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Bible Commentaries
Judges 15

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 1

After. The same term is used in the original as chap. xiv. 8, which may be rendered "a year after," as it is not probable that the wife of Samson should be married to another, nor that he should lay aside his resentment much sooner. (Calmet)

Verse 2

Sister. Jacob married two sisters, and such marriages were not uncommon among the eastern nations. (Calmet) --- Samson does not accept the offer, as it was now contrary to the law, Leviticus xviii. 18. (Menochius)

Verse 3

Evils. This is a declaration of war, made by Samson in person, against a whole nation. (Haydock) --- He does not wish to engage his countrymen in the quarrel, that they may not be more oppressed. God chose that he should weaken the Philistines by degrees. They had been apprised of the injustice done to Samson, and did not strive to hinder it, so that they all deserved to suffer. (Grotius; Estius; Calmet)

Verse 4

Foxes. Being judge of the people, he might have many to assist him to catch with nets or otherwise a number of these animals; of which there were great numbers in that country, (Challoner) as we may gather from Canticle of Canticles ii. 15., and Lamentations v. 15. (Menochius) --- Hence many places received the name of Sual, Josue xv. 28., and xix. 42. Pompey exhibited 600 lions at Rome, and the Emperor Probus 5000 ostriches, and as many wild boars, &., in the theatre. (Vopisc.; Pliny [Natural History?] viii. 16.; Cornelius a Lapide) --- Is it more incredible that Samson should collect 300 foxes? By this means he cleared his country of a pernicious animal, the most proper for carrying flambeaux, and spreading fire far and wide among the fields of the enemy. By tying the foxes together, he hindered them from retiring into their holes, and gave the fire time to take hold of the corn and vineyards. (Calmet) --- Ovid mentions a Roman custom of burning foxes in the theatre, with torches tied upon their backs, in the month of April; which some have imagined was in memorial of this transaction. (Serarius, q. 7.) "Factum abiit, monumenta manent, nam vivere captam

Nunc quoque lex vulpem Carseolana vetat.

Utque luat pænas genus hoc cerealibus ardet,

Quoque modo segetes perdidit, illa perit." ----- Fast. iv.

--- Torches. Hebrew and Septuagint, "a torch or firebrand," (Haydock) made of resinous wood, such as the pine, olive, &c., which easily catch fire, and are extinguished with difficulty. (Calmet) --- Qua fugit incendit vestitos messibus agros---Damnosis vires ignibus aura dabat. (Ovid)

"Where’er he flees, corn-fields in flames appear,

The fanning breeze brings devastation near."

A hundred and fifty firebrands, in different parts of the country, destroy the farmer’s hopes. (Haydock) --- And olive. The conjunction in now wanting in Hebrew and some translate, "the vineyards of olive-trees." (Kimchi) --- But who ever heard of such an expression? It is better therefore to supply and, with the Septuagint (Calmet) as the Protestants also have done. (Haydock) --- "The foxes signify the deceitful ensnares, and chiefly heretics." (St. Augustine in Psalm viii.) (Du Hamel)

Verse 6

Father. Thus they met with the fate which the woman had endeavoured to avoid, by an infidelity to her husband. (Salien) --- The princes of the Philistines acknowledged the wrong which had been done to Samson, and thus testify their abhorrence of adultery. (Calmet) --- Some Hebrew manuscripts confirm the Septuagint, Arabic, and Syriac versions; and instead of "her father with her," read, "and her father’s house," (Kennicott) or all his family.

Verse 7

Of you. He intimates that they should answer for the injustice which they ought to have prevented, or punished sooner. (Haydock) --- Hebrew, "If you had done like this," and slain the father and daughter, I should be quiet. (Du Hamel)

Verse 8

Thigh. Striking this part is often mentioned as a mark of consternation, Jeremias xxxi. 19. (Menochius) --- Hebrew, "and he smote them thigh and leg, with a great slaughter." (Haydock) --- Vatable supposes this means an entire destruction. Chaldean, "he smote both horse and foot." He rendered them incapable of fleeing, or of making resistance, Nahum ii. 5. (Calmet) --- Cavern. Hebrew sahiph, signifies, "the top, branch, &c. The rock might be covered with wood, (Calmet) and was situated in the confines of the tribes of Simeon, Juda, and Dan, 1 Paralipomenon iv. 32. (Menochius)

