And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come here. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And it was told.—Our version rightly supplies these words. They are found in all the versions, and there can be no doubt that the word vayyuggar (Genesis 22:20) has in this case accidentally dropped out of the text.
They compassed him in.—They apparently did not know in what house he was. The word might mean “they went round the city” (Psalm 59:7), i.e., to look for him.
Were quiet—i.e., they made no attack. Thinking that they had secured him, they seem to have retired to rest. (Comp. Acts 9:23-24.)Jdg 16:2. It was told the Gazites, Samson is come hither — The arrival of so extraordinary a man could not be long concealed. And his enemies were willing to improve so favourable an opportunity to destroy him. They compassed him in, &c. — They either beset the house, or lay in wait at the gate of the city; saying, In the morning we will kill him — This, it is probable, they chose to do, rather than to seize upon him in his bed by night; either, because they knew not certainly in what house he was; or, because they thought to do that might cause great terror, and confusion, and mischief among their own people; whereas in the day-time they might more fully discover him, and more certainly use their weapons against him. O that all who indulge any unholy desire might see themselves thus surrounded, and marked for destruction by their spiritual enemies! The more secure they are, the greater is their danger.
Jud 16:1-3. Samson Carries Away the Gates of Gaza.
1, 2. Gaza—now Guzzah, the capital of the largest of the five Philistine principal cities, about fifteen miles southwest of Ashkelon. The object of this visit to this city is not recorded, and unless he had gone in disguise, it was a perilous exposure of his life in one of the enemy's strongholds. It soon became known that he was there; and it was immediately resolved to secure him. But deeming themselves certain of their prey, the Gazites deferred the execution of their measure till the morning.
saying, Samson is come hither; the man so famous for his strength, and such an enemy to the Philistines; his name was well known for his great exploits, and rung throughout Palestine, and was a terror to the whole country:
and they compassed him in; not that they surrounded the house where he was, which perhaps they might not certainly know, but they secured all the avenues and gates of the city, made them fast, and placed guards there, that he might not escape their hands:
and laid wait for him all night in the gate; particularly at that gate, where, if he went out for his country, he must pass:
and were quiet all the night; did not attempt to disturb Samson, or seize on him, if they knew where he was; knowing his great strength, and what a tumult might be raised in the city, they said nothing of it to anybody that passed, what they were placed there for, lest it should come to his ears; they made as if they were deaf and dumb, as some interpret it, and heard and knew nothing:
saying, in the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him; when they should better know him, and make sure their blow at him, and do it suddenly, unawares to him, as he came to the gate, to pass through it.And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. And it was told the Gazites] The verb has fallen out by accident; the LXX read it in the text.
all night in the gate] The text makes the Philistines lie in wait all the night, and keep quiet all the night; but there would be no need to keep watch in the gate at night, for the gate would be shut. To relieve the confusion the simplest plan is either to omit the first all the night, or to read all the day. The Philistines patrolled the town and lay in wait [during the day], hoping to catch Samson at the city gate when he went out; at night they could only keep quiet until the morning, and then fall upon their enemy. The last cl. = lit. until the morning dawns and we kill him, until implying the verb wait; for the Hebr. idiom see Driver, Tenses, p. 135, and cf. 1 Samuel 1:22 etc. Hebrew coordinates clauses which are really subordinate. The marg. ‘or Before’ is not right.Verse 2. - And it was told. These words have no doubt accidentally fallen out of the Hebrew text, but they are necessary to the sense, and are expressed in all the ancient versions. We have no clue as to the motive of Samson's visit to Gaza, whether he was meditating its conquest, or an assault upon its inhabitants, or whether he came merely in the wild spirit of adventure, or upon civil business. We only know that he came there, that, with his usual weakness, he fell into the snare of female blandishments, that the Philistines thought to have caught him and killed him, but that he escaped by his supernatural strength. Gaza is about thirteen hours' march from Thimnathah. They compassed him in. The Hebrew does not express this idea, nor is it what the Gazites did. It should be rendered, They went about and lay in wait for him. Instead of attacking him directly, they took a round-about course, and set an ambush for him in the city gates, probably in the guard-room by the side of the gate, intending when he came forth unsuspectingly in the morning, at the hour of opening the gates, to rush upon him and kill him. Judges 15:16): "With the ass's jaw-bone a heap, two heaps; with the ass's jaw-bone I smote a thousand men." The form of the word חמור equals חמר is chosen on account of the resemblance to חמור, and is found again at 1 Samuel 16:20. How Samson achieved this victory is not minutely described. But the words "a heap, two heaps," point to the conclusion that it did not take place in one encounter, but in several. The supernatural strength with which Samson rent asunder the fetters bound upon him, when the Philistines thought they had him safely in their power, filled them with fear and awe as before a superior being, so that they fled, and he pursued them, smiting one heap after another, as he overtook them, with an ass's jaw-bone which he found in the way. The number given, viz., a thousand, is of course a round number signifying a very great multitude, and has been adopted from the song into the historical account.
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