1 1 SAMSON S VENGEANCE ON THE PHILISTINES JUDGES 15:1-20
2 2 Text: Judges 15:1-20, Samson s Vengeance on the Philistines 1. Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, "I'm going to my wife's room." But her father would not let him go in. 2. "I was so sure you thoroughly hated her," he said, "that I gave her to your friend. Isn't her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead." 3. Samson said to them, "This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them." 4. So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, 5. lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves. 6. When the Philistines asked, "Who did this?" they were told, "Samson, the Timnite's son-in-law, because his wife was given to his friend." So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. 7. Samson said to them, "Since you've acted like this, I won't stop until I get my revenge on you." 8. He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam. 9. The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. 10. The men of Judah asked, "Why have you come to fight us?" "We have come to take Samson prisoner," they answered, "to do to him as he did to us." 11. Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, "Don't you realize that the
3 3 Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?" He answered, "I merely did to them what they did to me." 12. They said to him, "We've come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines." Samson said, "Swear to me that you won't kill me yourselves." 13. "Agreed," they answered. "We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you." So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. 14. As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. 15. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men. 16. Then Samson said, "With a donkey's jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey's jawbone I have killed a thousand men." 17. When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi. 18. Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD, "You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?" 19. Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi. 20. Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines. Introduction: I. Coffman wrote, The family into which Samson had married had suffered a shocking disgrace in the eyes of their whole city when Samson had rushed away without consummating the marriage; and since some time had evidently elapsed without Samson s making any appearance in his wife s home, one can readily understand the father-in-
4 4 law s behavior in giving Samson s wife to the person we might call his best man. A. While understandable, Coffman concluded that the above situation could not have justified Samson s wife s being given to another man in marriage. Commentary: Judges 15:1, Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, "I'm going to my wife's room." But her father would not let him go in. (NIV) I. Later on, (after a time, in process of time) at the time of wheat harvest, A. The wheat harvest occurred from May until mid-june. (Fleenor/Ziese) B. This was a different season of the year than that in which Samson s wedding had occurred. (Coffman) 1. Some undetermined time had passed between Samson s marriage and his reappearance. II. Samson took a young (kid) goat and went to visit his wife. A. The young goat would provide Samson s wife s family a feast and was an appropriate gift. (Fleenor/Ziese) B. Coffman wrote, This is an indication of the kind of marriage that was contracted. It was like that of Gideon and his concubine, in which the wife continued to live in her father s house, with the husband paying occasional visits.
5 5 C. The gift of a kid for his wife seems also to have been the customary price of conjugal visits, that being exactly the price that Judah agreed to pay Tamar for his going in unto her, not knowing that she was his daughter-in-law, Coffman further wrote. 1. Genesis 38:17, "I'll send you a young goat from my flock," he said. "Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?" she asked. (NIV) D. Clarke was of the opinion that, when his wife revealed his riddle to the Philistines, Samson must have left her in disgust. 1. With the passage of time his affection evidently was rekindled. (See Clarke) 2. Samson was little prepared to find her married to another man. (Pulpit Commentary) III. He said, I m going to my wife s room. A. This woman had nagged Samson so much that he told her his riddle and she had explained the riddle to her Philistine countrymen. 1. This made Samson very angry, so he killed thirty (30) Philistines, paid his riddle debt and then went home to his father s house. 2. Judges 14:1-20, Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife." His father and mother replied, "Isn't there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a
6 6 wife?" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me." (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.) Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her. Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass. In it was a swarm of bees and some honey, which he scooped out with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion's carcass. Now his father went down to see the woman. And Samson made a feast there, as was customary for bridegrooms. When he appeared, he was given thirty companions. "Let me tell you a riddle," Samson said to them. "If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. If you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes." "Tell us your riddle," they said. "Let's hear it." He replied, "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet." For three days they could not give the answer. On the fourth day, they said to Samson's wife, "Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father's household to death. Did you invite us here to rob us?" Then Samson's wife threw herself on him, sobbing, "You hate me! You don't really love me. You've given my
7 7 people a riddle, but you haven't told me the answer." "I haven't even explained it to my father or mother," he replied, "so why should I explain it to you?" She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people. Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" Samson said to them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle." Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father's house. And Samson's wife was given to the friend who had attended him at his wedding. (NIV) B. Samson had, in his view, not abandoned his wife. 1. Samson had returned to consummate his marriage. 2. However, Samson s father-in-law evidently thought Samson hated and had deserted his daughter. a. This would appear to have been a reasonable conclusion. b. After all, Samson had killed thirty (30) Philistines because his wife had sided with the Philistines against him. c. However, she had acted under extreme duress.
