and ·capture [subdue] you?”

Samson answered, “Someone would have to tie me up with seven ·new [fresh] bowstrings that have not been dried. Then I would be as weak as any other man.”

The Philistine ·rulers [lords] brought Delilah seven ·new [fresh] bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied Samson with them. Some men were ·hiding [lying in wait] in ·another [an inner; or their] room. Delilah said to him, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” But Samson broke the bowstrings like pieces of burned ·string [flax]. So the Philistines did not find out the secret of Samson’s strength.

10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “You ·made a fool of [mocked; or deceived] me. You lied to me. Now tell me how someone can ·tie you up [subdue you].”

11 Samson said, “They would have to tie me with new ropes that have not been used before. Then I would become as weak as any other man.”

12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied Samson. Some men were hiding in ·another [an inner; or their] room. She called out to him, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” But he broke the ropes from his arms as easily as if they were threads.

13 Then Delilah said to Samson, “·Again [L Until now] you have ·made a fool of [mocked; or deceived] me. You lied to me. Tell me how someone can tie you up.”

He said, “Using the loom, weave the seven braids of my hair into the ·cloth [woven fabric; web], and tighten it with a pin. Then I will be as weak as any other man.”

While Samson slept, Delilah wove the seven braids of his hair into the ·cloth [woven fabric; web]. 14 Then she fastened it with a pin.

Again she said to him, “Samson, the Philistines are here!” Samson woke up and pulled out the pin and the loom with the ·cloth [woven fabric; web].

15 Then Delilah said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when ·you don’t even trust me [L your heart is not with me]? This is the third time you have ·made a fool of [mocked; or deceived] me. You haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16 She ·kept bothering [nagged; pressed] Samson about his secret day after day until ·he felt he was going to die [L his soul was annoyed to death]!

17 So he told her ·everything [L all his heart]. He said, “·I have never had my hair cut [L A razor has never come upon my head], because I have been set apart to God as a Nazirite ·since I was born [L from my mother’s womb; 13:5, 7; Num. 6:1–12]. If someone shaved my head, I would lose my strength and be as weak as any other man.”

18 When Delilah saw that he had told her ·everything sincerely [L all his heart], she sent a message to the Philistine ·rulers [lords]. She said, “Come back one more time, because he has told me ·everything [L all that is in his heart].” So the Philistine rulers came back to Delilah and brought the silver ·with them [L in their hands]. 19 Delilah got Samson to sleep, lying in her lap. Then she called in a man to shave off the seven braids of Samson’s hair. In this way she began to ·make him weak [subdue him; make him vulnerable], and his strength left him.

20 Then she said, “Samson, the Philistines are here!”

He woke up and thought, “I’ll leave as I did before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.

21 Then the Philistines captured Samson and ·tore [gouged] out his eyes. They took him down to Gaza, where they put bronze ·chains [shackles] on him and made him grind grain in the prison. 22 But his hair began to grow again after it was shaved off.

Samson Dies

23 The Philistine ·rulers [lords] gathered to celebrate and to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They said, “Our god has handed Samson our enemy ·over to us [into our hand].” 24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying,

“This man ·destroyed [laid waste; ravaged] our country.
    He ·killed many of us [L multiplied our dead]!
But our god handed over
    our enemy to us.”

25 ·While the people were enjoying the celebration [When they were in high spirits; L When their heart was good], they said, “Bring Samson out to ·perform for [entertain; amuse] us.” So they brought Samson from the prison, and he ·performed for [entertained; amused] them. They made him stand between the pillars. 26 Samson said to the ·servant [youth; young man] holding his hand, “Let me feel the pillars that hold up the ·temple [house] so I can lean against them.” 27 Now the ·temple [house] was full of men and women. All the Philistine ·rulers [lords] were there, and about three thousand men and women were on the roof watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “·Lord God [Sovereign Lord], remember me. God, please give me strength one more time so I ·can pay these Philistines back [avenge the Philistines] for putting out my two eyes!” 29 Then Samson ·turned to [grasped] the two center pillars ·that supported the whole temple [L on which the house rested]. He braced himself between the two pillars, with his right hand on one and his left hand on the other. 30 Samson said, “Let me die with these Philistines!” Then he pushed ·as hard as he could [with all his strength], causing the temple to fall on the ·rulers [lords] and all the people in it. So Samson killed more of the Philistines when he died than ·when he was alive [during his lifetime].

31 Samson’s brothers and ·his whole family [L all the house of his father] went down to get his body. They brought him back and buried him in the tomb of Manoah, his father, between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson had ·judged [led; 2:16] Israel for twenty years.

Micah’s Idols

17 There was a man named Micah who lived in the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim. He said to his mother, “I heard you speak a curse [C uttered against the thief] about the ·twenty-eight pounds [L eleven hundred pieces] of silver that were taken from you. I have the silver with me; I took it.”

