« PreviousContinue »
were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And | 23 4 Then the lords of the Philistines gahe brake them from off his arms like a thread. thered them together for to offer a great
13 And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice : thou hast mocked me, and told me lies : tell for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And | our enemy into our hand. he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven 24 And when the people saw him, they locks of my head with the web.
praised their god : for they said, Our god 14 And she fastened it with the pin, and hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, the destroyer of our country, 'which slew Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and many of us. went away with the pin of the beam, and with 25 And it came to pass, when their hearts the web.
were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, 15 | And she said unto him, How canst that he may make us sport. And they called thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not for Samson out of the prison house; and he with me? thou hast mocked me these three made 'Sthem sport: and they set him between times, and hast not told me wherein thy great the pillars. strength lieth.
26 | And Samson said unto the lad that 16 And it came to pass, when she pressed held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may him daily with her words, and urged him, so feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that his soul was ''vexed unto death;
that I may lean upon them. 17 That he told her all his heart, and said 27 Now the house was full of men and unto her, There hath not come a razor upon women; and all the lords of the Philistines mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto were there; and there were upon the roof about God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, three thousand men and women, that beheld then my strength will go from me, and I shall | while Samson made sport. become weak, and be like any other man.
28 And Samson called unto the LORD, and 18 And when Delilah saw that he had told said, O LORD God, remember me, I pray thee, her all his heart, she sent and called for the and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this O God, that I may be at once avenged of the once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Philistines for my two eyes. Then the lords of the Philistines came up 29 And Samson took hold of the two middle unto her, and brought money in their hand. pillars upon which the house stood,
19 And she made him sleep upon her which it was borne up, of the one with his knees; and she called for a man, and she right hand, and of the other with his left. caused him to shave off the seven locks of 30 And Samson said, Let "me die with his head ; and she began to afflict him, and the Philistines. And he bowed himself with his strength went from him.
all his might ; and the house fell upon the 20 And she said, The Philistines be upon lords, and upon all the people that were therethee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, in. So the dead which he slew at his death and said, I will go out as at other times before, were more than they which he slew in his and shake myself. And he wist not that the life. LORD was departed from him.
31 Then his brethren and all the house of 21 | But the Philistines took him, and his father came down, and took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to brought him up, and buried him between Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass ; Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of and he did grind in the prison house.
Manoah his father. And he judged Israel 22 Howbeit the hair of his head began to twenty years. grow again 'Safter he was shaven.
11 Heb. shortened. 12 Hleb, bored out.
13 Or, as when he was shaven.
14 Heb, and who multiplied our slain.
17 Heb. my soul.
13 Heb, before them.
Verse 1. •Gaza.'-- This town was the capital of the that time occupied by a Persian garrison, and took it after most southern of the Philistine principalities, and is situated a siege of two months. Alexander was often repulsed, about thirteen miles W.8.w. of Ascalon, forty-five miles and twice wounded during the siege; and after the town 8.w. by w. from Jerusalem, and between two and three was taken he avenged himself by the most savage treatmiles from the sea. It is always mentioned as an im. ment of the brave governor, Betis. He did not destroy the portant place in the Old Testament. Alexander the Great, town; but having killed a part of the old inhabitants and after destroying Tyre, laid siege to Gaza, which was at / sold the rest, he re-peopled it with a new colony, and made
it one of his garrisons. It was afterwards (B.C. 98) de- | dition 230 years ago than at present. The following is stroyed by Alexander Jannæus, the king of the Jews. It the substance of his account. jay desolate about forty years, and was rebuilt by Gabinus, “It stands upon a hill surrounded with valleys; and the Roman president of Syria. Augustus gave it to Herod those again well-nigh environed with hills, most of them the Great, after whose death it was re-annexed to Syria. planted with all sorts of delicate fruits. The buildings It was afterwards, according to Josephus, again destroyed mean, both of forms and matter; the best but low, of rough by the Jews, with several other towns, to avenge a mas- stone, arched within, and flat on the top, including a sacre of their countrymen at Cæsarea. This explains the quadrangle: the walls surmounting their roofs, wrought expression of St. Luke, who, in mentioning Gaza, observes through with potsherds to catch and strike down the that it was then a desert' (Acts viji. 26). It must, how- | refreshing winds, having spouts of the same, in colour, ever, soon have been rebuilt or repaired, as it existed in shape, and sight, resembling great ordnance. Others the time of Hadrian, who granted it some important privi covered with mats and hurdles, some built of mud; leges; these were enlarged by Constantine, who gave it amongst all, not any comely or convenient. Yet there are the name of Constantia, in honour of his son, and granted some reliques left, and some impressions, that testify a it the rank and privileges of a city. This seems to have | better condition : for divers simple roofs are supported led to the statement that Gaza was rebuilt by Constantine ; | with goodly pillars of Parian marble, some plain, some but we cannot find good authority for more than we have curiously carved. A number broken in pieces do serve stated. Jerome says, that the town existing in his time for thresholds, jambs of doors, and sides of windows. was nearer to the sea than the old town.
