Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
Jud 15:1, 2.
1. in the time of wheat harvest--that is, about the end of our April,
or the beginning of our May. The shocks of grain were then gathered
into heaps, and lying on the field or on the threshing-floors. It was
the dry season, dry far beyond our experience, and the grain in a most
Samson visited his wife with a kid--It is usual for a visitor in
the East to carry some present; in this case, it might be not only as a
token of civility, but of reconciliation.
he said--that is, to himself. It was his secret purpose.
into the chamber--the female apartments or harem.
2. her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated
her--This allegation was a mere sham, a flimsy pretext to excuse
his refusal of admittance. The proposal he made of a marriage with her
younger sister was but an insult to Samson, and one which it was
unlawful for an Israelite to accept
3. Samson said . . ., Now shall I be more blameless than the
Philistines--This nefarious conduct provoked the hero's just
indignation, and he resolved to take signal vengeance.
4, 5. went and caught three hundred foxes--rather, "jackals"; an
animal between a wolf and a fox, which, unlike our fox, a solitary
creature, prowls in large packs or herds and abounds in the mountains
of Palestine. The collection of so great a number would require both
time and assistance.
took firebrands--torches or matches which would burn slowly,
retaining the fire, and blaze fiercely when blown by the wind. He put
two jackals together, tail by tail, and fastened tightly a fire match
between them. At nightfall he lighted the firebrand and sent each pair
successively down from the hills, into the "Shefala," or plain of
Philistia, lying on the borders of Dan and Judah, a rich and extensive
corn district. The pain caused by the fire would make the animals toss
about to a wide extent, kindling one great conflagration. But no one
could render assistance to his neighbor: the devastation was so
general, the panic would be so great.
6. Who hath done this--The author of this outrage, and the cause that
provoked such an extraordinary retaliation, soon became known; and the
sufferers, enraged by the destruction of their crops, rushing with
tumultuous fury to the house of Samson's wife, "burnt her and her
father with fire." This was a remarkable retribution. To avoid this
menace, she had betrayed her husband; and by that unprincipled conduct,
eventually exposed herself to the horrid doom which, at the sacrifice
of conjugal fidelity, she had sought to escape
7. Samson said . . ., Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged
of you--By that act the husbandmen had been the instruments in avenging
his private and personal wrongs. But as a judge, divinely appointed to
deliver Israel, his work of retribution was not yet accomplished.
8. smote them hip and thigh--a proverbial expression for a merciless
he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam--rather went down
and dwelt in the cleft--that is, the cave or cavern of the cliff Etam.
BOUND BY THE
DELIVERED TO THE
9-17. Then the Philistines went up--to the high land of Judah.
and spread themselves in Lehi--now El-Lekieh, abounding with
limestone cliffs; the sides of which are perforated with caves. The
object of the Philistines in this expedition was to apprehend Samson,
in revenge for the great slaughter he had committed on their people.
With a view of freeing his own countrymen from all danger from the
infuriated Philistines, he allowed himself to be bound and surrendered
a fettered prisoner into their power. Exulting with joy at the near
prospect of riddance from so formidable an enemy, they went to meet
him. But he exerted his superhuman strength, and finding a new (or
moist) jawbone of an ass, he laid hold of it, and with no other weapon,
slew a thousand men at a place which he called Ramath-lehi--that is,
"the hill of the jawbone."
16. With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an
ass have I slain a thousand men--The inadequacy of the weapon plainly
shows this to have been a miraculous feat, "a case of supernatural
strength," just as the gift of prophecy is a case of supernatural
19. a hollow place . . . in the jaw--"in Lehi"--taking the word as a
proper noun, marking the place.
there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came
again--His strength, exhausted by the violent and long-continued
exertion, was recruited by the refreshing draft from the spring; and it
En-hakkore--the "supplication well," a name which records the piety
of this heroic champion.