Samson Carries Away the Gates of
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.
3. Samson … arose at midnight, and took the
doors of the gate of the city—A ruinous pile of masonry is
still pointed out as the site of the gate. It was probably a part of
the town wall, and as this ruin is "toward Hebron," there is no
improbability in the tradition.
carried them up to the top of an hill that is
before Hebron—That hill is El-Montar; but by Hebron in this
passage is meant "the mountains of Hebron"; for otherwise Samson, had
he run night and day from the time of his flight from Gaza, could only
have come on the evening of the following day within sight of the city
of Hebron. The city of Gaza was, in those days, probably not less than
three-quarters of an hour distant from El-Montar. To have climbed to
the top of this hill with the ponderous doors and their bolts on his
shoulders, through a road of thick sand, was a feat which none but a
Samson could have accomplished [Van De
Jud 16:4-14. Delilah
Corrupted by the Philistines.
4. he loved a woman in the valley of
Sorek—The location of this place is not known, nor can the
character of Delilah be clearly ascertained. Her abode, her mercenary
character, and her heartless blandishments afford too much reason to
believe she was a profligate woman.
5. the lords of the Philistines—The five
rulers deemed no means beneath their dignity to overcome this national
Entice him, and see wherein his great strength
lieth—They probably imagined that he carried some amulet
about his person, or was in the possession of some important secret by
which he had acquired such herculean strength; and they bribed Delilah,
doubtless by a large reward, to discover it for them. She undertook the
service and made several attempts, plying all her arts of persuasion or
blandishment in his soft and communicative moods, to extract his
7. Samson said …, If they bind me with seven
green withs—Vine tendrils, pliant twigs, or twists made of
crude vegetable stalks are used in many Eastern countries for ropes at
the present day.
8. she bound him with them—probably in a
sportive manner, to try whether he was jesting or in earnest.
9. there were men lying in wait, abiding …
in the chamber—The Hebrew, literally rendered, is, "in
the inner," or "most secret part of the house."
10. And Delilah said—To avoid exciting
suspicion, she must have allowed some time to elapse before making this
12. new ropes—It is not said of what
material they were formed; but from their being dried, it is probable
they were of twigs, like the former. The Hebrew intimates that
they were twisted, and of a thick, strong description.
13. If thou weavest the seven locks of my
head—braids or tresses, into which, like many in the East, he
chose to plait his hair. Working at the loom was a female employment;
and Delilah's appears to have been close at hand. It was of a very
simple construction; the woof was driven into the warp, not by a reed,
but by a wooden spatula. The extremity of the web was fastened to a pin
or stake fixed in the wall or ground; and while Delilah sat squatting
at her loom, Samson lay stretched on the floor, with his head reclining
on her lap—a position very common in the East.
14. went away with the pin of the beam, and with
the web—that is, the whole weaving apparatus.
Jud 16:15-20. He Is
16. she pressed him daily with her
words—Though disappointed and mortified, this vile woman
resolved to persevere; and conscious how completely he was enslaved by
his passion for her, she assailed him with a succession of blandishing
arts, till she at length discovered the coveted secret.
17. if I be shaven, then my strength will go from
me—His herculean powers did not arise from his hair, but from
his peculiar relation to God as a Nazarite. His unshorn locks were a
sign of his Nazaritism, and a pledge on the part of God that his
supernatural strength would be continued.
19. she called for a man, and she caused him to
shave off the seven locks of his head—It is uncertain,
however, whether the ancient Hebrews cut off the hair to the same
extent as Orientals now. The word employed is sometimes the same as
that for shearing sheep, and therefore the instrument might be only
20. he wist not that the Lord was departed from
him—What a humiliating and painful spectacle! Deprived of the
divine influences, degraded in his character, and yet, through the
infatuation of a guilty passion, scarcely awake to the wretchedness of
his fallen condition!
Jud 16:21, 22. The Philistines
Took Him and Put Out His Eyes.
21. the Philistines took him, and put out his
eyes—To this cruel privation prisoners of rank and
consequence have commonly been subjected in the East. The punishment is
inflicted in various ways, by scooping out the eyeballs, by piercing
the eye, or destroying the sight by holding a red-hot iron before the
eyes. His security was made doubly sure by his being bound with fetters
of brass (copper), not of leather, like other captives.
he did grind in the prison-house—This
grinding with hand-millstones being the employment of menials, he was
set to it as the deepest degradation.
22. Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow
again—It is probable that he had now reflected on his folly;
and becoming a sincere penitent, renewed his Nazarite vow. "His hair
grew together with his repentance, and his strength with his hairs"
Jud 16:23-25. Their Feast to
23. the lords of the Philistines gathered them
together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon—It was a
common practice in heathen nations, on the return of their solemn
religious festivals, to bring forth their war prisoners from their
places of confinement or slavery; and, in heaping on them every species
of indignity, they would offer their grateful tribute to the gods by
whose aid they had triumphed over their enemies. Dagon was a sea idol,
usually represented as having the head and upper parts human, while the
rest of the body resembled a fish.
Jud 16:26-31. His
27. there were upon the roof about three thousand
men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport—This
building seems to have been similar to the spacious and open
amphitheaters well known among the Romans and still found in many
countries of the East. They are built wholly of wood. The standing
place for the spectators is a wooden floor resting upon two pillars and
rising on an inclined plane, so as to enable all to have a view of the
area in the center. In the middle there are two large beams, on which
the whole weight of the structure lies, and these beams are supported
by two pillars placed almost close to each other, so that when these
are unsettled or displaced, the whole pile must tumble to the
28. Samson called unto the Lord—His
penitent and prayerful spirit seems clearly to indicate that this
meditated act was not that of a vindictive suicide, and that he
regarded himself as putting forth his strength in his capacity of a
public magistrate. He must be considered, in fact, as dying for his
country's cause. His death was not designed or sought, except as it
might be the inevitable consequence of his great effort. His prayer
must have been a silent ejaculation, and, from its being revealed to
the historian, approved and accepted of God.
31. Then his brethren and all the house of his
father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried
him—This awful catastrophe seems to have so completely
paralyzed the Philistines, that they neither attempted to prevent the
removal of Samson's corpse, nor to molest the Israelites for a long
time after. Thus the Israelitish hero rendered by his strength and
courage signal services to his country, and was always regarded as the
greatest of its champions. But his slavish subjection to the domination
of his passions was unworthy of so great a man and lessens our respect
for his character. Yet he is ranked among the ancient worthies who
maintained a firm faith in God (Heb 11:32).