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Judges 14:1 . Timnath, situate in mount Ephraim, often taken and retaken in successive wars. To form a matrimonial connection with the Philistines, or with any of the idolatrous nations, was a violation of the Jewish law. Exodus 34:16. But truly, as Ovid says, Amor est cæcus, love is blind.
Judges 14:5 . A young lion roared against him. To kill a lion placed a man among the first of heroes. He, like Hercules, mostly wore the skin as a proud trophy of victory. Old Æneas says, that he threw a vest around his neck, and covered his shoulders with a tawny lion’s skin.
Latos humeros subjectáque colla Veste super, fulvique insternor pelle leonis. ÆN. 50. 2. 5:721.
Judges 14:8 . After a time, when the air had dried the skeleton, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase, the mouth, or breast of the lion. Bochart mentions swarms of bees settling in tombs, and in human skulls, and forming their combs. Hieroz, part. 2. lib. 4. cap. 10.
Judges 14:12 . I will put forth a riddle. The human kind were not in that age come to maturity of intellect. Xenophon, in his Cyropædia, (travels of Cyrus,) represents that prince as diverting himself with his generals, by each in his turn putting forth a riddle. Antiquity abounds with examples, that the heathens, merry in their feasts, diverted themselves with riddles and tales. Thirty sheets. Many of the ancients wore a sheet of cloth knit at the corners, and thrown over the left shoulder, leaving the right arm free for action. Leurs habits sont aisés à faire; car, dans ce doux climat, on ne porte qu’une pièce d’étoffe fine et légère, qui n’est point taillée, et que chacun met à longs plis autour de son corps pour la modestie, lui dormant la forme qu’il veut. Telem. livre 8.
Judges 14:18 . Plowed with my heifer, a delicate adage to designate an inconstant woman. See Jezebel’s character, in 1 Kings 21:0. He who betrays the truth, under whatever threats, forfeits the confidence of society.
We now enter on the chequered life and heroic deeds of this extraordinary man. He was raised up of God, an interior scourge to the Philistines, that they might be so humbled and awed by the signal exertions of his strength, as to leave the Israelites in quiet and repose. And he was graciously raised up in an age when the spirit of his country was broken; when they were disarmed, and in servitude; when the tribes were disunited in their councils; and when Eli the highpriest had no spirit to reform religion, or to direct the operations of the people. Hence Samson’s mission differed from the mission of Barak, and Gideon. It was singular; and his vengeance on the enemy was so conducted as not to involve his helpless country in the blame.
The first effusions of his noble soul were love, and love solely guided by passion and inclination. It was so impetuous as not to be restrained by the prohibitions of the law, nor by the dissuasions of his parents. Deuteronomy 7:3. Exodus 34:16. He had seen a beauty, and that had fettered his soul, which could not be held by any other bond. He never once thought how a Nazarite of Israel could live with a heathen wife destitute of virtue, nor how his soul could be saved in attending the festivals of Philistia. ‘Love is blind;’ and surely to him the adage was applicable in the extreme.
Scarcely had this Nazarite forced his conscience in the violation of his vows, scarcely had he tasted the mutual joys of a pagan compact, or indulged in the pleasures of a sensual feast, than all his joys are changed into treasons, anguish, tears and divorce. Going from Timnath to Ashkelon, his anger disdaining all fear, he slew thirty men, and brought the plighted raiment to his faithless friends. He returned to his parents, taking nothing back but the reproaches of a wounded mind. And if Samson, mighty Samson in some sort, lost all interest in the divine favour at a Philistine feast; who has grace to bear a carnal marriage, and to keep a pure conscience in a profane festival? If this was impossible for Samson, what can our weakness expect from marriages and festivals with the wicked but total destruction? Learn then, oh my soul, to shelter thy feeble faith from gazing on carnal beauty, and from rioting at the unhallowed board.
Let us fix our eye on this hero, with regard to his return. He enters his father’s house destitute of wife, companion, and money. Hear how he afflicts his parents by the sad tale, that he had now realized their remonstrance, and found in Philistia, beauty to be corruption, and faith to be perjury. See how restless and dissatisfied he is with himself. Instead of enjoying the Elysium of delight, promised by impetuous passions, his breast is torn with blasted hopes, his family is pierced with grief and fear, and all good men now regard him as an apostate from the true religion. Happy, that God did not forsake him, but that he yet had hope in the omnipotent arm.
Mark well, how providence took occasion from the errors of Samson to punish Philistia, and so far to relieve Israel. That God often brings good out of evil, and takes occasion from the crimes of men to do his people the greatest good, not only the sacred writings, but all history abound with examples. This is among the most astonishing mysteries of providence; and it should lead us to study the ways of God, and to place unlimited confidence in his care. The lawless passions of our Henry 8. led to a breach with Rome, and greatly accelerated the reformation of religion in this united kingdom. Equally so, the ingratitude of Maurice of Saxony, towards the emperor of Germany, led to the protection of the Lutheran church. But because providence takes advantage of the crimes of men to do good, let no man presume that crimes are pleasing to God. Let us never do evil that good may come. Wicked men sin with evil views; and God will punish them as he punished Assyria with the rod of his anger, and the staff of his indignation. So Isaiah has exemplified the subject: Isaiah 10:5-7.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Judges 14". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20