And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.…
In considering Samson's choice of a wife, we are conscious of a feeling of painful disappointment. In choosing a Philistine, we begin to see his lower nature acting the tyrant. But it were well if domestic history in modern times did not present many instances of similar stubbornness. In such matters, the fancy of young people is often the supreme law. Samson's falling in love was in the ordinary way: "And he saw a woman of Tinmath," and "she pleased him well." We do not wonder that his pious parents were astonished at his wish to take a Philistine woman to wife. They were national enemies. And the angel had said he should deliver Israel. They would therefore naturally inquire, "How is this? Is our deliverance to begin with an alliance? We are not to touch anything unclean; our child is a Nazarite; and yet he wishes to marry a heathen! This is the beginning of the riddle." "Is there never a woman among thy brethren?" is the natural inquiry of such a father and mother. As he was so especially consecrated to God, it must have seemed peculiarly improper for him to make such an alliance. In seeking a Philistine wife, even in the most favourable view we can take of the affair Samson was treading on doubtful and dangerous ground. Their law expressly forbade the Israelites to marry among those nations that were cursed and devoted to destruction. It does not appear, however, that the Philistines were numbered among the doomed Canaanites. They were of Egyptian origin. The spirit of the Hebrew law, however, was plainly against such alliances, for the Philistines were idolaters and foreigners. It is true the law that forbade an Israelite to marry a heathen was a ceremonial law, or a police law — one that related to their national policy. It was not one of the laws of the decalogue. It was not a moral law. It might therefore be changed or suspended. But if the Divine prohibition against such an alliance was repealed for the time, making for special reasons his case an exception, how is it that the historian does not inform us of this fact? Why does not Samson tell his parents that the law is repealed in this case? There is not even a hint of any such thing. The match was of his own seeking. But God, seeing Samson's choice, determined to bring good out of it — he determined that his attachment to a Philistine woman should be overruled, so as to be the occasion of his beginning to deliver Israel.
(W. A. Scott, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.