Judges 14:15: Samson's Wife Threatened

Verse 15:[1] And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson’s wife, (Judg. 16:5) Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, (Judg. 15:6) lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have (Heb. to possess us, or, to impoverish us[2])? is it not so?


[And when the seventh day had arrived] Thus most interpreters translate it. From this no slight question arises. For, if only on the seventh day they approached Samson’s wife, why is it said in verse 14, they could not in three days expound the riddle? Or why is Samson’s wife said to have wept the seven days of the feast, verse 17? Responses: 1. Some read, on the fourth day; thus the Syriac, Arabic, and Septuagint (but the Royal Codex of the Septuagint has, on the seventh day [Bonfrerius]). Others explain it in this way, on the seventh day, not of the feast, but of the week, which was the fourth of the feast (certain interpreters in Malvenda, thus Munster, Vatablus, Lyra, Tostatus). For, the Sabbath was falling on the fourth day of the feast (Vatablus). On the seventh day, that is, the Sabbath, at which time Samson was occupied in the worship of God; and so they approach his wife at that time alone (Ainsworth, Lapide). 2. When the seventh day arrived, is put in the p.ace of, while the seventh day was approaching, etc. (Montanus’ Commentary, Tostatus). 3. That, they said, namely, on the seventh day, they translate, they had said. Thus the Genevans in the margin (Serarius): so also Drusius. But this with little suitability pulls apart the entire sense, or brings about a thing quite uncertain (Serarius). 4. That, for seven days, in verse 17, they explain, either, within those seven days, or, for the greater part of them, or, for all the days that were remaining unto the seventh day (Bonfrerius). 5. These Philistines appear on the first day to have sent Samson’s wife, who would inquire; in the meantime they themselves also pondered, hoping that they were going to discover its solution; but, when they had not discovered it in three days, on the fourth day they pressed Samson’s wife with threats; finally, on the seventh day they assailed her with all their strength (Lapide). 6. That three days, verse 14, Piscator takes of the three days immediately preceding [preceding, namely, the seventh day]: this is βραχυλογία, brachylogia[3] (Piscator). In the whole time of the wedding Samson’s wife had treated with Samson, but on the seventh day she first acquired the knowledge (Drusius).


On the seventh day; they had doubtless spoken to her before this time, but with some remissness, supposing that they should find it out; but now their time being nigh slipped, they press her with more vehemency, and put her under a necessity of searching it out.


[Entice thy husband, פַּתִּ֣י אֶת־אִישֵׁ֗ךְ] Seduce thy husband (Montanus); persuade (Pagnine, Munster, similarly the Arabic, Junius and Tremellius); solicit (Jonathan); entice (Syriac, Vatablus), that is, lure with enticements (Vatablus). Feminine enticements are often stronger than the government of parents. You would not inaptly compare the Theban Hercules to Samson, mighty in strength of body and soul, and addicted to women. See also Judges 16:15, 16 (Grotius).


[That he may declare to thee, וְיַגֶּד־לָ֙נוּ֙ אֶת־הַ֣חִידָ֔ה] That he may declare, or open, to us, etc. (Syriac, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Vatablus, similarly Jonathan), that is, that he may declare to thee, and afterwards thou report to us (Vatablus). Thus Piscator: It is Metonymy of the end in the place of the intended effect (Piscator). That he may declare because of us, that is, that afterwards we may be informed by thee. Or, to us is superfluous (Vatablus).


[Have ye called us…so that ye might spoil? הַלְיָרְשֵׁ֕נוּ קְרָאתֶ֥ם לָ֖נוּ הֲלֹֽא׃] Have ye called us to possess us; surely not? (Montanus); or, it is not so? (Pagnine, English, Dutch). Whether to inherit, to possess our hereditary right, us, that is, our goods? Which sort is in that saying of Terence, What do you think the future is going to be concerning that wretch, whom they will continually consume, that is whose goods they will consume?[4] Thus Judges 11:24[5] (Piscator). So that ye might possess us, that is, our substance (Vatablus)? In order to obtain our inheritance have ye invited us, or not? (Junius and Tremellius). Others otherwise: Surely ye have not called us here to make us paupers? (Munster, similarly Tigurinus). Others: there; as it were הֲלוֹם in Hebrew (Drusius). Surely not to extort us, etc.? Whether to prove us, etc.? (Jonathan). That is to say, To their threats they add a reason taken from some show of honesty; This matter, say they, is not able not to be full of disgrace and shame for you (Bonfrerius).


To take that we have, that is, to strip us of our garments; and so your civility will end in gross unkindness and injustice.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י׀ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֗י וַיֹּאמְר֤וּ לְאֵֽשֶׁת־שִׁמְשׁוֹן֙ פַּתִּ֣י אֶת־אִישֵׁ֗ךְ וְיַגֶּד־לָ֙נוּ֙ אֶת־הַ֣חִידָ֔ה פֶּן־נִשְׂרֹ֥ף אוֹתָ֛ךְ וְאֶת־בֵּ֥ית אָבִ֖יךְ בָּאֵ֑שׁ הַלְיָרְשֵׁ֕נוּ קְרָאתֶ֥ם לָ֖נוּ הֲלֹֽא׃


[2] Hebrew: הַלְיָרְשֵׁנוּ.


[3] That is, brevity of speech.


[4] Heauton Timorumenos 3:1.


[5] Judges 11:24: “Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess (הֲלֹ֞א אֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁ֧ר יוֹרִֽישְׁךָ֛ כְּמ֥וֹשׁ אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ אוֹת֥וֹ תִירָ֑שׁ)? So whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess (וְאֵת֩ כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֙ר הוֹרִ֜ישׁ יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֵ֛ינוּ מִפָּנֵ֖ינוּ אוֹת֥וֹ נִירָֽשׁ׃).”

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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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