Title: Judges 15. Samson part 6 - Samson destroys a Philistine city while Judah stews in weakness.
Samson tells his new wife the answer to his impossible riddle and is confident that she won't betray him. But as he skillfully puts it, they "plowed with his heifer."
JDG 14:18 So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,
"What is sweeter than honey?
And what is stronger than a lion?"
And he said to them,
"If you had not plowed with my heifer,
You would not have found out my riddle."
JDG 14:19 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took their spoil, and gave the changes of clothes to those who told the riddle. And his anger burned, and he went up to his father's house.
JDG 14:20 But Samson's wife was given to his companion who had been his friend.
"friend" - one of the 30 groomsmen.
The father is wrong in giving her to another man.
This is not actually a friend of Samson, but one of the 30 companions that were given to him as groomsmen. His anger burned at his wife for betraying him and he went back to his home without her, but he did not intend to dissolve the marriage, as we see in the next chapter. The girl's father is wrong in giving her to another man, but this sets the stage for the next encounter.
JDG 15:1 But after a while, in the time of wheat harvest, it came about that Samson visited his wife with a young goat, and said, "I will go in to my wife in her room." But her father did not let him enter.
The time of the wheat harvest is May-June.
JDG 15:2 And her father said, "I really thought that you hated her intensely; so I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister more beautiful than she? Please let her be yours instead."
Little sister dodged a bullet here.
JDG 15:3 Samson then said to them, "This time I shall be blameless in regard to the Philistines when I do them harm."
Samson regarded the treatment which he had received from his father-in-law as but one effect of the disposition of the Philistines generally towards all of the Israelites. He resolved to avenge the wrong which he had received from one member of the Philistines upon the whole nation, or at least upon the whole of the city of Timnath.
Long ago Abraham actually made an oath with the Philistine king Abimelech in GEN 21:23, which oath had been violated when the Philistines had oppressed them.
He devises a pretty clever plan.
JDG 15:4 And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned the foxes tail to tail, and put one torch in the middle between two tails.
JDG 15:5 When he had set fire to the torches, he released the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines, thus burning up both the shocks and the standing grain, along with the vineyards and groves.
He therefore went and caught three hundred shualim, which are jackals, animals which resemble foxes.These animals, which are still found in great quantities at Joppa, Gaza, and in Galilee, herd together, and may easily be caught. He coupled the jackals together by their tails and put a torch between them. After setting the torch on fire, he made the animals run into the fields of standing corn as well as the shocks, which are the stacked grains set out to dry, belonging to the Philistines of Timnath.
Samson struck deliberately at the Philistine economy. Just about the time for the fields to be harvested they are destroyed.
The Philistines take revenge.
JDG 15:6 Then the Philistines said, "Who did this?" And they said, "Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he took his wife and gave her to his companion." So the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire.
Ironically, what they had promised to do to her if she didn't tell them the answer to the riddle, they did anyway.
They burned their house down with the father and daughter in it. They reveal their cruel nature.
Samson takes this as a justification for war.
JDG 15:7 And Samson said to them, "Since you act like this, I will surely take revenge on you, but after that I will quit."
He states that he will kill those responsible and then leave the conflict, but neither God nor the Philistines will allow this.
JDG 15:8 And he struck them ruthlessly with a great slaughter; and he went down and lived in the cleft of the rock of Etam.
Literally it reads: "He smote them hip and thigh," which is an idiom for a complete slaughter with viciousness. He likely killed everyone in Timnath.
Etam is believed to have been somewhere on the border of Judah and the Negev desert. Samson did as he said and withdrew from the conflict, but this was not the purpose of his birth and the conflict will soon find him.
The battle of Lehi
JDG 15:9 Then the Philistines went up and camped in Judah, and spread out in Lehi.
JDG 15:10 And the men of Judah said, "Why have you come up against us?" And they said, "We have come up to bind Samson in order to do to him as he did to us."
They don't have to hide the fact of what they purpose to do. They rule Israel. Judah has acquiesced to being their vassals and could not stop them. In fact, they will assist the Philistines, which shows just how weak they have become.
JDG 15:11 Then 3,000 men of Judah [respect for the reputation that Samson already has] went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam and said to Samson, "Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?" And he said to them, "As they did to me, so I have done to them."
Judah should be fighting Philistia as those who are separated unto God - as Samson. How sadly they have declined since their beginning under Caleb.
The irony is that they could have sent this army against Philistia. Why not ask this man of incredible strength, raised up by God, to be the leader of this army?
The most effective decline in a person's life is a slow one, since it is barely noticeable. It is usually after someone has become very weak spiritually that a circumstance reveals its depth, and upon opening their eyes to its reality, they ask, "What has happened to me?"
Centuries of idol worship has done this to Israel. This is the first cycle in Judges that they don't cry out to the Lord to be delivered. They have grown used to their weakness and have accepted it.
Do not let the KOD make you steadily weaker through small and more frequent deceptions. No matter what, the Lord must always be our #1 priority.
It happened to the Corinthians.
2 Cor 11:3 But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
It happened to the Galatians.
GAL 3:1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
GAL 3:2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
GAL 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Corinth and Galatia didn't become weak in a day or a month. They accepted some falsehood initially and then more and slowly over time they became nothing more than groups of people without God's knowledge or power.
All of the churches were warned of it.
2PE 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
2PE 2:2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
2PE 3:13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
2PE 3:14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,
2PE 3:15 and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
2PE 3:16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
2PE 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness,
2PE 3:18 but grow [present active imperative: keep on growing] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.