The men of Ephraim are angry at not being asked to fight against the Ammonites. Jephthah replies that they did not act when they had the chance. The Gileadites defeat the Ephraimites, whose survivors try to flee back over the Jordon. The Gileadites, guarding the fords of the Jordan, asking anyone asking to cross to say the word ‘shibboleth’. If they pronounced it in an Ephraimite way (saying the sh as a s), they were killed. Jephthah judges Israel 6 yrs; he is followed by Ibzan, Elon and Abdon.
Philistines rule the Israelites for forty years. An angel appears firstly to the barren wife of the Danite Manoah, then to Manoah himself. The angel says that they will have a son who will deliver Israel. The child will be a Nazarite from the womb – no shaving or drinking alcohol permitted. Manoah is told to make a burnt offering, and the angel ascends in the flame of the alter. Manoah is afraid, but is reassured by his wife. Samson is born.
Samson wants to marry a Philistine woman from Timnah. God has a hidden plan behind Samson’s desire to marry this woman, however. On his way to Timnah, Samson kills a lion. On the way back, he sees bees and honey in the carcass, so eats some of the honey. (Nazarites are forbidden from touching anything dead – Samson is on dangerous ground here.) He also gives some honey to his parents, but does not tell them where it came from. Samson throws a bachelor party for his Philistine friends. He poses them a riddle: ‘out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.’ The prize for working it out is thirty linen garments. The men threaten Samson’s wife, telling her they will burn her and her father’s house if she does not extract the answer from Samson and tell them. She manages to do so, and the men answer the riddle. Samson replies, ‘If you had not ploughed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle!’ Samson kills thirty Philistines, takes their linen garments, and uses them to pay the bet. Samson goes back to his father’s house, and his wife goes off with his best man.
When he discovers his wife has been given to another by his father-in-law, Samson set foxes with torches attached to their tails through the Philistine crops, destroying them. The Philistines retaliate by killing Samson’s wife and family with fire. Samson responds with a great slaughter. The men of Judah deliver up Samson bound to the Philistines. Samson breaks free of his bonds, and kills a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. God miraculously provides water for Samson, who judges Israel for twenty years.
Samson escapes from Gaza by ripping off the gates of the city. A woman whom Samson loves, Delilah, agrees to betray him. Samson twice lies to Delilah about the source of his strength, saying he will be weakened if bound with fresh bowstrings, and new rope. Delilah ties him up with these things, but he soon bursts out of them. Samson lies again, saying he is weakened if seven locks of his hair are woven into the web of a loom. Delilah does this, but again, Samson’s strength is unaffected. Samson finally tells her that his strength lies in his hair. She shaves him when asleep, and he is delivered over to the Philistines and blinded. He is kept prisoner by the Philistines, but his hair grows back. Samson is called out into the temple of Dagon. He stands between two pillars, prays, then pushes the pillar so the temple collapses, killing many Philistines and himself. He had ruled Israel for twenty years.
Micah of Ephraim returns silver he had stolen from his mother. His mother bizarrely blesses him, after having cursed the unknown thief before! Two hundred shekels of it are given to a silversmith to create an idol. Micah then makes a shrine and an ephod, and consecrates one of his sons as a priest. Micah hires a wandering Levite from Bethlehem to be a priest. Micah is assured of the Lord’s favour!