Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. Jdg 13:1 to Jdg 16:31. The story of Samson
Samson’s birth, 13; his marriage at Timnah and exploits against the Philistines, 14–15; his adventures at Gaza, followed by his intercourse with Delilah—the cause of his ruin and death, 16. Unlike the preceding chapters, the present narrative is not constructed from various sources, though ch. 14 has undergone revision (Jdg 13:3-6; Jdg 13:8; Jdg 13:10-11), and in a less degree ch. 13 (Jdg 13:19; Jdg 13:23); it is reasonable to suppose that the account of Samson’s birth, like that of Samuel’s birth and consecration, came into existence later than the other stories, after the hero had become famous. To the Deuteronomic editor are due the brief additions (Jdg 13:1, Jdg 15:20, Jdg 16:31 b) which give to Samson the character of a Judge, as being a foremost champion against the enemies of God. Those who trace in Judges the continuation of the Pentateuchal documents assign these chapters to J; at any rate they belong to the oldest stratum of the book, and come from the heart of old Israelite life. Samson is just the hero whom the country people would love; his feats of strength, his success with women, his doughty deeds, his tricks, his grim humour, his tragic end, lived on the lips of story-tellers before they were written down; it is folk-lore undisguised, innocent of all effort to be reflective or edifying. Samson is no leader of men, like Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah; he does nothing to rally his tribesmen against a common enemy; he acts simply on his own account. The story has its religious features, quite in keeping with its popular character; the hero wears his hair long in token of a vow of consecration (Jdg 13:5; Jdg 13:7, Jdg 16:17); when he desires to put forth his strength the spirit of Jehovah comes mightily upon him (Jdg 13:25, Jdg 14:6; Jdg 14:19); twice in desperate straits he cries to Jehovah (Jdg 15:18, Jdg 16:28). The religious element comes out most clearly in ch. 13, which, as noted above, may be later in origin than chs. 14–16.
It was the period of the Philistine domination (Jdg 14:4, Jdg 15:11 f.). The southern Israelites appear to have become more or less reconciled to their loss of independence; they took advantage of the rights of connubium and commercium (Jdg 14:1; Jdg 14:3; Jdg 14:10 f., Jdg 16:1); and though the story implies that the Philistines were regarded as natural enemies (Jdg 14:4), nothing like a general rising was in contemplation; in fact the Judaeans behaved as if they cared more for the favour of their overlords than for the rescue of their fellow-countryman (Jdg 15:11-13). On the Philistine side we hear of no hostile movement; Samson’s exploits were private acts of aggression; and when the Philistines were finally roused, it was to retaliate not upon the Israelites but upon their archenemy (Jdg 15:9-10). Thus the story of Samson, and probably that of Shamgar too (see on Jdg 3:31), belongs to the period which immediately precedes the actively hostile advance of the Philistines recorded in 1 Samuel. Samson has been compared to one of the Greek heroes, whose deeds of prowess formed the prelude to a war of independence.
The name of the hero (Shimshon = ‘solar,’ from shemesh = ‘sun’) and some of his feats and characteristics have led many to think that the stories grew out of a solar myth, and that Samson was originally a Canaanite sun-god. The theory can be made to look plausible1. Even early commentators thought of a comparison with Herakles, and attempts have been made to discover twelve ‘labours.’ It is only an artificial ingenuity, however, which can apply in detail the theory of a solar myth. The stories are more naturally explained as popular tales or folk-lore, coloured here and there, it may be granted, by solar mythology, e.g. Jdg 15:4-5, Jdg 16:13. A connexion between the story of Samson and the Babylonian Gilgămesh Epic is maintained by several modern scholars (e.g. Jastrow, Rel. of Babyl. and Assyr. (1898), 515 f.; Schrader, KAT. 582; A. Jeremias, Das A. T. im Lichte d. Alt. Or.2 1906, 482); but when closely examined the alleged resemblances are questionable. The scene of a hero mastering a lion represented on some ancient Bab. seal-cylinders (see A. Jeremias, l.c. 266 f., Ball, Light from the East, 44 f.) does not necessarily refer to the exploits of Gilgămesh, and only remotely illustrates those of Samson.
 E.g. recently by Ed. Meyer, Die Israeliten, p. 527 f., and, with some modifications, by Stahn, Die Simson-Sage, 1908.