His mother said, “The Lord bless you, my son [C for confessing the crime]!”

Micah gave the ·twenty-eight pounds [L eleven hundred pieces] of silver to his mother. Then she said, “I will ·give [dedicate] this silver [L from my hand] to the Lord. ·I will have my son make [or For the benefit of my son I will make] ·an idol and a statue [a carved image and a cast-metal image; or a carved image overlaid with silver]. So I will give the silver back to you.”

When he gave the silver back to his mother, she took about ·five pounds [L two hundred pieces of silver] and gave it to a ·silversmith [or idol-maker; Acts 19:24]. With it he made an ·idol and a statue [or carved image overlaid with silver; C an abomination and violation of the law; Deut. 27:15], which stood in Micah’s house. Micah had a ·special holy place [shrine], and he made a ·holy vest [ephod] and some ·household idols [L teraphim; Gen. 31:19]. Then Micah ·chose [ordained; installed; or paid; L filled the hand of] one of his sons to be his priest. At that time Israel did not have a king, so everyone did what seemed right in their own eyes [C the common refrain through the rest of Judges, referring both to the lack of a human king and the rejection of God’s sovereignty; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25].

There was a young man who was a Levite [C the priestly tribe of Israel; Num. 1:47–53] from the city of Bethlehem in Judah who was ·from [or living among] the people of Judah. He left Bethlehem to look for another place to live, and ·on his way [or to carry on his vocation] he came to Micah’s house in the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim. Micah asked him, “Where are you from?”

He answered, “I’m a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah. I’m looking for a place to live.”

10 Micah said to him, “Live with me and be my father [C meaning an advisor or counselor; Gen. 45:8] and my priest. I will give you ·four ounces [L ten pieces] of silver each year and clothes and food.” So the Levite went in. 11 He agreed to live with Micah and became like one of Micah’s own sons. 12 Micah ·made him [installed/ordained him as; or paid him to be; L filled his hand to be] a priest, and he lived in Micah’s house. 13 Then Micah said, “Now I know the Lord will ·be good to [prosper] me, because I have a Levite as my priest.”

The Tribe of Dan Captures Laish

18 At that time Israel did not have a king [17:6]. And at that time the tribe of Dan was still ·looking for a land [L seeking an inheritance] where they could live, a land of their own. The Danites had not yet ·been given their own land [moved into their land; received their allotment] among the tribes of Israel. So, from their family groups, they chose five ·soldiers [valiant men; L men, sons of strength] from the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out and explore the land. They were told, “Go, explore the land.”

They came to the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim, to Micah’s house, where they spent the night. When they came near Micah’s house, they recognized the ·voice [or accent] of the young Levite [17:7]. So they stopped there and asked him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing here? ·Why are you here [What is your business here]?”

He told them what Micah had done for him, saying, “He hired me. I am his priest.”

They said to him, “Please ask God if ·our journey [our mission; L the way we are going] will be successful.”

The priest said to them, “Go in peace. The Lord ·is pleased with [approves of; watches over] your journey.”

So the five men left. When they came to the city of Laish, they saw that the people there lived in safety, ·like [L according to the custom of] the people of Sidon. They ·thought they were safe [were quiet and secure/unsuspecting] and ·had plenty of everything [or no ruler was humiliating them]. They lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone else.

When the five men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their ·relatives [brothers] asked them, “What did you find?”

They answered, “We have seen the land, and it is very good. ·We should attack [L Arise, let us go up against] them. ·Aren’t you going to do something [Are you just going to sit there]? Don’t ·wait [hesitate; or be lazy]! Let’s go and take that land! 10 When you go, you will see there is ·plenty of [a wide/spacious] land—·plenty of everything [lacking nothing]! The people are not expecting an attack. Surely God has handed that land over to us!”

11 So six hundred Danites left Zorah and Eshtaol ·ready for [armed with weapons of] war. 12 On their way they set up camp near the city of Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is named Mahaneh Dan [C “Camp of Dan”] to this day. 13 From there they traveled on to the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim. Then they came to Micah’s house.

14 The five men who had explored the land around Laish said to their ·relatives [L brothers], “Do you know in one of these houses there are a ·holy vest [ephod; Ex. 28:6–14], household gods [17:5], an ·idol, and a statue [or image overlaid with silver; 17:3]? ·You know [or Decide now] what to do.” 15 So they stopped at the Levite’s house, which was also Micah’s house, and ·greeted the Levite [or asked how he was doing]. 16 The six hundred ·Danites [L men who were of the sons/descendants of Dan] stood at the entrance gate, wearing their weapons of war.

Footnotes

  1. Judges 11:8 For that reason Some Greek copies read “Not so.”
  2. Judges 14:15 fourth The Hebrew text has “seven.” Some old translations read “fourth,” which fits the order of events better.

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