Judges 15:19: The Miracle of the Water from the Jawbone

Verse 19:[1] But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw (or, Lehi[2]), and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, (Gen. 45:27; Is. 40:29) his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof En-hakkore (that is, the well of him that called, or, cried;[3] Ps. 34:6[4]), which is in Lehi unto this day.



[He opened the molar tooth in the jawbone of the ass,וַיִּבְקַ֙ע אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶת־הַמַּכְתֵּ֣שׁ אֲשֶׁר־בַּלֶּ֗חִי[5]] [They take it variously.] And God broke the mortar that was in the jawbone (Montanus), the reservoir that was in the jawbone (Septuagint). He clave a certain cavity that was in the place Lehi (Junius and Tremellius, Drusius). A hollow, or concave place in which the molar tooth was (Vatablus). He made a fissure and opening, from which water began to run. Hebrew: mortar, from the similarity to that because of the cavity, Judges 16 (Junius, similarly Drusius). To others a מַכְתֵּשׁ is a stone that had the form of a mortar (Rabbi Levi in Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals), or of a molar tooth (Hebrews in Munster). Therefore, it should be translated in this way, God clave a rock by the name of מַכְתֵּשׁ/Maktesh, which is in Lehi. Thus מַכְתֵּשׁ/Maktesh is the name of a place: Zephaniah 1:11, howl, ye inhabitants of הַמַּכְתֵּשׁ/Maktesh, that is, inhabitants of the place thus called after the figure of a mortar; either it was at Jerusalem, as the Chaldean has it, or near Tiberias (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:15:202). The Chaldean translates it, the rock, that is, that was similar to a mortar; that is, a certain concave stone (Vatablus). But I think that the passage has been corrupted in the Chaldean, and in the place of כֵּיפָא, the rock, is to be read ככא (just as it is found in some exemplars, as Kimchi acknowledges), which everywhere signifies a molar tooth. To others these versions are not satisfying. If the text had wanted to say either a rock or a cavity, what had been the need of such an exotic and obscure word, מַכְתֵּשׁ/Maktesh, when others were in readiness (Serarius)? Therefore, others translate it, the molar tooth that was in the jawbone. Thus (besides the Vulgate), Pagnine, similarly Munster, Osiander, and Bochart in his Sacred Catalogue of Animals. It is possible that is signified the opening that a tooth, cast out by the force of the casting forth, had made in the jawbone cast forth (Grotius). A projection of the jawbone (Syriac); the bone of the mandible (Arabic). It is altogether certain that מַכְתֵּשׁ is a mortar, out of Proverbs 27:22;[6] and the Hebrews acknowledge this, from the verb כָּתַשׁ, to grind, to pound (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals). Hence it signifies, either, a vessel in which something is crushed, or, that which pounds and grinds something; and thus any of the molar teeth, which especially cut up and grind food, is able to be called מַכְתֵּשׁ/maktesh (Serarius). In the next place, it is no less certain the small boxes or troughs of the teeth are called ὁλμίσκους, or little mortars. Thus they are called Rufus of Ephesus,[7] who lived under Trajan,[8] Concerning the Names of the Parts of the Human Body 1:8 (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals), and by Vesalius,[9] Anatomy 11:11, just as by the Greeks they are called βόθρια/ sockets, φατνίαι, small basins (Serarius). Thus Rabbi Salomon. מַכְתֵּשׁ/maktesh is the socket in which a tooth is placed, fashioned after the likeness of a mortar. In this thing, therefore, I say that there is a miracle, that from an opened jawbone, instead of viscous fluid of putrid matter and blood, abundant waters poured forth; and this was done by that same power whereby waters burst forth from the rock,[10] and flour increased in the pot, and oil in the bottle of the widow of Zarephath[11] (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 203). Moreover, from this mandible waters burst forth, either, 1. while Samson was holding it in his hand: thus Sulpicius and Chrysostom. But he had already cast it away, verse 17. Or, 2. rather from this while it was lying on the ground, according to Gregory, Glycas,[12] and others (Serarius). But it is possible that Samson had taken that up again, so that he might suck the fluid so ardently desired (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals).


Clave an hollow place, that is, by cleaving a place, made it hollow; an expression like that Isaiah 47:2, grind meal, that is, grind corn into meal; and that Psalm 74:15, thou didst cleave the fountain, that is, cleave the rock so as to make a fountain in it. In the jaw; in the jawbone which he had used, which God could easily effect, either by causing the jawbone to send forth water, as the rock formerly did, the miracle being in effect the same, though in a differing subject, causing a spring to break forth in Lehi: or, in that Lehi mentioned before, verse 14; for Lehi is both the name of a place, and signifies a jawbone.


[And he received strength] Hebrew: and he lived,[13] that is, he, namely, Samson, revived; or his vital spirit, which because of thirst had departed, as it were, now returned (Drusius). Thus, in Genesis 45:27, and the spirit of Jacob lived,[14] that is, he was restored to his vigor (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 203).


[Therefore the name of that was called, The Fountain of th