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.Ch. 13 Samson’s birth
1. the Philistines] The Dtc. compiler treats the age of Samson on the principle of Jdg 3:7 f., which has been illustrated in the foregoing narratives (Jdg 3:7-15, Jdg 4:1-3, Jdg 6:1-7, Jdg 10:6-8); but no hostile invasion is mentioned 13–16; while the Philistine domination lasted to the time of David, much longer than 40 years.
The Philistines are probably to be identified with the Purasati, who, with other non-Semitic tribes from southern Asia Minor and the Aegean islands, are first mentioned in the Egyptian inscriptions of Ramses III (circ. 1198–1167 b.c.). At the beginning of the 12th century these ‘peoples of the sea’ swept down upon Upper Syria and S.W. Canaan; they were twice defeated by the Pharaoh, but he did not succeed in driving them all out of the country. The Philistines settled on the coast between Carmel and Gaza, and in course of time formed a federal state governed by five lords (serânim, Jdg 3:3, Jdg 16:5 ff., Joshua 13:3, 1 Samuel 6:17 f.); a kindred tribe, the Cherçthites (translated Cretans1 by LXX in Zephaniah 2:5, Ezekiel 25:16), found a home in the Negeb, 1 Samuel 30:14. At the period of the Samson story the Philistines not only held the maritime plain and the Shephçlah, but had made themselves masters of the inland districts belonging to the Israelites; in the period which follows they pushed their conquests further E. and N., and it was to resist these aggressions that the Hebrew monarchy was founded. The foreign origin of the Philistines is recognized by O.T. tradition. Thus in Judg. and Sam. they are called ‘the uncircumcised,’ and their original home is said to have been Caphtor (Amos 9:7 LXX Cappadocia, Jeremiah 47:4, cf. Deuteronomy 2:23), which may be the equivalent of Keftô, the ancient Egyptian name for the western quarter of the world, especially perhaps Cilicia; the civilization which they brought with them no doubt belonged to the early Aegean type2. But though foreigners by race and civilization, they seem to have adopted the language and religion of the natives whom they conquered. The names of persons and places in Philistia are Canaanite (except perhaps Achish, and serânim above); the gods whom they worshipped, Dagon (Jdg 16:23 f., 1 Samuel 5), Ashtart (1 Samuel 31:10), Baal-zebub (2 Kings 1:2 f.), are Canaanite too; see also Herod, i. 105. Curiously enough, the district inhabited by these foreign invaders (Hebr. Pelesheth) gave its name through Greek influence to the whole country, Παλαιστίνη (Herod. ii. 104, vii. 89), Palestine. The mention of the Philistines in the stories of the patriarchs, Genesis 21:22 ff. E, 26 J, and in Exodus 13:17; Exodus 15:14, is an anachronism; for the Amarna tablets (circ. 1400 b.c.) mention the country and cities afterwards held by the Philistines as in Canaanite possession.
 The identification is by no means certain, though recent opinion tends to recognize a connexion between the Philistines and Crete; see Evans, Scripta Minoa (1909), pp. 77 ff.
 In the LXX., Judg. and elsewhere, the Philistines are usually called οἱ ἀλλόφυλοι the foreigners; but in Jdg 10:6-7; Jdg 10:11; Jdg 13:1; Jdg 13:5; Jdg 14:2 cod. B gives Φυλιστιείμ, cod. A οἱ ἀλλόφυλοι. The latter rendering is probably due, not to ancient tradition, but to the fact that at the time when the Gk. Version was made the population of the old Philistine country had become thoroughly Hellenized. In Isaiah 9:12 Ἑλληνες Greeks actually appears for the Philistines of the Hebr. text.
