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.
Visited his wife with a kid - A common present (see Genesis 38:17; Luke 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.
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.
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.
And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.
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 Judges 14:19. But now the Philistines themselves had broken this bond, and so he was free to take his revenge on the spot.
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.
Foxes - Rather, "jackals," which are still very common in Palestine, especially about Joppa and Gaza. 1 Samuel 13:17 and Joshua 15:28; Joshua 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.
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.
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.
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 Genesis 38:24; Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9. Samson's wife brought upon herself the very punishment which she sought to escape by betraying her husband Judges 14:15.
And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.
And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.
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. (Isaiah 2:21; Isaiah 57:5. Compare 1 Samuel 13:6; 1 Kings 18:13.)
Etam - Not the same as the place in the territory of Simeon 1 Chronicles 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.)
Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.
Spread themselves - An expression used of the Philistine mode of war 2 Samuel 5:18, 2 Samuel 5:22, alluding to the compact way in which they came up the wadys, and then distpersed. Lehi is so called by anticipation (see Judges 15:17).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The cords ... became as flax ... - i. e. were as weak against his strength as half-burned flax which yields to the least pressure.
And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.
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.
And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.
There is a play upon the word, three times repeated, which means both "an ass" and also "a heap." The spirit of riddle-making Judges 14:12, Judges 14:18 is apparent in this song of triumph (compare Judges 5:1; Exodus 15:1; 1 Samuel 18:6-7).
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.
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.
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?
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.
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" Proverbs 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.
And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.