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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Judges 13

 

 

Introduction

Judges 13-15. Samson and the Philistines.—About the same time as the Israelites entered Canaan from the east, the Purasati (of the Egyptian monuments), or Philistines, came over the sea from Caphtor (Crete), and settled in the rich coast-lands between Carmel and Gaza (p. 28). For centuries it was a question which of the two races was to have the mastery. The inevitable conflict began early, and was not ended till the time of David. Samson, Israel's Hercules, is said to have saved and judged Israel in the days of the Philistines (Judges 13:5, Judges 15:20, Judges 16:31), but he did not, like the other Judges, call his tribesmen to arms and lead them into battle. His exploits were single-handed adventures. As a popular hero he is on a somewhat lower level than Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, David, and Samuel, with whom he is named in Hebrews 11:32. That the tales of his escapades were popular can well be believed. "The scrapes into which Samson's weakness for women brought him, the way in which he turned the tables on those who thought they had got the best of him, the hard knocks he dealt the uncircumcised, and the practical jokes he played on them must have made these stories great favourites with the story-loving race, such as all the Semites are" (Moore, 315).


Verses 1-24

Judges 13:1-24. The Birth of Samson.

Judges 13:1. D's usual introduction.

Judges 13:2. Zorah (p. 31) is now Sar'a, 800 ft. above the valley of Sorek (Wady es-Surr), 17 m. W. of Jerusalem. In Joshua 15:33 and 2 Chronicles 11:16 it is no longer Danite, but Judahite, evidently because the Danites of the town had moved to the north (Judges 18).

Judges 13:3. On the angel of the Lord see 21*. The words "but thou shalt conceive and bear a son" belong to Judges 13:5, and should be deleted here.

Judges 13:4. The idea was that a person who partook of anything fermented or putrified was thereby rendered unfit for consecration to the Deity.

Judges 13:5. As a Nazirite (pp. 103, 105) Samson was "set apart," not by his own voluntary act but by the will of God, from the day of his birth and during his whole life, the sign of his consecration being his unshorn hair. He was not required to abstain from wine. The post-exilic Nazirite (Numbers 6*) bound himself by a vow for a time, during which he abstained from wine, and on the expiry of his vow he cut off his hair and presented it at the sanctuary. In Judges 13:5 b read "he will be the first to deliver Israel."

Judges 13:6. A man of God was an inspired man, a prophet (1 Samuel 2:27; 1 Samuel 9:6-8; 1 Kings 12:22, etc.). So impressed was Manoah's wife that she abstained from asking the questions which she would have put to an ordinary stranger: "What is thy name? Whence comest thou?"

Judges 13:12. Manoah asks (1) what will be the "manner" of the child, the mode of his upbringing, the regimen prescribed for him, and (2) what will be his calling or occupation. Instead of answering his questions, Yahweh's angel repeats the injunctions already given to the mother.

Judges 13:16. With His refusal to eat bread contrast Genesis 18:8, noting the gradual spiritualising of ideas regarding God.

Judges 13:17 f. Like Jacob (Genesis 32:29*), Manoah asks, but in vain, what is the Divine name, which is inscrutable. Not God's unwillingness to reveal Himself, but man's incapacity for a fuller revelation, is the ground of mystery.

Judges 13:19. Cf. Judges 6:19-21. Many scholars read "unto the Lord that doeth wondrously." The remaining words belong to Judges 13:20.

Judges 13:21 indicates another advance in theological reflection. Once on a time God walked and talked with men; now it is death to see God (cf. 1 Samuel 28:13). Yet a woman's quick instinct conquers fear.

Judges 13:24. "Samson" comes from Shemesh, "the sun," and means either "sunny" or "little sun." Only the width of the valley separated Zorah from Beth-Shemesh (p. 31), "the house of the sun," evidently an ancient centre of sun-worship.

Judges 13:25. The superhuman energy which Samson began to display is ascribed to the working of Yahweh's spirit in him (see Judges 3:10*). What is said of Mahaneh-dan does not agree with Judges 18:12; and some propose to read Manahath-dan, the home of the Manoah clan.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Judges 13:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/judges-13.html. 1919.

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