The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Judges 16

Jdg 16:1

"Emboldened by these exploits, and by others, doubtless, Samson on a later occasion ventured right into Gaza, the great stronghold of the enemy, simply that he might indulge himself with the seductive pleasures of a harlot there. It has been distressing to the faithful of many generations since that day to read of the way in which Samson's zeal for the deliverance of his people was so vitiated by this weak streak in his character. To be sure, all men of God, whose lives and doings are recorded in Scripture, are revealed as men of weakness in some respect or another. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David -- the giants of Old Testament faith -- all had their periods of faithlessness. Moses came near to open blasphemy, Hezekiah indulged in the vainglory of politics, Noah shamed himself in drunkenness, and Lot in incest. The catalogue is almost endless. Only Joseph -- wonderful type of Christ -- has no blot against his name. Yet all these names are in the Book of Life. And so, too, is Samson (Heb 11:32), though not because of these sins of his, but in spite of them and by the grace of God. Those who wrestle despairingly against similar odds might take courage from the force of his example and so renew faith in their own ultimate victory" (WJR).

Jdg 16:3

DOORS OF THE CITY GATE: Christ has power over "gates" of death. He possesses the gate of his enemies (Gen 22:17; Rev 1:18; 20:6). From a Canaanite theological text: "Surely he (ie Dagon) will take the doors of the gate and the posts of your residence..." (Tes 49:134). The god's own words (as it were) are used to judge him.

HEBRON: Burial site of Abraham, whose seed would possess the gates of its enemies (Gen 22:17). Cp Isa 9:6: the government to be upon his shoulders.

Jdg 16:4

SOREK: Sig "choice vine". Samson breaks his Nazarite vow (Xd 117:412).

DELILAH: "Languishing", "coquette", "dainty one".

Jdg 16:5

1,100 SHEKELS OF SILVER: How different from the earlier threats to Samson's wife (Jdg 14:15). This suggests Delilah was not Philistine, but Jewish.

Jdg 16:6

These three tests would have taken several days or weeks to carry out.

Jdg 16:7

Samson had learned his lesson: cp Jdg 14:15,16.

Jdg 16:15

More literally, as AV: "How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me?" "The usual reproaches of a spoilt woman" (Xd 117:414). "The worst exhibition of the female temperament." Or, in a different context, it might be the most profound question in the Bible -- consider it as a question from God to man!

Jdg 16:16

"Keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom" (Mic 7:5).

NAGGING: See Pro 19:13; 27:15.

Jdg 16:17

Samson expected her (a Jewess?) to understand this.

Jdg 16:19

HAVING PUT HIM TO SLEEP: It was a ticklish operation and full of risk. So, most probably, she doped him, for cutting his hair in normal sleep would be the biggest of risks.

Jdg 16:20

Poor Samson! 'I will do as before.' He did not yet realize that God was no longer with him. Now his strength was gone, not because his strength was in his hair but because the life-long covenant with the God of his fathers which he had so many times abused and disgraced was now utterly broken. "The Lord was departed from him", and he was become "as one man" (Jdg 16:7 mg; what a contrast with Jdg 13:25; 14:6,19; 15:14).

Jdg 16:21

Samson had offended with his eyes, desiring women (Mat 5:28,29), and he is punished in his eyes. Seeing with a clarity he had never before possessed, his eyes were now put out.

"It is possible that Peter makes reference to this enticement and capture of Samson: 'They allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness... While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world... they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning' (2Pe 2:18-20). If the allusion is to Samson these phrases take on a good deal more force; cp also 2Ti 2:4,5" (WJR).

Cp the fate of king Zedekiah (2Ki 25:7), another example and type of the folly of Israel. Now they could safely have secured Samson with small twine.

Jdg 16:22

"But why were the Philistines such fools as to allow him his hair again? One can only assume that Delilah had explained to them the spiritual significance of his unshorn locks, and thus they reasoned: 'His God cast him off, and will now have no more use for him.' They little knew the graciousness of the God of Israel!" (WJR).

Jdg 16:23

OUR GOD: Their fatal mistake! Now they have escalated the war. No longer Samson vs Philistines, but Yahweh vs gods of Philistines. And they must surely lose.

Jdg 16:24

OUR GOD HAS DELIVERED...: This seems to suggest that this method of taking Samson, through a woman, had been counseled by an astute priest of Dagon.

Jdg 16:25

BRING OUT SAMSON TO ENTERTAIN US... AND HE PERFORMED FOR THEM: The Heb "sachaq" definitely means "dance"; but "shachaq" (one letter difference) means "beat small"! LXX evidently read the Hebrew with one letter different: "They smote him with the palms of their hands" -- sw Mat 26:67 (cp Psa 69:12; Isa 50:6).

Jdg 16:26

SERVANT: "Lad" in AV. Cp Joh 6:9: a boy with bread and fish, participant in another great miracle.

PUT ME WHERE I CAN FEEL THE PILLARS THAT SUPPORT THE TEMPLE: "Then, the show over, they led Samson into the temple itself that there he might be inspected at closer quarters by the nobility: 'And they set him between the pillars', the twin pillars (their Jachin and Boaz) in the middle of the building which bore the main load of the roof and fulfilled the function of the keystone of an arch. Macalister's excavations at Gezer, not many miles away, revealed that there was some such plan about the heathen temple there. Other digs at Gaza and Tel-en-Nasbeh have shown chiefs' houses built to a similar pattern.

"Samson had evidently been in that temple in the days of his sight, and there he had noted the structural weakness. Now, at last, here was an opportunity to work for the deliverance of his people the like of which would never come his way again. In his day he had wasted many an opportunity of using his great strength to a good end. The lesson had now been learned. He would not waste this one. But, now, if there was to be achievement, it must not be for vainglory but by strength from God and to the glory of God" (WJR).

Jdg 16:28

FOR MY TWO EYES: Lit "for one of my two eyes" (RSV). Samson could not be avenged completely until all Philistines were defeated.

Jdg 16:30

He that was dead was at last freed from sin!

"The Israelite captive boy whose duty it was to be eyes to Samson realised now what his revered fellow-countryman sought to achieve, and darting nimbly through the throng, he was out to the open sky and safety before any could hinder him. To him, surely -- under God -- is owed the record of the Nazarite's prayer of faith. Samson's effort caught the attention of some who at first laughed uproariously at what he attempted, and spat on him with contempt. But Samson strained again, the muscles bulging stiff and hard in every part of his body. One of the pillars shifted slightly. A woman screamed and pointed in terror. Two young braves swore vigorously and threw themselves frantically on the naked straining Israelite, but in vain; as he made his final effort they might just as well have tried to bend a block of granite.

"Another muttered prayer escaped from Samson's lips: 'Let me die with the Philistines.' The pillars shifted again, and yet again. Then, with a resounding crash, that overloaded roof came thundering down bringing with it more pillars, masses of masonry and a dense crowd of Philistines whose holiday was now ended. Screams of fright and yells of pain rent the air, but from most there was just -- silence. And a great cloud of dust ascended up to heaven. Samson's God had avenged him of one of his two eyes.

"News of this last and greatest exploit was carried by Samson's faithful, fleet-footed friend to the villages of Dan, and, mustering in a body, they marched fearlessly into Gaza. Unmolested by the Philistines (busy looking for fragments of Dagon), they disinterred his body from the mighty heap of rubble and carried it reverently back for interment in the tomb of his parents who had lived only long enough to be bitterly disappointed in the hopes they centred in their child of promise. Yet, one day, they will have rejoicing in him" (WJR).

Previous Index Next