Verse 9

Spread. Hebrew, "encamped in Juda, and spread themselves in Lechi." (Haydock)

Verse 12

Kill me, in a treacherous manner. He was not afraid of them. (Calmet)

Verse 13

Cords. Hebrew habothim, Septuagint Greek: Kalodiois, denote strong ropes or cables. (Menochius) --- Etam is not in Hebrew or the Septuagint. (Haydock)

Verse 14

Bone. Hebrew, "Lechi," as it was called after the slaughter made by Samson, ver. 15. It is about 20 miles to the east of Ascalon. (Calmet) --- Approach: literally, "the smell." This expression is often used to denote burning. (Septuagint; Chap xvi. 9.; Daniel iii. 94.)

Verse 15

There. The Septuagint, Josephus, and the Vulgate agree, reading Hebrew truth, instead of the present teriya, "fresh," or raw, which seems an useless remark in this place. (Calmet) --- Asses are very large in Palestine. (Menochius)

Verse 16

Asses. He insists on this particular, as such an unusual weapon rendering his victory more astonishing, and he would not leave any room for doubt. Hebrew is variously translated, "with the jaw-bone of an ass, I have made a heap, yea two heaps; with the jaw-bone of an ass, I have defeated a thousand men." (Syriac, &c.) Castalion and Bonfrere defend the Vulgate. The Septuagint have, "with the jaw-bone of an ass I have entirely taken them off, (Haydock; defending them) with," &c. They have explained chamorathayim, as the first person of emor, rubefecit, or Chaldean destruxit, "I have covered them with blood;" and indeed to understand it of "two she asses," is impossible. (Calmet) --- This verse formed the chorus of Samson’s song. (Haydock) --- He did not take the glory to himself, as Josephus ([Antiquities?] v. 10,) would insinuate, but attributed the victory to God, ver. 18. (Salien, in the year before Christ 1172.) This miracle of strength can no more be accounted for by reason, than many others. (Worthington)

Verse 17

Which is, &c. This is added by the Vulgate being the interpretation of the Septuagint Anairesis; (Calmet) though it also signify, "the slaughter." (St. Ambrose, ep. 19.) (Haydock) --- The Syriac and Arabic have read domoth, "the blood," instead of ramath Lechi, "the lifting up;" or as others would have it, "the throwing down of the jaw-bone." (Calmet) --- Samson had snatched it form the ground, slew the thousand Philistines, and left it a a monument of his victory. (Haydock)

Verse 18

Thirsty. St. Ambrose (ep. 19 or 70) follows Josephus, (Menochius) is supposing that the arrogance of Samson, in attributing the victory to his own strength, was thus punished. But others are more favourable to the hero, (Calmet) and suppose that his thirst was occasioned by the extraordinary fatigue. He sufficiently testifies that he had received all from God, (Menochius) and he is immediately favoured with another miracle. (Haydock) --- God is able to grant victory by the most feeble instruments, and he is never wanting when his presence is requisite. (St. Augustine, Doct. iv. 15.) (Tirinus)

Verse 19

Then. Hebrew, "And God clave the Mactesh (Haydock; hollow place, great tooth;" or the name of a rock, as Josephus and others understand it, perhaps on account of its resemblance with a tooth) which was at Lechi; and....he called it the fountain of him who cries out, (Calmet; En-hakkore, Protestants) which is in the Lechi, until this day." The translating of some proper names has given occasion to various difficulties. See 2 Kings vi. 3., and 1 Paralipomenon iv. 22. (Haydock) --- Sophonias (i. 11,) mentions a place called (Mactesh, or) Machtes, in Hebrew, which seems to have been built where the fountain of Samson was. (Calmet) --- It is a greater miracle to draw water out of a dry bone, than out of the earth or stones. But all things are possible to God. (Worthington)

Verse 20


Years. Salien gathers from this remark being made here, that the Philistines still asserted their dominion over Israel, but with greater moderation than they had done before: and both nations acknowledged the judicial authority of Samson, who had now been giving them such proofs of his valour for two years, soon after he performed the feat at Gaza, in the year before Christ 1169, being on some business. (Haydock)

Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Judges 15". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/judges-15.html. 1859.
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