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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Judges 16

 

 

Verse 1

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

Gaza [ `Azaataah (Hebrew #5804), the strong] - now Guzzah; the capital of the largest of the five Philistine principal cities, about 15 miles southwest of Ashkelon, and, like that town, was captured by the tribe of Judah, but re-taken by the Philistines. The object of Samson's visit to this city is not recorded; and, unless he had gone in disguise, it was a perilous exposure of his life in one of the enemy's strongholds. It soon transpired that he was there, and it was immediately resolved to secure him; but deeming themselves certain of their prey, the Gazites deferred the execution of their measures until the morning.


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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


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.

Samson ... arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city. A ruinous pile of masonary is still pointed out as the site of the gate. It was probably a part of the town wall; and as this ruin is "toward Hebron," there is no improbability in the tradition.

Carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron. That hill is el-Montar; but by "Hebron" in this passage is meant "the mountains of Hebron;" for otherwise Samson, had he ran night and day from the time of his flight from Gaze, could only have come on the evening of the following day within sight of the city of Hebron. The city of Gaza was in those days probably not less than three-quarters of an hour distant from el-Montar. To have climbed to the top of this hill with the ponderous doors and their bolts on his shoulders, through road of thick sand, was a feat which none but a Samson could have accomplished (Van de Velde). The gates of cities, as well as of houses and temples, are generally very low and strait, or narrow, as they appear to have been also in the most ancient times (Psalms 24:7; Luke 13:24). 'On entering Tiberias from the south I could not get through the gate of the city except by stooping close to the mane of my horse. If the gates of Gaza were like those of Tiberias, the act of Samson, who carried them a considerable distance, would still be regarded as an extraordinary feat but not beyond the limits of credibility' (Bovet, 'Voyage en Terre Saints,' p.

285).


Verse 4

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

He loved a woman in the valley of Sorek. The situation of this place is not known, although Jerome ('Onomast.') mentions a village called Capharsorech, the village of Sorech, north of Eleutheropolis, near Taraa (Zorah, Judges 13:2), where Samson was born; nor can the character of Delilah be clearly ascertained. Her abode, her mercenary character, and her heartless blandishments afford too much reason to believe she was a profligate woman.


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.

The lords of the Philistines. The five rulers deemed no means beneath their dignity to overcome this national enemy; and learning the ascendancy she had acquired over the Hebrew champion, they bribed her to use that influence in promoting their designs.

Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth. They probably imagined that he carried some amulet about his person, or was in the possession of some important secret, by which he had acquired such Herculean strength; and they bribed Delilah, doubtless by a large reward, to discover it for them. She undertook the service, and made several attempts, plying all her arts of persuasion and blandishment, in his soft and communicative moods, to extract his secrets (see Josephus, 'Antiquities,' b. 5:, ch. 8:, sec. 10-12).


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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


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.

Bind me with seven green withs. Vine tendrils, pliant twigs, or twists made of crude vegetable stalks, are used in many Eastern countries for ropes at the present day.


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.

She bound him with them - probably in a sportive manner, to try whether he was jesting or in earnest.


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.

There were men ... abiding ... in the chamber , [ w


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 Delilah said. To avoid exciting suspicion, she must have allowed some time to elapse before making this renewed attempt.


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.

If they bind me fast with new ropes , [ ba`


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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


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.

If thou weavest the seven locks of my head - braids or tresses, into which, like many in the East who wore long hair, he chose to plait his hair. It appears from the Egyptian monuments that two sorts of looms were anciently used for weaving-the horizontal loom, at which men worked; the upright loom, which was chiefly employed by women. Of this description was that into which Delilah entwined the seven locks of Samson's hair. It was of a very simple construction: the woof was driven into the warp, not by a reed, but by a wooden spatula; the extremity of the web was fastened to a pin or stake fixed in the wall or ground; and while Delilah sat squatting at her loom in a recess of the chamber, Samson lay stretched on the floor, with his head reclining on her lap-a position very common in the East.


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.

Went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web - i:e., the whole weaving apparatus.


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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


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;

Pressed him daily with her words. Though disappointed and mortified, this vile woman resolved to persevere; and conscious how completely be was enslaved by his passion for her, she assailed him with a succession of blandishing arts, until she at length discovered the coveted secret.


Verse 17

That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a rasor 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.

If I be shaven, then my strength will go from me. His Herculean powers did not arise from his hair, but from his special relation to God as a Nazarite. His unshorn locks were a sign of his Nazaritism, and a pledge on the part of God that his supernatural strength would be continued. In other words, his strength depended upon his faithful performance of the Nazarite vow. While he did this, the Lord was with him, and therein his great strength lay; and we are expressly told that after he had permitted his vow to be broken, that a razor should not come upon his head, the Lord was departed from him.


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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


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.

Called for a man, and she caused him to shave off. It is uncertain, however, whether the ancient Hebrews cut off the hair to the same extent as Orientals now.


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. He wist not that the Lord was departed from him. What a humiliating and painful spectacle! Deprived of the divine influences-degraded in his character-and yet, through the infatuation of a guilty passion, scarcely awake to the wretchedness of his fallen condition.


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.

The Philistines took him, and put out his eyes , [ way


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. It is probable that he had now reflected on his folly, and, becoming a sincere penitent, renewed his Nazarite vow. 'His hair grew together with his repentance, and his strength with his hair' (Dr. Hall).


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. The lords of the Philistines gathered... to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon. It was a common practice in pagan nations, on the return of their solemn religious festivals, to bring forth their war prisoners from their places of confinement or slavery, and in heaping on them every species of indignity, offer their grateful tribute to the gods by whose aid they had triumphed over their enemies. A vast temple was there erected to Dagon, who was a sea-idol, usually represented as having the head and upper parts human, while the rest of the body resembled a fish.


Verses 24-26

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


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.

There were upon the roof about three thousand men and women. This building seems to have been similar to the spacious and open amphitheaters well known among the Romans, and still found in many countries of the East. They are built wholly of wood. The standing-place for the spectators is a wooden floor resting chiefly upon two midmost pillars, and rising on an inclined plane, so as to enable all to have a view of the area in the center. In the middle there are two large beams, on which the whole weight of the structure lies, and these beams are supported by two pillars placed almost close to each other, so that when these are unsettled or displaced, the whole pile must tumble to the ground.


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.

Samson called unto the Lord. His penitent and prayerful spirit seems clearly to indicate that this meditated act was not that of a vindictive suicide, and that he regarded himself as putting forth his strength in his capacity of a public magistrate. He must be considered, in fact, as dying for his country's cause; and his death was not designed or sought, except as it might be the inevitable consequence of his great effort. His prayer must have been a silent outcry, and from its being revealed to the historian, approved and accepted of God.


Verse 29-30

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


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 burying place of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.

Then his brethren ... brought him up,, and buried him. This awful catastrophe seems to have so completely paralyzed the Philistines that they neither attempted to prevent the removal of Samson's corpse (which was conveyed by his relatives for interment, according to Josephus, 'in Sarasat (Zorah), his own country, with the rest of his family'), nor to molest the Israelites for a long time after. Thus the Israelite hero rendered by his strength and courage signal services to his country, and was always regarded as the greatest of its champions. But his slavish subjection to the domination of his passions was unworthy of so great a man, and lessens our respect for his character. Yet he is ranked among the ancient worthies who maintained a firm faith in (Hebrews 11:32).

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Judges 16:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/judges-16.html. 1871-8.

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Friday, December 6th, 2019
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