Judges 16:7: Samson's Dalliance with Destruction: The Seven Green Withs

Verse 7:[1] And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs (or, new cords; Heb. moist[2]) that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another (Heb. one[3]) man.



And Samson said unto her, etc.: Samson is guilty both of the sin of lying, though he dress up the lie in such circumstances as might make it most probable; and of great folly, in encouraging her inquiries, which he should at first have checked: but as he had forsaken God, so God had now forsaken him, and deprived him of common prudence; otherwise the frequent repetition and vehement urging of this question might easily have raised suspicion in him.


[If with seven sinewy cord, etc., יְתָרִ֥ים לַחִ֖ים] With sinews moist (Septuagint, similarly the Vulgate), that is, with cords made from the sinews of whatever living creatures, and twisted into the form of cords (Bonfrerius, Lapide). This translation would be probable, if it were not hindered by what things immediately follow, net yet dried, and still moist.[4] For it is evident that by moisture sinews are made unsuitable to bind firmly and tightly, for by it they are loosened and weakened, as it is demonstrated (Fuller’s[5] Sacred Miscellany[6] 5:14). יֶתֶר signifies both sinew and a cord (Lapide). Others: with moist shoots (Montanus); with green withs (Pagnine). Others: with lines (cords [Syriac, Arabic]) or ropes, or bonds, recent, or green, or moist (Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Tigurinus, Vatablus). Such bonds are made from a tree, flexible and pliant, of which sort are they with which bundles are bound (Hebrews in Vatablus). Most of the Hebrews render it, withs, or shoots, because of the adjoined לַחִים/fresh, which follows (Malvenda, thus Fuller out of Kimchi). These cords were made from shoots and fibers, but not from hemp and linen, since those are found, not fresh, but dried (Munster). That they render it cords, does not agree with the adjective לַחִים, fresh, or green, since they are made from hemp and material of this sort, flexible, and parched and dried in various ways (Fuller’s Sacred Miscellany 5:14). So that Samson might add an appearance of truth to his answer, he looks for certain conditions and circumstances (Bonfrerius).


[I shall be infirm[7] (thus Pagnine)] Or, weak (Montanus, Munster, Tigurinus). חָלָה signifies to be weak and infirm without regard to sickness (Drusius on verse 11).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ שִׁמְשׁ֔וֹן אִם־יַאַסְרֻ֗נִי בְּשִׁבְעָ֛ה יְתָרִ֥ים לַחִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹא־חֹרָ֑בוּ וְחָלִ֥יתִי וְהָיִ֖יתִי כְּאַחַ֥ד הָאָדָֽם׃


[2] Hebrew: יְתָרִ֥ים לַחִ֖ים.


[3] Hebrew: כְּאַחַד.


[4] Thus the Vulgate.


[5] Nicholas Fuller (1557-1622) was an Anglican churchman, a learned divine, and a critic of considerable reputation. He excelled in the languages of the Scripture, and he applied his considerable talents to the resolution of Scripture difficulties.


[6] Miscellanea Sacra.


[7] Hebrew: וְחָלִיתִי.

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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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