And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.2. Zorah] Jdg 13:25, Jdg 16:31, Jdg 18:2; Jdg 18:8; Jdg 18:11, usually mentioned with Eshtaol; in Joshua 19:41 counted as Danite, in ib. Joshua 15:33 as belonging to Judah, which later on absorbed the Danite settlements in the south; re-inhabited after the exile, Nehemiah 11:29. Zorah was an ancient Canaanite town, and is referred to in the Amarna Letters (173, 21) along with Aijalon. The name is preserved in the modern Ṣar‘a, 15 m. west of Jerusalem. The situation of the town just opposite Beth-shemesh (prob. = Mt Ḥeres Jdg 1:35) exposed it to Philistine influences.
of the family of the Danites … Manoah] The Danites were a small tribe, hence ‘family’ is used here and in Jdg 18:2; Jdg 18:11; Jdg 18:19, though ‘tribe’ also occurs in Jdg 18:1; Jdg 18:19. Originally they attempted to settle in the southern lowland, but the Amorites forced them into the neighbouring hill country (Jdg 1:34 f.), a district which afterwards passed into the possession of Judah. From their southern settlements the Danites, probably owing to Canaanite or Philistine pressure, migrated to the north, and established themselves at Laish or Leshem-Dan, near the sources of the Jordan (Jdg 18:2; Jdg 18:11 ff., Jdg 18:27 ff.; Joshua 19:47). The account of this migration, though given at the end of Judges, probably belongs to the period of ch. 1. The Danites were already settled in their northern home at the time of Deborah (Jdg 5:17). But ch. 18 does not say that the entire tribe migrated; some families remained behind in the south, as the present narrative implies. Manoaḥ must have been closely connected with the Manaḥathites of Zorah, a family which traced its origin to the Calebite clans (1 Chronicles 2:52-54), and had affinities both with the Horites of Seir (Genesis 36:23 P) and with Judah (1 Chronicles 4:1). This Horite family lived in Zorah and was absorbed into the mixed tribe of Dan: such seems to be the conclusion suggested by the genealogies. Manoaḥ thus becomes, the eponymous ancestor of the family which bore his name, and in popular tradition Samson was known as his ‘son,’ just as Jephthah is called the ‘son’ of Gilead in Jdg 11:1.
was barren, and bare not] Cf. Sarah Genesis 11:30, Hannah 1 Samuel 1:2, Elisabeth St Luke 1:7. The child in such cases was a special gift of God, and marked out for a special career.
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.3. the angel of the Lord] i.e. Jehovah Himself in manifestation; see on Jdg 2:1. The appearance of the Angel betokens the announcement of a deliverer, as in Jdg 6:12; cf. Luke 1:11; Luke 1:15 ff., Luke 1:31 ff., Matthew 1:20 f.
Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:4. The mother during the time of pregnancy is to observe certain ceremonial restrictions (Jdg 13:7; Jdg 13:14); she is to live in a state of consecration, in order that her child may be consecrated from the very moment of conception. The two prohibitions are classed together, apparently on the principle that to partake of anything fermented or putrified renders a person unfit for consecration to the Deity1. Thus priests during their service were not allowed to drink wine (Leviticus 10:9, Ezekiel 44:21); while unclean foods, i.e. carrion (Exodus 22:31, Leviticus 7:24, Deuteronomy 14:21) and tabooed animals (Leviticus 11:2-23, Deuteronomy 14:3-20) were forbidden, the former because it had begun to decompose, the latter because in accordance with ancient ideas and custom they could not be used for sacrifice or for food. The restrictions are laid upon the mother; nothing is said about the child observing them. Samson did not consider himself bound to abstain from wine (see below); the second prohibition was not distinctive of the Nazirite consecration.
 See Robertson Smith, Rel. of Sem., 203 f., 367, 465. Frazer, Golden Bough i. 183–185, suggests that the ultimate reason for abstinence from intoxicating wine was the idea that ‘whoever drinks wine drinks the blood, and so receives into himself the soul or spirit of the god of the vine.’ Such intercourse with a spirit alien to Jehovah would be regarded by a Hebrew as unlawful. The Nazirite abstinence from wine seems to have been determined by other reasons, as suggested above; when it came into practice the original meaning of the prohibition was lost.
