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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Judges 16

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.

Then went Samson to Gaza. — Not by a call from God, but of his own mind, as some think, presuming upon his strength, and therefore justly deserted and foiled. Or if by some weighty occasion, as others hold, yet not purposely to see and have this harlot; for that had been to "make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof," Romans 13:14 which scarce befalleth a godly man to do. But accidentally casting his eyes upon this Circe, he was enchanted by her, finding her fair face to be like a glass, wherein, while larks gaze, they are taken in a day-net.

Quid facies faciem Veneris cum veneris ante!

Non sedeas, sed eas: non pereas per eas. ”

And went in unto her. — Carried away by human infirmity, forgetting God and his high calling, this Iudex et Senex falleth into the foul sin of fornication.

Laenam non potuit, potuit superare leaenam:

Quem fera non potuit vincere, vicit hera. ”

Verse 2

[And it was told] the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed [him] in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.

And they compassed him in. — See their sedulity and Samson’s security, but especially God’s superabundant mercy: 1 Timothy 1:14 the riches of his grace cast in over and above desert or desire. Ephesians 2:7 Romans 5:20

Verse 3

And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put [them] upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that [is] before Hebron.

And arose at midnight. — From the bed of fornication, where the Spirit had screeched out unto him, "Oh, do not this abominable thing!" Jeremiah 44:4 Nevertheless he did it; and yet by the instinct of the same Spirit, who might justly have loathed his lodging, he arose and prepared to be gone. God dealeth not with his people according to their sins, but beareth long with their evil manners.

And took the doors of the gate of the city. — The watchmen sleeping the while, or not daring to stir. A figure of Christ’s glorious resurrection, maugre the malice of earth and of hell.

Bar and all. — By an act of stupendous strength - never the like heard of he carrieth away the gates wherein they thought to have encaged him. If a temptation has drawn any of us aside to lie down to sin, it is happy for us if we can arise ere we be surprised by judgment.

Up to the top of a hill that is before Hebron. — Or, Over against Hebron, though some miles distant; for Hebron was fourteen miles from Gaza, saith Adricomius.

Verse 4

And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name [was] Delilah.

And it came to pass afterward. — Not long afterwards, but before he had soundly repented of his former faultiness; the orifice of his lust being not yet stopped. So Lot committed incest two nights together. But of Judah it is expressly noted that, coming to a sight of his sin with Tamar, he "knew her again no more." Genesis 38:26

In the valley of Sorek. — A pleasant place, full of vines and myrtles. To Samson it proved a valley of vanity.

Whose name was Delilah. — A fit name for a harlot, for it comes from Dalal , which signifieth to exhaust, or to impoverish. It is the property of such female sinners to exhaust the purse, drain the strength, dry up the credit, waste the all of the mightiest Samsons. The Rabbis make Delilah to have been his wife, and further say, that he taught her the law of Moses before he took her; but none of this is likely to be true.

Verse 5

And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength [lieth], and by what [means] we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred [pieces] of silver.

Entice him, and see wherein, … — Two engines they use against Samson, Muliere et Munere: these were as bad as those two great pieces of ordnance cast by Alphonsus, duke of Ferrara, the one whereof he called the Earthquake, and the other Grandiabolo, or the great devil.

That we may bind him to afflict him. — Or, To humble him. They would not say to kill him, lest that should sound harsh in her ears who had entertained him for her paramour, and pretended love to him, but only to tame him, and take him a link lower, as they say.

Eleven hundred pieces of silver. — Which is held to be more than a thousand pounds. Wicked men care not what they part with, nor how they lavish out of the bag, for the satisfying of their lusts. Haman offered ten thousand talents to have the Jews rooted out. Decius Mundus, a nobleman of Rome, offered Paulina six thousand pounds for one night’s lodging with her, as Josephus reporteth. Lib. xviii, cap. 4.

Verse 6

And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength [lieth], and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.

Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength. — It is likely that Samson at some time or other had given out that his great strength lay in something whereof he might be deprived, though he never yet told wherein; and was now most hardly drawn to it.

Verse 7

And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.

And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs. — This he said for a put off, or as intending to make himself sport with her. But he should have remembered that God’s children will not lie. Isaiah 63:8

Verse 8

Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.

And she bound him with them. — So heathen histories tell us of Hercules, that he was miserably enslaved and abused by his mistress, Omphale Queen of Lydia. Amantes amentes. How was Antony befooled by Cleopatra, Plutarch. and the Persian kings by their concubines, being captivarum suarum captivi! they commanded the whole world, but were commanded by those minions.

Verse 9

Now [there were] men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines [be] upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.

Now there were men lying in wait. — But durst not for their ears show themselves, till the experiment should prove true, and they be sure to overcome him.

