King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Judges 15

Samson is denied his wife, He smites the Philistines. (1-8) Samson kills a thousand of the Philistines with a jaw-bone. (9-17) His distress from thirst. (18-20)

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Samson is denied his wife, He smites the Philistines

1 But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in.

2 And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? take her, I pray thee, instead of her.

3 And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.

4 And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails.

5 And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.

6 Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they 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 burnt her and her father with fire.

7 And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.

8 And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.

Samson kills a thousand of the Philistines with a jaw-bone

9 Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.

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.

11 Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.

12 And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.

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. And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock.

14 And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.

15 And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.

16 And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.

17 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramathlehi.

His distress from thirst

18 And he was sore athirst, and called on the LORD, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?

19 But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof Enhakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day.

20 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. After. The same term is used in the original as C. xiv. 8, which may be rendered “a year after,” as it is not probable that the wife of Samson should be married to another, nor that he should lay aside his resentment much sooner. C.

Ver. 2. Sister. Jacob married two sisters, and such marriages were not uncommon among the eastern nations. C. — Samson does not accept the offer, as it was now contrary to the law. Lev. xviii. 18. M.

Ver. 3. Evils. This is a declaration of war, made by Samson in person, against a whole nation. H. — He does not wish to engage his countrymen in the quarrel, that they may not be more oppressed. God chose that he should weaken the Philistines by degrees. They had been apprised of the injustice done to Samson, and did not strive to hinder it, so that they all deserved to suffer. Grot. E. C.

Ver. 4. Foxes. Being judge of the people, he might have many to assist him to catch with nets or otherwise a number of these animals; of which there were great numbers in that country, (Ch.) as we may gather from Cant. ii. 15. Lament. v. 15. M. — Hence many places received the name of Sual. Jos. xv. 28. and xix. 42. Pompey exhibited 600 lions at Rome, and the Emp. Probus 5000 ostriches, and as many wild boars, &. in the theatre. Vopisc. Plin. viii. 16. A. Lap. — Is it more incredible that Samson should collect 300 foxes? By this means he cleared his country of a pernicious animal, the most proper for carrying flambeaux, and spreading fire far and wide among the fields of the enemy. By tying the foxes together, he hindered them from retiring into their holes, and gave the fire time to take hold of the corn and vineyards. C. — Ovid mentions a Roman custom of burning foxes in the theatre, with torches tied upon their backs, in the month of April; which some have imagined was in memorial of this transaction. Serar, q. 7.

“Factum abiit, monumenta manent, nam vivere captam

Nunc quoque lex vulpem Carseolana vetat.

Utque luat p├Žnas genus hoc cerealibus ardet,

Quoque modo segetes perdidit, illa perit.” Fast. iv.

Torches. Heb. and Sept. “a torch or firebrand,” (H.) made of resinous wood, such as the pine, olive, &c. which easily catch fire, and are extinguished with difficulty. C. — Qua fugit incendit vestitos messibus agros—Damnosis vires ignibus aura dabat. Ovid.

“Where’er he flees, corn-fields in flames appear,

The fanning breeze brings devastation near.”

A hundred and fifty firebrands, in different parts of the country, destroy the farmer’s hopes. H. — And olive. The conjunction in now wanting in Heb. and some translate, “the vineyards of olive-trees.” Kimchi. — But who ever heard of such an expression? It is better therefore to supply and, with the Sept. (C.) as the Prot. also have done. H. — “The foxes signify the deceitful ensnares, and chiefly heretics.” S. Aug. in Ps. viii. D.

Ver. 6. Father. Thus they met with the fate which the woman had endeavoured to avoid, by an infidelity to her husband. Salien. — The princes of the Philistines acknowledged the wrong which had been done to Samson, and thus testify their abhorrence of adultery. C. — Some Heb. MSS. confirm the Sept. Ar. and Syr. versions; and instead of “her father with her,” read, “and her father’s house,” (Kennicott) or all his family.

Ver. 7. Of you. He intimates that they should answer for the injustice which they ought to have prevented, or punished sooner. H. — Heb. “If you had done like this,” and slain the father and daughter, I should be quiet. D.

