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Bible Commentaries
Judges 14

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.

And Samson went down to Timnath. — Whether to the market, or the sports, or some great feast, …, it is not recorded; but God had an overruling hand in this journey for the punishment of the Philistines, though Samson cannot be altogether excused; for he went "after the sight of his eyes and lust of his heart." Ecclesiastes 11:9 Ill guides.

And saw a woman in Timnath. — This licentious eye should have been plucked out. Matthew 5:29 A little otherwise than Democritus the philosopher put out his eyes, because he could not look upon a woman but he must lust after her; wherein he did nothing else, saith Tertullian, In Apolog. but lay open his own folly to the whole city where he dwelt. How much better David, who prayed, "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity," Psalms 119:37 and Job, who voweth and imprecateth Job 31:1 ; Job 31:7 against these oculorum dolores, as great Alexander called the Persian maids.

Verse 2

And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.

Now therefore get her for me to wife. — Though set upon it, and, as some gather from Judges 14:4 , warranted by God to do as he did, yet he would not take a wife without his parents’ consent. This is of the law of nature.

Verse 3

Then his father and his mother said unto him, [Is there] never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

Then his father and his mother said unto him. — I wish, saith a grave divine, Manoah and his wife could speak so loud that all our Israelites might hear him.

Is there never a woman? … — If religion be any other than a cipher, how dare we not regard it in our most important choice? Marriage is like a stratagem of war, saith another, where one can err but once. Therefore the heathens were wont to set Mercury, their god of wisdom, by Venus, their goddess of marriage, to note that there was need of judgment there; and that it is not evil to marry, but good to be wary.

For she pleaseth me well. — The eye indeed is to be pleased in the choice of a wife; but that is not the chief thing to be minded; there is a better beauty; and many a man hath died of the wound in the eye.

Verse 4

But his father and his mother knew not that it [was] of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.

For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel. — Who had haply sworn fealty and subjection to the Philistines; and therefore Samson was to seek an occasion against them.

Verse 5

Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.

Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother. — Who were overcome by his importunity; and being loath to cross his desires, yielded to him, though against their own judgments.

And, behold, a young lion.Adultus leo, a lion in his full strength and utmost fierceness, met him with open mouth.

Verse 6

And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and [he had] nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

And he rent him as he would have rent a kid. — So did the Lord Christ subdue the devil in the desert, Matthew 4:4 ; Matthew 4:7 ; Matthew 4:10-11 whereof David also was a type, when he slew the lion and the bear. 1 Samuel 17:36

And he had nothing in his hand. — But so had Hercules, when he killed a lion and a bear, as the poets sing of him, and Lysimachus, one of Alexander’s worthies. Polydamus, Milo Crotonitates, and others are famous for their strength, but none comparable to Samson, the Church’s champion.

But he told not his father. — As some braggart would have done: this was his modesty. And it may be he feared to be chidden by his parents, for his rashness in this exploit.

Verse 7

And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.

And he went down, and talked with the woman. — Treated with her about the marriage, and perhaps was contracted to her; for that also was in use amongst the heathens.

Placuit despondi, nuptiis hic dictus est dies. ” - Terent.

The Hebrews say that Samson converted her to the true religion by this conference; but that is uncertain.

Verse 8

And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, [there was] a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.

And after a time. — Some convenient time there must be betwixt the contract and the wedding, but let it not be over long, for many reasons; whereof elsewhere.

And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. — That he might recognise God’s goodness to him in so great a deliverance, and be accordingly thankful. Unto true thankfulness for mercies received, there must concur recognition, estimation, and retribution. He was also brought hither again by a secret instinct of the Spirit for a further purpose, as it followeth in the history; and that he might see another wonder, for his further confirmation.

And, behold, there was a swarm of bees.Prodigiosum est quod mellifiearunt in cadavere, saith one. Lav. It was wondrous strange that bees should breed and make honey so soon in such a place: since they are naturally driven away by an ill smell, as abhorring all stinking things. Some think that the carcass was consumed to the bare bones, and so stank not. Pliny, Columella.

Verse 9

And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.

And went on eating. — So must we pass on toward our heavenly Father’s house, feeding on the heavenly manna, sucking sweetness out of the precious promises, Isaiah 66:11 which are pabulum fidei, the food of faith.

But he told not them. — Taciturnity is sometimes a virtue; and Tacitus is Primus in Historia. If this had come abroad, where had been the matter of his riddle?

Verse 10

So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.

So his father went down to the woman. — To warn her of the wedding, and that she might make ready.

For so used the young men to do,sc., When they were married. And surely a feast can never be more seasonable than at the recovery of the lost rib: only let it be kept without dancing, dalliance, and other such disorders.

Verse 11

And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.

And it came to pass, when they saw him. — His stature, strength, countenance, carriage, …

That they brought thirty companions to be with him.Honoris quidem specie, sed cautionis ergo: under a pretence of doing him honour, but indeed to secure themselves, they set a guard upon him. So the Turks at this day suffer no stranger to come into the presence of their Emperor, but they clasp him by the arms, under colour of doing him honour, but indeed lest he should offer the Emperor any violence, as Miles Cobelite, a poor wounded Christian soldier, did Amurah III, whom he slew under pretence of coming near to crave his life of him. Turk. Hist., p. 200, 715.