Verse 10

And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound.

And told me lies. — Delilah may give Samson the lie: she may say anything, do anything to him: as Omphale or Jole might clap Hercules on the cheeks, or beat him about the head with her slipper: whereas, if another had done half so much, it would not have been borne with more patience than Robert Earl of Essex took a cuff on the ear from Queen Elizabeth. He laid his hand upon his sword, saith Mr Camden, and swore a great oath that he neither could nor would swallow so great an indignity, nor would he have borne it at King Henry VIII’s hand.

Verse 11

And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.

And he said unto her. — See Judges 16:7 .

Verse 12

Delilah therefore took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines [be] upon thee, Samson. And [there were] liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread.

And there were liers in wait. — This he little thought of. No more do evil doers consider that the wrath of God and rage of all the creatures are ready prest to surprise them.

Verse 13

And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.

And told me lies. — See Judges 16:10 .

The seven locks of my head. — Here he came nearer the business than before; till at length she had his whole heart out. Well might Terence call harlots Cruces.

Verse 14

And she fastened [it] with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines [be] upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.

Ver. 14:. And he awaked out of his sleep. — The Philistines durst not meddle with him though asleep: no more than men dare venture upon a sleeping lion.

Verse 15

And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart [is] not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength [lieth].

How canst thou say, I love thee? — This was, it seems, a great word in Samson’s mouth, "I love thee dearly, Delilah." This she twitteth him with, as if only from the teeth outward: and that he did not Medullitus et animitus eam amare. In amore sese comitantur ερως ετ ερις .

Verse 16

And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, [so] that his soul was vexed unto death;

When she pressed him daily with her words.Coarctaret, pene cogeret. She gave him no rest or respite, Ut anima eius tantum non enecaretur, so that he was even weary of his life through her importunity, to the which at length he yielded: as afterwards Alexander the Great burned the fair city Persepolis, at the motion of a strumpet, upon whom he impotently doated.

Verse 17

That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I [have been] a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any [other] man.

There hath not come a razor upon my head, … — Of Tamerlane, that warlike Scythian, it is storied, that he nourished his hair, which his mother coming of the race of Samson, as he gave it out, willed him to do in token of his descent. This was the cause that made him to be more respected of his men of war, most part of them believing that in those hairs was some rare virtue, or rather some fatal destiny. Turk. Hist., 236.

Verse 18

And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.

And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart. — Whoredom indeed had "taken away his heart," Hosea 4:11 had infatuated and besotted him, as it is the nature of these sensual sins to do; these "lusts of the flesh that war against the soul." 1 Peter 2:12

And brought money in their hand. — Money they knew to be the monarch of this world, and to bear the mastery; but especially with such Poscinummiae, et Crumenimulgae as Delilah was.

Verse 19

And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.

And she made him sleep upon her knees. — He sleepeth, but his enemies are waking and working against him: so are the antichristian rout against the Church of Christ. Oh pray, pray, said an eminent Dutch divine, Pontifex enim Rom. et Concilium Tridentinum mira molluntur.

To shave off the seven locks of his head. — And here Samson, simul comam atque coronam amisit, saith Jerome; he lost his hair and his crown, that is, his stupendous strength, together. And with this history of Samson agreeth that which Ovid Metam. 8. writeth of Nisus, king of the Megarensians, with his purple hair stolen from him by his own daughter, to his utter undoing. The devil loveth to be God’s ape. Quid enim Satanas impie non imitetur? saith Junius here.

And she began to afflict him.Trudere et trudendo excitare, ut sibi caveret fuga; to bind him, and then to rouse him by jogging and thrusting him.

Verse 20

And she said, The Philistines [be] upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.

That the Lord was departed from him. — After which, all miseries came rushing in upon him, as by a sluice: according to that of the prophet, "Woe be unto you when I depart from you": του λογου ησυχαζοντος . When the Godhead withdrew but a while from our Saviour in the garden, and upon the cross, then began his sorrows and sufferings.

Verse 21

But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.

Took him, and put out his eyes. — These eyes of his were the first offenders that betrayed him to lust; Judges 16:1 and now they are first pulled out, and he led a blind captive to Gaza, where he was first captivated to his lust. The loss of his eyes showeth him his sin, saith one. Bp. Hall. Neither could he see how ill he had done, till he saw not. Muleasses king of Tunis, expelled his kingdom for whoredom, had his eyes put out with a burning hot iron, but was not brought thereby to a sight of his sin.

And bound him with fetters of brass. — Who had suffered himself to be bound with the green withs of sensual delights.

