Judges 16:3 MEANING

Judges 16:3
(3) Arose at midnight.--Apparently--but here again the narrative omits all details--he had been told of the plot, and found the gates unguarded; unless we are to suppose that he slew the guards, without awaking the city.

Took.--Rather, grasped or seized.

The two posts--i.e., the side-posts.

Went away with them, bar and all.--Rather, tore them up, with the bar; the bar was the bar which fastened the two valves together. Gaza, as we see from the site of its walls, had several gates. The site of the gate traditionally pointed out is on the south-east. It may have been the smaller gate, by the side of the main gate, which he thus tore up. In Mohammedan legend Ali uses the gate of Chaibar as a shield, which may be a sort of confused echo and parallel of this event (Po-cocke, Hist. Arab., p. 10).

That is before Hebron.--It is not implied that Samson walked with the gates and bars on his shoulders nine miles to Hebron; but probably (as the local tradition says) to El Montar, a hill in the direction of Hebron, from which the hills of Hebron are visible. Pliny, in his Natural History (vii. 19), adduces many instances of colossal strength, but in this narrative it is distinctly implied that the strength of Samson was a supernatural gift, arising from his dedication to God. The carrying away the gate of his enemies would be understood in the East as a very peculiar insult. "When Almansor took Compostella, he made the Christians carry the gates of St. James's Church on their shoulders to Cordova in sign of his victory" (Ferraras, Gesch. von Spanier, iii. 145, quoted by Cassel).

Verse 3. - Samson arose at midnight. Possibly the woman had learnt the plot, and gave Samson warning, after the manner of Rahab; or she may have been his betrayer, and reckoned upon retaining him till the morning; anyhow he arose at midnight, when the liers in wait were sleeping securely, and tearing up the two gate-pests, with the gates and the cross-bar attached to them, walked off with them "as far as the top of the hill that is before Hebron." Took the doors, etc. Rather, laid hold of. For went away with them, translate plucked them up. It is the technical word for plucking up the tent pins. Bar and all, or, with the bar. The bar was probably a strong iron or wooden crossbar, which was attached to the posts by a lock, and could only be removed by one that had the key. Samson tore up the posts with the barred gates attached to them, and, putting the whole mass upon his back walked off with it. The hill that is before Hebron. Hebron "was about nine geographical, or between ten and eleven English, miles from Gaza, situated in a deep, narrow valley, with high hills on either side." It is approached from Gaza over a high ridge, from the top of which Hebron becomes visible, lying in the valley below at fifty minutes' distance. This spot would suit very well the description, "the hill that is before Hebron." Some, however, think that the hill called el Montar, about three-quarters of an hour from Gaza, on the road to Hebron, is here meant, and that the plain before Hebron merely means towards, as in Genesis 18:16; Deuteronomy 32:49.

16:1-3 Hitherto Samson's character has appeared glorious, though uncommon. In this chapter we find him behaving in so wicked a manner, that many question whether or not he were a godly man. But the apostle has determined this, Heb 11:32. By adverting to the doctrines and examples of Scripture, the artifices of Satan, the deceitfulness of the human heart, and the methods in which the Lord frequently deals with his people, we may learn useful lessons from this history, at which some needlessly stumble, while others cavil and object. The peculiar time in which Samson lived may account for many things, which, if done in our time, and without the special appointment of Heaven, would be highly criminal. And there might have been in him many exercises of piety, which, if recorded, would have reflected a different light upon his character. Observe Samson's danger. Oh that all who indulge their sensual appetites in drunkenness, or any fleshly lusts, would see themselves thus surrounded, way-laid, and marked for ruin by their spiritual enemies! The faster they sleep, the more secure they feel, the greater their danger. We hope it was with a pious resolution not to return to his sin, that he rose under a fear of the danger he was in. Can I be safe under this guilt? It was bad that he lay down without such checks; but it would have been worse, if he had laid still under them.And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight,.... Either not being able to lie any longer through the conviction of his conscience for his lewdness, or being warned by a dream, or having an impulse upon his spirit, which suggested to him that wait was laid for him, and the danger he was in; and coming to the gate of the city, which he found shut and fast barred and bolted, and the watch perhaps asleep, not expecting his coming until daylight:

and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all; did not stand to break open the doors of the gate, but took the two side posts up, on which the folding doors of the gate were hung, out of the ground in which they were fastened, with the bar which went across the doors for the security of them:

and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron; if this hill was near Hebron, as the words thus read seem to intimate, he must carry the gates twenty miles upon his shoulders, for so far was Hebron from Gaza; so Josephus says it was over Hebron; but according to Adrichomius (t), it was near Gaza, looking towards Hebron; and so Sandys says (u), in the valley, on the east side of the city, are many straggling buildings, beyond which there is a hill more eminent than the rest, on the north side of the way that leads to Babylon, said to be that to which Samson carried the gates of the city. It is very probable, as some think, that it was between Gaza and Hebron, in sight of both cities, which may be meant by the phrase "before", or "on the face of"; being so high might be seen as far as Hebron, as well as at Gaza. This was an emblem of Christ's resurrection, of whom Samson was a type, who being encompassed in a sepulchre, and sealed and watched by soldiers, broke through the bars of death and the grave, and carried off the doors in triumph; and in a short time ascended to heaven, whereby he declared himself to be the Son of God with power. It was usual for doors and bars of gates to be carried in triumph, and laid up in temples (w); and the Jews say these doors were not less than sixty cubits, and suppose Samson's shoulders to be as broad (x).

(t) "Theatrum Terrae Sanet". p. 133. (u) Ut supra, (Travels l. 3.) p. 117. (w) "----sacris in postibus arma: ----et portarum ingentia claustra." Virgil. Aeneid. 7. ver. 185. (x) T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 10. 1.

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