Judges Chapter 15  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Judges 15
Jdg 15:1(top)
Jdg 15:2

“I said to myself, I said.” The Hebrew almost seems awkward, but it is an awkward moment. Sampson’s betrothed had been given away without his knowledge, and the father does not know what to say except to stumble through and try to explain that he did his best to think through the situation.

“hated, yes, hated.” The father tries to convey the intensity of the hatred Samson felt for his bride by using the figure of speech polyptoton, repeating the verb using different inflections (for more on polyptoton and the REV translation, see commentary on Gen. 2:16). The woman’s father reasonably thought that if Samson hated her so intensely he would not come back for her, and he tries what ordinarily could have been a workable solution; give Samson the woman’s younger sister. That failed, likely not so much because it was not reasonable, but because Samson did not want to marry a Philistine woman because he loved her but because he was seeking an occasion against the Philistines.

Jdg 15:3

“Samson said to them.” The woman’s father did not meet with Samson alone. Other Philistines were with him.

Jdg 15:4

“jackals.” Jackals were common in Israel, but even so it would have taken Samson a while to catch all of them and it would have been no small feat to tie them tail to tail and transport them to the grain fields of the Philistines. Although many English translations read “foxes,” that is almost certainly not the correct animal. The Hebrew word is the same for both animals, but foxes are shy, solitary animals and catching 300 of them would have been very difficult, whereas jackals are pack animals and Samson would have taken much less time to capture packs of jackals.

Jdg 15:5

“the stacked grain and the standing grain.” This was the time of the wheat harvest (Judg. 15:1), so the grain was partially harvested. Some grain was already in stacks waiting to be threshed, and there was still standing grain in the fields that had not been cut yet.

Jdg 15:6

“burned her and her father with fire.” The Philistines killed the Timnite and his whole family. To the Philistines, the Timnite and his family were a problem. There had already been a problem in Ashkelon when Samson killed 30 Philistines to have their clothes (Judg. 14:19), now the Timnites’ dealings with Samson had cost them that year’s wheat harvest as well as damaged vineyard and olive groves. So the Philistines killed the household of the Timnite. Although the accepted Massoretic text just reads, “father,” the Septuagint, Syriac, and a number of Hebrew manuscripts read “father’s house,” meaning the whole household, and that makes sense because the Philistines would not just execute the woman and her father but would get rid of the entire troublemaking family (cp. Barry Webb, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Judges).

Jdg 15:7(top)
Jdg 15:8

“leg on thigh.” This is an idiomatic phrase that occurs only here and has not been found in other ancient literature either, so the exact meaning is unknown. However, the sense has to be one of total slaughter.

“cave.” The word “cave” is not technically correct, but this is a case where the English has no word that exactly reproduces the Hebrew. The Hebrew refers to a cut, crack, or cranny in rock or a rocky place that has overhanging rock over it for shelter. Thus it is more like a cave than a “cleft” or “crack,” which has no overhanging shelter.

Jdg 15:9(top)
Jdg 15:10(top)
Jdg 15:11(top)
Jdg 15:12(top)
Jdg 15:13

“bind, yes, bind.” The text uses the figure of speech polyptoton for emphasis (for more on polyptoton and the translation, see commentary on Gen. 2:16).

Jdg 15:14

“flax that has been burned with fire.” Lamp wicks were often made with flax, and when it has been burned it is very fragile; a good comparison would be our candle wicks after they have been burned.

Jdg 15:15

“fresh jawbone of a donkey.” The jawbone is the strongest bone in the body since it has to have the strength to stand up to the constant pounding of chewing. This was a “fresh jawbone,” so the animal would have recently died. That meant the bone was not dry and weak, but still strong, and likely had the donkey’s teeth still in it, which could cut. In fact, there is no reason to believe that the jawbone was not still in the corpse of the donkey. It is very unlikely that it was clean and white and half buried in the sandy dirt as many paintings show. It could easily have been mostly cleaned of flesh by birds and animals, but still have some flesh on it and still be attached by ligaments to the rest of the donkey skeleton.

Jdg 15:16

“heaps on heaps.” More literally, “a heap, heaps,” but the word “donkey” and the word “heap” are homonyms, spelled the same. So the verse can be “a donkey, two donkeys” (cp. Fox, Schocken Bible).

Jdg 15:17

“Ramath-lehi.” Quite literally, “Jawbone Height” or more idiomatically, “Jawbone Hill.”

Jdg 15:18(top)
Jdg 15:19

“spirit.” In this case, “spirit” refers to both his physical energy and his attitude. [For more on the meanings of “spirit,” see Appendix 6, “Usages of ‘Spirit’”]

Jdg 15:20(top)

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