On the north-east corner, and summit of the hill, are the Under so many changes, besides others of inferior mo. ruirs of huge arches, sunk low in the earth, and other ment which we have not specified, it is not to be expected | foundations of a stately building. From whence the last that much, if anything, of its more ancient remains should Sanziack conveyed marble pillars of an incredible big. now be found. It seems to have undergone a gradual de ness; enforced to saw them asunder ere they could be clension in importance, although its share in the commerce removed: which he employed in adorning a certain mosque between Egypt and Syria still maintains it as a small town below in the valley.'..... On the west side of the city, in a condition of comparatively decent prosperity.
out of sight and yet within hearing, is the sea, seven furBaumgarten, who was at Gaza early in the sixteenth longs off' (recent travellers make it more); where they century, describes it as a large place, containing more in have a decayed and unsafe port, of small avail at this day habitants than Jerusalem ; but not fortified. He, as well to the inhabitants. In the valley, on the east side of the as other old travellers, tells us gravely, that the remains city, are many straggling buildings. After mentioning of the temple which Samson pulled down were still shewn, the hill to which Samson is said to have carried the gates consisting only of a few pillars which were kept standing of the town, as higher than the others in this vicinity, and in memory of the event. To him, and to all subsequent as having at the top a mosque surrounded with the graves travellers, was shewn, at about a mile from the town, the of Mohammedans, he continues :-' in the plain between hill to which Samson carried the gates of Gaza during the that and the town there stand two high pillars of marble, night. But the text says that he carried them to the hill their tops much worn by the weather: the cause of their which is before Hebron;' and Hebron is about twenty erecting unknown, but of great antiquity. South of that, miles from Guza.-Sandys, who was in this neighbour and by the way of Ægypt, there is a mighty cisteru, filled hood about a century later, gives a rather full account of only by the fall of rain, and descended into by large the place, which is particularly valuable, as the remains stairs of stone: where they wash their clothes, and water of ancient Gaza must have been in a more perfect con- | their cattle.' Most of this account is still applicable, except that some of the ancient remains of columns, etc., have visions (which they sell on very advantageous terms) to now disappeared. The substructions and columns of the the pilgrims on their way to Mecca. The Arabs also ruin in the centre of the town, scattered pillars of grey make it the mart for the sale of their plunder: and all granite, and fragments of old marble columns and statues these sources of prosperity render Gaza a very thriving appearing in the buildings of the town, are all that is now place for the country in which it is found. See further in noticed. The hill on which Gaza stands is about two Wittman's Travels in Turkey ; Richardson's Travels along miles in circumference at the base, and appears to have the Mediterrunean ; Irby and Mangles' Travels in Egypt, been wholly enclosed within the ancient fortifications. etc.; and Jolliffe's Letters from Palestine ; Robinson's
The town, being surrounded by and interspersed with Researches ; Narrative of the Scottish Deputation. gardens and plantations of olive and date trees, has a pic 5. “We will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces turesque appearance, to which its numerous minarets, of silver.'— These pieces of silver were probably shekels; raising their elegant forms, not a little contribute; and as and the shekel being worth about half-a-crown, the total the buildings are mostly of stone, and the streets mode 5500 pieces of silver from the five lords of the Philistines rately broad, the interior disappoints expectation rather would amount to 6871. 10s.—a vast bribe for the time and less than that of most other towns of Syria; and both the country. town and the people upon the whole seem comfortable, and 7. Seven green withs.'—This is an interesting indicain every kind of accommodation far superior to the tion that the ropes in use among the Hebrews were of crude Egyptians. The suburbs, however, are composed of vegetable tendrils, pliable rods, fibres, or leaves. As the miserable mud huts; but all travellers concur with word translated 'withs' (injeter) is a general word for a Sandys in admiring the richness and variety of the vege rope or cord, we should not have known this, were it not table productions, both wild and cultivated, of the environs.
