OceanSide church of Christ

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Lesson #16


Twenty Years as a Judge (3)

Judges 15:1-20

Victor M. Eskew


I.             OPERATING OUT OF VENGEANCE (Judg. 15:1-8)


A.     Returning for his wife (Judg. 15:1a)


B.     Refusal by her father (Judg. 15:1b-2)


C.     Revenge by Samson (Judg. 15:3-5)

1.       The defense of his revenge (Judg. 15:3)

2.       The details of his revenge (Judg. 15:4-5)

a.       The foxes (Judg. 15:4a)


And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes…


1)       Foxes

a)       Strong (7776):  a burrower, a jackal

b)      BDB:  fox, perhaps also jackal

2)       These are unclean animals (Lev. 11:27).  Again, Samson shows no concern for his holiness before God.


Whatsoever goeth upon its paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, these are unclean unto you.


3)       Why foxes?  Why didn’t Samson solicit the assistance of the Israelites?

4)       It appears that he captured three hundred foxes in nets or snares.  The foxes and jackals roamed in large packs.  In that day, there were many roaming in the wilderness areas.

b.      Fire brands

1)       Definition

a)       Strong (3940):  to shine

b)      BDB:  a torch

2)       Samson tied the fox tails together with a rope.  He, then, fastened a torch to the rope between the tails.

3)       Some doubt the story’s truthfulness.  They believe that such as act as this is too farfetched.  However, the Romans had a custom during the feast of Ceres of turning foxes loose with torches tied to their tails (Matthew Poole as quoted by Butler, 98).

c.       Flight

1)       The torches were set on fire and attempting to flee from the fire, the foxes ran through the corn (wheat) field, the vineyards, and the olive trees.

2)       Comments

a.       “But no less impressive than the physical undertaking are the planning, the idea, and the inventiveness” (Grossman, 82).

b.      “The foxes, living torches, ran around the fields, sowing fiery devastation, destroying all the gathered crops” (Grossman, 85).

c.       The economy of the Philistine was dependent upon agriculture.  This act of Samson struck a severe blow to the finances of the nation.


D.    Retribution by the Philistines (Judg. 15:6).

1.       The inquiry (Judg. 15:6a)


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.

a.       The Philistines have suffered a great loss financially.

b.      Their question seems like they believe someone ought to pay.

c.       They see Samson as the secondary cause and his wife’s family as the primary cause.

1)       Perhaps this was easier than having to deal with Samson.

2)       Perhaps they thought this would appease Samson.

3)       Maybe they viewed this as just punishment for the family because they had brought this Hebrew among them.

2.       The incineration (Judg. 15:6b)


And the Philistines came up, and burned her and her father with fire.


a.       Most likely they burned her father’s house with them inside.

b.      It seems strange that they now reap the consequences that had been originally threatened by the Philistines at the wedding feast (Judg. 14:15).

c.    Lesson:  “The mischief we seek to escape by any unlawful practices, we often pull upon our own heads” (Matthew Henry as quoted by Butler, 100).


E.      The Rampage of Samson (Judg. 15:7-8a)


And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.  And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter.


1.       The words “though ye have done this” mean “because ye have done this terrible deed.”

2.       Remember that he had returned to retrieve his wife (Judg. 15:1).  He seems to still have feelings for her.  Now she is dead because of the Philistines.

3.       Samson affirms that he will meet our revenge again:  “…yet will I be avenged of you…”

4.       He did so immediately.  He smote them “hip and thigh with a great slaughter.”

a.       Hip and thigh:

1)       To slay with great carnage

2)       To slay in a fierce and ruthless manner

b.      We are not told how many individuals were slaughtered.

c.       Note:  Samson, once again, carries out his attacks on the enemy of God’s people.

5.    Lessons:

a.       Vengeance is rooted in anger.  Anger that is not controlled spirals out of control quickly.

b.      “The retaliation circle widens, as it always will” (Butler, 100).

1)       The account has gone from a riddle to a rampage.  It has gone from a celebration to a cremation.  It has gone from a festive moment to a fierce massacre.

2)       30 dead, crops destroyed, a family burned, many slain

3)       Romans 12:14, 17, 19


Bless them which persecute you:  bless, and curse not.  Recompense to no man evil for evil…Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath:  for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.


F.      The Retreat of Samson (Judg. 15:8b)


…and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.


1.       Most believe that this Etam is located in the territory of Judah.  Note:  Samson did not return to his home in Dan.

2.       This Etam is mentioned in I Chronicles 4:32.

3.       The top of the rock was a secure place, a place with natural fortresses and clever hiding places.