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that has the sense of drinking.* The fact shows that the latter was then as now the more interesting part of the entertainment
So the young men were accustomed to do. This is our version. The Hebrew for young men denotes the guests at a feast, and has the meaning of chosen or invited.+
It is plain that the Philistines were suspicious of Samson. They knew something of his strength, and that he belonged to a hostile nation. Hence they contrived to have thirty strong and vigorous men of their own present at the wedding
It was not so much a riddle that Samson proposed as a problem, as the Septuagint and Vulgate have it. If ye can certainly declare it. If ye can declaring declare it.” It was customary among the ancients, to propose difficult problems on wedding occasions. Dr. Clarke gives numerous examples ; but our space will not permit us to repeat them.
Heifers were yoked and used for plowing in those days. Mr. Robinson saw men, between Beersheba and Hebron, plowing with heifers. The proverb “to plow with one's heifer takes its origin from this custom. The meaning is, that the men had exerted an undue influence on Samson's wife. To plow in another man's field had the same meaning. It is shown by Calmet from ancient writings, that, to plow with one's heifer, or to plow in one's ground, was an indirect way of charging a wife with unfaithfulness to her husband.
As the forfeit had been unjustly obtained ; and the Philistines were the cause, Samson makes them pay
it. He went down to Askelon. Askelon seems to have been little known to the Hebrews; and Samson went there perhaps, because it was an out of the way place. Gaza was further south, but Gaza was situated on the main road, while Askelon lay some distance off.
*nnun from 7 ng todrink. Greek nótos. torn172.7
SECTION III. – Samson's EXPLOITS WITH THE PHILISTINES.
1. But it came to pass within a 5. And when he had set the while after, in the time of wheat- brands on fire, he let them go into harvest, that Samson visited his the standing corn of the Philistines, wife with a kid ; and he said, I and burnt up both the shocks, and will go in to my wife into the cham- also the standing corn, with the ber. But her father would not vineyards and olives. suffer him to go in.
6. Then the Philistines said, Who 2. And her father said, I verily hath done this? And they answer. thought that thou hadst utterly ed, Samson, the son-in law of the hated her; therefore I gave her to Tiinnite, because he had taken his thy companion: is not her younger wife and given her to his compansister fairer than she ? take her, I ion. And the Philistines came up, pray thee, instead of her.
and burnt her and her father with And Samson said concerning fire. them, Now shall I be more blame- 7. And Samson said unto them, less than the Philistines, though I Though ye have done this, yet will do them a displeasure.
I be avenged of you, and after that 4. And Samson went and caught I will cease. three huhdred foxes, and took fire- 8. And he smote them hip and brande, and turned tail to tail, and thigh with a great slaughter. And put a fire-brand in the midst be- he went down and dwelt in the top tween two tails.
of the rock Etam. The anger of Samson toward his wife did not last long. And feeling that he had not done right, he takes a kid, as a present to the family, and goes down to see her. Alas, she had been given to another! Samson was not permitted to go into her room, or hold any conference with her. Feeling that the Philistines had been the cause of this, he considers how he can best be avenged. The expedient has occasioned considerable merriment among skeptics and scoffers — and a corresponding anxiety on the part of those who hold the Bible in reverence. There is as little reason for one of these things as for the other. See the subject treated of at the end of this section.
The Roman poet relates a custom of the Roman people, which took place in the month of April, and consisted of letting loose a number of foxes in the circus or amphitheater, with lighted torches or flambeaux on
their backs. This custom may have arisen from the foxes of Samson. The time corresponds with the harvest in Canaan, but not at Rome.
The Philistines burnt her and her father with fire. They learned that the father had been the cause of this destruction of property, by giving his daughter, the wife of Samson, to another; and without stopping to learn the circumstances, they at once wreak their vengeance on the father and daughter. This was the very thing the daughter had sought to avoid, when she betrayed the confidence of her husband, at the wedding feast!
He smote them hip and thigh -- a figure taken from the processes of wrestling. That he smote them bravely and successfully is the meaning.
