Judges 15:20
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.

King James Bible
And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.

Darby Bible Translation
And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.

World English Bible
He judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.

Young's Literal Translation
And he judgeth Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.

Judges 15:20 Parallel
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

He judged Israel - twenty years - In the margin it is said, He seems to have judged southwest Israel during twenty years of their servitude of the Philistines, Judges 13:1. Instead of עשרים שנה esrim shanah, twenty years, the Jerusalem Talmud has ארבעים שנה arbaim shanah, forty years; but this reading is not acknowledged by any MS. or version. According to Calmet, the twenty years of the judicature of Samson began the eighteenth year of the subjection of Israel to the Philistines; and these twenty years are included in the judicature of the high priest Eli.

The burning of the Philistines' corn by the means of foxes and firebrands is a very remarkable circumstance; and there is a story told by Ovid, in the 4th book of his Fasti, that bears a striking similitude to this; and is supposed by some learned men to allude to Samson and his foxes. The poet is at a loss to account for this custom, but brings in an old man of Carseoli, with what must have appeared to himself a very unsatisfactory solution. The passage begins as follows: -

Tertia post Hyadas cum luxerit orta, remotas,

Carcere partitos Circus habebit equos

Cur igitur missae vinctis ardentia taedis

Terga ferant vulpes, causa docenda mihi?

Vid. Ovid, Fastor. lib. iv., ver. 679.

The substance of the whole account, which is too long to be transcribed, is this: It was a custom in Rome, celebrated in the month of April to let loose a number of foxes in the circus, with lighted flambeaux on their backs; and the Roman people took pleasure in seeing these animals run about till roasted to death by the flames with which they were enveloped. The poet wishes to know what the origin of this custom was, and is thus informed by an old man of the city of Carseoli: "A frolicksome young lad, about ten years of age, found, near a thicket, a fox that had stolen away many fowls from the neighboring roosts. Having enveloped his body with hay and straw, he set it on fire, and let the fox loose. The animal, in order to avoid the flames, took to the standing corn which was then ready for the sickle; and the wind, driving the flames with double violence, the crops were everywhere consumed. Though this transaction is long since gone by, the commemoration of it still remains; for, by a law of this city, every fox that is taken is burnt to death. Thus the nation awards to the foxes the punishment of being burnt alive, for the destruction of the ripe corn formerly occasioned by one of these animals."

Both Serrarius and Bochart reject this origin of the custom given by Ovid; and insist that the custom took its rise from the burning of the Philistines' corn by Samson's foxes. The origin ascribed to the custom by the Carseolian they consider as too frivolous and unimportant to be commemorated by a national festival. The time of the observation does not accord with the time of harvest about Rome and in Italy, but it perfectly accords with the time of harvest in Palestine, which was at least as early as April. Nor does the circumstance of the fox wrapped in hay and let loose, the hay being set on fire, bear any proper resemblance to the foxes let loose in the circus with burning brands on their backs.

These learned men therefore conclude that it is much more natural to suppose that the Romans derived the custom from Judea, where probably the burning of the Philistines' corn might, for some time, have been annually commemorated.

The whole account is certainly very singular, and has not a very satisfactory solution in the old man's tale, as related by the Roman poet.

All public institutions have had their origin in facts; and if, through the lapse of time or loss of records, the original facts be lost, we may legitimately look for them in cases where there is so near a resemblance as in that above.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Judges 13:1,5 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD...

Judges 16:31 Then his brothers and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up...

He seems to have judged South-west Israel during twenty years of their servitude of the Philistines.

Whether the Degrees of Prophecy Can be Distinguished According to the Imaginary vision?
Objection 1: It would seem that the degrees of prophecy cannot be distinguished according to the imaginary vision. For the degrees of a thing bear relation to something that is on its own account, not on account of something else. Now, in prophecy, intellectual vision is sought on its own account, and imaginary vision on account of something else, as stated above (A[2], ad 2). Therefore it would seem that the degrees of prophecy are distinguished not according to imaginary, but only according to
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

For the understanding of the early history and religion of Israel, the book of Judges, which covers the period from the death of Joshua to the beginning of the struggle with the Philistines, is of inestimable importance; and it is very fortunate that the elements contributed by the later editors are so easily separated from the ancient stories whose moral they seek to point. That moral is most elaborately stated in ii. 6-iii. 6, which is a sort of programme or preface to iii. 7-xvi. 31, which constitutes
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

Cross References
Hebrews 11:32
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets,

Judges 13:1
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.

Judges 16:31
Then his brothers and his father's whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.

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