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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Judges 14

 

 

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 1-4

Judges 14:1-4. Samson at Timnath.—Samson's adventures are all bound up with his relations to Philistine women—one in Timnath, a second in Gaza, and a third in the valley of Sorek. The name of only one of them is given, and it has become synonymous with an evil enchantress.

Judges 14:1. Timnath (p. 31) is the modern Tibnah, 3 m. to the SW. of Zorah.

Judges 14:2. The young man's parents objected to a marriage with an alien (cf. Genesis 24:3; Genesis 26:34 f; Genesis 27:46).

Judges 14:3. Among the neighbours of the Israelites the Philistines alone did not practise circumcision, and all the racial hatred of those dreaded rivals is put into the opprobrious epithet, "the uncircumcised" (1 Samuel 14:6, etc.).

Judges 14:4. Even the best Israelites (among them the writer J) assumed that Yahweh was "against the Philistines," and that He sought "an occasion" for a quarrel with them.


Verses 5-20

Judges 14:5-20. Samson's Marriage.—As he could not take an unwelcomed bride to his father's house, Samson resolved to contract a marriage in which his wife would remain at her father's house (Judges 9:2*). Judges 14:5 conveys the idea that his parents after all gave their consent, and even went down with him to the wedding. This in itself is improbable, and there is no indication of their presence at Timnath or of their returning home. Moore plausibly suggests that a later writer, taking offence at the story of an improper marriage, inserted "and his father and his mother" in order to regularise it. The same applies to Judges 14:10.

Judges 14:6. Cf. David's and Benaiah's exploits (1 Samuel 17:34-36, 2 Samuel 23:20) and Hercules' fight with a Nemean lion.

Judges 14:8. Omit "to take her," a gloss which spoils the sense. Samson was returning home when he turned aside to see the lion's carcase.

Judges 14:10. Read "And he went down to the woman, and made a feast there." For "young men" read "bridegrooms."

Judges 14:11. The sense is not good, "they" being undefined. Making a slight change, read "and he took thirty companions, and they were with him." At Syrian village weddings the bride groom is still attended by a bodyguard of young men (Ca. Judges 3:1 f.).

Judges 14:14. As a poetical expression of a remarkable incident, Samson's couplet is perfect; but it was not a good riddle, as the Philistines could know nothing of the facts alluded to

Judges 14:15. They got the answer not by wit, but by guile. Probably "in three days" and "on the seventh day" should be omitted. Read "And they were not able to guess the riddle, so they said to Samson's wife," etc. He is called her husband, and she his wife, though as yet they were only betrothed.—The end of Judges 14:15 reads in some MSS and the Targum, "Have ye called us hither to impoverish us?"

Judges 14:18. The word for "sun" cannot be right, and a very slight change gives the reading: "Before he entered into the chamber." The week of ante-nuptial festivities was ending, the marriage day had at length come, when the thirty youths read the riddle and enjoyed their triumph.—Samson's retort expressed his fierce contempt for the Philistines who had played him false, the women and the men alike.

Judges 14:19. In his rage he rushed away home, leaving the marriage unconsummated, regardless of the feelings of the bride and her family.

Judges 14:19 a is evidently a later insertion.

Judges 14:20. The indignant father at once gave the bride to Samson's groomsman, and the interrupted wedding was completed.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Judges 14:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/judges-14.html. 1919.

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