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pull one way, and the other the other way; and the blaze would irritate them and make them more furious, at the same time that it spread destruction all around.

The consequence would inevitably be, the destruction of an immense quantity of grain, many buildings and other property, all over the country. All the efforts that could be made to catch the animals, and so put a stop to their ravages, would only increase the evil. Each animal would naturally seek his burrow; but as they were gathered in different neighborhoods, they would generally aim at different points, and of course pull in different directions.

It was an arrangement that could not be changed, or its evils arrested, till the torches were burned up, the animals killed, or the tails separated, so that each could leave the field. And neither of these things could be done, till the conflagration had spread all over the land. Rightly executed, (and it seems to have been,) we can conceive of nothing that could have done the work of revenge more effectually.

It does seem that there is no just ground for the sneers that have been occasioned by this transaction; and quite as little for the efforts of learned critics, to change and modify the obvious sense of the passage.

There are several things that render this transaction credible, which have been overlooked, or have received but little attention.

1. The animals were not foxes, which are very shy and difficult to catch ; and of which scarcely any are found in that country. They were jackals, sometimes called foxes, which are bold, easy to catch and abundant.

2. The animals were not caught by Samson alone, though no other persons are named. Samson was judge in Israel, the highest functionary in the land. When we know that private citizens, in that country, had servants; and some of them a large number, we may reasonably conclude that Samson had some. Gideon, one of the

judges, had ten ; and that was only part of the number. vi. 27.

3. The time allotted to Samson has an important bearing on the result. The time allowed for the Hebrew harvest was determined by the law of Moses. It was from the passover to the pentecost, a period of seven weeks. Even Samson alone might have done this job in that time.

4. Any man who had genius enough to suggest such a measure for revenge, would see the propriety of having the work done in different neighborhoods. This would make the work easier to accomplish, as well as more effectual.

5. We ought to conclude also that Samson made use of what secrecy he could, to prevent detection till his object was accomplished. The night would be the most suitable time, both to catch the animals, and to let them loose in the fields.

Under these circumstances, and in view of all the facts, no one can doubt the practicability of the enterprise.

To confirm such of the foregoing particulars, as are not sufficiently evident, we would remark that the Lexicons give the same word for fox as for jackal. The references to the animal, denoted by this name, show plainly that the jackal, and not the fox, is had in view. See Ps. lxiii. 9, 10; Cant. ii. 15.

The Hebrew shoual* is so like the other oriental terms for jackal, that there can be no doubt about the application of the term in the Scriptures.

As to the abundance of these animals in Palestine, we would quote from Volney. “The wolf and real fox are very rare; but there is a prodigious quantity of the middle species, named shacal, which in Syria is called wanwee, from its howl; they go in droves.” Again "jackals are concealed by hundreds, in the gardens and among the ruins."


Here the resemblance of the two names is remarkable, shacal, shoual. Volney calls the animal a species of fox: and he represents them as exceedingly numerous. Again, "They seem very little afraid of mankind, but pursue their game to the very doors, testifying neither attachment nor apprehension."

“Early in the morning two jackals came nearly up to the camp, and narrowly

escaped paying with their lives for their temerity.” This was May 27th, when the wheat harvest was in progress. Lynch, p. 437.

We must be allowed to say that we see nothing inconsistent, incredible, or absurd in this transaction. On the contrary, it is one of the shrewdest and most effectual expedients, for harassing an enemy and destroying his property, that we ever read of in any history or among any people. It should no longer be said that Samson was distinguished only by his bodily strength. He sometimes seems deficient in prudence and sagacity, especially in his relations with women. That was his special weakness. But here he shows a genius that has never been excelled, and seldom equaled.

There is another view of the passage we have been considering, that ought to be given for the information of the reader, and for his acceptance, if he deem it more worthy.

Dr. Kennicott endeavors to show that the word shoual* has the meaning of sheaf, and denotes a sheaf of wheat. And he supposes that Samson took two sheaves, and tied them together, with a fire brand attached ! But the passages he refers to, do not sustain this definition. They may prove, as he says, that the term denotes a “ handful";" but a handful is not a sheaf. But if it were, how could three hundred sheaves of grain, with a fire brand or torch between every two of them, accomplish the wide spread destruction that is here described ?

It may be added that the word for handfuls, though


resembling the one we are noticing, is not the same. The Seventy were indeed misled by the likeness, and in 1 K. xx. 10, rendered the word by one denoting foxes. Our version has the right word.

Besides, if this were the method, what use, we may ask, in tying the sheaves together ? The torch might as welí be tied to each sheaf separately. Then, as the sheaves could not move of themselves, the extent of the damage from three hundred would be very limited.

All such efforts, to get rid of the obvious sense of the passage, have a tendency to render one's skepticism more fixed and inveterate. They are doubtless well intended; but they injure more than they aid the cause of revealed religion.

We have said more on the foregoing subject than is common in other commentaries; but the reason is, that, in our judgment, too little is said in other works. The same remark will apply to many other difficult passages. But if we have said more than is common on these sub. jects, we have said less on others, to which, commonly, too much attention has been given. This is our highest and best commendation.


CONTENTS :- Micah and the Levite; The Levite and His Concubine;
The War with Benjamin; The Story of Ruth.


JUD. XVII. 1. And there was a man of mount 7. And there was a young man Ephraim, whose name was Micah. out of Beth-lehem-judah, of the

2. And he said unto his mother, family of Judah who was a Levite, The eleven hundred shekels of silver and he sojourned there. that were taken from thee, about 8. And the man departed out of which thou cursedst, and spakest of the city from Beth-lehen-judah, to also in mine ears, behold, the silver sojourn where he could find a place : is with me: I took it. And his and he came to monnt Ephraim, to mother said, Blessed be thou of the the house of Micah, as he journeyed. Lord, my son.

9. And Micah said unto him, 3. And when he had restored the Whence comest thou? And he said eleven hundred shekels of silver to unto him, I am a Levite of Beth-lehis mother, his mother said, I had hem-judah, and I go to sojourn where wholly dedicated the silver · unto I may find a place. the Lord, from my hand, for my son, 10. And Micah said unto him, to make a graven image and a mol- Dwell with me, and be unto me a ten image : now, therefore, I will father and a priest, and I will give restore it urto thee,

thee ten shekels of silver by the year 4. Yet he restored the money un- and a suit of apparel, and thy victto his mother: and his mother took uals. So the Levite went in. two hundred shekels of silver, and 11. And the Levite was content gave them to the founder, who to dwell with the man: and the made thereof a graven image and a young man was unto him as one of molten image, and they were in the his rons. house of Micah.

12. And Micah consecrated the 8. And the man Micah had a Levite: and the young man became house of gods, and made an ephod, his priest, and was in the house of and teraphim, and consecrated one Micah. of his sons, who became his priest. 13. Then said Micah, Now know

6. In those days there was no king I that the Lord will do me good, in Israel, but every man did that seeing I have a Levite to my priest. which was right in his own eyes.

Micah's mother. “This woman many of the Jews suppose to be the same with Delilah; who, having got so much money of every one of the lords of the Philis- . tines, thought it expedient to employ some of it in expressing her devotion.” Stackhouse. Hist. Bible, Vol. III. p. 162.

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