9. Then the Philistines went up, 14. And when he came unto Le. and pitched in Judah, and spread hi, the Philistines shouted against themselves in Lehi.
him; and the Spirit of the Lord 10. And the men of Judah saíd, came mightily upon him, and the Why are ye come up against us? cords that were upon his arms beAnd they answered, To bind Sam- came as flax that was burnt with son are we come up, to do to him fire, and his bands loosed from off as he hath done to us.
his hands. 11. Then three thousand men of 15. And he found a new jaw-bone Judah went to the top of the rock of an ass, and put forth his hand, Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest and took it, and slew a thousand thou not that the Philistines are ru- men therewith. lers over us? what is this that thou 16. And Samson said, With the hast done unto us? And he said jaw-bone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, unto them, As they did unto me, with the jaw of an ass have I slain so have I done unto them.
a thousand men. 12. And they said unto him, We 17. And it came to pass when he are come down to bind thee, that had made an end of speaking, that we may deliver thee into the hand he cast away the jaw-bone out of of the Philistines. And Samson said his hand, and called that place Raunto them, Swear unto me, that ye math-lehi. will not fall upon me yourselves. 18. And he was sore athirst, and
13. And they spake unto him, called on the Lord, and said, Thou saying, No: but we will bind thee hast given this great deliverance fast, and deliver thee into their into the hand of thy servant: and hand: but surely we will not kill now shall I die for thirst, and fall thee. And they bound him with into the hand of the uncircumcised ? two new cords, and brought him up
19. But God clave an hollow from the rock.
place that was in the jaw, and there
came water thereout; and when he which is in Lehi unto this day. had drunk, bis spirit came again, 20. And he judged Israel in the and he revived. Wherefore he days of the Philistines twenty years. called the name thereof En-bakkore,
They spread themselves in Lehi — in the place afterwards called Lehi. Lehi means jaw-bone; and the place was named from the jaw-bone, made use of by Samson to slay the Philistines.
The men of Judah had little respect for Samson, or this kind of warfare; and they would rather deliver him up, than to incur the displeasure of the Philistines.
“ As they did unto me, so have I done unto them,” is Samson's explanation of the affair. They had deprived him of his wife, and he had destroyed their property.
They brought him up from the rock --- from the cave in the rock, or ledge of rocks, called Etam
It will be observed that all the instances of extraordinary strength, on the part of Samson, are ascribed to the Spirit of God. These were no more supernatural than the wonderful strength of a mad man, which is often ten times greater than it would be, if the man were in his normal condition.
Samson slew a thousand men with the jaw.bone of an ass. That he did this on one occasion, or in one day, is not asserted. But men are often thrown into confusion, when they are suddenly attacked by one much stronger than they, and become easy victims to his coolness, bravery and strength. They were perfectly paralized at seeing him break the cords that bound him. A few such, or similar occasions, would increase his victims to a thousand. With this view the achievement ceases to be so very marvelous. It was a miracle; but like some other miracles, it was the result of natural strength intensified.
With the jaw-bone of an ass, heaps upon heaps. This verse is very obscure. Our version has
little sense in it. The Septuagint has a rendering that is sufficiently intelligible, but it has no original to sanction it,
though it may have had when the version was made. The rendering is "With the jaw-bone of an ass, I have effectually blotted them out, because with the jaw bone of an ass I have smitten a thousand men.” The Vul. gate has, “With the jaw-bone of an ass — with the jawbone of an ass colt, have I destroyed them, and smitten a thousand men.
The Hebrew is very peculiar. In all difficult passages the "points" should be ignored. They often pervert the sense. We think it is so here. Rendering the passage as an independent version, with strict reference to the words, and the idioms of the language, and we have the following humorous remark of Samson, “With the jaw-bone of an ass I have thoroughly jack-assed them with the jaw-bone of an ass I have smitten a thousand men. It is very probable that to jack-ass a person was a low proverb that indicated about the same as our word stultify; and the weapon Samson used suggested the application of the proverb to the Philistines whom he had encountered.
There is only one objection to this rendering. It is the dignity of Samson as a man and a judge. But here we think the argument is for the rendering and not against it. It is a remark of the same general character as the problem he offered to the guests at the wedding feast, and the subsequent allusion to the matter of plowing with his heifer.
Our version has the excuse for the rendering that the word for ass has also the sense of heap; but this sense of the word makes nonsense of the passage. Nor is it likely that the word should have been used in these two diverse senses in the same breath. By disregarding the points, on the most difficult words, the version given above is perfect not excepting the syllable jack; for the original denotes the male and not the female of that class of animals.
After he had done speaking (making a speeeh we might say) he cast away the jaw-bone, and called that