For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no rasor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.5. thou shalt conceive] The present in Genesis 16:11 RV. and Isaiah 7:14 RVm.; the future is more suitable here.
a Nazirite unto God] lit. one separated unto God; this, the full term, came to be abbreviated nâzîr, i.e. separated, devoted, a Nazirite. It is to be noticed that (1) the consecration took effect from birth; it was not voluntary, but due to the call of God, in this respect resembling the case of the prophets, Jeremiah 1:5, Isaiah 44:2; (2) it was life-long and not temporary; (3) the special sign of consecration was the unshorn hair, no razor shall come upon his head, cf. Jdg 16:17, 1 Samuel 1:11; this seems to have been the one essential characteristic; and (4) the object or task of the person thus devoted was to wage war and effect a deliverance. The connexion between (3) and (4) is illustrated by the custom of Arab warriors to wear the hair long when they vowed inveterate war, probably too by the long hair of the chiefs in Deborah’s Song (see on Jdg 5:2). In old Israel the Nazirite was no doubt a familiar figure; but besides Samson, the only other and not quite certain example is Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11), though he is not called a Nazirite till Sir 46:13 (in the Hebr., not in the Gk. text), and in Talmudic tradition (Nazir 66 a ‘Samuel was a Nazirite according to the teaching of R. Naharaï’). There was nothing ascetic about a Nazirite in the early days, as the story of Samson proves (Jdg 14:10); abstinence from wine did not become a mark of this type of devotee till a later time (Amos 2:12), and then probably as a protest against Canaanite habits (cf. the Rechabites, Jeremiah 35:9 ff.). What was probably a later development still appears in the detailed law of the Nazirite in Numbers 6; there abstinence from wine has become the principal feature; the hair is treated as a hair-offering; instead of preserving it unshorn, the Nazirite is to shave when the period of the vow is over; the vow itself is not life-long but temporary and voluntary; and contact with a dead body is strictly forbidden, a prohibition which cannot have existed in the early days (Jdg 14:19; Jdg 15:8; Jdg 15:15; 1 Samuel 15:33). The obvious differences between Nazirites of Samson’s type and those of the type laid down in the law formed a topic of discussion among the Rabbis (Talmud B. Nazir 4 a, b). After the Exile temporary Nazirites were numerous down to the fall of Jerusalem (1Ma 3:49; Jos., Ant. xix. 6, 1, Wars ii. 15, 1; Acts 21:23 ff.).
The treatment of the hair, whether preserved unshorn or offered as a sacrifice, is based upon a widely spread and primitive belief that the hair is a part of a man’s self; if it is never shorn, his strength is undiminished, he is intact; if it is shorn and offered at the sanctuary, it is in a measure an offering of oneself1.
 See Gray, Journ. of Theol. Studies i. 201–211 (1900) and Numbers 57 ff. (1903) Frazer, Golden Bough i. 193–207; Rob. Smith, Rel. of Sem., 314 f., 462 ff.
begin to save Israel … the Philistines] In chs. 14–16, however, we find not a work of national deliverance, but intermittent feats of private revenge or daring. The view of Samson’s history indicated by this remark shews that ch. 13 must be somewhat later than 14–16. It is doubtful whether begin implies that Samson was regarded as the forerunner of Samuel and Saul in the struggle against the Philistines (Wellhausen, Composition d. Hex., p. 231; S. A. Cook, Notes on O.T. Hist., p. 34); the word probably means no more than ‘shall be the first to,’ as in Jdg 10:18.
Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:6. A man of God] An inspired man; the phrase is used of a prophet, Deuteronomy 33:1; 1 Samuel 2:27; 1 Samuel 9:6-8; 1 Kings 12:22 etc. Here the man of God seemed to be more than human.
and I asked him not] A strange visitor is first asked whence he comes (hence LXX. cod. A and Vulgate omit the negative), and then he is expected to give his name. Such is the rule of Eastern manners; the reticence on both sides in the present case is noted as unusual.
But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.
Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.
And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.9. unto the woman] In response to Manoah’s prayer the divine Messenger comes not to him, but to his wife; the important thing is not ‘what we shall do unto the child,’ but what the mother shall do to ensure the consecration of her offspring. Hence no reply is given in Jdg 13:14 to the latter part of Manoah’s request.
in the field] at some little distance from home. Was it at the sanctuary where the rock-altar (Jdg 13:19-20) stood?
And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day.
And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.
And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?12. Now let thy words come to pass] The marg. is to be preferred; for a conditional clause without the conditional particle in Hebrew cf. Numbers 12:14, and see Driver, Tenses, § 155. To relieve the obscurity, it is proposed to read ‘eth for ‘attah, ‘at the time when’ (König, Syntax, § 385 k), but this is a rather poetical and late construction, Deuteronomy 32:35, Job 6:17 etc.
the manner] i.e. what description of child shall he be? cf. 2 Kings 1:7. By his work is meant business, occupation, cf. Genesis 46:33, 1 Samuel 25:2 RVm. Cf. St.Luke 1:66.
