Wesley's Notes on the Bible
But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in.
15:1 Wheat harvest - Which was the proper season for what follows. With a kid - As a token of reconciliation. Into the chamber - Into her chamber, which the women had separate from the mens.
And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? take her, I pray thee, instead of her.
15:2 Hated her - Because thou didst desert her: but this was no sufficient cause; for he should have endeavored a reconciliation, and not have disposed of another man's wife without his consent.
And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.
15:3 Now shall I, and c. - Because they have first provoked me by an irreparable injury: but although this may look like an act of private revenge; yet it is plain Samson acted as a judge (for so he was) and as an avenger of the publick injuries of his people.
And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails.
15:4 Foxes - Of which there were great numbers in Canaan. But it is not said that Samson caught them all, either at one time, or by his own hands; for being so eminent a person, and the judge of Israel, he might require assistance of as many persons as he pleased. And it must be allowed, that the God who made the world, and by his singular providence watched over Israel, and intended them deliverance at this time, could easily dispose things so that they might be taken. He chose to do this not by his brethren, whom he would preserve from the hatred and mischief which it might have occasioned them, but by brute creatures, thereby to add scorn to their calamity, and particularly by foxes; partly, because they were fittest for the purpose, being creatures very fearful of fire; and having such tails as the fire - brands might most conveniently be tied to; and not going directly forward, but crookedly, whereby the fire would be dispersed in more places. Fire - brands - Made of such matter as would quickly take fire, and keep it for a long time; which was easy to procure. And put, and c. - That the foxes might not make too much haste, nor run into their holes, but one of them might delay another, and so continue longer in the places where they were to do execution.
And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.
15:5 Let them go - Successively at several times; and in divers places, so that they might not hinder one another, nor all run into the same field; but being dispersed in all parts, might spread the plague farther; and withal might be kept at a distance from the fields and vineyards of the Israelites.
Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire.
15:6 Burnt her - For the mischief which she had occasioned them; thus she brought upon herself that mischief which she studied to avoid. The Philistines had threatened to burn her and her father's house with fire. To avoid this she betrayed her husband. And now the very thing she feared comes upon her!
And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.
And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.
15:8 Hip and thigh - It seems to be a phrase, to express a desperate attack, attended with the utmost hurry and confusion: and perhaps intimates, that they all fled before him. So he smote them in the hinder parts. Rock Etam - A natural fortress, where he waited to see what steps the Philistines would take.
Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.
And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us? And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us.
Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.
15:11 Unto us - Thou hast by these actions punished not them only, but us, who are sure to smart for it.
And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.
15:12 Bind thee - Why not rather, to fight under thy banner? Because sin dispirits men, nay, it infatuates them, and hides from their eyes the things that belong to their peace. Swear - Not that he feared them, or could not as easily have conquered them, as he did the host of the Philistines; but because he would be free from all temptation of doing them harm, though it were in his own defence.
And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand: but surely we will not kill thee. And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock.
15:13 And they bound him - Thus was he a type of Christ, who yielded himself to be bound, yea and led as a lamb to the slaughter. Never were men so besotted as these men of Judah, except those who thus treated our blessed Saviour. The rock - That is, from the cave in the rock, in which he had secured himself, out of which he was first brought up, and then carried down from the rock to the plain.
And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.
15:14 Shouted - Because they had now their enemy, as they supposed, in their hands. Loosed - Heb. were melted; that is, were dissolved, as things which are melted in the fire. This typified the resurrection of Christ, by the power of the Spirit of holiness. In this he loosed the bands of death, it being impossible he should be holden of them. And thus he triumphed over the powers of darkness, which had shouted against him.
And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.
15:15 New jaw - bone - And therefore the more tough and strong.
And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.
15:16 Slain a thousand men - What could be too hard for him to do, on whom the Spirit of the Lord came mightily? It was strange the men of Judah did now at least come in to his assistance. But he was to be a type of him, who trod the wine - press alone.
And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramathlehi.
15:17 Ramath - Lehi - That is, the lifting up of the jaw - bone; by contraction Lehi, ver.14, as Salem is put for Jerusalem.
And he was sore athirst, and called on the LORD, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?
15:18 Sore a thirst - A natural effect of the great pains he had taken. And perhaps there was the hand of God therein, to chastise him for not making mention of God in his song, and to keep him from being proud of his strength. One would have thought that the men of Judah would have met him with bread and wine: but they so little regarded him, that he is fainting for want of a draught of water! Thus are the greatest slights often put upon those that do the greatest services! Shall I die - Wilt thou not finish what thou hast begun? Wilt thou undo what thou hast done.
But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof Enhakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day.
15:19 In the Jaw - Either causing the jaw - bone to send forth water, as the rock formerly did, causing a spring to break forth in that Lehi, mentioned ver.14, for Lehi is both the name of a place, and a jaw - bone. En - hakkore - That is, the fountain of him that cried for thirst; or, that called upon God for deliverance; that is, the fountain which was given in answer to my prayer. In Lehi - According to this translation, Lehi is the name of a place.
And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.
15:20 He judged - That is, he pleaded their cause, and avenged them against the Philistines. Of the Philistines - That is, whilst the Philistines had the power and dominion, from which he was not fully to deliver, but only to begin to deliver them. From this place it is manifest, that in the computation of the times of the judges, the years of servitude or oppression are not to be separated from the years of the judges, but added to them, and are comprehended within them; which proposition is of great importance for clearing this difficult part of scripture - chronology.