And he did grind in the prison house. — Like a slave, or rather like a horse: that he might earn his bread before he ate it. Yet by it, saith an interpreter, they chuckered themselves to think what use they should make herein of his great strength.

Verse 22

Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.

Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again. — By this time Samson was thoroughly humbled, and "accepting the chastisement of his iniquity," found God favourable, whose property it is to comfort the abject, 2 Corinthians 7:6 and to do his people good when they are called outcasts; when men say, "This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after." Jeremiah 30:17 Samson repenting, reassumed his Nazariteship, and God was soon reconciled.

Verse 23

Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.

For to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god. — That is, To Triton, the idol af those maritime nations, which was a fish downward, whence also he had his name Dagon. See 1 Samuel 5:4 . Diodorus Siculus calleth this idol Derceta; others, Leucothea.

And to rejoice.Ad celebranda hilaria. So the wild Irish when they go to rob, which they account no shame, pray to God that they may meet with a booty; and when they meet with it, they account it God’s gift, and rejoice exceedingly. Camd., Britan. Irel., p. 144.

Verse 24

And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.

And when the people saw him, they praised their god.Magnates, magnetes; the multitude do as their rulers; and, as in beasts, the body followeth the head, so here.

Verse 25

And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.

Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. — At feasts they had their γελωτοποιοι , such as made them merry. The Emperors of Rome presented the people with strange sights, as of lions, bears, panthers, tigers, …, to exhilarate them: they also led their enemies before them in triumph: which Cleopatra not able to endure, killed herself: So did not Samson, but became the subject of his enemies’ scorn and malice, as did likewise Christ. Matthew 27:29-31

And they set him between the pillars. — Where he might best be seen: but God had a holy hand in it, for a further mischief unto them.

Verse 26

And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.

That I may lean upon them. — And so rest me, who am wearied out, either with grinding in the prison, or now making sport.

Verse 27

Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines [were] there; and [there were] upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.

Now the house. — Dagon’s temple: that where they had sinned, there they might suffer. So Ahab’s blood was licked up by dogs in the place where he had slain Naboth. 1 Kings 21:19 So Henry III of France was stabbed to death in that very chamber where he had contrived the massacre of Paris.

Was full of men and women. — Assembled they were, by an overruling Providence, that they might be "broken in pieces." Isaiah 8:9 So were the Baalites in mount Carmel, 1 Kings 18:40 and afterwards in the house of their god, to be slain by Jehu. And so were the refractory Jews besieged and taken by the Romans at the feast of the Passover, when they were met together out of all parts of the land.

Verse 28

And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

And Samson called unto the Lord. — This was a prayer of faith, and a fruit of his repentance. Nunquam sero, si serio.

Verse 29

And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.

And Samson took hold.Orat et laborat: the heathens could say, Admota manu invocanda est Minerva. Men must pray, but with it do their endeavour; for God is not mocked. They that will be wise to salvation, must not only beg, but dig. Proverbs 2:3-5 Samson first prayed, and then bowed himself with all his might. Judges 16:30

Verse 30

And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with [all his] might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that [were] therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than [they] which he slew in his life.

Let me die with the Philistines. — Heb., Let my soul die as Numbers 23:10 with the Philistines, - yet not as the Philistines, but the death of the righteous, who hath hope in his death, - to Proverbs 14:32 destroy these Philistines, God’s enemies, out of a zeal of God’s glory. He devoted himself to death, not out of despair, or for vainglory, as some heathens did - Codrus the king of Athens, Decius the Roman Consul, … - but by an extraordinary instinct of God’s Spirit, and for a public good: as that Christian soldier did, who at the siege of Buda, to prevent the taking of the town, threw himself down from the wall, together with the dog, as he called him, - the Turk who had first got to the top of it, and set up the Turkish colours there; whereby the town was saved. Samson knew that he should die with the Philistines, Simili quidem poena, sed dissimili culpa, et diverso fine ac fato. Multum interest et qualia quis, et quisque patiatur, saith Augustine. These all died alike, but not for a like cause, or with like comfort.

And the house fell upon the lords, … — Lords and the common people perished together. So they did at Fidenae in the days of Tiberius, where the amphitheatre fell at a sight of sword playing, and destroyed thirty thousand people, Sueton. So at the fall of Blackfriars, many Papists were slain at a Mass: Drury the priest had his sermon and his brains knocked out of his head together. Let those that sport themselves with oaths as the Philistines did with Samson, beware; it will pull the house about their ears. Zechariah 5:4

So the dead. — A type of Christ herein. Hebrews 2:14 Death also is to a saint the accomplishment of mortification. Romans 6:7

Verse 31

Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought [him] up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.

Then his brethren. — An example of brotherly kindness.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Judges 16". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/judges-16.html. 1865-1868.
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