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Bible Commentaries
Judges 16

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 5-31

History of the Judges (
Judges 3:5 to Judges 16:31)

On this, the main section of the book, see Intro. § 2 and List of Oppressions and Judges. The larger part of the book is concerned with six of the Judges, one of whom is not properly a Judge at all (Abimelech), and in the case of another (Samson) isolated forays are recorded, but no actual deliverance.

7-11. Chushan-rishathaim and Othniel.

7. The groves] RV ’the asheroth.’ The word (another plural) means the sacred poles set up near an altar, which were common in Seniitic worship (even Solomon’s temple had’ pillars’: see on 1 Kings 7:21). Here, however, actual goddesses seem to be intended, perhaps regarded as symbolised by the poles.

8. Chushan-rishathaim] The Heb. word means ’Ethiopian of double iniquity.’ The real name must be hidden behind this expression. Mesopotamia] see on Genesis 24:10.

9. Othniel] cp. Judges 1:13

10. The Spirit of the Lord] used here and elsewhere of the inspiration which makes a man capable of great and apparently superhuman exploits and achievements: Judges 6:34; Judges 11:29; Judges 14:6; Judges 15:14: cp. also Exodus 31:3.

12-30. Eglon and Ehud.

12. Moab] the high plateau on the E. of the Dead Sea: cp. 2 Kings 3:24.

13. Ammon] N. of Moab: the Amalekites (Genesis 36:12) are called Edomites. They occupied the desert between Sinai and S. Palestine. The Kenites formed one of their nomad clans, but on the whole their enmity to Israel was constant: cp. 1 Samuel 15:2; hence their readiness to join Eglon’s invasion. City of palm trees] cp. 1 Samuel 1:16: Jericho, which was thus not entirely destroyed (Joshua 6:26). It would command the roads from central to southern Palestine.

15. Lefthanded] lit. ’lamed in his right hand.’ Hence the success of his ruse: but Judges 20:16 seems to show that ambidexterity is all that is meant: cp. also 1 Chronicles 12:2. Present] i.e. tribute.

16. Dagger] RV ’sword,’ about 14 in. in the blade. Being, on his right thigh (convenient for his left hand) the guards would not notice it.

17. Brought] RV ’offered,’ as in 1 Chronicles 12:18.

19. Quarries] RM ’graven images,’ perhaps carved stones. Once beyond these (cp. Judges 3:26), though only 2 m. from Jericho, Ehud knew that he was safe.

20. Summer parlour] RM ’upper chamber of cooling’: a room on the flat roof of an Oriental house; in this case enclosed so that the interior was not visible from outside.

22. No meaning can be obtained from the Heb. words at the end of this v.

23. Locked] i.e. bolted (as in the East at present).

26. Seirath] unknown.

27. Mountain] i.e. hillcountry. The men of Ephraim (Joshua’s tribe) are recognised as the leaders in Israel: cp. Judges 8:1.

28. Toward Moab] RV ’against the Moabites,’ i.e. to prevent their returning.

29. For the expression ten thousand, cp. Judges 1:4; Judges 4:6; Judges 7:3; Judges 20:34.

30. Fourscore] two full generations.

31. Shamgar] the first of the ’minor’ Judges. The name is mentioned in Judges 5:6, though not as a ’saviour.’ No Philistine oppression is mentioned till later. An ox goad] would be an efficient substitute for a spear—a sixfoot staff tipped with a spike: cp. Judges 15:14; and 2 Samuel 23:21.

Verses 1-31

Samson’s Escape from Gaza. Delilah’s Treachery. Samson’s Death

1-3. Samson and Gaza.

1. Gaza] 2 m. from the coast, and the last town of Palestine on the coast road to Egypt. Here Samson would be a whole day’s journey from his mountain home, in his enemies’ territory.

2, 3. They appear not to have surrounded the house, but waited to kill him when he found the gates closed in the morning. He suspects their plan, and does not wait till morning. The two gates would turn on pins, and be made by locks or bars into one piece, which Samson lifts up and carries off. The distance from Gaza to Hebron (one of the highest points in the rugged land of Judah) is nearly 40 m.

4-22. Samson’s capture through the treachery of Delilah.

4. A woman] For the third time Samson’s reckless daring in love brings him into danger. Sorek] a long and fertile ’wady’ or glen, running W. from near J erusalem to the plain: cp. Genesis 49:11. Zorah and Timnah are both in this valley.

5. The lords of the Philistines] see on Judges 3:3. Wherein his great strength lieth] properly ’by what means his strength is great.’ The ’lords’ fancy he must have some amulet or magical device. Afflict] properly, ’torment.’ Pieces] i.e. shekels. The amount to be paid by each is about £150.

7. Whether Samson suspects or not, he plays upon her credulity. The supposed secret of the ’green withs,’ i.e. undried bowstrings made from the intestines of animals, has all the more verisimilitude because of the sacred (and magical) number seven (cp. Judges 16:13). The Philistines are deceived as readily as Delilah.

11. Occupied] RV ’wherewith no work hath been done’: cp. Luke 19:13 (AV).

13, 14. The v. is incomplete. LXX helps us to fill the gap, thus: ’if thou weavest.. web, and beatest up with the pin, my strength will fail; so while he slept Delilah did so, and she beat up the web with the pin, and said.’ Delilah wove the long hair into an unfinished piece of stuff left on the upright loom: the pin was used for ’beating up’ the cloth (in this case, the hair) tight and firm. Went away with the pin of the beam] ’pin’ should here be omitted: Samson pulls the posts of the loom out of the ground.

15. Thine heart] thy mind or knowledge; cp. Judges 16:17, Judges 16:18.

18. Delilah sees at once that Samson is no longer tricking her, and she makes the Philistines equally confident. The belief in the importance of the hair (see on Judges 13:5) was widespread in antiquity.

19, Afflict] how is not explained. He is still asleep.

20. Departed] when he was robbed of the hair which it was his duty to preserve.

21. See 2 Kings 25:7. Grinding was women’s work.

23-31. Samson’s Last Exploit and Death.

23. Dagon] the chief Philistine god (1 Samuel 5).

25-29. He would make sport enough by being what he was, blind and in chains. Pillars] Two columns on which rested the roof of a large verandah, perhaps attached to the temple. After being in the court in front, in the sight of all, both below and above, he is brought to rest against these.

28. My two eyes] RM ’for one of my two eyes.’ A stroke of grim humour quite in keeping, at this supreme moment, with the character of Samson.

29. On which it was borne up] RV ’leaned on them.’

31. The Philistines had no wish, and perhaps no spirit, to interfere with Samson’s burial in his own country. Milton has brought out the tragic elements of this wild story at the. end of ’Samson Agonistes.’ Judged] see intro. to Judges 13.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Judges 16". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/judges-16.html. 1909.
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