Judges 16:17: "With Her Much Fair Speech She Caused Him to Yield..."

Verse 17:[1] That he (Mic. 7:5) told her all his heart, and said unto her, (Num. 6:5; Judg. 13:5) There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.



[Disclosing the truth of the matter] This was done by Divine providence: 1. as a punishment for Samson on account of his lusts, etc.; 2. so that He might turn this at last unto the calamity of the Philistines (Bonfrerius).


Scylla Falls for Minos

[If be shaved, etc.] Indeed, with the covenant violated that was interceding for him with God, who was the giver of such great strength (Grotius). Samson’s strength was in his hair, as in a sign of grace graciously given, or in the symbol of the covenant between him and God (Menochius out of Lapide, Tirinus, Serarius). It was a quality superadded to his strength of nature, and that permanent, which was also remaining in him while quiet and sleeping (Bonfrerius); but with an agreement (Lapide). This strength was depending upon his hair as a moral cause (with respect to the Divine covenant and promise), not a natural cause (Bonfrerius). From this occurrence arose the history, or rather the fable, of Nisos King of Megara,[2] reigning about this same time, with hair so heavenly that, as long as he preserved it, he was not able to be overcome, nor to be driven out of his kingdom: But Scylla, the daughter of Nisos, by a bewitched love of Minos,[3] who was at that time besieging the city, cut the hair of her sleeping father, and thus betrayed her father and fatherland to the enemy (Lapide out of Serarius, similarly Junius). That Cadmus, so celebrated in Greece, having proceeded there from Palestine and Phœnicia, was the author, not only of their letters, but of their fables (Serarius). Question: Whether in his hair alone, or in all the practices of the Nazarite, was placed Samson’s strength? Response: Some assert the latter; for example, If he knowingly and with awareness drank wine, or touched the dead without the command of God, etc. (thus Tostatus). To others this is not satisfying (Serarius, Bonfrerius). For, 1. the Nazarite status of Samson was not interrupted by pollution over the dead. See on Judges 13:4. 2. Samson responds to Delilah otherwise, and mentions only the shaving of his hair: but, if there were many ways to lose his strength, he would have mentioned them; nay rather, he would make mention of that way that was only able to be employed with him willing and knowing (Bonfrerius, similarly Serarius). Moreover, God willed to bind this strength to his hair, because it was safer under a thing altogether common; and lest Samson ascribe it to himself and to the strength of his arms (Serarius).


Scylla Shaves Nisos

There hath not come a razor upon mine head, etc.: Not that his hair was in itself the seat or cause of his strength, but because it was the chief condition of that vow or covenant, whereby as he stood obliged to him, so God was pleased graciously to engage himself to fit him for, and assist him in, that great work to which he called him; but upon his violation of his condition, God justly withdraws his help, and leaves him to himself.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּגֶּד־לָ֣הּ אֶת־כָּל־לִבּ֗וֹ וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לָהּ֙ מוֹרָה֙ לֹֽא־עָלָ֣ה עַל־רֹאשִׁ֔י כִּֽי־נְזִ֧יר אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֲנִ֖י מִבֶּ֣טֶן אִמִּ֑י אִם־גֻּלַּ֙חְתִּי֙ וְסָ֣ר מִמֶּ֣נִּי כֹחִ֔י וְחָלִ֥יתִי וְהָיִ֖יתִי כְּכָל־הָאָדָֽם׃


[2] Megara was a municipality in West Attica, Greece.


[3] Minos was King of Crete.

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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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