Judges 15:11
Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Know you not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that you have done to us? And he said to them, As they did to me, so have I done to them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Went to the top of the rock Etam.—Rather, went down to the cave of the rock Etam. They would easily gain information as to Samson’s hiding-place.

What is this that thou hast done unto us?—The abject condition into which the Lion Tribe had sunk can best be estimated by this reproach against the national hero, and still more by their baseness in betraying him. He finds no sympathy. There are no patriots in search of heroes. What might not this 3,000 have achieved if they had been like Gideon’s 300?

Jdg 15:11-12. What hast thou done unto us? — Thou hast by these actions punished, not them only, but us, who are sure to smart for it. We are come down to bind thee — Why not rather to fight under thy banner? Because sin dispirits men, nay, infatuates them, and hides from their eyes the things that belong to their peace. That we may deliver thee to the Philistines — This shows how dastardly the tribe of Judah was grown, and how much they stood in fear of the Philistines, that they should so readily give up a person of such extraordinary strength and courage, and who was so capable of annoying their enemies. But they seem not to have considered him as a judge or deliverer appointed for them by God, but as a mere private man, who acted of his own will, and who had rashly stirred up the anger of the Philistines, with whom they were afraid to contend: and Samson, to make them easy, and that no damage might come upon them, consented that they should deliver him bound to the Philistines; knowing that his strength would be sufficient to break whatever cords they should bind him with. Swear unto me — Not that he feared them, or could not as easily have conquered them as he did the host of the Philistines: but because he would be free from all temptation of doing them harm, though it were in his own defence. 15:9-17 Sin dispirits men, it hides from their eyes the things that belong to their peace. The Israelites blamed Samson for what he had done against the Philistines, as if he had done them a great injury. Thus our Lord Jesus did many good works, and for those the Jews were ready to stone him. When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson, his cords were loosed: where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and those are free indeed who are thus set free. Thus Christ triumphed over the powers of darkness that shouted against him, as if they had him in their power. Samson made great destruction among the Philistines. To take the bone of an ass for this, was to do wonders by the foolish things of the world, that the excellency of the power might be of God, not of man. This victory was not in the weapon, was not in the arm; but it was in the Spirit of God, which moved the weapon by the arm. We can do all things through Him that strengtheneth us. Seest thou a poor Christian, who is enabled to overcome a temptation by weak, feeble counsel, there is the Philistine vanquished by a sorry jaw-bone.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. Jud 15:9-13. He Is Bound by the Men of Judah, and Delivered to the Philistines.

9-17. Then the Philistines went up—to the high land of Judah.

and spread themselves in Lehi—now El-Lekieh, abounding with limestone cliffs; the sides of which are perforated with caves. The object of the Philistines in this expedition was to apprehend Samson, in revenge for the great slaughter he had committed on their people. With a view of freeing his own countrymen from all danger from the infuriated Philistines, he allowed himself to be bound and surrendered a fettered prisoner into their power. Exulting with joy at the near prospect of riddance from so formidable an enemy, they went to meet him. But he exerted his superhuman strength, and finding a new (or moist) jawbone of an ass, he laid hold of it, and with no other weapon, slew a thousand men at a place which he called Ramath-lehi—that is, "the hill of the jawbone."

What is this that thou hast done unto us? thou hast by these actions punished not them, as thou intendest; but us, who being under their dominion, are sure to smart for it. Then three thousand of Judah went up to the top of the rock of Etam,.... Or "went down" (g); that is, into the cave of the rock of Etam, as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions; and so it is taken by David de Pomis (h) for a cave dug in the rock: this was a large number that went to take one man; the reason is, they knew his great strength:

and said to Samson, knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? and therefore it must be a very unwise thing to disoblige and provoke them, when it lay in their power to oppress them yet more and more, to increase their tribute, and make their burdens heavier, and even take away their lives:

what is this that thou hast done unto us? they ask not what he had done to them, but unto us; though they mean that, but express themselves thus, because what he had done to the Philistines was the occasion of their coming up against them, and so eventually it was doing them ill:

and he said unto them, as they did unto me, so have I done to them; they had done him ill, and therefore he did ill to them; they had burnt his wife and her father with fire, and he had slain many of them; at least this was what he thought fit to say in his own vindication; otherwise what he did was not in a way of private revenge, but on account of the injury done to the people of Israel, he taking what was done to them as done to himself, the chief magistrate and judge of Israel.

(g) "et descenderunt", Pagninus, Montanus; "descenderunt ergo", V. L. Tigurine version. (h) Tzemach David, fol. 112. 3.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 11. - Men of Judah. It is rather three thousand men went down from Judah, showing that the rock Etam was below. The top. It should be the cleft, as in ver. 8. Knowest thou not, etc. The language of these cowardly men shows how completely the Philistine yoke was fastened upon the necks of Judah. The history gives no account of the Philistine conquest; except the brief allusion in Judges 10:6, 7; but Samson's story brings to light the existence of it. The abject state to which they were reduced is shown By their complaint of Samson, What is this that thou hast done unto us?" instead of hailing him as a deliverer. As they did unto me, etc. It is instructive to read Samson's defence of himself in the very words used by the Philistines in ver. 10. "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." There is no end to rendering "evil for evil." He therefore went and caught three hundred shualim, i.e., jackals, animals which resemble foxes and are therefore frequently classed among the foxes even by the common Arabs of the present day (see Niebuhr, Beschr. v. Arab. p. 166). Their European name is derived from the Persian schaghal. These animals, which are still found in great quantities at Joppa, Gaza, and in Galilee, herd together, and may easily be caught (see Rosenmller, Bibl. Althk. iv. 2, pp. 155ff.). He then took torches, turned tail to tail, i.e., coupled the jackals together by their tails, putting a torch between the two tails, set the torches on fire, and made the animals run into the fields of standing corn belonging to the Philistines. Then he burned "from the shocks of wheat to the standing grain and to the olive gardens," i.e., the shocks of wheat as well as the standing corn and the olive plantations. זית מרךּ are joined together in the construct state.
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