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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Judges 16

 

 

Verses 1-3

Judges 16:1-3. Samson Carries off the Gates of Gaza.—Gaza was the last coast town on the way down to Egypt, about 30 m. from Samson's home; to-day a town of 16,000 inhabitants.

Judges 16:2 b does not agree with Judges 16:2 a. There would be no need to keep watch by night, when the gates were closed. The Philistines "were quiet all the night," i.e. they took no precautions. Probably the words "compassed . . . city" are a later addition.

Judges 16:3. The gate consisted of two wings, which were flanked by two posts and secured by a bar let into the posts. Samson pulled the posts out of the ground, put the whole framework on his shoulders, and carried it to the top of the hill that faces Hebron, 40 m. from Gaza.


Verses 4-22

Judges 16:4-22. Samson and Delilah.—It was quite near his own home, in the Vale of Sorek ("Grape Valley"), that the Philistines, aided by the woman who had him in thrall, ultimately got the giant under their power. A ruined site near Zorah is still called Sûrîk. The Jaffa-Jerusalem railway now runs through the valley. The meaning of "Delilah" is unknown: perhaps it was a Philistine word, as the term for "lords" or "tyrants" (seren, pl. sarnç) certainly was. Delilah was to receive £150 from each of the five for the betrayal of her lover.

Judges 16:7. Instead of "withes," or flexible twigs, read "seven cords of fresh sinews," i.e. moist gut; Moore has "bowstrings." Seven was first a magical and then a sacred number (cf. Judges 16:13).

Judges 16:10-13. In the second attempt to discover the secret everything is clear.

Judges 16:13 b is an unfinished sentence. The LXX has, "If thou weave the seven braids of my head along with the web, and beat up with the pin, my strength will fail and I shall be like other men. So while he slept Delilah took the seven braids of his head, and wove them . . . and said," etc. She wove his hair into the warp with her fingers, beating it tight with the pin or batten. Samson awoke, and pulled up the whole framework—fixed posts and loom—by the hair of his head. Omit "the pin of," which was inserted by some reader who mistook the nature of the pin.

Judges 16:19. Probably we should read "and he shaved him"; and the LXX proceeds "and he began to be afflicted," or "humbled."

Judges 16:20. Yahweh departed from him because he had ceased to be a Nazirite.


Verses 23-31

Judges 16:23-31. The Death of Samson.—Dagon, the god of the Philistines, had been worshipped in the Maritime Plain long before their coming. They adopted the god of the district, just as many Israelites learned to worship the Baals of Canaan. One of the Amarna letter-writers was called Dagon-takala. There is still a Beit Dajan near Joppa, and another near Nâblûs.

Judges 16:24. In the Heb. the words "Our god . . . many of us" form a rhymed five-line song, each short line ending in n.

Judges 16:25. The blind giant apparently made sport by harmless exhibitions of his strength.

Judges 16:27. "And all the lords . . . women" is probably a later insertion to heighten the effect. Codex B of the LXX has 70 instead of 3000.

Judges 16:28. In the Heb., Samson prays, with grim humour, for strength to avenge himself for one of his two eyes. The Eng. trans. follows the VSS.

Judges 16:30. Lit. "Let my soul die with the Philistines." The soul was not immortal; when a man died his soul died; after death he still existed, but only as a shade, not as a soul. The chapter ends with a note by D. [A discussion of the narrative is given in R. A. S. Macalister's Bible Side-Lights from the Mound of Gezer, pp. 127-138. It is argued there that Samson performed his feats in front of the temple. The lords were in a large deep portico, the crowd on the roof of the portico. Samson was brought within the portico to rest in the shade. The pillars were wooden, and what Samson did was to push them off their stone bases, so that the lords in the portico and the crowd on its roof were killed, but not those on the roof of the temple itself, except such as might be killed in the panic.—A. S. P.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Judges 16:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/judges-16.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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