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Bible Commentaries
Judges 15

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-8

Samson's Revenge on the Philistines

v. 1. But it came to pass within a while after, it may have been a matter of six weeks or two months later, in the time of wheat harvest, which usually begins in the first part of May in Palestine, that Samson visited his wife with a kid, coming with a present to show that he bore her no personal grudge; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber, the inner apartment of the house, which the women occupied. But her father would not suffer him to go in, he barred his way.

v. 2. And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her, the first excuse which popped into his mind, suggested by his anxiety and fear; therefore I gave her to thy companion. Is not her younger sister fairer than she? Take her, I pray thee, instead of her. The offer to let his other daughter be Samson's wife was made with the idea of placating the wronged husband, especially as he held up the beauty of this daughter as an added attraction; another glimpse of the low moral state of the Philistines.

v. 3. And Samson said concerning them, literally, "to them," either the father of his former wife and those present, or to his own family and neighbors, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure; they would not really be able to blame him for his conduct in doing them evil. He turned his personal wrong into an occasion of a national exploit against the enemy of his people as a whole, for he regarded the act of his father-in-Law as a manifestation of the Philistine hatred against the children of Israel.

v. 4. And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, small jackals, which are very plentiful in that neighborhood to this day, and took firebrands, torches, and turned tail to tail, tying the jackals together by twos, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails.

v. 5. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn, the grain-fields, of the Philistines, and burned up both the shocks, where the grain was already stacked, and also the standing corn, which was not yet cut, with the vineyards and olives, for the three hundred animals, almost crazed by the flaming torches that wrapped their tails in fire, sped first through the lowlands and then up the hillsides, through the vineyards and olive plantations.

v. 6. Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they, men acquainted with the facts, answered, Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire, probably by setting fire to their house and burning it with all the inmates. It was an act of the most brutal cruelty.

v. 7. And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease, he would most certainly not rest until he had taken revenge in full upon the Philistines for this new act of brutality, which was directed also against him.

v. 8. And he smote them hip and thigh, with a destruction involving everything, said of unmerciful warfare, in which no quarter is given, with a great slaughter; and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam, in a cleft or cave on the border of the Philistine country, a standing menace to the Philistines. The believers must never grow lax in their warfare against all their spiritual enemies, since their soul's salvation is at stake.

Verses 9-20

Samson's Lone Victory

v. 9. Then the Philistines, in order to take revenge for the slaughter inflicted upon them by Samson, went up, taking the field against Israel, and pitched in Judah, encamped in the territory of this tribe, and spread themselves in Lehi, probably on the road leading to the highlands of Judah from the southwest.

v. 10. And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us? And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us, that is, to put him to death.

v. 11. Then three thousand men of Judah, blind to the fact that they had, in Samson, a leader of incomparable strength and energy, under whose leadership they might easily have thrown off the bondage of the Philistines, went to the top of the rock Etam and said to Samson, in a statement which laid bare the cowardliness of their hearts, bound in idolatry as they were, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? What is this that thou hast done unto us? They rebuked him for a reckless fool, who was bringing trouble upon all their heads. And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them. He found it necessary to apologize for his conduct to his own brethren, who refused to recognize in him their deliverer.

v. 12. And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines, an act of betrayal by which they hoped to save their lives and fortunes. And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me that ye will not fall upon me yourselves, namely, for the purpose of putting him to death; for matters had reached a stage where this was not beyond the bounds of possibility, and Samson was powerless in that case, since he would not soil his hands with the blood of his countrymen.

v. 13. And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast and deliver thee into their hand; but surely we will not kill thee. They gave Samson the assurance which he needed for his plans. And they bound him with two new cords and brought him up from the rock, into the camp of the Philistines.

v. 14. And when he came unto Lehi, where the headquarters of the enemy were, the Philistines shouted against him, their jubilant shouts met him, for they believed that he was now in their power. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, filled him with invincible, superhuman strength, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burned with fire, like tow singed by the action of the flame. and his bands loosed from off his hands. literally, "melted or flowed from his hands," as though turned to a liquid.

v. 15. And, looking about for any kind of a weapon, he found a new jawbone of an ass, of one but recently fallen on the field, whose bones still had great elasticity, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith, for the enemies, seized with a panic of terror, were utterly unable to defend themselves. It was a remarkable victory.

v. 16. And Samson said, shouting out his song of triumph, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass, have I slain a thousand men. It is a stanza of poetic ecstasy:

With the jawbone of an ass

I slew two armies;

With the jawbone of an ass

I took vengeance on a thousand.

v. 17. And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, when he had uttered his song of victory, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand and called that place Ramath-lehi (hill of the jawbone).

v. 18. And he was sore athirst, for the battle and the pursuit of the enemies had been strenuous work, and it was in the midst of summer, and called on the Lord, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of Thy servant, for Samson was conscious of the fact that he was fighting the battles of Jehovah for His people; and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised, the enemies of the divine covenant, the Philistines?

v. 19. But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, He opened a mortarlike cleft in the rock at Lehi, and there came water thereout, a miracle in answer to the prayer of Samson; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived; wherefore he called the name thereof En-hakkore (well of him that cried), which is in Lehi unto this day, the miraculous spring was still to be seen when this book was written.

v. 20. And he, Samson, judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years. His activity as judge is purposely referred to, for it was due to his efforts that the true God was once more worshiped in Israel. Note: In the power of the Lord it is possible also for us to tear asunder all bands, to overcome all obstacles, and to conquer the hostile world. For the Lord Himself strengthens and revives us in the battle which we are obliged to wage in this world.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Judges 15". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/judges-15.html. 1921-23.
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