Then his brothers and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the burial plot of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)His brethren and all the house of his father.—Probably Manoah and his wife were dead. The religious terror caused by the catastrophe may well have prevented the people of Gaza from offering any opposition to the removal of his body.
“Samson hath quit himself
Like Samson, and heroically has finished
A life heroic.”—Milton.Jdg 16:31. His brethren, &c., came down, and took, and buried him — While the Philistines were so reduced by the great destruction he had wrought among them, and so oppressed with grief and consternation, that they had neither heart nor leisure to hinder them. Or, as some think, they were so terrified by this awful catastrophe as to be afraid of keeping even his dead body in their land, and therefore made no opposition to his friends taking it away for burial. We may observe upon the whole of Samson’s character, of what little value great bodily strength, and even great mental ability is, if not under the direction of a prudent and pious mind; and of how little avail it is to conquer our foreign enemies, if, in the mean time, we be slaves to our worst enemies, our own lusts and vices. Samson was, probably, intended by Providence for a much nobler character in life, and to have been a far greater blessing to his country. But his vicious inclinations being yielded to, instead of being resisted and mortified, grieved the Holy Spirit of God, and quenched his motions and influences, and brought the most shameful disgrace and heaviest calamities upon him. His being ranked, therefore, by the apostle to the Hebrews 9:23, among the faithful, must chiefly refer to those particular acts of faith in God whereby he attacked the Philistines with his own single arm against thousands, and not to the general tenor of his life; many parts of which, without doubt, were highly criminal and shameful. His brethren; either, first, Largely so called, his kinsmen. Or, secondly, Strictly so called; Samson’s parents having had other children after him; as it was usual with God when he gave an extraordinary and unexpected power of procreating a child, to continue that strength for the generation or conception of more children, as in the case of Abraham, Genesis 25:1,2; and Hannah, 1 Samuel 2:21. They adventured to bury him; partly, because the most barbarous nations allowed burial even to their enemies, and would permit this ofttimes to be done by their friends; partly, because Samson had taken the blame of this action wholly to himself, for which his innocent relations could not upon any pretence be punished; and principally, because they were under such grief, and perplexity, and consternation for the common calamity, that they had neither heart nor leisure to revenge themselves of the Israelites, but for their own sakes were willing not to disquiet or offend them; at least, till they were in a better posture to resist them.
He judged Israel twenty years: this was said before, Judges 15:20, and is here repeated, partly to confirm the relation of it, and partly to explain it; and to show when these twenty years ended, even at his death, as is here noted.
and took him and brought him up; took his body out of the ruins of the house, and brought him up on a bier, or some proper carriage, to his own country; and perhaps in great funeral pomp, as a judge of Israel; nor need it be wondered at that the Philistines should admit of it, it being usual in all ages, and among all people, to allow even an enemy to bury their dead; besides Samson's friends had done them no injury, only Samson himself, and the Israelites in general were quiet and peaceable under their government; add to this, they were now in distress themselves for their own dead, and might be in some fear of the Israelites falling upon them, and attempting to deliver themselves out of their hands, since their five lords were dead, and no doubt many more of their principal men with them; so that they might judge this was not a proper time to refuse such a favour, lest it should occasion a quarrel, which they were not in a condition to engage in; and had Israel taken this opportunity, in all likelihood they might have freed themselves from them:
and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol, in the burying place of Manoah his father; the former of these seems to have been his native place, and the other was near it; and between these the Spirit of the Lord first began to move him, and here his father's sepulchre was, in which he was laid; see Judges 13:2 and he judged Israel twenty years; by distressing and weakening their enemies; and though he did not complete their deliverance out of their hands, yet no doubt their oppressions were fewer, and their burdens easier, on his account; the time of his judging Israel is observed before, Judges 15:20 and here repeated for the confirmation of it, and the rather because they were now ended by his death. Ben Gersom observes, that this is said to show that the time that Samson dwelt in the land of the Philistines is included in these twenty years; some would infer from hence that he judged Israel forty years, twenty in the days of the Philistines, as it is expressed in the above place; that is, when they had the dominion over Israel, and twenty more afterwards; but it does not appear that their dominion over Israel ceased in his time. In the Jerusalem Talmud (c) it is also said that he judged Israel forty years, but for it there is no foundation; nor is the reason given of any force, that the Philistines feared him twenty years after his death; the other Talmud (d) says he judged Israel twenty two years; but the word "two" is put into a parenthesis.Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)31. came down] Gaza lay near the sea; Samson’s home was on the slopes of the Central Range. The Philistines’ quarrel was not with the kinsmen; they were not refused the right of sepulture. Contrast 1 Samuel 31:10 f.
Manoah his father] Strictly speaking, the ancestor of the family. See notes on Jdg 13:2; Jdg 13:25.
The usual formula closes the narrative in the manner of Rd. See on Jdg 3:10.
For the exploit of Shamgar against the Philistines see note on Jdg 3:31.Verse 31. - His brethren, etc. Some infer from this that Samson's mother bare other children after the birth of Samson. But the Hebrew use of the word brethren is so wide, applied to cousins, or members of the same house of fathers, or of the same tribe, that it is by no means a certain inference. Here his brethren might mean the Danites generally, and all the house of his father those who were more nearly related, as belonging to the house of his father. His father was probably dead, and indeed the mention of his father's burying-place, or rather sepulchre, makes it certain that he was, so that Milton was in error in making him alive. Zorah and Eshtaol. See above, Judges 13:2, 25, note. And he judged Israel. See Judges 15:20. The parallel between Samson and Hercules is in many respects very remarkable, and has been drawn out by Serdrius and others. The supernatural strength of each, the slavery to women ("Quem non mille for, quem non Sthenellius hostis, Non potuit Mayors vincere, vicit amor." Ovid), the tearing asunder of the lion, the violent death of each, partly voluntary and partly forced, are all points of strong general resemblance. But one of the most remarkable is the connection of Hercules with two pillars. The "pillars of Hercules" on each side the straits of Gibraltar, Mount Abila and Mount Calpe, were said to have been rent asunder by the strength of Hercules' arms. And Herodotus relates that in the temple of Hercules at Tyre were two remarkable pillars, one of refined gold, the other of smaragdus, some green stone like an emerald (2:44). But the account given of a visit of Hercules to Egypt is still more remarkable, as compared with the history of the binding of Samson and the slaughter of the Philistines, as related in ch. 15. The following are the words of Herodotus: - "The Greeks say that when Hercules went down to Egypt, the Egyptians surrounded him, and led him in a procession to sacrifice him to Jupiter; that he kept quite still for a time, but that when they were commencing the sacrifice at the altar" (the first act of which was cutting off the hair) "he turned in self-defence, and by his prowess slew them all." On which Herodo. tus remarks, "How was it possible for him, being but one, and being only a man, to slay many myriads?" The prevalence of the worship of Hercules among the Phoenicians, as, e.g., at Tyre and Thasos, a Phoenician colony, and the close connection of Egypt with Gaza, where the prowess of Samson was so well known, are points not to be omitted in considering the probability of some of the legends of Hercules being drawn from the history of Samson. So also is the title of the Phoenician Hercules, the saviour or deliverer, as compared with Judges 2:16, 18; Judges 13:5.
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