8 The woman had been given in marriage to Samson s friend who had attended him at his wedding, his best man. IV. But her father would not let him go in. A. The woman s father did not give his permission for Solomon to consummate his marriage. B. Of course, Solomon was stronger and could have likely forced his way into his wife s room had he been so disposed. Judges 15:2, "I was so sure you thoroughly hated her," he said, "that I gave her to your friend. Isn't her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead." (NIV) I. I was so sure you thoroughly hated her, he said, that I gave her to your friend. A. Solomon s father-in-law had evidently acted in good faith thinking Solomon had deserted his wife. (See Pulpit Commentary) II. Isn t her younger sister more attractive? A. The man offers his younger daughter to Samson as an appealing alternative, Fleenor and Ziese wrote. B. Of course, he was well acquainted with Samson s temper and did not want to aggravate him. C. Samson s father-in-law took a conciliatory approach which Samson rejected. (See Pulpit Commentary) III. Take her instead.
9 9 A. This may have been an indication by Samson s father-in-law that he had not acted altogether honorably in giving Solomon s wife to his best man. B. Or, knowing Solomon s propensity for violence, he may have been trying to find a peaceful way out of this difficulty. C. The father appears to have been sincere in this offer. (Clarke) Judges 15:3, Samson said to them, "This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them." (NIV) I. Samson said to them, This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them. A. The fact that his wife had been given to another man made him really mad! B. He vowed to again get even with the Philistines. C. Solomon was set on revenge. D. Solomon blamed his troubles on the Philistines saying, in view of what had been done regarding his wife, he would do the Philistines great harm and would not be at fault for this retaliatory behavior. 1. Numbers 32:22, then when the land is subdued before the LORD, you may return and be free from your obligation to the LORD and to Israel. And this land will be your possession before the LORD. (NIV) 2. Samson had all the excuse he needed.
10 Samson evidently had not heard of the Golden Rule. (See Coffman) Judges 15:4-5, So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves. (NIV) I. So he went out and caught three hundred foxes (jackals) and tied them tail to tail in pairs. A. Solomon used three hundred (300) foxes which reminds us of Gideon s three hundred (300) soldiers with whom he defeated the Midianites, Fleenor and Ziese remind us. B. Keil via Coffman wrote, The Hebrew word here is shualim which means jackals, an animal that resembles foxes and is classed among the foxes even by Arabs of the present day. 1. In the Egyptian dialect, the classical name of the fox is given exclusively as jackal. 2. Foxes, jackals or whatever, there were three hundred (300) of them and Samson used them to set the Philistine wheat fields on fire! 3. Foxes (jackals) were known to spoil crops, be comparable to false prophets and to be associated with desolation. (Clarke) a. Song of Solomon 2:15, Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. (NIV)
11 11 b. Lamentations 5:17-18, Because of this our hearts are faint, because of these things our eyes grow dim for Mount Zion, which lies desolate, with jackals prowling over it. (NIV) c. Nehemiah 4:3, Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, "What they are building if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!" (NIV) d. Ezekiel 13:4, Your prophets, O Israel, are like jackals among ruins. (NIV) e. Psalm 63:9-10, They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals. (NIV) C. The Pulpit Commentary that the word caught carries the idea of caught in nets or snares. II. He then fastened a torch (firebrand) to each pair of tails, A. In this way Samson destroyed Philistine vineyards, olive groves and fields full of ripened wheat. B. These wheat fields extended continuously for thirty (30) miles and their destruction was a major loss to the Philistines. (See Coffman) III. lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. A. The torches set the standing grain on fire.
12 12 B. The foxes/jackels were naturally afraid of fire and, in their panic, would run in all directions from the places at which they were released. IV. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves. A. Fleenor and Ziese were of the opinion that Solomon probably personally set fire to the vineyards and olive groves. B. This resulted in a severe loss to the Philistines food supply and economy. C. This was carefully planned, premeditated revenge as planning, trapping and executing this series of events were quite involved. D. Fleenor and Ziese, regarding Solomon s action here, use such descriptions as creative, but malevolent malicious cruelty of exploiting crazed animals, anger and desire to retaliate, spiteful spirit, enjoys the destruction he creates. Judges 15:6, When the Philistines asked, "Who did this?" they were told, "Samson, the Timnite's son-in-law, because his wife was given to his friend." So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. (NIV) I. When the Philistines asked, Who did this? II. they were told, Samson, the Timnite s son-in-law, A. It is interesting that Samson was not identified as an Israelite, but as the Timnite s son-in-law, Fleenor and Ziese observed. III. because his wife was given to his friend.
