Judges 16:2: Samson Trapped!

Verse 2:[1] And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they (1 Sam. 23:26; Ps. 118:10-12; Acts 9:24) compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet (Heb. silent[2]) all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.


[When the Philistines had heard this, לַֽעַזָּתִ֣ים׀ לֵאמֹ֗ר] Verbatim: to the Gazites saying (Drusius, Montanus). When to the Gazites it was told (Junius and Tremellius). It appears that לֵאמֺר/saying is in the place of כֵּאמֺר, when he said, or it was said (Drusius). To the Gazites it was said (Tigurinus); or, to the Gazites (understanding, it was related, or reported [Munster, Vatablus, similarly Pagnine]), saying (Munster). The verb has been omitted, so that it might indicate the swiftness of the report (Vatablus): that is to say, it was immediately reported to them (Malvenda).


[They surrounded him] That is, Around the city they fortified the places through which he was able to escape (Vatablus).



[And there all night they were waiting in silence, so that in the morning they might kill him going out, וַיִּתְחָרְשׁ֤וּ כָל־הַלַּ֙יְלָה֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר עַד־א֥וֹר הַבֹּ֖קֶר וַהֲרְגְנֻֽהוּ׃[3]] And they played the part of the dumb all night, saying, At the morning light, we shall kill him (Montanus). And they were silent, etc. Unto the morning light let us wait, and let us kill him (Pagnine). And they fell into silence (I would prefer, they kept themselves silent [Piscator]) all night, saying, Let us fall silent until the morning, etc., and then we shall kill him (Junius and Tremellius). And, being silent all night, they were saying, In the morning light let us kill him (Munster). They played the part of the dumb and death with this intention [he takes לֵאמֺר/saying of the speech of the mind], that they might kill him in the morning at dawn (Tigurinus). Perhaps to say means here to think in oneself. Some interpreters: they fell silent, when they had said. Verbs of the fourth conjugation sometimes denote pretence: as in the case of, there is הִתְעַשֵּׁר, one that feigneth himself rich, and there is מִתְרוֹשֵׁשׁ, one that feigneth himself poor, Proverbs 13:7; and כְּמִתְלַהְלֵהַּ, as one that makes himself weary or insane, Proverbs 26:18 (Drusius). They observe that this speech is elliptical, as of those excited and perturbed (Malvenda). Question: Why did not the Philistines attack Samson in the house, and while he slept? Responses: 1. Because, according to the law of the land, he ought to have safety in a place of hospitality (Lyra). 2. If the village had not had walls, they would have tried to capture him within the house: but now, with the gates shut, they were able to seize him while he was attempting to leave (Tostatus). 3. They were indeed able to pull the house down, or to burn it; but they were desiring to capture him alive, so that they might make a laughingstock of him, just as they afterwards did (Tostatus). 4. They were afraid that he might be awakened by some sound of those approaching: that the woman, not knowing about that ambush, might be terrified, and warn and awaken him. On the other hand, they were thinking that it was going to be that, when in the morning he perceived nothing attempted against himself by the Philistines, being secure, he would happen unexpectedly upon all those gathered together, prepared, and lying in wait (Serarius). They did not dare to attack Samson with open force, even while he slept: or they judged it safer to assail him from places of ambush in his leaving, and perhaps to attack him with darts from a distance; because they had already found ought that open force yielded poor results to them (Bonfrerius).


Laid wait for him all night, etc.: This they chose to do, rather than to seize upon him in his house and bed by night; either because they knew not certainly in what house or place he was; or because they thought that might cause great terror, and confusion, and mischief among their own people; whereas in the day time they might more fully discover him, and more unexpectedly surprise him, and more certainly direct their blows and use their weapons against him.

[1] Hebrew: לַֽעַזָּתִ֣ים׀ לֵאמֹ֗ר בָּ֤א שִׁמְשׁוֹן֙ הֵ֔נָּה וַיָּסֹ֛בּוּ וַיֶּאֶרְבוּ־ל֥וֹ כָל־הַלַּ֖יְלָה בְּשַׁ֣עַר הָעִ֑יר וַיִּתְחָרְשׁ֤וּ כָל־הַלַּ֙יְלָה֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר עַד־א֥וֹר הַבֹּ֖קֶר וַהֲרְגְנֻֽהוּ׃


[2] Hebrew: וַיִּתְחָרְשׁוּ.


[3] חָרֵשׁ signifies to be silent. The Hithpael conjugation frequently conveys a reflexive sense.

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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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