Ver. 8. Thigh. Striking this part is often mentioned as a mark of consternation. Jer. xxxi. 19. M. — Heb. “and he smote them thigh and leg, with a great slaughter.” H. — Vatable supposes this means an entire destruction. Chaldee, “he smote both horse and foot.” He rendered them incapable of fleeing, or of making resistance. Nah. ii. 5. C. — Cavern. Heb. sahiph, signifies, “the top, branch, &c. The rock might be covered with wood, (C.) and was situated in the confines of the tribes of Simeon, Juda, and Dan. 1 Par. iv. 32. M.

Ver. 9. Spread. Heb. “encamped in Juda, and spread themselves in Lechi.” H.

Ver. 12. Kill me, in a treacherous manner. He was not afraid of them. C.

Ver. 13. Cords. Heb. habothim, Sept. Kalodiois, denote strong ropes or cables. M. — Etam is not in Heb. or the Sept. H.

Ver. 14. Bone. Heb. “Lechi,” as it was called after the slaughter made by Samson, v. 15. It is about 20 miles to the east of Ascalon. C. — Approach: lit. “the smell.” This expression is often used to denote burning. Sept. C. xvi. 9. Dan. iii. 94.

Ver. 15. There. The Sept. Josephus, and the Vulg. agree, reading Heb. truth, instead of the present teriya, “fresh,” or raw, which seems an useless remark in this place. C. — Asses are very large in Palestine. M.

Ver. 16. Asses. He insists on this particular, as such an unusual weapon rendering his victory more astonishing, and he would not leave any room for doubt. Heb. is variously translated, “with the jaw-bone of an ass, I have made a heap, yea two heaps; with the jaw-bone of an ass, I have defeated a thousand men.” Syr. &c. Castalion and Bonfrere defend the Vulg. The Sept. have, “with the jaw-bone of an ass I have entirely taken them off, (H. defending them) with,” &c. They have explained chamorathayim, as the first person of emor, rubefecit, or Chal. destruxit, “I have covered them with blood;” and indeed to understand it of “two she asses,” is impossible. C. — This verse formed the chorus of Samson’s song. H. — He did not take the glory to himself, as Josephus (v. 10,) would insinuate, but attributed the victory to God, v. 18. Salien, A.C. 1172. This miracle of strength can no more be accounted for by reason, than many others. W.

Ver. 17. Which is, &c. This is added by the Vulg. being the interpretation of the Sept. AnairhsiV; (C.) though it also signify, “the slaughter.” S. Amb. ep. 19. H. — The Syr. and Arab. have read domoth, “the blood,” instead of ramath Lechi, “the lifting up;” or as others would have it, “the throwing down of the jaw-bone.” C. — Samson had snatched it from the ground, slew the thousand Philistines, and left it a a monument of his victory. H.

Ver. 18. Thirsty. S. Ambrose (ep. 19 or 70) follows Josephus, (M.) is supposing that the arrogance of Samson, in attributing the victory to his own strength, was thus punished. But others are more favourable to the hero, (C.) and suppose that his thirst was occasioned by the extraordinary fatigue. He sufficiently testifies that he had received all from God, (M.) and he is immediately favoured with another miracle. H. — God is able to grant victory by the most feeble instruments, and he is never wanting when his presence is requisite. S. Aug. Doct. iv. 15. T.

Ver. 19. Then. Heb. “And God clave the Mactesh (H. hollow place, great tooth;” or the name of a rock, as Josephus and others understand it, perhaps on account of its resemblance with a tooth) which was at Lechi; and…he called it the fountain of him who cries out, (C. En-hakkore. Prot.) which is in the Lechi, until this day.” The translating of some proper names has given occasion to various difficulties. See 2 K. vi. 3. 1 Par. iv. 22. H. — Sophonias (i. 11,) mentions a place called (Mactesh, or) Machtes, in Hebrew, which seems to have been built where the fountain of Samson was. C. — It is a greater miracle to draw water out of a dry bone, than out of the earth or stones. But all things are possible to God. W.

Ver. 20. Years. Salien gathers from this remark being made here, that the Philistines still asserted their dominion over Israel, but with greater moderation than they had done before: and both nations acknowledged the judicial authority of Samson, who had now been giving them such proofs of his valour for two years, soon after he performed the feat at Gaza, A.C. 1169, being on some business. H.