Verse 12

And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find [it] out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments:

I will now put forth a riddle unto you. — He prudently took no notice of the guard set upon him; but set them an exercise of wit, as at feasts was usual. Plato and Xenophon thought it fit and profitable that men’s speeches at meals should be written. But if Christians should do so, what manner of books would they be? Luther’s "Convivula" or table talk is printed to very good purpose: but there are not many Luthers.

Then I will give you thirty sheets. — Which they carried about them usually in those eastern parts, to rub and dry themselves, … The women of the Isle of Man here in England, whensoever they go out of their doors, are reported to gird themselves about with the winding sheet that they purpose to be buried in: to show themselves mindful of their mortality. Speed’s description of that island abridged. For "sheets" here some read "shirts"; and by "change of garments," they understand upper garments which they changed at pleasure, as gowns, cloaks.

Verse 13

But if ye cannot declare [it] me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.

Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.Et intelligemus illud, that is, by expounding it we will manifest that we understand it: so Junius. Carnal men are too confident of their own abilities: but can no more understand gospel mysteries, than a swain can the profundities of the mathematics: they can judge no better of them than a blind man can do of colours, or a sick man of food. 1 Corinthians 2:14-15

Verse 14

And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.

Out of the eater came forth meat.Vorator cibat, et crudelis delectat. This was the problem or riddle, made up of contraries, as many of God’s ways are. An express figure, saith Diodate, of the mystery of the sweet and saving food of the soul, brought forth by Christ’s death, by which he destroyed death and the devil. See John 6:5 Hebrews 2:14 . Others apply it to affliction sanctified, where, as in honey, the sweetest lieth in the bottom, and all things co-operate for good. God loveth to store up comforts for his people, where they would least expect to find them.

And they could not in three days. — Though they had tried their utmost, and tired their wits, and well nigh cracked their heads together, Much study cere-diminuit-brum, saith Ennius. yet they could not unriddle it. And as little can carnal people comprehend the gospel, which therefore they reprehend, and persecute the professors thereof.

Verse 15

And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson’s wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have? [is it] not [so]?

On the seventh day, that they said. — Being loath to lose the wager, they set the woman awork: so doth the devil oft. Many a man’s head he breaketh with his own rib: and this bait he hath found to take so well, that he never changed it since he crept into Paradise.

Lest we burn thee. — With such big words they scare the timorous woman, who feared to be burnt, and was afterwards burnt; that which she feared came upon her. So it did upon Denton the smith, burnt in his own house, after that he had refused to burn in the cause of Christ. Act. and Mon., fol. 1557

Verse 16

And Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told [it] me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told [it] my father nor my mother, and shall I tell [it] thee?

And Samson’s wife wept before him. — Tears are women’s weapons or engines, and many of them

Ut flerent oculos erudiere suos. ” - Ovid, Amor., lib. ii.

Apollodorus in Athenaeus telleth of the harlot Phryne, that from her feigned tears she was surnamed κλαυσιγελως , laugh-cry; because she could easily do either.

Verse 17

And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.

And she wept before him the seven days. — Or, Unto the seventh day; this was no less unseasonable and absurd than music in mourning.

He told her, because she lay sore upon him. — Whom the lion could not conquer, the tears of a woman have conquered. Samson never bewrayed infirmity but in mulierosity Excessive fondness for women and uxoriousness. doting or submissive fondness of one’s wife Utinam tam prudens ad cavendam mulierem fuisset quam fortis ad strangulandum leonem, saith Paulinus. I would he had been as wise as valiant. But many military men are fleshly minded.

Verse 18

And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What [is] sweeter than honey? and what [is] stronger than a lion? And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.

If ye had not ploughed with my heifer. — His wife he calleth his heifer, propter mulierum insolentiam, saith Lyra. Some think that these words intimate some sign of suspicion of some secret and unchaste dealing with his wife, that iuvenca petalca, which kindled a "jealousy" in him, which is, saith Solomon, "the rage of a man."

Verse 19

And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.

And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. — These extraordinary impulses of the Spirit Samson had not always, but when and as long as the Lord pleased. The prophets also had not always the gift of prophecy: nor the apostles the power of working miracles.

And he went down to Ashkelon. — Which was one of the five chief cities of the Philistines, 1 Samuel 6:17 where, by a bold attempt, he slew in that populous place thirty men of that tyrannical and accursed nation; the rest of the citizens running away, likely, and hiding themselves for fear of Samson. Did ever any Hercules do the like? The proverb is, Ne Hercules quidem contra duos.

And his anger was kindled, — viz., Against his perfidious wife and his injurious companions: and now he meditateth revenge, which is the next effect of anger.

And he went up to his father’s house. — Whose counsel he now wisheth he had taken in the choice of his wife. Leo cassibus irretitur, … Si praescivissem.

Verse 20

But Samson’s wife was [given] to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.

But Samson’s wife was given to his companion. — To his Paranymph Pronubus, Nυμφαγωγος . John 3:29 the first and chief brideman, his bosom friend, who haply had ploughed with this wanton heifer before. Wrongs done by a friend are more unsufferable. "It was thou, my friend," Psalms 55:13 saith David.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Judges 14". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/judges-14.html. 1865-1868.
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