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Judges 14:19: Samson's Wrath against the Philistines

Verse 19:[1] And (Judg. 3:10; 13:25) the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil (or, apparel[2]), and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.

[The spirit of the Lord rushed upon him] That is, At that time he was suddenly made mightier than unusual and more daring by God as author (Vatablus).

The Spirit of the Lord came upon him; though he had a constant habit of eminent strength and courage, yet that was exceedingly increased upon special occasions, by the extraordinary influences of God’s Spirit.

[And he went down to Ashkelon] A city of the Philistines, 2 Samuel 1:20 (Grotius).

[And he struck there thirty men, מֵהֶם] Of those, understand, Ashkelonites (Vatablus, Piscator). Question 1: Whether he acted rightly? Response: Certainly so; 1. Because the war with the Philistines was just for the Israelites. 2. Because the Spirit of the Lord was urging him to this (Lapide, Bonfrerius). 3. At that time Samson was made the Judge of the people by God (Bonfrerius). Question 2: Why did he make this slaughter at Ashkelon, rather than elsewhere? Response: Perhaps because some solemnity was being performed there, and so men were appearing in new and more splendid garments. For Samson needed such garments (Bonfrerius). It appears that he killed openly and publicly in that city, rather than in a field, etc., and indeed all the men together, not at diverse times: for to kill men individually would not have been a specimen of such great strength (Menochius). Question 3: Why, with this slaughter received, did the Ashkelonites not pursue Samson? or how did he, laden with spoils, dare to return to Timnath, another town of the Philistines? Response: These things are to be referred to the peculiar providence and tutelage of God, who either instilled a panic in the Philistines, lest they should dare to pursue Samson; or did not allow Samson to be known as the author of the slaughter by the Philistines (Bonfrerius almost out of Lapide). [Which will not appear difficult to the one that considers either the nature of God and of the Divine providence; or the various examples of this sort, Genesis 19:11; 35:5, and elsewhere; or with how great a terror such an audacious deed was suited to strike all, so that they individually, solicitous of their own safety, might not have the courage to pursue him.]

To Ashkelon; either to the territory, which oft comes under the name of the city; or to the city itself, where he had both strength and courage enough to attempt what here follows; and upon the doing hereof they were doubtless struck with such a terror, that every one sought only to preserve himself, and none durst oppose or pursue him.

[Whose removed garments he gave, אֶת־חֲלִיצוֹתָם[3]] Their new garments (Montanus); things stripped off (Pagnine, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Tigurinus); clothes (Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Syriac); girdles (Jonathan); arms (Munster); garments and arms (Kimchi in Drusius, Munster), and all the things stripped off (Munster). This word is taken from loins; that is, both arms and garments surround, or protect, the loins (Malvenda). But here is no mention of the linen sheets. Responses: Either, by the tunics the linen sheets are also understood, by synecdoche (Bonfrerius, Menochius); for Scripture does not express all things minutely (Bonfrerius): or, Samson diminished from them the other reward, as the best, because they had not explained it by their own efforts and mental acumen (Menochius out of Serarius): or, he sold the things stripped off of them, and with the money bought changes of garments, which he gave to his companions (Drusius). Some divine that they, vacillating over the difficulty of explaining the riddle, afterwards agreed with Samson concerning the lesser reward only, namely, the garments alone (Malvenda out of Montanus’ Commentary).

Change of garments, together with their sheets or shirts, which it sufficed to imply here, being expressed above, Judges 14:13.

[And being very angry] Both with his wife, on account of her treachery; and with his companions, on account of their wicked trickery (Serarius, Bonfrerius); and with the city, by which these were given, and by which now he was simultaneously feared and ridiculed (Serarius).

His anger was kindled, for the treachery of his wife and companions.

[He went up unto his father’s house] Without taking his wife with him (Malvenda out of Junius). This his deed ought not to be commended; for it was not right thus lightly to be disjoined from his wife (Martyr).

And he went up, to wit, alone, or without his wife.

[1] Hebrew: וַתִּצְלַ֙ח עָלָ֜יו ר֣וּחַ יְהוָ֗ה וַיֵּ֙רֶד אַשְׁקְל֜וֹן וַיַּ֥ךְ מֵהֶ֣ם׀ שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים אִ֗ישׁ וַיִּקַּח֙ אֶת־חֲלִ֣יצוֹתָ֔ם וַיִּתֵּן֙ הַחֲלִיפ֔וֹת לְמַגִּידֵ֖י הַחִידָ֑ה וַיִּ֣חַר אַפּ֔וֹ וַיַּ֖עַל בֵּ֥ית אָבִֽיהוּ׃

[2] Hebrew: חֲלִיצוֹתָם.

[3] חֲלִיצָה may be related to חָלַץ, to draw off; or to חָלַץ, to equip for war; or to חָלָץ/loins.

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday

Matthew Henry: 'Samson pays his wager to these Philistines with the spoils of others of their countrymen, Judges 14:19. He took this occasion to quarrel with the Philistines, went down to Ashkelon, one of their cities, where probably he knew there was some great festival observed at this time, to which many flocked, out of whom he picked out thirty, slew them, and took their clothes, and gave them to those that had expounded the riddle; so that, in balancing the account, it appeared that the Philistines were the losers, for one of the lives they lost was worth all the suits of clothes they won: the body is more than raiment. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him…

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