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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



JUDGES 14 

 

CHAPTER XIV.

 

Ver. 1.  Thamnatha, in the confines of the tribes of Juda and Gad, and of the Philistines, who often took it from the latter.  It is called Thamna, Gen. xxxviii. 12, (Bonfrere) and lies near Lidda.  Euseb.

 

Ver. 3.  Eyes.  He probably informed his parents (H.) that he was inspired by the Lord, v. 4.  W. --- The Jews say that he had first converted this woman; and interpreters generally excuse his conduct.  But S. Ambrose thinks that he forfeited God's grace; (ep. 19) and Theodoret also supposes that he transgressed the law, (Ex. xxxiv. 12.) and God only permitted him to fall in love with women, without approving his conduct, q. 21.  The Scripture often says, that he does and wills what he only permits.  Ex. iv. 21.  Jos. xi. 20.  C. --- If the conversion of this woman were well attested, there would be no difficulty about his marrying her, as Salmon did Rahab.  S. Mat. i. 5.  We have only conjecture that the women whom these and other holy personages espoused, embraced the true faith.  But these may suffice in a matter of this nature.  We cannot condemn Samson on this occasion, without involving his parents in the same censure, as they were charged to keep him from any contamination.  S. Ambrose justly observes that a woman was the occasion of his fall, but he might allude to Dalilia.  C. xvi. 4.  It seems hard to pass sentence on this judge of Israel, on his first appearance, without the most cogent reasons.  See Lyran, A. Lapide, &c.  H. --- Heb. "She is right in my eyes."  His parents were at length convinced that he was directed by God.  T.

 

Ver. 4.  He sought.  This may be understood either of the Lord, or rather of Samson.  C. --- Sept. "because he himself sought to retaliate upon the Philistines."  Heb. "that it was of the Lord that, or because he sought an occasion to take," &c.  H.

 

Ver. 5.  Young lion, not quite so strong as an old one, but in its vigour.  Rabbins.  C. --- Met him.  Heb. "roared against him."  H. --- His parents were at some distance.  M. --- S. Aug. (in Ps. lxxxviii.) shews the application of this history to Christ's establishing and adorning the church of the Gentiles with sweet and wholesome laws.  D.

 

Ver. 6.  Spirit, increasing his courage and strength.  M. --- This shews that the strength of Samson was miraculous, attached to the keeping of his hair, and the observance of the duties of the Nazarites.  C.  C. xvi. 19. --- Mother.  The modesty which he displays is more wonderful than the feat of valour.  H. --- Brave men are never boasters.  M. --- He kept what he had done secret, designing to propose a riddle.  Salien.

 

Ver. 7.  Spoke.  Sept. "they spoke;" both Samson and his parents (M.) asked the young woman in marriage.  Gen. xxiv. 57.  Cant. viii. 8.  C. --- That had.  Prot. "and she pleased Samson well," as at first, v. 3.  H.

 

Ver. 8.  A honeycomb.  There was a very remarkable providence in this particular of the history of Samson.  From which also in the mystical sense we may learn what spiritual sweetness and nourishment our souls will acquire from slaying the lions of our passions and vices.  Ch. --- Samson waited some time before he went to celebrate his marriage.  The Rabbins say a full year was the usual term after the espousals; (Est. ii. 12,) and many have translated "after a year."  Chal. Arab. &c.  During this space the flesh of the lion would be consumed, and bees might make honey in its skeleton.  Herodotus (v. 114,) informs us that a swarm lodged in the skull of Onesylus, the tyrant of Cyprus, which had been suspended for a long time.  They keep at a distance from carrion and every fetid smell.  Some say that they were produced from the corrupted flesh of the lion, in the same manner as Virgil (iv.) describes the proceeding from a young ox beaten to death, and covered with boughs, in a place closely shut up.  The bees might have laid their eggs upon these boughs, and the grass upon which an ox feeds, &c.  But none of these precautions were taken with the lion which Samson tore in pieces.  C.

 

Ver. 10.  Father.  Before the nuptial, the young man was not accustomed to go to the house of his future bride.  Montanus. --- Samson's mother also accompanied him.  Abul. --- Do.  Sept. "Samson made there a feast for seven days, because young men do so."  H.

