1. in the time of wheat harvest--that is, about the end of our April, or the beginning of our May. The shocks of grain were then gathered into heaps, and lying on the field or on the threshing-floors. It was the dry season, dry far beyond our experience, and the grain in a most combustible state.
Samson visited his wife with a kid--It is usual for a visitor in the East to carry some present; in this case, it might be not only as a token of civility, but of reconciliation.
he said--that is, to himself. It was his secret purpose.
into the chamber--the female apartments or harem.
2. her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her--This allegation was a mere sham, a flimsy pretext to excuse his refusal of admittance. The proposal he made of a marriage with her younger sister was but an insult to Samson, and one which it was unlawful for an Israelite to accept ( Leviticus 18:18 ).
Judges 15:3-8 . HE BURNS THE PHILISTINES' CORN.
3. Samson said . . ., Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines--This nefarious conduct provoked the hero's just indignation, and he resolved to take signal vengeance.
4, 5. went and caught three hundred foxes--rather, "jackals"; an animal between a wolf and a fox, which, unlike our fox, a solitary creature, prowls in large packs or herds and abounds in the mountains of Palestine. The collection of so great a number would require both time and assistance.
took firebrands--torches or matches which would burn slowly, retaining the fire, and blaze fiercely when blown by the wind. He put two jackals together, tail by tail, and fastened tightly a fire match between them. At nightfall he lighted the firebrand and sent each pair successively down from the hills, into the "Shefala," or plain of Philistia, lying on the borders of Dan and Judah, a rich and extensive corn district. The pain caused by the fire would make the animals toss about to a wide extent, kindling one great conflagration. But no one could render assistance to his neighbor: the devastation was so general, the panic would be so great.
6. Who hath done this--The author of this outrage, and the cause that provoked such an extraordinary retaliation, soon became known; and the sufferers, enraged by the destruction of their crops, rushing with tumultuous fury to the house of Samson's wife, "burnt her and her father with fire." This was a remarkable retribution. To avoid this menace, she had betrayed her husband; and by that unprincipled conduct, eventually exposed herself to the horrid doom which, at the sacrifice of conjugal fidelity, she had sought to escape [ Judges 14:15 ].
7. Samson said . . ., Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you--By that act the husbandmen had been the instruments in avenging his private and personal wrongs. But as a judge, divinely appointed to deliver Israel, his work of retribution was not yet accomplished.
8. smote them hip and thigh--a proverbial expression for a merciless slaughter.
he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam--rather went down and dwelt in the cleft--that is, the cave or cavern of the cliff Etam.
Judges 15:9-13 . HE IS BOUND BY THE MEN OF JUDAH, AND DELIVERED TO THE PHILISTINES.
9-17. Then the Philistines went up--to the high land of Judah.
and spread themselves in Lehi--now El-Lekieh, abounding with limestone cliffs; the sides of which are perforated with caves. The object of the Philistines in this expedition was to apprehend Samson, in revenge for the great slaughter he had committed on their people. With a view of freeing his own countrymen from all danger from the infuriated Philistines, he allowed himself to be bound and surrendered a fettered prisoner into their power. Exulting with joy at the near prospect of riddance from so formidable an enemy, they went to meet him. But he exerted his superhuman strength, and finding a new jawbone of an ass, he laid hold of it, and with no other weapon, slew a thousand men at a place which he called Ramath-lehi--that is, "the hill of the jawbone."
16. With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men--The inadequacy of the weapon plainly shows this to have been a miraculous feat, "a case of supernatural strength," just as the gift of prophecy is a case of supernatural knowledge [CHALMERS].
19. a hollow place . . . in the jaw--"in Lehi"--taking the word as a proper noun, marking the place.
there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again--His strength, exhausted by the violent and long-continued exertion, was recruited by the refreshing draft from the spring; and it was called
En-hakkore--the "supplication well," a name which records the piety of this heroic champion.