And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray you, wherein your great strength lies, and with which you might be bound to afflict you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And wherewith thou mightest be bound.—The narrative, if taken as a full account of all that took place, would leave in the mind an impression of almost incredible fatuity on the part of Samson. The general lesson is that of 1 Esdras 4:26 : “Many have gone out of their wits for women, and have become slaves on account of them; many have perished and erred and sinned by reason of women.” (Comp. Proverbs 7:26.) Eastern legends constantly show how women have deceived even prophets. But there was no reason why the sacred historian should linger over the details of scenes so unworthy. If Delilah spoke thus plainly at once, we can only imagine that she was professing to treat the whole matter as a jest. Josephus says: “When Samson was drinking, or at other moments, expressing admiration of his deeds, she kept scheming how to ascertain in what way he was so pre-eminent in valour.” An illustration may be found in 1 Esdras 4:29 : “I saw Apame taking the crown from the king’s head and setting it on her own head; she also struck the king with her left hand, and yet for all that the king gaped and gazed upon her with open mouth. If she laughed upon him, he laughed; if she took displeasure at him, he flattered her, that she may be reconciled to him.” The genius of a great poet has depicted such wiles in the idyll of Merlin and Vivi-enne, and it is only by supposing that such wiles were put forth in this instance that we can retain credit for even the most ordinary sense on the part of the Danite hero. But his fault was not stupidity—it was sensual infatuation; and in the ruin and shame which this sensual weakness brought upon him, and the way in which, step by step, it led him to forfeit the great gift of God, lies the chief moral of the story. We find the same lesson in the legend of Hercules and Omphale; and even if this legend was not influenced by the story of Samson’s life, yet there is a general analogy between the character of the Greek and the Jewish hero. Samson was no Solomon, and yet the heart of even Solomon—
“. . . . though large,
Beguiled by fair idolatresses, fell.”Jdg 16:6-8. Wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee — This seems rather to express the sum of what Delilah aimed at than her very words. For it is scarcely credible that she put this question so openly to Samson, which would have discovered that she had some design against him. But, rather, she wormed it out of him by degrees, and in such an artful manner as gave him no cause of suspicion. Samson said, &c. — Samson was guilty both of the sin of lying, and of great folly, in encouraging her inquiries, which he should at first have checked: but as he had forsaken God, so God had now forsaken him, otherwise the frequent repetition and vehement urging of this question might easily have raised suspicion in him. With seven green withs — Probably osiers. The lords of the Philistines brought — Or rather sent; for it is not to be supposed they came themselves with these things.Judges 3:3 note.
His great strength lieth - Rather, "wherein his strength is great."
Eleven hundred pieces of silver - The greatness of the bribe offered to Delilah, 5,500 shekels of silver, nearly two talents (Exodus 38:24, note), shows the importance attached to Samson's capture.
Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth—They probably imagined that he carried some amulet about his person, or was in the possession of some important secret by which he had acquired such herculean strength; and they bribed Delilah, doubtless by a large reward, to discover it for them. She undertook the service and made several attempts, plying all her arts of persuasion or blandishment in his soft and communicative moods, to extract his secret.Wherein thy great strength lieth; what is the cause of this prodigious strength, or wherein doth it consist? She seems to ask merely out of curiosity, to understand the state of a person whom she so highly values.
tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth; which she proposed seemingly out of mere curiosity, and as it would be a proof of his affection to her, to impart the secret to her:
and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee; not that she suggested to him that she was desirous to have him afflicted, or to try the experiment herself in order to afflict him, but to know by what means, if he was bound, it would be afflicting to him so that he could not relieve himself; she knew he might be bound, if he would admit of it, as he had been, but she wanted to know how he might be bound, so as to be held, and could not loose himself.And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Judges 15:1), and therefore hot summer weather. Then he called to the Lord, "Thou hast through (בּיד) "Thy servant given this great deliverance; and now I shall die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised!" From this prayer we may see that Samson was fully conscious that he was fighting for the cause of the Lord. And the Lord helped him out of this trouble. God split the hollow place at Lechi, so that water came out of it, as at Horeb and Kadesh (Exodus 17:6, and Numbers 20:8, Numbers 20:11). The word מכתּשׁ, which is used in Proverbs 27:22 to signify a mortar, is explained by rabbinical expositors as denoting the socket of the teeth, or the hollow place in which the teeth are fixed, like the Greek ὁλμίσκος, mortariolum, according to Pollux, Onom. ii. c. 4, 21. Accordingly many have understood the statement made here, as meaning that God caused a fountain to flow miraculously out of the socket of a tooth in the jaw-bone which Samson had thrown away, and thus provided for his thirst. This view is the one upon which Luther's rendering, "God split a tooth in the jaw, so that water came out," is founded, and is has been voluminously defended by Bochart (Hieroz. l. ii. c. 15). But the expression בּלּחי אשׁר, "the maktesh which is at Lechi," is opposed to this view, since the tooth-socket in the jaw-bone of the ass would be simply called הלּחי מכתּשׁ or בּלּחי מכתּשׁ; and so is also the remark that this fountain was still in existence in the historian's own time. And the article proves nothing to the contrary, as many proper names are written with it (see Ewald, 277, c.). Consequently we must follow Josephus (Ant. v. 8), who takes המּכתּשׁ as the name given to the opening of the rock, which was cleft by God to let water flow out. "If a rocky precipice bore the name of jaw-bone (lechi) on account of its shape, it was a natural consequence of this figurative epithet, that the name tooth-hollow should be given to a hole or gap in the rock" (Studer). Moreover, the same name, Maktesh, occurs again in Zephaniah 1:11, where it is applied to a locality in or near Jerusalem. The hollow place was split by Elohim, although it was to Jehovah that Samson had prayed, to indicate that the miracle was wrought by God as the Creator and Lord of nature. Samson drank, and his spirit returned, so that he revived again. Hence the fountain received the name of En-hakkore, "the crier's well which is at Lechi," unto this day. According to the accents, the last clause does not belong to בּלּחי (in Lechi), but to וגו קרא (he called, etc.). It received the name given to it unto this day. This implies, of course, that the spring itself was in existence when our book was composed. - In Judges 15:20 the account of the judicial labours of Samson are brought to a close, with the remark that Samson judged Israel in the days of the Philistines, i.e., during their rule, for twenty years. What more is recorded of him in Judges 16 relates to his fall and ruin; and although even in this he avenged himself upon the Philistines, he procured no further deliverance for Israel. It is impossible to draw any critical conclusions from the position in which this remark occurs, as to a plurality of sources for the history of Samson.
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