Judges 15:9
Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.
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(9) Then the Philistines went up.—They “went up” in hostile array against the hill-country of Judea to take vengeance for the dreadful injury which Samson had inflicted on them.

Spread themselves in Lehi.—The use of the name before the incident from which a place is said to have received the name is found also in the case of Hormah (Numbers 14:45; Numbers 21:3). It was called in full Ramath-Lehi. (See on Judges 15:17.) The character of the narrative suggests the question whether the name may not have existed previously, and the play on words may not have been adapted by Samson to the incident. For the name of the place is Lechi (לֶ֫חִי ), and “a jawbone” is Lehi (להי). Shen, “tooth,” is the name of an isolated sharp rock (1Samuel 14:4), and therefore “jaw” would not be an unnatural name for a range of such rocks. Josephus, however, says that before Samson’s exploit the place “had no name.” It may be again alluded to in 2Samuel 23:11, where the words rendered “into a troop” may mean “to Lehi,” as it is understood by Josephus (Antt. vii. 12, § 4) and some MSS. of the LXX.

15:9-17 Sin dispirits men, it hides from their eyes the things that belong to their peace. The Israelites blamed Samson for what he had done against the Philistines, as if he had done them a great injury. Thus our Lord Jesus did many good works, and for those the Jews were ready to stone him. When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson, his cords were loosed: where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and those are free indeed who are thus set free. Thus Christ triumphed over the powers of darkness that shouted against him, as if they had him in their power. Samson made great destruction among the Philistines. To take the bone of an ass for this, was to do wonders by the foolish things of the world, that the excellency of the power might be of God, not of man. This victory was not in the weapon, was not in the arm; but it was in the Spirit of God, which moved the weapon by the arm. We can do all things through Him that strengtheneth us. Seest thou a poor Christian, who is enabled to overcome a temptation by weak, feeble counsel, there is the Philistine vanquished by a sorry jaw-bone.Spread themselves - An expression used of the Philistine mode of war 2 Samuel 5:18, 2 Samuel 5:22, alluding to the compact way in which they came up the wadys, and then distpersed. Lehi is so called by anticipation (see Judges 15:17). Jud 15:9-13. He Is Bound by the Men of Judah, and Delivered to the Philistines.

9-17. Then the Philistines went up—to the high land of Judah.

and spread themselves in Lehi—now El-Lekieh, abounding with limestone cliffs; the sides of which are perforated with caves. The object of the Philistines in this expedition was to apprehend Samson, in revenge for the great slaughter he had committed on their people. With a view of freeing his own countrymen from all danger from the infuriated Philistines, he allowed himself to be bound and surrendered a fettered prisoner into their power. Exulting with joy at the near prospect of riddance from so formidable an enemy, they went to meet him. But he exerted his superhuman strength, and finding a new (or moist) jawbone of an ass, he laid hold of it, and with no other weapon, slew a thousand men at a place which he called Ramath-lehi—that is, "the hill of the jawbone."

The rock Etam was

in Judah: see 1 Chronicles 4:32 2 Chronicles 11:5,6.

Spread themselves, as coming in great numbers with a powerful host.

Lehi; a place so called by anticipation, Judges 15:17.

Then the Philistines went up,.... From Palestine, which lay low on the shore of the Mediterranean sea:

and pitched in Judah; in the laud of Judea, which lay higher, particularly in the tribe of Judah, whither they came with an army, and encamped there:

and spread themselves in Lehi; their forces were so many, that they extended a considerable way, and particularly reached to Lehi, that is, which was afterwards so called; for it has its name by anticipation from the jaw bone, which it signifies, with which Samson slew many in this place, as after related.

Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.
9. spread themselves in Lehi] Better, made a raid against Lehi; 2 Samuel 5:18; 2 Samuel 5:22. The situation of Lehi is unknown; it must have been nearer to the Philistines than Etam, and in the neighbourhood of the other places already mentioned. The name = jawbone (LXX Jdg 15:14 Siagôn) was no doubt suggested by the formation of a prominent rock; cf. Ass’s Jaw (Ὄνου γνάθος), the name of a peninsula W. of Cape Malea in the Peloponnese (Strabo, p. 363), and the Arabic place-name Camel’s Jaw (laḥy gamal, quot. by Wellhausen).

10f. The Philistines have no quarrel with any one but Samson, and the Judaeans exhibit no resentment against their alien rulers. This shews that Samson’s attacks upon the Philistines were of a purely local and private nature, and that the Israelites in this part of the country had not yet acquired any sense of national feeling or of a common cause.

9–20. Local traditions

Provoked by Samson’s violence, the Philistines made a raid upon Lehi in Judah for the purpose of capturing their enemy. The name of the place was suggestive, and tradition attached to it the story of S.’s feat with the ‘fresh jawbone (lěḥî) of an ass.’ Popular etymology explained Ramath-lehi, ‘the height of Lehi’ (from rûm), as the place where S. ‘threw away’ (râmâh) the jawbone; a hollow basin in the hill side, which held the water of the ‘Partridge Spring’ (‘ên haḳḳôrç’), became the spring which God granted when S. ‘called’ (ḳârâ’) for help in his exhaustion. It is noteworthy that the exploit of Shammah, one of David’s heroes, also took place at Lehi, 2 Samuel 23:11 (reading unto Lehi for into a troop); cf. also the story of Shamgar, Jdg 3:31.

Verse 9. - Went up, i.e. from their own country in the Shephelah to the hill country of Judah. As Samson had avenged his wrongs on the whole Philistine people, so they now came up to Judah to take vengeance for Samson's injuries. In Lehi, or, rather, hal-Lehi, the Lehi, the place afterwards so called, as related in vers. 17 and 20 (see Judges 7:25, note). Lehi has been identified by some with Tell-el-Lekhiyeh, four miles above Beer-sheba; and by others with Beit-Likiyeh, in the Wady Suleiman, two miles below the upper Beth-heron, and so within easy distance of Timnath and other places mentioned in the history of Samson. But no certainty can at present be arrived at. Judges 15:9Samson is delivered up to the Philistines, and smites them with the jaw-bone of an Ass.

Judges 15:9

The Philistines came ("went up," denoting the advance of an army: see at Joshua 8:1) to avenge themselves for the defeat they had sustained from Samson; and having encamped in Judah, spread themselves out in Lechi (Lehi). Lechi (לחי, in pause לחי, i.e., a jaw), which is probably mentioned again in 2 Samuel 23:11, and, according to Judges 15:17, received the name of Ramath-lechi from Samson himself, cannot be traced with any certainty, as the early church tradition respecting the place is utterly worthless. Van de Velde imagines that it is to be found in the flattened rocky hill el Lechieh, or Lekieh, upon which an ancient fortification has been discovered, in the middle of the road from Tell Khewelfeh to Beersheba, at the south-western approach of the mountains of Judah.

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