13 13 A. Everybody had to blame somebody! IV. So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. A. In response to Samson s costly vandalism, the Philistines exact revenge, fulfilling their previous threat to burn the woman and her father to death, Fleenor and Ziese wrote. B. The Philistines saw Samson s wife and her father as easy targets, while Solomon would have been a considerably more formidable adversary. C. The Philistines evidently blamed Samson s wife and family for the burning of their crops and retaliated by burning Samson s wife and father-in-law to death. D. The Pulpit Commentary states, burning with fire was a judicial punishment among the Hebrews. 1. Philistines were not above killing with fire. 2. Judges 14:15, On the fourth day, they said to Samson's wife, "Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father's household to death. Did you invite us here to rob? (NIV) 3. Genesis 38:24, About three months later Judah was told, "Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant." Judah said, "Bring her out and have her burned to death!" (NIV) 4. Joshua 7:15, 25, He who is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD
14 14 and has done a disgraceful thing in Israel! Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today." Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. (NIV) Judges 15:7, Samson said to them, "Since you've acted like this, I won't stop until I get my revenge on you." (NIV) I. Samson said to them, Since you ve acted like this, I won t stop until I get my revenge on you. A. Samson now had another reason to further devastate the Philistines; that is, they had killed his wife. (Fleenor and Ziese) B. feuds never cease! Coffman) one thing leads to another on and on. C. By killing Samson s wife and father-in-law who had done Samson wrong, some think the Philistines were trying to appease Samson so he would o them no further harm. (See Pulpit Commentary and Clarke) Judges 15:8, He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam. (NIV) I. He attacked them viciously and slaughtered man y of them. A. Notice the word viciously and and slaughtered. 1. he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter (KJV) is a proverbial expression for a great, complete, cruel, unsparing slaughter. (See WYC via Coffman)
15 15 II. Then he went down and stayed in a (cleft, fissure) cave in (cleft of) the rock of Etam (Elam). A. Solomon s revenge had presently been satisfied. 1. He retreats to a cave for rest and protection from the Philistines. 2. This cave was located some fifteen (15) miles east of Timnath. (Fleenor and Ziese) a. This cave was within the territory of Judah. (Fleenor and Ziese) b. This was probably located near the town of Elam in Judah, about two (2) miles southwest of Bethlehem. (WYC via Coffman) 3. The word down indicates Etam was at a lower elevation than Timnath. (Pulpit Commentary) B. Samson retired to this secluded, inaccessible place. 1. Samson considered his fight with the philistines was over. Judges 15:9, The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. (NIV) I. The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. A. The Philistines went into Judean territory seeking Samson. B. Lehi (jawbone) was near Etam in Judah.
16 16 C. Judah had reason to fear retribution from the Philistines as the two territories had a common border, Philistia was the stronger of the two and the Philistines felt they had been wronged by Samson. D. The Philistines literally went up from the low lying Shephelah to the hill country of Judah. (See Pulpit Commentary) Judges 15:10, The men of Judah asked, "Why have you come to fight us?" "We have come to take Samson prisoner," they answered, "to do to him as he did to us." (NIV) I. The men of Judah asked, Why have you come to fight us? A. Judah sought to negotiate a resolution to this encroachment into Judea by the more powerful Philistines. II. We have come to take Samson prisoner, they answered, to do to him as he did to us. A. This was simply stated, honest and to the point. B. The Philistines enlisted the Judeans help in the capture of Samson. C. The Judeans well understood the threat posed by the Philistines. 1. If Judah had failed to comply with this demand, war would certainly have resulted. Judges 15:11, Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, "Don't you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?" He answered, "I merely did to them what they did to me." (NIV)
17 17 I. Then three thousand men (3,000) from Judah went down to the cave (cleft) in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, A. Three thousand (3,000) men of Judah went to Samson. 1. This show of strength attests to the universal regard held by friend and foe alike for Samson as a formidable warrior. 2. He had taken refuge in a place easily defended. II. Don t you realize that the Philistines are rulers (a real threat to us) over us? What have you done to us? A. The Judeans pointed out to Samson that they were subservient to the Philistines. B. The Judeans charged Samson with acting foolishly in upsetting the Philistines. (See Fleenor and Ziese) C. The Judeans had to find someone to blame and this time Samson was it. D. Judah acted to appease the Philistines rather than rescue their fellow countryman, Samson. 1. The Pulpit Commentary reads, The language of these cowardly men shows how completely the Philistine yoke was fastened upon the necks of Judah. 2. Further Samson was blamed by his cowardly countrymen when he may better have been hailed as a hero. III. He answered, I merely did to them what they did to me. A. Samson appears to answer very matter of factly.
18 18 B. I was within my rights, Samson was saying. They did me wrong and I got even. What would you expect me to do? What s wrong with that? 1. This was the same reason given by the Philistines previously. a. Judges 15:10, The men of Judah asked, "Why have you come to fight us?" "We have come to take Samson prisoner," they answered, "to do to him as he did to us." (NIV) b. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. There is no end to rendering evil for evil. (Pulpit Commentary)