Judges 14:5-7: Samson Rends the Lion

Verse 5:[1] Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him (Heb. in meeting him[2]).

His father and his mother accompanied him, either because they were now acquainted with his design, or to order the circumstances of that action which they saw he was set upon, or to watch if they could find any occasion to take him off from his intention. Came to the vineyards of Timnath, whither he had turned aside, either by a Divine impulse, or upon some real or pretended occasion.

[The whelp of a lion, כְּפִ֣יר אֲרָי֔וֹת] A whelp of lionesses (Montanus, Drusius), that is, of one particular lioness; like, a foal of she-asses, that is, of a she-ass[3] (Drusius): or, of lions (Pagnine). Often in the case of these the sex is confounded: You will find אֲרָיִים/lions[4] in 1 Kings 10:20, where also you will find אֲרָיוֹת[5] constructed in a masculine way[6] (Drusius). The whelp, now full-grown, of the lion or lioness (Vatablus). An adult of lions (Junius and Tremellius, similarly Tigurinus), that is, of full age, with robust strength and the greatest ferocity (Junius). This young lion a little afterwards is called אַרְיֵה/ lion;[7] for אֲרִי[8] or אַרְיֵה is the name of the entire species without respect to age: so called, not from אָרָה, which signifies to seize, to pluck, even indeed the fruit of trees, Psalm 80:12;[9] Song of Solomon 5:1:[10] this word is not extant elsewhere, and hence it is not able to pertain to a lion, which is carnivorous; but from רָאָה/raah, to see, whence רָאִי/rai and רַאְיֵה/raieh; then by metathesis[11] it is called אֲרִי/ari and אַרְיֵה/arieh (which sort of metatheses are frequent, as in the case of אָנַק and נָאַק, to groan, and in the case of דָאַב and אָדַב, to be afflicted). Thus lions by the Greeks are called λέοντα, from λεύσσω or λάω, to see, because the lion is an animal of the very keenest sight; and among the Arabs the lion is called מֻבְצִר/mubzir, that is, one seeing, because it sees its prey at a great distance, and hastens to it. So it is in Alcamus[12] (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:3:1:715). These names of lions are according to their distinct ages: גּוּר, the whelp of a lion; כְּפִיר, a young lion; אֲרִי or אַרְיֵה, a greater and more mature lion; לָבִיא, a lion older, or of advanced age; לַיִשׁ, an elderly lion (Piscator, Munster).

Verse 6:[13] And (Judg. 3:10; 13:25; 1 Sam. 11:6) the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

[The spirit of the Lord rushed upon Samson, וַתִּצְלַ֙ח עָלָ֜יו] And He rushed (leapt [Septuagint], remained [Jonathan]) on, or upon, him (Pagnine, Munster, Piscator); thus 1 Samuel 10:6[14] (Piscator). He entered him (Vatablus); He approached him (Junius and Tremellius); He pervaded (Kimchi in Munster); He acted prosperously upon him (Montanus). Here, a Hebraism misapplies the verb צָלַח, which signifies to prosper, for to rush, or to leap (Munster). He was propitious to him (Syriac); that is to say, favorably, prosperously, opportunely He leapt upon him (Bonfrerius). With the spirit of the Lord descending upon him, he leapt upon the whelp (Arabic). They note: as the פָּעַם, to thrust, above is attributed to the spirit,[15] revealing itself in the youthful and not yet mature signs or wonders; so here the צָלַח, to rush, is used of the spirit, which exerts itself publicly, in matters public and lofty. They add that צָלַח is constructed with the preposition עַל/upon or אֶל/to (Malvenda). The Holy Spirit endued him with a singular fortitude of soul and body (Osiander). Hence it is demonstrated that this strength was not natural, because receded from him when he was shaved (Drusius, Bonfrerius). This is called the Spirit of fortitude in the Chaldean; which is to say, By God he was made bolder and more hardy than ordinary (Vatablus).

Came mightily upon him; stirred up and increased his courage and bodily strength.

[And he rent the lion] Thence giving a sign to himself of greater things; like David, 1 Samuel 17:34 (Grotius).