And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.
She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe.14. eat … of the vine] i.e. fresh or dried grapes, Numbers 6:3, 1 Samuel 25:18, Jeremiah 31:29 f. etc. Not merely intoxicants, but anything to do with the vine is forbidden, for the reason suggested on Jdg 13:4; cf. the prohibition laid upon the Roman Flamen Dialis, who was not allowed even to walk under a trellised vine (Plutarch, Quaest. Rom., 112). Similarly the Rechabites not only eschewed wine but planted no vineyards; their abstinence, however, was a protest in favour of nomadic as against settled life, Jeremiah 35:6-9. See further NSI., p. 305.
And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.15. that we may make ready a kid for thee] The prep, has a pregnant sense: ‘prepare a meal and set it before thee’; cf. Jdg 6:19 and Genesis 18:6-8. The words might mean offer a kid in thy presence; but under the circumstances this rendering is not probable.
And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD.16. I will not eat of thy bread] in the general sense of food; cf. Genesis 3:19; Genesis 47:12, 1 Samuel 14:24, Psalm 136:25. Note the advance in religious ideas: in Genesis 18:8 the Angels eat the meal which Abraham provides; in ch. Jdg 6:18 ff. Gideon is allowed to prepare and cook a meal, but it is consumed by fire, not by the Angel; here the very notion of a meal is repelled (cf. Tob 12:19); if anything is to be presented it must be a burnt offering, and offered to Jehovah. The clause For M. knew not etc. would come more suitably at the end of Jdg 13:15.
And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour?17. Still uncertain what to think, Manoah puts a direct question. may do thee honour as a prophet whose word (Hebr. marg.) comes true; cf. Numbers 22:17; Numbers 22:37, 1 Samuel 9:6.
And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?18. Wherefore … my name] The same words in Genesis 32:29. Manoah’s question is not answered, for to reveal the name is to reveal the essential nature and attributes, Exodus 3:15; Exodus 34:5-7; cf. Genesis 27:36, 1 Samuel 25:25, Ruth 1:20. The secret was to be disclosed, but only after an act of obedient homage; cf. St John 7:17.
wonderful] hard to be understood, not secret (marg.): prophets use the word to describe God’s dealings with His people, Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 25:1; Isaiah 29:14 etc. The divine Name is inscrutable, like the divine action, Psalm 139:6.
So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD: and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.19. offered it upon the rock] i.e. the rock which formed the altar (Jdg 13:20), and lay close at hand. Such an altar, hewn out of the living rock and reached by steps leading to a platform, actually exists near Ṣar‘a (Zorah), and may have been in the writer’s mind; see the illustration in Driver, Schweich Lectures (1909), 66, based on Schick, ZDPV.
10. (1887), 140 f., who first gave details of the discovery. The surface of the altar itself is almost covered with cup-shaped depressions connected in many cases by shallow channels. These hollows look as if they were intended to receive liquid offerings, and certainly there is little room left on the surface for a burnt sacrifice. Hence Kittel, Studien z. Hebr. Archäol. (1908), 97–108, concludes that the altar was primarily a table for a meal offering, and that its use as a hearth for a burnt offering marks the difference between Israelite and pre-Israelite practice. Jehovah would not receive a meal like a Canaanite god; He does not inhabit the sacred stone or tree; His offerings must be consumed by fire which rises to the heaven where He dwells. Kittel works out suggestively the theological significance of Gideon’s and Manoah’s sacrifice; but it must be remembered that his argument turns on the cup-like hollows found on the surface of this and similar altar-rocks1; and the purpose of these is by no means certain at present.
