Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
WIFE OF THE
1, 2. Timnath--now Tibna, about three miles from Zorah, his
saw a woman . . . of the Philistines; and told his father and his
mother, and said, . . . get her for me to wife--In the East parents
did, and do in many cases still, negotiate the marriage alliances for
their sons. During their period of ascendency, the Philistine invaders
had settled in the towns; and the intercourse between them and the
Israelites was often of such a friendly and familiar character as to
issue in matrimonial relations. Moreover, the Philistines were not in
the number of the seven devoted nations of Canaan
--with whom the law forbade them to marry.
3, 4. Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren--that
is, "of thine own tribe"--a Danite woman.
Samson said . . . Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well--literally,
"she is right in mine eyes"; not by her beautiful countenance or
handsome figure, but right or fit for his purpose. And this
throws light on the historian's remark in reference to the resistance
of his parents: they "knew not that it was of the Lord, that he sought
an occasion against the Philistines"--rather, "from the
Philistines"--originating on their side. The Lord, by a course of
retributive proceedings, was about to destroy the Philistine power, and
the means which He meant to employ was not the forces of a numerous
army, as in the case of the preceding judges, but the miraculous prowess
of the single-handed champion of Israel. In these circumstances, the
provocation to hostilities could only spring out of a private quarrel, and this marriage scheme was doubtless suggested by the secret
influence of the Spirit as the best way of accomplishing the intended
5-9. a young lion--Hebrew, a lion in the pride of his youthful
prime. The wild mountain passes of Judah were the lairs of savage
beasts; and most or all the "lions" of Scripture occur in that wild
country. His rending and killing the shaggy monster, without any weapon
in his hand, were accomplished by that superhuman courage and strength
which the occasional influences of the Spirit enabled him to put
forth, and by the exertion of which, in such private incidental
circumstances, he was gradually trained to confide in them for the more
public work to which he was destined.
7. he went down, and talked with the woman--The social intercourse
between the youth of different sexes is extremely rare and limited in
the East, and generally so after they are betrothed.
8. after a time he returned to take her--probably after the lapse
of a year, the usual interval between the ceremonies of betrothal and
marriage. It was spent by the bride elect with her parents in
preparation for the nuptials; and at the proper time the bridegroom
returned to take her home.
he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was
a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion--In such a
climate, the myriads of insects and the ravages of birds of prey,
together with the influences of the solar rays, would, in a few months,
put the carcass in a state inviting to such cleanly animals as bees.
Jud 14:10, 11.
10, 11. his father went down--The father is mentioned as the head
and representative of Samson's relatives.
Samson made there a feast--The wedding festivity lasted a week. The
men and women were probably entertained in separate apartments--the
bride, with her female relatives, at her parents' house; Samson, in
some place obtained for the occasion, as he was a stranger. A large
number of paranymphs, or "friends of the bridegroom," furnished, no
doubt, by the bride's family, attended his party, ostensibly to honor
the nuptials, but really as spies on his proceedings.
12-18. I will now put forth a riddle--Riddles are a favorite Oriental
amusement at festive entertainments of this nature, and rewards are
offered to those who give the solution. Samson's riddle related to
honey in the lion's carcass. The prize he offered was thirty sindinim, or shirts, and thirty changes of garments, probably woolen. Three days
were passed in vain attempts to unravel the enigma. The festive week
was fast drawing to a close when they secretly enlisted the services of
the newly married wife, who having got the secret, revealed it to her
18. If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my
riddle--a metaphor borrowed from agricultural pursuits, in which
not only oxen but cows and heifers were, and continue to be, employed
in dragging the plough. Divested of metaphor, the meaning is taken by
some in a criminal sense, but probably means no more than that they had
resorted to the aid of his wife--an unworthy expedient, which might
have been deemed by a man of less noble spirit and generosity as
releasing him from the obligation to fulfil his bargain.
Jud 14:19, 20.
19, 20. went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them--This
town was about twenty-four miles west by southwest from Timnah; and his
selection of this place, which was dictated by the Divine Spirit, was
probably owing to its bitter hostility to Israel.
took their spoil--The custom of stripping a slain enemy was unknown
in Hebrew warfare.
20. Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his
friend--that is, "the friend of the bridegroom," who was the medium
of communicating during the festivities between him and his bride. The
acceptance of her hand, therefore, was an act of base treachery, that
could not fail to provoke the just resentment of Samson.