The cycle continues: the Israelites are being naughty and “prostituting” themselves to another god. So God makes them slaves to the Philistines for forty years. Once God decided that the Israelites had been good and punished, He sent His angel to a barren woman. The angel told her that she would soon carry a son; she was to forego alcohol and unclean foods until then. Also, she wasn’t allowed to cut or shave the child’s hair. The child was to be set apart to God and would one day free the Israelites from their slavery.
So the woman went and told her husband what had happened. She was pretty sure it had been an angel, but not 100%. Whatever he was, he looked “very awesome.” Not all men would be cool after their wives told them that a “very awesome” looking guy/angel/dunno had visited her, and she was suddenly pregnant. But the husband believed his wife and prayed to God to tell them how to raise the child. The angel came back and was like I damn well told you–no alcohol, no unclean food, and don’t cut his hair. Then the couple made an offering to the Lord and a while later the baby, Samson, was born.
Samson grew up. One day, he saw a Philistine woman and decided he had to have her, so he demanded that his parents set up the marriage for him. They weren’t happy about that; they wanted Samson to marry a nice Israelite girl. But Samson wasn’t having it. One day, while walking over to talk to his beloved, a young lion came running toward him. Samson tore the lion apart with his bare hands and continued on his way. After Samson’s marriage had been arranged, he was walking to his wedding when he noticed the carcass of the lion still on the ground. There was honey in it. So he took the honey out of the carcass and ate it. First of all, pretty sure there was a rule about not eating food off of anything unclean, which includes the bodies of dead animals. Second, that is gross. Third, that. is. gross.
During the seven days of Samson’s wedding feast, he made a bet with the Philistines who attended. If they could solve his riddle, he would give them lots of robes and stuff. If they couldn’t solve it, they had to give him robes and stuff. The riddle was really hard (and stupid) and the Philistines couldn’t guess it. So they got really pissed and threatened Samson’s new wife and her family with death by fire if she didn’t tell them the answer. So his wife begged him, until finally Samson gave her the answer. She, in turn, immediately told her people the answer. Samson was way pissed that he lost the bet. He went and killed some random people and stole their robes and stuff, so that he could pay up on his bet. Then he gave his new wife to a friend.
Actually, he didn’t give his wife away; he showed so much hatred toward her that her father gave her away to a different guy. When Samson came back to claim his wife and was told that she had been given to someone else, Samson went full on Hulk. First, he tied some burning torches to the tails of foxes and released them in the Philistine’s fields, burning up all of their food. (Not a fan of animals, this guy.) Then he burned his wife and her father alive. Then he killed a bunch of other Philistines until he felt satisfied that he had avenged himself.
Naturally, the Philistines were non-too pleased by this turn of events, so they went to the Israelites to have them hand over Samson (remember that at this time, the Israelites are enslaved to the Philistines). The Israelites do as they were asked and brought Samson to the Philistines, bound by ropes. But as Samson was walking to the Philistines, the power of God came over him, and his ropes fell away. Full blown Hulk again. He picks up the jawbone of a dead donkey and kills one thousand men with it. With an old bone. You read that correctly. This dude has a thing for dead things and making things dead. And vagina. That’s pretty much it.
Times passes. Samson goes back into the land of the Philistines to sleep with a prostitute. The Philistines find out and plan to ambush him, but Samson tears apart their city gate and walks off like a badass instead. A while later, Samson meets and falls in love with Delilah. Again, the Philistines find out, and go to Delilah, offering her money if she could tell them the source of Samson’s strength and how to subdue him.
Delilah bugged and bugged Samson about how to subdue him until finally, he gave her an answer. So she tried it, but he was lying and was not subdued. Then she begs and begs again. He lies three times, and every time she tries to subdue him in whatever way he told her. You would think her continually trying to tie him up would tip Samson off that she was up to no good. Or you might think that since Samson has been screwed because of telling his lady top-secret stuff before that he might have wised up. But you’re wrong. Samson is super strong and super dumb. Delilah was so annoying that eventually he gave up and just told her the truth about how to subdue him. He told her that no razor had ever been put to his head, and if his hair were shaved off, he could be subdued. So Delilah had a Philistine come in and shave Samson’s head while he was asleep. When Samson woke up and realized that the Philistines had him, he thought he could go Hulk and fight them off. But because his hair had been cut, he was weak and could not fight back (God had left him). The Philistines gouged out his eyes and put him in prison.
