Judges 15

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1 And it cometh to pass, after [some] days, in the days of wheat-harvest, that Samson looketh after his wife, with a kid of the goats, and saith, `I go in unto my wife, to the inner chamber;' and her father hath not permitted him to go in,

2 and her father saith, I certainly said, that thou didst certainly hate her, and I give her to thy companion; is not her sister -- the young one -- better than she? Let her be, I pray thee, to thee, instead of her.'

3 And Samson saith of them, `I am more innocent this time than the Philistines, though I am doing with them evil.'

4 And Samson goeth and catcheth three hundred foxes, and taketh torches, and turneth tail unto tail, and putteth a torch between the two tails, in the midst,

5 and kindleth fire in the torches, and sendeth [them] out into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burneth [it] from heap even unto standing corn, even unto vineyard -- olive-yard.

6 And the Philistines say, `Who hath done this?' And they say, `Samson, son-in-law of the Timnite, because he hath taken away his wife, and giveth her to his companion;' and the Philistines go up, and burn her and her father with fire.

7 And Samson saith to them, `Though ye do thus, nevertheless I am avenged on you, and afterwards I cease!'

8 And he smiteth them hip and thigh -- a great smiting, and goeth down and dwelleth in the cleft of the rock Etam.

9 And the Philistines go up, and encamp in Judah, and are spread out in Lehi,

10 and the men of Judah say, `Why have ye come up against us?' and they say, `To bind Samson we have come up, to do to him as he hath done to us.'

11 And three thousand men of Judah go down unto the cleft of the rock Etam, and say to Samson, `Hast thou now known that the Philistines are rulers over us? and what [is] this thou hast done to us?' And he saith to them, `As they did to me, so I did to them.'

12 And they say to him, `To bind thee we have come down -- to give thee into the hand of the Philistines.' And Samson saith to them, `Swear to me, lest ye fall upon me yourselves.'

13 And they speak to him, saying, No, but we certainly bind thee, and have given thee into their hand, and we certainly do not put thee to death;' and they bind him with two thick bands, new ones, and bring him up from the rock.

14 He hath come unto Lehi -- and the Philistines have shouted at meeting him -- and the Spirit of Jehovah prospereth over him, and the thick bands which [are] on his arms are as flax which they burn with fire, and his bands are wasted from off his hands,

15 and he findeth a fresh jaw-bone of an ass, and putteth forth his hand and taketh it, and smiteth with it -- a thousand men.

16 And Samson saith, `With a jaw-bone of the ass -- an ass upon asses -- with a jaw-bone of the ass I have smitten a thousand men.'

17 And it cometh to pass when he finisheth speaking, that he casteth away the jaw-bone out of his hand, and calleth that place Ramath-Lehi;

18 and he thirsteth exceedingly, and calleth unto Jehovah, and saith, `Thou -- Thou hast given by the hand of Thy servant this great salvation; and now, I die with thirst, and have fallen into the hand of the uncircumcised.'

19 And God cleaveth the hollow place which [is] in Lehi, and waters come out of it, and he drinketh, and his spirit cometh back, and he reviveth; therefore hath [one] called its name `The fountain of him who is calling,' which [is] in Lehi unto this day.

20 And he judgeth Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.


Exploring the Meaning of Judges 15      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 15: Samson defeats the Philistines.

At the beginning of this chapter, we learn that the one who gave Samson’s wife to another man was his father-in-law, who thought that Samson truly hated her. He then offered Samson her younger sister instead, saying, “Is she not better? Take her.”

Samson, enraged, took three-hundred foxes and tied them tail-to-tail in pairs, with a lit torch between them. He then released them in the Philistines’ standing grain, vineyards and olive groves to burn up their crops, as revenge for the loss of his wife. In retaliation, the Philistines went and burned her and her father. In a final act of vengeance, Samson killed very many of the Philistines, then went to dwell in the cleft of the rock of Etam.

The Philistines went to Judah, stating their intent to arrest Samson, and the men of Judah passed on the message to him. Samson made the Judeans promise not to kill him themselves, but only to bind him with two new ropes before giving him to the Philistines as a prisoner.

When the Philistines came, Samson broke apart the ropes, and killed a thousand of them with the jawbone of a donkey. Then he threw the jawbone away, and complained to the Lord that he was thirsty. The Lord answered his cry for help by splitting the ground where the jawbone fell, so that Samson could drink the water that flowed from it.

The final verse of this chapter tells us that Samson judged Israel twenty years.

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Samson’s marriage to a Philistine woman speaks to the appealing, or even enticing, nature of ‘faith alone’ spirituality, represented by the Philistines. We must stay on our guard, to ensure that we are not caught up in thinking that faith alone will save us. The father offers Samson his wife’s younger sister, saying she is even better, but Samson had already learned to be wary by that point.

The foxes, tied together with their tails lit on fire, vividly describes the twisted and destructive nature of faith alone, and the way it consumes our potential to lead a fruitful life. The Word often depicts the state of a nation or religion through a story illustrating its true nature (True Christian Religion 130)

The cycle of revenge between Samson and the Philistines represents our personal struggles during temptation and our wish to regenerate. Our whole effort during regeneration is to resist sins that might lure us in, and to maintain our intention to live the Word (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Providence 83[6]). The men of Judah who bind Samson represent our love for the Lord and for everything of the Lord, although this seems contradictory on a surface level. In this case, being ‘bound up’ means to be bound in our commitment to the Lord, so that we are restrained from doing evil (see Swedenborg’s work, Heaven and Hell 577[4]).

Samson stands for the power of the Word acting in our lives to assert what is true, to protect what must be upheld, and to defend against evils. He uses the jawbone of a donkey because a jawbone allows us to eat food (spiritually, nourishment from the Word), and also to proclaim the Lord’s truths. This gives us the power to expose and reject the belief that spirituality consists of faith alone (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 9049[6]).

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