Judges – Lesson 19

Judges Chapter 15


Last week we studied the early years of Samson in his adult life.  He marries a Philistine girl and makes a bet about with the 30 young men who came to his wedding feast about the lion that had the hive of bees inside the carcass.  The young men threaten his wife that they will burn her father’s house and her also if she does not get Samson to reveal the answer to the riddle.  She eventually succeeds, and Samson loses the bet to the men.   The chapter ended with Samson going among the Philistines and killing 30 of them to get the changes of clothing to pay his bet.  He leaves his wife and returns home very upset.   Her father thinks she has been abandoned and gives her to another man.


I.                   Samson’s Return to Timnath 

Judg 15:1  But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in.

Judg 15:2  And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? take her, I pray thee, instead of her. 

The story begins at the time of harvest which was June to July.  Samson returns back to Timnath to claim his bride.  We are not told how long it has been since the wedding.  He leaves his parents and takes a goat, a young kid, hoping to please her.  He comes to the house of the girl’s father, expecting to find her.  Rather he is met by her father and informed that he has given her to one of Samson’s companions for wife.  He states that he thought that he hated her and there  was no hope in the marriage.   I think many today rush away from one another without giving one another a chance to make things work.   God wants us to go into a marriage for the long haul, and men and women are commanded to love one another.  That does not mean we won’t have our problems and occasional misunderstandings, but it does mean that we are to work through them all.  This father is upset that he has given the daughter away, so he offers his younger daughter, who he claimed was fairer than Samson’s original wife.


II.                The Foxes and the Firebrands 

Judg 15:3  And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure. 

When Samson learns that his wife had been given to another man, he seems to be in control of his temper.   We are commanded of God to sin not when we become angry.

Self control is one of the fruits of the Spirit when we walk close to God and seek his ways.   

Eph 4:26  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Eph 4:27  Neither give place to the devil.


Gal 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Gal 5:23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Gal 5:24  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Gal 5:25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 

Temperance, which means self-control, is very important in a child of God.  In the prior chapter, Samson had appeared to not control his temper. 

Judg 14:19  And the spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house. 

It appears that now he is thinking of how to defeat the Philistines. 

Judg 15:4  And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand* in the midst between two tails.   

I looked up the Greek word meaning firebrand, and found it to be a lamp or torch. 

* lappiyd, lap-peed'; or  lappid, lap-peed'; from an unused root prob. mean. to shine; a flambeau, lamp or flame:--(fire-) brand, (burning) lamp, lightning, torch 

We are told that Samson caught 300 foxes and took firebrands and tied them between the tails of the foxes.  How he caught the foxes we are not told.  It would appear that he was a skilled trapper to catch so many in a short time. 

Judg 15:5  And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives. 

Samson goes out and sets fire to the brands and turns the foxes loose in the standing corn of the Philistines.     You can imagine how the foxes ran through the corn igniting the fields on fire.  The shocks of corn caught on fire quickly, causing a great loss to the Philistines.  Not only were the corn fields burned, but also the vineyards and the olives. 


Judg 15:6  Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire. 

This stirred up the Philistines and they burned the house of Samson’s father in law and his wife.  The Philistines blamed Samson for what had happened and said it was due to his father in law giving away his wife. 

Judg 15:7  And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.

Judg 15:8  And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.

Samson sends a message to them and tells them he would be avenged of them soon.  He then proceeds to smite them hip and thigh with a great slaughter.  We need to remember that his calling for the Lord was to deliver the people from the bondage brought by this nation. 

Judg 15:9  Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi. 

The message of this slaughter was heard all over the Philistine camps and cities.  It perhaps made them question if they really were the master of the Israelites or not.   The bride, who had thought herself wise in betraying her new husband winds up suffering the very death she had sought to avoid in chapter 14.  (Judges 14:15-16) 

Matthew Henry said this about the Philistines coming up to camp in Judah. 

The Philistines went up in a body, a more formidable force than they had together when Samson smote them hip and thigh; and they pitched in Judah, and spread themselves up and down the country, to find out Samson, who they heard had come this way, v. 9. When the men of Judah, who had tamely submitted to their yoke, pleaded that they had paid their tribute, and that none of their tribe had given them any offence, they freely own they designed nothing in this invasion but to seize Samson; they would fight neither against small nor great, but only that judge of Israel (v. 10), to do to him as he has done to us, that is, to smite his hip and thigh, as he did ours—an eye for an eye. Here was an army sent against one man, for indeed he was himself an army. Thus a whole band of men was sent to seize our Lord Jesus, that blessed Samson, though a tenth part would have served now that his hour had come, and ten times as many would have done nothing if he had not yielded.  [1]


III.             The Philistines Pursue Samson 

Judg 15:10  And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us? And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us. 