The Philistines threw a great party in honor of their god delivering Samson into their hands. They decided to bring Samson up to perform for them as added insult. Samson was tied between the two main columns of the temple. Samson prayed to God to give him strength one last time, and God did. Samson pushed to the columns until they crumbled, and the great temple crumbled with them, killing Samson and all of the Philistines inside. Samson had “led” the Israelites for 20 years.
So we’re back to no king/leader/judge, and the Israelites are being assholes again. Though I’m not sure that Samson actually freed them from enslavement or made them better people. In fact, I highly doubt that. So everyone is doing as he damn well pleases. And then there was Micah. Micah had stolen some money from his mother, but then he gave it back. Then his mother had him use the money to create an idol. A traveling man from the tribe of Levi (remember, the priest tribe?) came along, asking for a place to stay. Micah invited him to stay as long as the man agreed to be his priest, and the man said yes.
Now, the the land that had been given to the tribe of Dan hadn’t actually been conquered yet, and they were just kind of wondering round when they happened across Micah and his Levite priest. The Danites asked the priest if God was with them, and the priest said yes. So the Danites traveled out into foreign territory to find themselves some land. They found a place where the land was awesome and the people were living prosperously and peacefully, suspecting nothing. So the Danites decided that they wanted to live there.
The Danites went back to Micah’s house and took his idols, his “household gods,” and his priest to go fight with them. Micah was upset and chased them down, but he couldn’t defeat everyone, so he had to go back home. The Danites went on and completely destroyed the peaceful community that they had found, killing everyone. They rebuilt the city as their own and kept the priest and idols to serve their community. But they were using false idols and “house-hold gods,” you might say. Why did God help them win? you might ask. I have no fucking clue.
And now for a really fucked up story: A Levite took a concubine, but she was unfaithful and fled back to her father. The Levite travelled quite a ways to reclaim her, did so, and headed back home with her. On the way home, they stopped in a village and were taken in by a kind, old man. During the night, men from the village (these people are Benjamites, part of the tribe of Judah) came and demanded that the old man let them have the Levite, so that they could have sex with him. The old man said no, but you can have my virgin daughter and the Levite’s concubine to do with as you will (sound familiar?). So the Levite pushed his concubine out the door, and the men mercilessly raped her all night. When the Levite went to leave the next morning, he found his concubine unresponsive on the doorstep. He took her body back home with him. Once he got there, he cut the concubines body into 12 pieces and sent a piece to each tribe of Israel.
The tribes of Israel were not happy, formed an army, and showed up at the Levites house. The Levite explained what had happened, and the army agreed to fight. So they went to the tribe of Benjamin and demanded that the perpetrators be handed over, but the Benjamites would not listen. The Israelites had the Benjamites surrounded, but the Benajmites killed 22,000 Israelites that day. So the Israelites went and wept to God about fighting their brothers and dying and stuff, but God told them they were doing the right thing. So they went back again, but on the second day, the Benjamites killed 18,000 more Israelites.
This time, the Israelites did more than weep to God. They also made burnt offerings and fasted. So God agreed to give the Benajmites “into the hands” of the Israelites. At first, it looked like the Benjamites would win again. But the Israelites turned the tables and destroyed the Benjamite army. 25,000 men from the Benjamite army died that day. Some were able to run and hide in the hills. Then the Israelites army did what they do best: they went to each Benjamite city, put every living thing to the sword, and destroyed the cities.
Then the Israelites felt bad for having almost wiped out an entire tribe. They badly wanted to provide wives to the remaining Benjamite men (the ones who escaped and hid), but all of Israel had promised not to intermarry between tribes. The Israelites held a great gathering to decide what to do, and there was one city who did not send any representatives. So the Israelites sent fighting men to the unrepresented city. The men killed everyone in the city except for the virgins. Those, they took to the remaining Benjamites, so that they could reproduce and the tribe would not die out. But there weren’t enough virgins, so they made a new plan.
In a town called Shiloh, unmarried women were to dance in a festival of God. The Benjamites were told to hide in the vineyard, and when the women came out to dance, kidnap them and take them as wives. And they did. The Benjamites carried women off, caveman style. They reproduced and rebuilt their cities.
And we end this book pretty much where we started, with the Israelites all leaderless and naughty. Of course, thousands upon thousands of people have died brutally since this book started, but what have you come to expect? Up next, the book of Ruth.