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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Judges Chapter 15

Judges 15:1

jdg 15:1

Visited his wife with a kid - A common present (see Gen 38:17; Luk 15:29). From Samson's wife being still in her father's house, it would seem that she was only betrothed, not actually married, to his companion.

Judges 15:2

jdg 15:2

I gave her - In marriage. Samson had probably not heard of this before. Samson's father had paid the dowry for the older sister; her father therefore offers her sister in her room. The fear of Samson probably also influenced him.

Judges 15:3

jdg 15:3

See the margin. Before, when the Philistines injured him he was in covenant with the Timnathites through his marriage and by the rites of hospitality, for which reason he went off to Ashkelon to take his revenge Jdg 14:19. But now the Philistines themselves had broken this bond, and so he was free to take his revenge on the spot.

Judges 15:4

jdg 15:4

Foxes - Rather, "jackals," which are still very common in Palestine, especially about Joppa and Gaza. Sa1 13:17 and Jos 15:28; Jos 19:3, are indications of the abundance of foxes or jackals giving names to places, especially in the country of the Phililstines. It belongs to Samson's character, and agrees with the incident about the lion, that he should be an expert hunter. Ovid relates a very curious custom at Rome of letting loose foxes with lighted torches fastened to their tails in the circus at the Cerealia, in commemoration of the damage once done to the standing grain by a fox which a rustic had wrapped in hay and straw and set on fire, and which, running away, put the grain-fields in a blaze. This custom, which may have had a Phoenician origin, is a curious illustration of the narrative.

Judges 15:6

jdg 15:6

burnt her and her father - Out of revenge on Samson's nearest relations; or, as others think, as an act of justice in favor of Samson, and in hope of pacifying his anger. Burning was the punishment for adultery and kindred crimes among the Jews Gen 38:24; Lev 20:14; Lev 21:9. Samson's wife brought upon herself the very punishment which she sought to escape by betraying her husband Jdg 14:15.

Judges 15:8

jdg 15:8

Hip and thigh - A proverbial expression of doubtful origin, meaning all the "great" and "mighty," all the choice pieces like the thigh and shoulder.

In the top of the rock - Rather, "the cleft of the rock." These clefts of the rock were the natural fortresses and hiding places of the land. (Isa 2:21; Isa 57:5. Compare Sa1 13:6; Kg1 18:13.)

Etam - Not the same as the place in the territory of Simeon Ch1 4:32. Its situation is uncertain, but a site near Eleutheropolis ("Beth-jibrin") is required; and there exist some extraordinary caverns in the soft limestone or chalky rock, fifteen or twenty feet deep, with perpendicular sides, opening into extensive excavations in the rock, about two hours from Eleutheropolis. (Conder conjectures it to be the same as Atab, a village 12 miles southwest of Jerusalem, in the ‛arkub or Ridge.)

Judges 15:9

jdg 15:9

Spread themselves - An expression used of the Philistine mode of war Sa2 5:18, Sa2 5:22, alluding to the compact way in which they came up the wadys, and then distpersed. Lehi is so called by anticipation (see Jdg 15:17).

Judges 15:11

jdg 15:11

The dispirited men of Judah were prepared to give up their champion, in order to conciliate their masters. This shows how hard was the task of the Judge, whose office it was to restore his countrymen to freedom and independence.

Judges 15:14

jdg 15:14

The cords ... became as flax ... - i. e. were as weak against his strength as half-burned flax which yields to the least pressure.

Judges 15:15

jdg 15:15

Slew a thousand men therewith - Compare the marginal references. The Philistines, seized with a panic at seeing Samson suddenly burst his cords and rush at them, offered no resistance, but fell an easy prey to the blows of their mighty foe. Some perhaps were dashed down the cliffs in their flight.

Judges 15:16

jdg 15:16

There is a play upon the word, three times repeated, which means both "an ass" and also "a heap." The spirit of riddle-making Jdg 14:12, Jdg 14:18 is apparent in this song of triumph (compare Jdg 5:1; Exo 15:1; Sa1 18:6-7).

Judges 15:17

jdg 15:17

Ramath-lehi - Either the "height or hill of Lehi," or, "of the jaw-bone;" or, as in the margin, "the crestlag away of the jaw-bone," with allusion to Samson casting it out of his hand, when he had finished his war-song.

Judges 15:19

jdg 15:19

An hollow place that was in the jaw - The right translation is, "the hollow place which is in Lehi." The word translated "hollow place," means a "mortar" Pro 27:22, and is here evidently a hollow or basin among the cliffs of Lehi, which, from its shape, was called "the mortar." A spring, on the way from Socho to Eleutheropolis, was commonly called Samson's spring in the time of Jerome and writers in the 7th, 12th, and 14th centuries.

Next: Judges Chapter 16