that the epithet 'green' is here employed. Withs' is too The population of Gaza has been usually much under
restricted a term. "Green ropes, as distinguished from stated. It is really equal, if not superior, to that of Jeru * dry ropes,' is the proper meaning, the peculiarity being salcm, if correctly estimated by Dr. Robinson at fifteen
in the greenness, not in the material. It may imply any or sixteen thousand. They have manufactures of cotton kind of crude vegetable commonly used for ropes, without and soap; but derive their principal support from the com restricting it to withs, or tough and pliable rods twisted merce between Egypt and Syria, which must all pass this into a rope. It is true that such ropes are used in the way. They also traffic with Suez for Indian goods brought East, and, while they remain green, are stronger than any from Jidda; and they send a caravan with supplies of pro- 1 other; and, so far, the probability is that such are here
particularly intended. In India, the legs of wild ele- | peasants twist, and with reference to the simple and crude phants and buffaloes newly caught are commonly bound materials of which they are composed. with ropes of this sort. Josephus says that the ropes ul. New ropes,' as distinguished from the former, which bound Samson were made with the tendrils of the These seem to be new dried ropes of the usual description, vine. At the present time ropes in the East are rarely and (as the Hebrew word seems to imply) of the thickest made of hemp or flax. Except some that are made with and strongest sort. hair or leather, they are generally formed with the tough 13. If thou wearest the seven locks of my head with the fibres of trees (particularly the palm-tree) and roots, with web.' A little attention will shew that a line has been grasses, and with reeds and rushes. These are in general here dropped from the text, by some transcriber, since, as tolerably strong; but in no degree comparable to our it stands, Delilah does something which Samson does not hempen ropes. They are very light in comparison, and, express, and omits something which he specifies. The wanting compactness, those required for given purposes omitted clause is found in the Septuagint, by the help of are always incomparably thicker than such as are em which the whole passage may be thus rendered :-If thou ployed for similar uses by ourselves. In most cases they interweave the seven locks of my head with that web, and are also rough and coarse to the eye. The praise which fasten them to the pin, I shall become weak and be as another travellers bestow on ropes of this sort, must not be under man. So while he was asleep she interwove with the web stood as putting them in comparison with our own; but the seven locks of his head, and she fastened them to the perhaps in comparison with the bands of hay which our pin, and said unto him,' etc. We do not intend in this
place to enter into the peculiarities of Oriental weaving: i 21. · Bound him with fetters of brass,' or rather, probabut it may help, to the better understanding of this trans- bly, of copper. This seems another proof that, although action, to remark that, firstly, the looms of Palestine were iron was at this time pretty well known, it had not yet extremely simple, probably not unlike those that are still come into general use. If it had, we should expect to used in many parts of Asia and Africa ; secondly, that they find Samson bound with fetters of that metal rather than were worked by women; thirdly, that the web was nar of brass, which is not thought of for such a purpose in row; fourthly, that the woof was driven into the warp, countries where iron is common. The emphasis is here not by a reed, but by a wooden spatula ; fifthly, that the on brass, not as distinguished from any other metal, but end of the web was fastened to a pin or stake, fixed pro to shew that his fetters were of metal, and that he was, bably in the wall, or driven into the ground; sixthly, that not like the common race of offenders, bound with ropes Samson was probably sleeping, with his head in Delilah's or thongs of leather. lap, when she wove his hair into the web. The annexed -'He did grind in the prison house.'-Of course, with engraving of Hindoo weaving will illustrate some of the millstones worked by the hands, this being still the usual details, and will in particular render it clear how easy it method of grinding corn in the East. This is an employ. was for Delilah to weave in the long hair of Samson ment which usually devolves on women; and to assign it while his head lay on her lap. Comp. v. 19.
