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Bible Commentaries
Judges 15

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-20

Tonight shall we turn to Judges, the fifteenth chapter? And we pick up on the story of Samson here in chapter fifteen.

The story of Samson begins in the thirteenth chapter of the book of Judges with the announcement to his parents of his birth and then the birth of Samson. In chapter fourteen Samson assumes a position as a judge in Israel, which position he occupied for twenty years. His falling in love with a Philistine girl in Timnath is told and the resulted disaster as he made a riddle to the thirty young men that were appointed for his companions prior to the marriage. And he put out the riddle to him that related to his experience with a lion.

For on his way to Timnath a lion jumped him. He ripped the thing in two like it was just a little goat, tossed the carcass over into the bushes. And a few weeks later on his return trip to Timnath, walking down he went into the bushes to see the progress of the decomposition of the lion's carcass and he discovered that bees had made a hive in the carcass, there was honey there. And so the honey was good, he ate of it.

And so to these thirty fellows that were appointed as his sort of buddies during the last week of bachelor-hood he gave them a riddle with sort of a bet kind of a thing. That if they could tell the riddle he would give them thirty suits and thirty shirts. If they could not tell him the riddle then they'd have to give him thirty changes of garments plus thirty shirts.

And so, they said, "What's the riddle?" They took him on, and he said, "Out of the eater came forth sweetness." And so they worked on it and worked on it for two or three days. They couldn't come to an answer. They came to his bride to be and said, "Look, you set us up for this thing and we don't like it. You're trying to rip us off. That's why you called us to be this guy's companion and now he has set up this riddle. It's a big set up. We recognize it. And you better find out what the answer to that riddle is or we're gonna burn you and your dad's house with fire. We're gonna burn you down."

So she came to Samson and she said, "Samson, here we're gonna get married in a few days and you don't really love me."

He said, "What do you mean I don't love you?"

And she said, "You haven't told me the riddle."

He said, "What do you mean I haven't told you the riddle? I haven't even told my parents the riddle."

"Well, if you really love me you should, we should never hide anything from each other. There should be no secrets in marriage, Samson and what is it?" you know.

She began to cry and be miserable and so he finally said, "Hey, there's nothing to it. A lion jumped me and out of his carcass the bees made a hive and there was honey that came out of the lion's carcass.

So the day of the wedding came and so the fellows said to Samson, "Hey, what's stronger than a lion and what's sweeter than honey?" And Samson knew that you know, his bride-to-be had told.

It made him mad and he said, "If you hadn't been plowing with my heifer you'd never found out." And he went down to Ashkelon another city of the Philistines, grabbed thirty Philistines, cracked their skulls and took their clothes and came back and paid off his debt and then took off for Eshtaol his home. He was just mad. He was really hot and just took off. Didn't consummate the marriage.

So that brings us up now to the fifteenth chapter where our lesson begins tonight.

So it came to pass within a while after he [cooled off], that Samson came down to visit his wife with the little goats; [so they could have some shish-kabob]; and so he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber [the bedroom], But her father would not allow him to go in. And her father said, [I thought that you were just, you know, completely through with her,] I thought you were so angry you were never coming back; so I let her marry the best man: now look her younger sister is really prettier than she is anyhow, why don't you take the younger sister? ( Judges 15:1-2 )

He already of course paid the dowry and everything else and so he said, "You know her beautiful, young sister, why don't you take her?" But Samson was sort of a hothead. He didn't appreciate the fact that his father-in-law giving his bride away. And so he decided to get even with the Philistines because they were the ones who sort of set the whole thing up anyhow; getting the secret out of his bride and they ruined this whole escapade.

And so he went out and caught three hundred jackals or foxes, and he tied them tail to tail, [or just tied their tails together two by two] and then he lit a torch and tied it to the tails of these jackals and turned them loose in the wheat fields that were ready for harvest ( Judges 15:4-5 ).

Now you can imagine that brown grass, wheat fields, and you can imagine the panic of the jackals. If you've ever seen a dog with a tin can on his tail you can imagine the panic of the jackals with these torches on their tails running through helter-skelter through the wheat fields that are ripe for harvest, golden brown, just absolutely wiped out the harvest, wiped out the wheat fields. Set them all on fire. They had a real prairie fire down in the area there of Timnath.

And so the Philistines said, Who did this? Someone said, It was Samson ( Judges 15:6 ),

So they came to get him and he wiped them all out. So he went back to a rock near Etam and there he just went up and laid back on this rock. Well, the Philistines got together an army and they came down against Judah.

And the men of Judah said to the Philistines, "Hey, what's the big idea coming down here with your armed forces? We don't want to fight. We're your servants. You conquered us. We don't want any trouble. What's your problem?"

And they said, "Look, we're not really interested in fighting you guys if you'll just turn Samson over to us. That's all we want. We wanna get that guy."

So they came up to this rock were Samson was just sort of kicking back and they said to Samson, "Hey, you're causing us a lot of trouble, man. You know that we serve the Philistines and now you've gotten them all upset with us and they're down here with their army and they're threatening us. What are you doing to us?"

And they said, "We want to turn you over to them. We want to bind you and turn you over to them."

Samson said, "If you will promise me that you won't turn on me yourselves, then I'll let you bind me to turn me over to them."

They said, "Hey, we don't want to kill you. We don't have anything against you. They're the ones who have the grief against you." So they bound him in the ropes and they turned him over to the Philistines. And as the Philistines came upon him, God's spirit also came upon him, and those ropes by which he was bound, he snapped them off. He saw lying there a jawbone of a donkey. He picked it up and with a jawbone of a donkey he began to smite the Philistines tossing their bodies into piles until he had slain a thousand of them. The rest evidently fled back home.

And he looked around and he said, "Heaps upon heaps," talking about the heaps of bodies "I've killed a thousand Philistines with a jawbone of a donkey."

So then Samson became extremely thirsty after this exercise and of course it was the month of June or so, the time of the wheat harvest so it is very hot and very dry over there about that time of the year. And Samson actually thought he was gonna die of thirst and said, "God, you know, you've given me this tremendous victory over the Philistines and now you're gonna kill me with thirst." And so the Lord caused a thing to cleave in the jawbone of the donkey and there was water in it and he drank it and his soul was revived.

And so we come-he called the name of the place, first of all, Ramathlehi, which is the "hill of the jawbone" and then when he got a drink out of it, he changed the name to Enhakkore, which is the "well of him that cried."

And he judged Israel in the time of the Philistines for twenty years ( Judges 15:20 ).

Now, that was his first encounter with the Philistines; the first problem that he faced with them. And the problem evolved out of his own going down to the city of the Philistines. Going into the camp of the enemy he exposed himself to needless kinds of desires and lusts. The Philistines were a very immoral people, very loose in their morals. Legalized prostitution and everything else was going on among the Philistines. From a fleshly standpoint it was an exciting place to go because of the looseness of the morals. That's probably what drew him there. There in the camp of the enemy looking for some excitement, which he found more than what he was expecting.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Judges 15". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/judges-15.html. 2014.
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