Judges 15:15
And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.
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(15) A new jawbone.—Literally, a moist jawbone—i.e., the jawbone of an animal recently dead, and before the bone had become brittle. In this instance, at any rate, Samson might feel himself absolved from the rule of ceremonial cleanness, which forbad him as a Nazarite to touch carcases. A jawbone is a mighty magic weapon in one of the Polynesian legends (Grey, Polyn. Mythology, p. 35), but that throws no light on this narrative.

Slew a thousand men.—The verb is rather smote than “slew,” and the expression (whether due to poetry or not) is to be taken generally, like “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” If Goliath was able single-handed to strike terror into the whole army of Israel, Samson with his long locks and colossal strength would be still more likely to strike a terror into the Philistines, and all the more because a supernatural awe was doubtless attached by this time to his name and person. The very fact that, though armed only with this wretched weapon of offence, he yet dared to rush upon the Philistines would make them fly in wilder panic (Joshua 23:10). “One man of you shall chase a thousand; for the Lord your God He it is that fighteth for you, as He hath promised you.” (Comp. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 32:30.) So we read that one of David’s heroes slew three hundred men (1Chronicles 11:11; comp. 2Samuel 23:8). The Philistines, dull and superstitious, seem to have been peculiarly liable to these panics (1Samuel 14:4-18). Bishop Patrick quotes a striking parallel from a song on the Emperor Aurelian.

Jdg 15:15. He found a new jaw-bone of an ass — New, and therefore more tough and strong; and slew a thousand men therewith — Some, to account partly for this wonderful achievement, have observed that these Philistines were, probably, unarmed, and that they were struck with a great panic, thinking that the three thousand men of Judah would aid Samson. But doubtless it is chiefly to be ascribed to the power and providence of God, who thus fulfilled his promise to his people, that one of them should chase a thousand, and that no one should be able to stand before them, Leviticus 26:8; Joshua 23:10.

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.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. 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."

A new jawbone, and therefore more tough and strong.

And he found a new jawbone of an ass,.... That is, the jawbone of an ass lately killed, which perhaps had some of the flesh upon it, the blood or purulent matter on it; for Jarchi says, he had read in the books of physicians, that the word here used signifies the sanies or purulent matter of a wound; however, it was moist, and fresh, and so tough and strong, and would bear to strike with, and give hard blows with, when an old jawbone would have been dry and brittle; and perhaps the asses of those countries were larger than ours, and so their jawbones bigger and stronger:

and put forth his hand and took it; it lay near him, being so disposed by the providence of God at the time and place where his cords were loosed from him, and he reached and took it up:

and slew one thousand men therewith, such was his great strength, that every blow he gave in all probability killed a man; there have been wonderful things done by mighty warriors, but none like this; they have by the use of warlike weapons destroyed many, as with the sword or spear, but not with such an instrument. One of David's worthies slew three hundred men at one time with his spear, 1 Chronicles 11:11 and Scanderbeg with his sword slew great numbers of the Turks with his own hand at different times; what comes nearest to this is Shamgar's killing six hundred Philistines with an ox goad, Judges 3:31, this may be an emblem of the weak and contemptible means of the Gospel, the foolishness of preaching, by which Christ has conquered and subdued multitudes to himself.

And he found a {i} new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.

(i) That is, of an ass recently slain.

15. a thousand men] The numbers of course belong to the extraordinary character of the story. Moore notes that, according to Moslem tradition, the first blood in the cause of Islam was drawn with a similar weapon, the jawbone of a camel.

Verse 15. - A most vivid and stirring description! The Spirit of the Lord (Judges 14:19), with that suddenness which marks his extraordinary movements (1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Acts 2:2; Acts 8:39, etc.), came upon Samson, and mightily strengthened him in his outer man. The strong new cords snapped asunder in an instant, and before the Philistines could recover from their terror at seeing their great enemy free, he had snatched up the heavy jawbone of an ass recently dead, and with it smote the flying Philistines till a thousand of them had fallen under his blows. Judges 15:15As soon as he was relieved of his bands, he seized upon a fresh jaw-bone of an ass, which he found there, and smote therewith a thousand men. He himself commemorated this victory in a short poetical strain (Judges 15:16): "With the ass's jaw-bone a heap, two heaps; with the ass's jaw-bone I smote a thousand men." The form of the word חמור equals חמר is chosen on account of the resemblance to חמור, and is found again at 1 Samuel 16:20. How Samson achieved this victory is not minutely described. But the words "a heap, two heaps," point to the conclusion that it did not take place in one encounter, but in several. The supernatural strength with which Samson rent asunder the fetters bound upon him, when the Philistines thought they had him safely in their power, filled them with fear and awe as before a superior being, so that they fled, and he pursued them, smiting one heap after another, as he overtook them, with an ass's jaw-bone which he found in the way. The number given, viz., a thousand, is of course a round number signifying a very great multitude, and has been adopted from the song into the historical account.
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