therefore to such a man as Samson, was doubtless with a 19. She made him sleep upon her knees.'-- Probably in view to reduce him to the lowest state of degradation and a relative position, such as is still often seen in the East, dishonour. To grind corn for others, was, even for a where one person sitting cross-legged on a mat or carpet woman, a proverbial term expressing a degraded and which covers the floor (which is the usual sitting posture), oppressed condition; and how much more for Samson, another extended at length or reclining, rests his head on who seems to have been made the general grinder for the the lap of the former, as on a pillow.
prison-house!' - She called for a man, and she caused him to shave To him, the great pang of his condition must have been off the seven locks of his head.'—That a man should be able | to feel that all this misery and degradation had been the not only to ćut, but to shave off the hair on which, during | obvious result of his own weak and dissolute conduct, all Samson's life, razor had never before come, implies which had rendered all but entirely abortive the high either that Samson slept very soundly, or that the man promise of his birth. It was probably more through this was very dexterous in his craft. In fact, the Oriental than anything else, that he did not deliver Israel ; but, as barbers do their work with so much case as to render the the angel had foretold, only began to deliver, Much as shaving of the head (the head is usually shaven in the we may blame the backwardness of the Hebrews to enter East) rather gratifying than unpleasant. The most deli into the great struggle to which Samson would have cate sleeper would scarcely be awakened by it; and even led them, it must not be forgotten that the hero's private those who are awake are scarcely sensible of the operation character does not seem to have been calculated to inspire which they are undergoing.
them with confidence. Had his obedience to the Divine
law been greater, and his discretion more apparent, the history of Samson would probably have been very different.
22. • The hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.'— Reading this in connection with verse 17, the force of the allusion is clear. The letting the hair grow was a prominent circumstance in the condition of a Nazarite; and the extraordinary strength of Samson was not a matter of thews and sinews, but was vested in him as an extraordinary gift from God, on condition of his remaining in the state of Nazariteship. The loss of his hair did not in itself deprive him of strength; but the loss of his hair involved the loss of his strength, because it took him out of the condition of a Nazarite, with which it had pleased God to connect the extraordinary physical powers with which he was invested. So now, if we find Samson again strong after the renewed growth of his hair, we are bound to believe that it was not because his hair grew; but that the hero, in his debased condition, was moved to repentance for his past misconduct ; and that, renewing his vow of Nazariteship, including the consecration of his hair, God saw proper to accept his vow, and in token of that acceptance re-invested him, as his hair grew, with the powers with which he had before so wilfully trifled.
The history of every nation boasts of some hero, whose exploits, being far beyond the ordinary range of human power, bear more or less resemblance to those of Samson. Such was the Hercules of classical antiquity, the Rama of India, the Rustam of Persia, and the Antar of Arabia, not to mention others; and many writers have undertaken to shew, that the histories of those famous personages are based on traditions concerning the doings of the Hebrew champion. We indicate this opinion without feeling it necessary to register its results, or to trace the analogies which it offers.
27. • There were upon the roof about three thousand men and women,'- It seems that the house or temple itself was full of the principal people; and that about three thousand, apparently of the lower orders, had established themselves on the roof. Against this statement there have been two cavils. One is, how 3000 persons could stand on the roof of a building; and how persons thus placed could · behold while Samson made sport below.' Both may be answered in one statement. In the first place, it is evident that the temple or place of public entertainment (for it is not certain that it was the temple to which Samson was conducted) consisted of an inclosure, quadrangular or oblong, surrounded with walls and buildings, the principal building (the house properly so called) occupying that side of the inclosure opposite to the entrance. The other sides may be composed of dead walls, or cloisters, or offices, and therefore may or may not have a roof; but the part we have indicated is always the main building, whether in a modern oriental palace, house, mosque, or other structure. This also was the arrangement of many ancient temples of Egypt, and even of Greece and Rome. If we suppose, as every probability warrauts, that the present house was of this construction, we have only to suppose that Samson exhibited his feats of strength (which were probably the sports' in question) in the open court or area, while the spectators were crowded in the interior of the building, which, being very open in front, afforded a full view of the area to every person seated within, and upon the roof above. This is in fact the usual process at the present day, when fights, wrestlings, and other feats are performed before a great personage, and a large body of persons. As to the number on the roof, we are not sure whether the objection which, merely from want of knowledge, has been taken, applies to the presumed inadequacy of a roof to support the weight of so many