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Bible Commentaries
Judges 15

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

Visited his wife with a kid - A common present (see Genesis 38:17; Luke 15:29). From Samson’s wife being still in her father’s house, it would seem that she was only betrothed, not actually married, to his companion.

Verse 2

I gave her - In marriage. Samson had probably not heard of this before. Samson’s father had paid the dowry for the older sister; her father therefore offers her sister in her room. The fear of Samson probably also influenced him.

Verse 3

See the margin. Before, when the Philistines injured him he was in covenant with the Timnathites through his marriage and by the rites of hospitality, for which reason he went off to Ashkelon to take his revenge Judges 14:19. But now the Philistines themselves had broken this bond, and so he was free to take his revenge on the spot.

Verse 4

Foxes - Rather, “jackals,” which are still very common in Palestine, especially about Joppa and Gaza. 1 Samuel 13:17 and Joshua 15:28; Joshua 19:3, are indications of the abundance of foxes or jackals giving names to places, especially in the country of the Phililstines. It belongs to Samson’s character, and agrees with the incident about the lion, that he should be an expert hunter. Ovid relates a very curious custom at Rome of letting loose foxes with lighted torches fastened to their tails in the circus at the Cerealia, in commemoration of the damage once done to the standing grain by a fox which a rustic had wrapped in hay and straw and set on fire, and which, running away, put the grain-fields in a blaze. This custom, which may have had a Phoenician origin, is a curious illustration of the narrative.

Verse 6

burnt her and her father - Out of revenge on Samson’s nearest relations; or, as others think, as an act of justice in favor of Samson, and in hope of pacifying his anger. Burning was the punishment for adultery and kindred crimes among the Jews Genesis 38:24; Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9. Samson’s wife brought upon herself the very punishment which she sought to escape by betraying her husband Judges 14:15.

Verse 8

Hip and thigh - A proverbial expression of doubtful origin, meaning all the “great” and “mighty,” all the choice pieces like the thigh and shoulder.

In the top of the rock - Rather, “the cleft of the rock.” These clefts of the rock were the natural fortresses and hiding places of the land. (Isaiah 2:21; Isaiah 57:5. Compare 1 Samuel 13:6; 1 Kings 18:13.)

Etam - Not the same as the place in the territory of Simeon 1 Chronicles 4:32. Its situation is uncertain, but a site near Eleutheropolis (“Beth-jibrin”) is required; and there exist some extraordinary caverns in the soft limestone or chalky rock, fifteen or twenty feet deep, with perpendicular sides, opening into extensive excavations in the rock, about two hours from Eleutheropolis. (Conder conjectures it to be the same as Atab, a village 12 miles southwest of Jerusalem, in the ‛arkub or Ridge.)

Verse 9

Spread themselves - An expression used of the Philistine mode of war 2 Samuel 5:18, 2 Samuel 5:22, alluding to the compact way in which they came up the wadys, and then distpersed. Lehi is so called by anticipation (see Judges 15:17).

Verse 11

The dispirited men of Judah were prepared to give up their champion, in order to conciliate their masters. This shows how hard was the task of the Judge, whose office it was to restore his countrymen to freedom and independence.

Verse 14

The cords ... became as flax ... - i. e. were as weak against his strength as half-burned flax which yields to the least pressure.

Verse 15

Slew a thousand men therewith - Compare the marginal references. The Philistines, seized with a panic at seeing Samson suddenly burst his cords and rush at them, offered no resistance, but fell an easy prey to the blows of their mighty foe. Some perhaps were dashed down the cliffs in their flight.

Verse 16

There is a play upon the word, three times repeated, which means both “an ass” and also “a heap.” The spirit of riddle-making Judges 14:12, Judges 14:18 is apparent in this song of triumph (compare Judges 5:1; Exodus 15:1; 1 Samuel 18:6-7).

Verse 17

Ramath-lehi - Either the “height or hill of Lehi,” or, “of the jaw-bone;” or, as in the margin, “the crestlag away of the jaw-bone,” with allusion to Samson casting it out of his hand, when he had finished his war-song.

Verse 19

An hollow place that was in the jaw - The right translation is, “the hollow place which is in Lehi.” The word translated “hollow place,” means a “mortar” Proverbs 27:22, and is here evidently a hollow or basin among the cliffs of Lehi, which, from its shape, was called “the mortar.” A spring, on the way from Socho to Eleutheropolis, was commonly called Samson’s spring in the time of Jerome and writers in the 7th, 12th, and 14th centuries.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Judges 15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/judges-15.html. 1870.
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