Judges 15

Samson’s Vengeance on the Philistines

1 Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, “I’m going to my wife’s room.” But her father would not let him go in.
2 “I was so sure you hated her,” he said, “that I gave her to your companion. Isn’t her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead.”
3 Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.”
4 So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails,
5 lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.
6 When the Philistines asked, “Who did this?” they were told, “Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because his wife was given to his companion.” So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death.
7 Samson said to them, “Since you’ve acted like this, I swear that I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.”
8 He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.
9 The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi.
10 The people of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight us?” “We have come to take Samson prisoner,” they answered, “to do to him as he did to us.”
11 Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?” He answered, “I merely did to them what they did to me.”
12 They said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.” Samson said, “Swear to me that you won’t kill me yourselves.”
13 “Agreed,” they answered. “We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock.
14 As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands.
15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
16 Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them.[a]With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men.”
17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.[b]
18 Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?”
19 Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore,[c] and it is still there in Lehi.
20 Samson led[d] Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.

Judges 15 Commentary

Chapter 15

Samson is denied his wife, He smites the Philistines. (1-8) Samson kills a thousand of the Philistines with a jaw-bone. (9-17) His distress from thirst. (18-20)

Verses 1-8 When there are differences between relations, let those be reckoned the wisest and best, who are most forward to forgive or forget, and most willing to stoop and yield for the sake of peace. In the means which Samson employed, we must look at the power of God supplying them, and making them successful, to mortify the pride and punish the wickedness of the Philistines. The Philistines threatened Samson's wife that they would burn her and her father's house. She, to save herself and oblige her countrymen, betrayed her husband; and the very thing that she feared, and by sin sought to avoid, came upon her! She, and her father's house, were burnt with fire, and by her countrymen, whom she thought to oblige by the wrong she did to her husband. The mischief we seek to escape by any unlawful practices, we often pull down upon our own heads.

Verses 9-17 Sin dispirits men, it hides from their eyes the things that belong to their peace. The Israelites blamed Samson for what he had done against the Philistines, as if he had done them a great injury. Thus our Lord Jesus did many good works, and for those the Jews were ready to stone him. When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson, his cords were loosed: where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and those are free indeed who are thus set free. Thus Christ triumphed over the powers of darkness that shouted against him, as if they had him in their power. Samson made great destruction among the Philistines. To take the bone of an ass for this, was to do wonders by the foolish things of the world, that the excellency of the power might be of God, not of man. This victory was not in the weapon, was not in the arm; but it was in the Spirit of God, which moved the weapon by the arm. We can do all things through Him that strengtheneth us. Seest thou a poor Christian, who is enabled to overcome a temptation by weak, feeble counsel, there is the Philistine vanquished by a sorry jaw-bone.

Verses 18-20 So little notice did the men of Judah take of their deliverer, that he was ready to perish for want of a draught of water. Thus are the greatest slights often put upon those who do the greatest services. Samson prayed to God in this distress. Those that forget to attend God their praises, may be compelled to attend him with their prayers. Past experiences of God's power and goodness, are excellent pleas in prayer for further mercy. He pleads his being exposed to God's enemies; our best pleas are taken from God's glory. The Lord sent him seasonable relief. The place of this action was, from the jaw-bone, called Lehi. And in the place thus called, God caused a fountain suddenly and seasonably to open, close by Samson. We should be more thankful for the mercy of water, did we consider how ill we can spare it. Israel submitted to him whom they had betrayed. God was with him; henceforward they were directed by him as their judge.

Cross References 29

  • 1. S Genesis 30:14
  • 2. S Judges 13:24
  • 3. S Genesis 38:17
  • 4. Genesis 29:21
  • 5. S Judges 14:20
  • 6. Song of Songs 2:15
  • 7. S Genesis 15:17
  • 8. S Genesis 15:17
  • 9. Exodus 22:6; 2 Samuel 14:30-31
  • 10. S Judges 14:20
  • 11. S Genesis 38:24
  • 12. S Judges 14:15
  • 13. Isaiah 2:21
  • 14. ver 11
  • 15. ver 14,17,19
  • 16. S Judges 13:1; Judges 14:4; Psalms 106:40-42
  • 17. S Genesis 47:31
  • 18. Judges 16:11,12
  • 19. S ver 9
  • 20. S Judges 3:10; Judges 14:19; 1 Samuel 11:6
  • 21. S Joshua 2:6
  • 22. S Leviticus 26:8; Joshua 23:10; Judges 3:31
  • 23. Jeremiah 22:19
  • 24. S ver 9
  • 25. Judges 16:28
  • 26. S Deuteronomy 20:4
  • 27. Genesis 45:27; 1 Samuel 30:12; Isaiah 40:29
  • 28. S Exodus 17:6
  • 29. Judges 13:1; Judges 16:31; Hebrews 11:32

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Or "made a heap or two" ; the Hebrew for "donkey" sounds like the Hebrew for "heap."
  • [b]. "Ramath Lehi" means "jawbone hill."
  • [c]. "En Hakkore" means "caller’s spring."
  • [d]. Traditionally "judged"

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO JUDGES 15

This chapter relates, that Samson being denied his wife, did by a strange stratagem burn the corn fields, vineyards, and olives of the Philistines, Jud 15:1-5, and that because of their burning her and her father, he made a great slaughter of them, Jud 15:6-8, which brought the Philistines against the men of Judah, who took Samson and bound him, to deliver him to the Philistines, when he, loosing himself, slew a thousand of them with the jaw bone of an ass, Jud 15:9-17 and being athirst, God in a wonderful manner supplied him with water, Jud 15:18-20.

Judges 15 Commentaries