Page images
PDF
EPUB

the nuns of modern times, and the 32 female cap. tives of Midian, referred to in Numbers xxxi. 40. That Jephthah's daughter was not slain by her father, but merely devoted to perpetual virginity is quite evident from v. 39, where it is said: “And Jephthah did with her according to his vow, and she knew no man," i.e. never married, and (says the writer) it became a custom in Israel ; and the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament (with) the daughter of Jephthah,” her state of celibacy.

[ocr errors]

Section II.

SAMSON.

B.C. 1151 to 1113.

JUDGES XIII.-XVI:

The sixth op- The sixth oppression was pression. from the Philistines, who overspread the whole land, and afflicted the people grievously for 40 years.

The Philistines were a warlike pastoral people, inhabiting a territory in the south-west of Palestine, assigned to the tribe of Judah, but never wholly conquered. This territory was divided into five lordships, named after their chief cities Gath, Askelon, Gaza, Ashdod, and Ekron. The princes of those states were termed lords of the Philistines.

Who delivered them.

was.

The land was delivered from this curse by Samson, the strongest man that ever lived. Who Samson Samson was the son of Mano'ah, of the tribe of Dan. His birth was announced by an angel, who enjoined his mother to consecrate him to God, as a Nazarite, from his birth.

A Nazarite was a person engaged by a vow to abstain from all intoxicating liquors, never to have his hair cut, nor to be present at a funeral.

This sort of vow was sometimes only for a few days; at others for life, as in the case of Samson, Samuel, John the Baptist, and so on.

By God's command, he married a Philistine; and this alliance paved the way for a quarrel with the oppressors.

His young wife proving faithquarrel.

less, Samson left her in dudgeon; her father then gave her to another; at which Samson was greatly incensed, and determined on revenge.

Scripture says, that while Samson was courting this Philistine, he was attacked one day on the road by a young lion, which he slew as easily

Whom Samson married.

Cause of the

as a man slays a kid. Some few days afterwards, passing along the same road, he found a swarm of bees had hived themselves in the carcase. This occurrence suggested to him a riddle, which he proposed to the wedding guests, laying a wager at the same time that no one would be able to guess it. The riddle was this: “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." As the men could not guess the riddle, they urged the bride to extort the secret from her husband; she did so, and treacherously revealed it to her countrymen. On the appointed day, the guests insinuated to Samson that they knew his riddle, by saying, “What is stronger than a lion ? and what is sweeter than honey?” Samson perceived at once that his wife had played him false, and angrily replied, “ If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.” Saying which, he paid the wager, and left both his wife and her city in indignation.

Having caught a number of jackalls, he tied burning brands to their tails, and then set them loose in the corn fields of his wife's relations.

The corn was consumed, and the vineyards and olive-yards were greatly damaged.

The Philistines, mad with rage, retaliated by seizing upon Sam.

Samson's revenge.

What occurred.

The Philistines take vengeance.

How Samson retorted.

What next occurred.

son's late wife and father-in-law, and burning them both to death.

Samson again retorted on the Philistines by smiting them “hip and thigh with a great slaughter.” After which, he retired for safety to the rock Etham, in Judah.

The Philistines, not to be outdone in vengeance, went to Judah and demanded that Samson should be delivered bound, into their hands.

The tribe basely consented to this demand, and gave up Samson to them. But no sooner was he in their hands, than he snapped asunder his cords, and falling on his captors, slew 1000 of them with “ the jaw-bone of an ass. What next Exhausted with fatigue, he prayed God for a draught of water. God heard his

prayer, and brought water to refresh him from a rock.

Some interpreters think this a poetical description, and say Lehi, translated a jaw-bone, was a

What was done.

Where he betook himself.

How he

part of the rock Etham, which Samson tore off and rolled upon the Philistines. When this fragment was thus broken off, water trickled from the rock. The gap was called in Hebrew, Maktesh (the jaw-tooth). This interpretation is plausible, and presents fewer difficulties than our translation.

After this he went to Gaza, where he lodged with a woman who kept a tavern. When the Philistines heard of it, they ordered the city gates to be closed, in order to make him prisoner. escaped

. Upon hearing this, Samson made his escape by tearing down the city gates, and carrying them on his should ers to a hill in the neighbourhood of Hebron.

His second wife was Delilah, a faithless woman, like the former, who was bribed by the Philistines to discover how his extraordinary strength might be overcome.

He evaded her curiosity for a time; but when she pretended to be vexed, he told her he was a Nazarite,

Who was his second wife.

Samson yields.

« PreviousContinue »