As he would have rent a kid; as soon and as safely.

[To his father and mother he was unwilling to reveal it] Both for the sake of modesty, and because by the instinct of God he was thence going to draw his riddle, etc. Learn that he that wishes to keep a secret should reveal that to no one, not even to his closest friend (Lapide). Although Samson embarked on the journey together with his parents, either he went before them alone, or stood alone, and then the lion appeared to him; because it is said that the lion happened upon him, not, upon them[16] (Menochius). Samson had separated himself from his parents for some necessity (Lyra). Courageous men are not at all boastful (Menochius).

He told not his father or his mother, lest by their means it should be publicly known; for he wisely considered that it was not yet a fit time to awaken the jealousies and fears of the Philistines concerning him, as this would have done.

Verse 7:[17] And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.

[And he went down] Who? Either, his father (Junius and Tremellius), or, Samson (Piscator). For by an Epanalepsis the beginning of verse 5 is repeated (but verse 6 is placed between as if by digression). It is not likely that the father, while Samson was apart from him, went down alone without Samson, and addressed the woman (Piscator). They went down (Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic).

[And he spoke to the woman (thus the Septuagint, Pagnine, Syriac, Arabic), or, with the woman (Tigurinus, English), לָאִשָּׁה] About the woman (Drusius). Concerning the woman (Vatablus, Drusius); that is, he had words concerning the woman with her paraents (Vatablus). Concerning the woman, that is, concerning marrying the woman (Drusius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֵּ֧רֶד שִׁמְשׁ֛וֹן וְאָבִ֥יו וְאִמּ֖וֹ תִּמְנָ֑תָה וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ עַד־כַּרְמֵ֣י תִמְנָ֔תָה וְהִנֵּה֙ כְּפִ֣יר אֲרָי֔וֹת שֹׁאֵ֖ג לִקְרָאתֽוֹ׃

[2] Hebrew: לִקְרָאתוֹ.

[3] Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass (בֶּן־אֲתֹנוֹת, the son of she-asses).”

[4] Masculine in form.

[5] וֹת- is a termination normally associated with the feminine.

[6] 1 Kings 10:19: “The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood (וּשְׁנַ֣יִם אֲרָי֔וֹת עֹמְדִ֖ים) beside the stays.”

[7] Verse 8.

[8] Which is the singular form of אֲרָיִים or אֲרָיוֹת.

[9] Psalm 80:12: “Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that do pluck her (וְאָרוּהָ) all they which pass by the way?”

[10] Song of Solomon 5:1: “I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered (אֲחֹתִי) my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.”

[11] That is, a transposition of letters.

[12] Alcamus (The Ocean) is an Arabic lexicon; it appears to have been composed in roughly the fourteenth century by an anonymous Persian grammarian.

[13] Hebrew: וַתִּצְלַ֙ח עָלָ֜יו ר֣וּחַ יְהוָ֗ה וַֽיְשַׁסְּעֵ֙הוּ֙ כְּשַׁסַּ֣ע הַגְּדִ֔י וּמְא֖וּמָה אֵ֣ין בְּיָד֑וֹ וְלֹ֤א הִגִּיד֙ לְאָבִ֣יו וּלְאִמּ֔וֹ אֵ֖ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָֽׂה׃

[14] 1 Samuel 10:6: “And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee (וְצָלְחָ֤ה עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ ר֣וּחַ יְהוָ֔ה), and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.”

[15] Judges 13:25: “And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him (לְפַעֲמוֹ) at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.”

[16] Judges 14:5: “Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him (וְהִנֵּה֙ כְּפִ֣יר אֲרָי֔וֹת שֹׁאֵ֖ג לִקְרָאתֽוֹ׃; apparuit catulus leonis sævus, et rugiens, et occurrit ei, appeared a whelp of a lion, fierce and roaring, and it happened upon him, in the Vulgate).”

[17] Hebrew: וַיֵּ֖רֶד וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר לָאִשָּׁ֑ה וַתִּישַׁ֖ר בְּעֵינֵ֥י שִׁמְשֽׁוֹן׃

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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