 At Marmita, 2 m. S.E. of Ṣar‘a, at Nebî Samwîl = Mizpah, el-Jib = Gibeon, Petra, all ancient high-places. Rock-surfaces uncovered at Megiddo, at Taanach, at Gezer, exhihit similar cup-marks; see Driver, l.c. 51, 67, 81, and Vincent, Canaan (1907), 95 f.
with the meal offering] See on Jdg 6:18. Some scholars regard the words here and in Jdg 13:23 as a later addition made for the sake of ritual completeness.
and the angel did wondrously] As it stands the text is hardly grammatical; so the angel is inserted in the EV. to make sense. LXX. cod. A and Vulgate read with a slight change ‘unto the Lord who doeth wondrously,’ and many adopt this correction. The clause following is accidentally repeated from Jdg 13:20, where it is in place. Perhaps both clauses (and did wondrously2, and … looked on) came in here from Jdg 13:20.
 If restored to Jdg 13:20 read w‘hû maflî’ for umaflî’.
For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.20. in the Flame of the altar] as though it were His native element, Exodus 3:2. The sign may well have suggested a more spiritual view of Jehovah’s nature (Kittel l.c.). The flame is that kindled by Manoah; contrast Jdg 6:21.
But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.
And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.22. we have seen God] lit. for elohim we have seen, i.e. a supernatural being; cf. 1 Samuel 28:13 and prob. Genesis 32:30; God is too definite. See on Jdg 6:22.
But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.23. at this time] lit. at (about) the time, an unusual expression, rendered now in Jdg 21:22, Numbers 23:23; cf. at (about) the day = now 1 Samuel 9:27, 1 Kings 22:5.
And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.24. Samson] The form implies that the word is either an adjective or a diminutive, ‘solar’ or ‘little sun,’ from shemesh = ‘sun.’ The Engl. Samson, based on the Gk. Σαμψών, is nearer the original pronunciation than the Shimshôn of the M.T. In Babylonian Shamshânu has recently been found as a proper name (Hilprecht-Clay, Bab. Exp. ix. 27. 70), and in Egyptian Shamshân occurs as the name of a town in S.W. Palestine on the list of places captured by Ramses II (b.c. 1292–1225). It cannot be without significance that less than 2 m. from Ṣar‘a, just across the valley, lies ‘Ain Shems, which preserves the name of the ancient Beth-shemesh (= ‘temple of the sun) or Ir-shemesh (= ‘city of the sun’), 1 Samuel 6:9 ff., Joshua 15:10; Joshua 19:41 etc. No doubt the worship of the sun prevailed at one time in the neighbourhood of Samson’s traditional home; and such indications as these seem to imply that sun-worship was familiar to the Israelites of the district, if not actually practised by them, until the religion of Jehovah gained supremacy.
grew … blessed him] Cf. 1 Samuel 2:26; 1 Samuel 3:19; St Luke 1:80; Luke 2:52.
And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.25. the spirit of the Lord] See on Jdg 3:13. The superhuman power of Jehovah began to stir him to daring feats against the Philistines; cf. St Mark 1:12 ‘the Spirit driveth him forth.’ The pass, of the verb (in a trans, sense only here) is rendered ‘was troubled’ in Genesis 41:8, Psalm 77:4 etc.
Mahaneh-dan] here lies in the heart of the Danite settlements; but according to Jdg 18:12 it was situated in Judah, at Kiriath-jearim or behind it, i.e. on the western side, and the six hundred, starting from Zorah and Eshtaol, are said to have reached Mahaneh-dan on their march to the north. A temporary encampment outside the Danite district might naturally receive the name of Dan’s Camp, but not a place among the seats of the tribe. As it is unlikely that there were two places called Dan’s Camp in this part of the country, we must suppose that there is something wrong about the name here. Perhaps for Mahaneh-dan we should read Manahath-dan, a happy suggestion made by Mr S. A. Cook [Notes on O.T. Hist., p. 88 and Encycl. Bibl. s.v.); cf. 1 Chronicles 2:52; 1 Chronicles 2:54, and see above on Jdg 13:2. It is to be noticed that the grave of Manoah, the ancestor of the Manahathites, occupied exactly the position described in this verse, Jdg 16:31.
Eshtaol] Generally named with Zorah (Jdg 13:2); the two places were evidently close together. Zorah is certainly Ṣar‘a; and Eshtaol may have stood on the site of Eshû‘ about 1½ m. to the N.E., up the valley which branches off northwards from the W. eṣ-Ṣarâr (Sorek). Both places overlook the broad basin of the W. eṣ-Ṣarâr near its entrance into the Judaean highlands.