When Samson returned from the area of Timnah, he did not go directly to his father’s house in Zorah, but goes to the top of the rock Etam.  Apparently this place was a high place where he could watch what the Philistines might do to come after him.  We are not told how many were in the group that came after Samson, but it was enough people to prompt 3,000 Israelites soon to bring Samson to them and later for Samson to kill 1,000 of the Philistines.  The host had come to a place called Lehi which was also unidentified, but most likely in the general vicinity of Zorah.  When the people of Judah heard of this host coming, they went out to meet them and made an agreement to bring Samson to them. 


Judg 15:11  Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them. 

Three thousand men of Judah come to Etam and delivered their message to Samson.  They state that the Philistines are rulers over us, and accuse Samson of endangering their lives because of this quarrel with them. 

Judg 15:12  And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves. 

The Israelites make it clear that they have come to bind him, the one that God has raised to deliver the nation.  Surely they must have been aware of the unusual strength of this man.  What could have made them feel that they could find the one whom the Philistines had no power to bind. 

Judg 15:13  And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand: but surely we will not kill thee. And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock. 

Samson asks them to swear that they will not kill him.   He knows that he should not have to fight his own countrymen, but only the enemy.   They agree that they will not harm him, but simply bind him and take him to the Philistines bound in the 2 new ropes.

One of the reasons that they bind Samson is the great fear the people had of the Philistines.  They had come to accept their plight and just believed there was nothing that could be done to change things.  They had forgotten that God can deliver us from any trial or situation if we will but ask and believe. 

Mat 21:21  Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

Mat 21:22  And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. 

The Israelites in Samson’s day were like many Christian’s today.  They take the attitude that there really is nothing that can be done to counter the program of Satan in this wicked world.  But we shorten the hand and power of God, and God is on the throne and still is able to deliver us from whatever malady afflicts us if it is His will. 


IV.              Samson Slays a Thousand Philistines 

Judg 15:14  And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. 

The Philistines think that they have Samson at last.  Their arch enemy is now bound with new rope, and will cause them no harm.  But the ropes of this world can not hold back the power of God.  But the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords were broken as flax that was burned with fire. 

Judg 15:15  And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith. 

Samson takes one of the strangest weapons, the jawbone of an ass, and goes forth and kills 1,000 men.  No matter what God equips us with in our battle of life, we can win the challenge before us. 

Judg 15:16  And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men. 

Samson kills so many that the dead are lying in heaps upon heaps.  In fleeing, the Philistines became easy prey for Samson.  He ran rapidly in pursuit as he fought furiously. Those that gathered together in small groups to battle were unable to overcome the power that Samson showed, using a most unlikely weapon.  

Judg 15:17  And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramathlehi. 

After finishing his task, he casts his weapon aside and called the place Ramathlehi, meaning “Jawbone height.” 

Judg 15:18  And he was sore athirst, and called on the LORD, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised? 

After the victory, Samson became extremely thirsty and asked God to supply him with water.  God acknowledged Samson’s request and supplied his desire.  We are so blessed by the good Lord to have many blessings bestowed upon us, some that we ask for, some that are just given.   Our Sovereign God knows our needs even before we ask.

Samson had the right attitude, and gave God the glory in winning the battle.  “Thou hast given this great deliverance”.  We need to know that all good and perfect gifts come from the Father above.  Samson acknowledged that the triumph was not of himself, but God working through him.  Samson’s purpose in being born was to “begin to deliver” Israel, and God enabled him to do it.  The Israelites showed cowardice in not willing to fight, but Samson was not fearful.   

Judg 15:19  But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof Enhakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day. 

We are told that God clave out a hollow place in the jaw and water came out from it.   God answered this man in his time of need, and all of us who believe in faith and ask will receive an answer to our prayers.  This showed that God was pleased with the battle that Samson had with the Philistines, or he would not have given him the water from this place.  Samson name the place Enhakkore, meaning “the well of him that called.”  From this, we understand that the spring continued to run after Samson drank from the spring.


V.  Samson Judges Israel 

Judg 15:20  And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years. 

After this great battle, Samson became a judge in Israel that judged for 20 years.



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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.





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[1]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.