 

Ver. 11.  With him.  Some imagine that these were placed to watch his motions.  But he had surely invited them, v. 15.  During the time that the nuptials were celebrated, these men (who are called the friends of the bridegroom, Mat. ix. 15,) are said to have been exempted from all public charges.  Mont.  C.

 

Ver. 12.  Riddle.  Such obscure and ingenious questions were much liked in the East.  3 K. x. 1.  The Egyptians concealed the mysteries of their religion, and Pythagoras his choicest maxims under them.  S. Clem. strom. 5.  The Greeks proposed these grifouV at feasts, determining some reward or punishment to those who succeeded or failed to explain them.  Athenæus (x. 22,) relates that Simonides proposed this to his companions, after he had seen a blacksmith asleep, with a skin of win and a craw-fish beside him.  "The father of the kid, which eateth all sorts of herbs, and the miserable fish knocked their heads against each other, and he who has received upon his eye-lids the son of the night, would not feed the minister, who kills the oxen of king Bacchus."  He could not get his ax mended.  The ancients kept their wine in skins of kids, &c. whence he alludes to the bottle of wine, near the miserable craw-fish or lobster. --- Shirts.  Heb. sedinim, "sindons," the garment which was worn next the skin.  Mar. xiv. 51.  It was used also by women, (Isai. iii. 23,) and is probably the same which is called a tunic.  C. --- Coats.  Heb. "change of garments."  Some understand new and splendid garments.  But Samson complied with his promise, by giving such as he found upon the 30 men, whom he slew, v. 19.  H. --- The custom of making presents of garments has long prevailed in the East.  The Turkish emperor still receives and makes such presents to ambassadors.  C. --- Their long robes may easily be made to fit any person.  H.

 

Ver. 14.  Sweetness.  The explication of the ancient riddles frequently depended on the knowledge of something that had taken place.  Our riddle-makers follow other rules.  In a spiritual sense, the Philistines might be considered as those strong ones who had domineered over Israel, but would shortly afford them the spoils of a glorious victory.  Jesus rises triumphant from the grave, and, after he has been persecuted and torn in pieces, becomes the food of Christians.  S. Aug. &c.  C.

 

Ver. 15.  Seventh day of the week, (Salien) which was the fourth of the feast; and the Syr. Arab. and some editions of the Sept. read, "the fourth."  The young men tried their skill for three days; when, despairing of success, they solicited Samson's wife to draw the secret from him.  She tried; but the seventh day being come, or at hand, (M.) the men began to threaten her, so that she became more importunate, and obtained her request.  She had been weeping during a great part of the seven days, (v. 17.  C.) or perhaps she had begun to tease him from the beginning.  M. --- Strip us.  Sept. "to impoverish us."  Homer (Odys. Z.) insinuates, that it was customary for the bride to furnish her attendants with white linen garments.  These companions of Samson fear that they are going to be losers, by the honour which they do him.  C. --- The compel his wife by threats to betray his secret, and still destroy her afterwards: thus persecutors frequently treat those who comply with they demands, and deny the faith.  W.

 

Ver. 18.  Down, at which time the day ended among the Jews. --- Heifer.  This proverbial expression means, that another's property had been used against himself; (Delrio adag.162) or it may intimate, that improper liberties had been taken with Samson's wife, (C.) as her so readily taking one of them for her husband, (v. 20) might lead us to suspect.  H. --- The Greek and Latin authors speak of a faithless wife in similar terms.  Theognis. lviii. &c.

 

Ver. 19.  Riddle.  Samson must no longer be considered as a private man.  He was authorized by the Spirit of the Lord, thus to punish the oppressors of Israel.  C. --- Though these 30 men had done him no injury in person, (H.) they had sinned against God, and deserved to die.  Salien. --- He slew them publicly in the city (M.) though others believe that he did it in the neighbouring country, as it does not appear that the people knew of their death.  C.

 

Ver. 20.  Companions, the chief friends of the bridegroom, (Jo. iii. 29,) the paranymph.  S. Amb.  C. --- Prot. "But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend."  It seems her father had supposed, from Samson's keeping away for a long time, that he had abandoned her.  H. --- But, though he offered some sort of recompense, (M.) he justly fell a victim to the people's rage, who abhorred adultery, (C.) and were irritated at the persecution which he had brought upon them.  C. xv. 2. 6.  H.

 

 








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