Judges 16:1
Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in to her.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) Then went Samson to Gaza.—Rather, And Samson, &c. The narrative is brief and detached. Gaza is near the sea, and was the chief town of the Philistines, in the very heart of their country. It is useless to inquire how Samson could venture there in safety, or whether he went in disguise, or what was his object in going there; to such side-questions the narrative gives us no reply.

Jdg 16:1. And saw there a harlot — Although the Hebrew word זונה, zoneh, here rendered harlot, also means a woman that keeps an inn, it seems evident, on the face of the story, that this woman really was what our translators have taken her to have been, a harlot. Samson, it seems, going into a house of public entertainment to refresh himself, saw there this woman, and by giving way to look upon her was insnared.16:1-3 Hitherto Samson's character has appeared glorious, though uncommon. In this chapter we find him behaving in so wicked a manner, that many question whether or not he were a godly man. But the apostle has determined this, Heb 11:32. By adverting to the doctrines and examples of Scripture, the artifices of Satan, the deceitfulness of the human heart, and the methods in which the Lord frequently deals with his people, we may learn useful lessons from this history, at which some needlessly stumble, while others cavil and object. The peculiar time in which Samson lived may account for many things, which, if done in our time, and without the special appointment of Heaven, would be highly criminal. And there might have been in him many exercises of piety, which, if recorded, would have reflected a different light upon his character. Observe Samson's danger. Oh that all who indulge their sensual appetites in drunkenness, or any fleshly lusts, would see themselves thus surrounded, way-laid, and marked for ruin by their spiritual enemies! The faster they sleep, the more secure they feel, the greater their danger. We hope it was with a pious resolution not to return to his sin, that he rose under a fear of the danger he was in. Can I be safe under this guilt? It was bad that he lay down without such checks; but it would have been worse, if he had laid still under them.Gaza - About 8 hours from Eleutheropolis, and one of the chief strong-holds of the Philistines. CHAPTER 16

Jud 16:1-3. Samson Carries Away the Gates of Gaza.

1, 2. Gaza—now Guzzah, the capital of the largest of the five Philistine principal cities, about fifteen miles southwest of Ashkelon. The object of this visit to this city is not recorded, and unless he had gone in disguise, it was a perilous exposure of his life in one of the enemy's strongholds. It soon became known that he was there; and it was immediately resolved to secure him. But deeming themselves certain of their prey, the Gazites deferred the execution of their measure till the morning.Samson goeth in to a harlot; is hemmed in; riseth at midnight; taketh the city gates, posts, and bars on his shoulders, and carrieth them up into a mountain, Judges 16:1-3. Is in love with Delilah; she enticeth him to discover wherein his strength lay; is thrice deceived; at last she overcomes him, Judges 16:4-20. They put out his eyes, and cast him into prison, Judges 16:21. His hair grows again, Judges 16:22. The lords of the Philistines and the people gather together to make sport with him to the honor of their idols; and sacrifice, Judges 16:23-25. Samson getteth them to place his hands on the two pillars of the house; he prays to God; pulls down the house; and dieth: but more slain at his death than in his life, Judges 16:26-30. He is buried, Judges 16:31.

Samson went to Gaza, a chief city, to make some new attempt upon the Philistines, whom he feared not either in their cities or in their camps, having had such large experience of his own strength, and of God’s assistance; possibly he came in thither by night, unknown and unobserved till afterwards.

Saw there an harlot; going into a house of public entertainment to refresh himself, as the manner was, Joshua 2:1. He there saw this harlot; which implies that he did not go thither upon so evil a design, but accidentally saw her there, and by giving way to lustful looks upon her, was ensnared by her.

Then went Samson to Gaza,.... One of the five principalities of the Philistines, which was ten miles from Ashkelon, as Sandys (q) says; who also describes (r) it as standing upon an hill environed with valleys, and these again well nigh enclosed with hills, most of them planted with all sorts of delicate fruits; and, according to Bunting (s), forty two miles from Ramathlehi, the place where we last hear of him; see Gill on Amos 1:6, Zephaniah 2:4 what he went hither for is not easy to say; it showed great boldness and courage, after he had made such a slaughter of the Philistines, to venture himself in one of their strongest cities, where he must expect to be exposed to danger; though it is highly probable this was a long time after his last encounter with them:

and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her; the Targum renders it an innkeeper, one that kept a victualling house; so Kimchi, Ben Gersom, and Ben Melech interpret it; into whose house he went for entertainment and lodging, and very probably in the dusk of the evening; and the woman that kept this house might herself be an harlot, or, however, Samson saw one in her house, with whom he was captivated, and went in unto her, or had criminal conversation with her; it seems as if he did not turn in thither with any such wicked design, but on sight of the person was ensnared to commit lewdness with her; and, as Lyra says, there were many hostesses in some places, and so here, who too easily prostituted themselves to their guests.

(q) Travels, l. 3. p. 118. (r) Travels, l. 3. p. 116. (s) Ut supra. (Travels, l. 3. p. 118.)

Then went Samson to {a} Gaza, and saw there an harlot, {b} and went in unto her.

(a) One of the five chief cities of the Philistines.

(b) That is, he lodged with her.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. Jdg 16:1-3. Samson at Gaza

1. Gaza] The most southerly of the Philistine cities, and far from the scene of Samson’s other adventures. Long before the Philistines arrived Gaza is mentioned in Egyptian lists (e.g. in the time of Thothmes III), and in the Amarna letters. As it lay at the meeting-point of the caravan-routes from Egypt and the Arabian desert, it was always an important centre; the kind of place where bad characters might be found. In Hebr. the name is ‘Azza, with the hard ‘ayin represented in Assyr. by (hence Ḫazzatu), in Greek by g (hence Gaza); now Ghazze or Razze.Verse 1. - Then. It should be and. There is nothing to show when the incident occurred. It may have been many years after his victory at hal-Lechi, towards the latter part of his twenty years' judgeship. Gaza, now Ghuzzeh, one of the five chief cities of the Philistines, once a strong place, but now a large open town. It was the last town in South-West Palestine on the road from Jerusalem to Egypt (Acts 8:26, 27). It played an important part in history in all ages - in the times, of the Pharaohs, the Seleucidae, the Maccabees, the Romans, the Khalifs, and the Crusaders. It was within the limits of the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:47). It is first mentioned in Genesis 10:19, as the south-west border of the Canaanites. Its real transliteration from the Hebrew is Azzah, as it is actually expressed in the A.V. of Deuteronomy 2:23, and 1 Kings 4:24. Gaza is the Greek form. As 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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