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not with me? thou hast mocked me these praised their god : for they said, Our god three times, and hast not told me wherein hath delivered into our hands our enemy, thy great strength lieth.
and the destroyer of our country, which 16 And it came to pass, when she pressed slew many of us. him daily with her words, and urged him, 25 And it came to pass, when their hearts so that his soul was "vexed unto death; were merry, that they said, Call for Samson,
17 That he told her all his heart, and that he may make us sport. And they said unto her, There hath not come a razor called for Samson out of the prison house ; upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite and he made them sport: and they set unto God from my mother's womb: if I be him between the pillars. shaven, then my strength will go from me, 26 And Samson said unto the lad that and I shall become weak, and be like any held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may other man.
feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, 18 And when Delilah saw that he had that I may lean upon thema told her all his heart, she sent and called for 27 Now the house was full of men and the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come women; and all the lords of the Philistines up this once, for he hath shewed me all his
were there; and there were upon the roof heart. Then the lords of the Philistines about three thousand men and women, that came up unto her, and brought money in beheld while Samson made sport. their hand.
28 And Samson called unto the LORD, 19 And she made him sleep upon her and said, O Lord God, remember me, I knces; and she called for a man, and she pray thee, and strengthen me, I caused him to shave off the seven locks of only this once, o God, that I may be at his head; and she began to afflict him, and once avenged of the Philistines for my two his strength went from him.
eyes. 20 And she said, The Philistines be upon 29 And Samson took hold of the two thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his middle pillars upon which the house stood, sleep, and said, I will go out as at other and on which it was borne up, of the one times before, and shake myself. And he with his right hand, and of the other with wist not that the LORD was departed from his left. him.
30 And Samson said, Let me die with 21 But the Philistines took him, and the Philistines. And he bowed himself with "put out his eyes, and brought him down to all his might; and the house fell upon the Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass ; lords, and upon all the people that were and he did grind in the prison house.
therein. So the dead which he slew at his 22 Howbeit the hair of his head began death were more than they which he slew in to grow again after he was shaven.
his life. 23 Then the lords of the Philistines ga- 31 Then his brethren and all the house thered them together for to offer a great of his father came down, and took him, and sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to re- brought him up, and buried him between joice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Samson our enemy into our hand.
Manoah his father. And he judged Israel 24 And when the people saw him, they | twenty years.
14 Heb, and who multiplied our slain.
11 Heb. shortened.
12 Heb. bored out.
13 Or, as when he was shaven.
16 Or, he leaned on them.
15 Heb, before them.
17 Heb, my
Verse 1. “ Gaza.”—This town was the capital of the most southern of the Philistine principalities, and is situated about fifteen miles to the south of Ascalon, sixty miles south-west from Jerusalem, and between two and three miles from the sea. It is always mentioned as an important place in the Old Testament. Alexander the Great, after destroying Tyre, laid siege to Gaza, which was at that time occupied by a Persian garrison, and took it after a siege of two months. Alexander was often repulsed, and twice wounded during the siege; and after the town was taken he avenged himself by the most savage treatment of the brave governor, Betis. He did not destroy the town ; but having killed a part of the old inhabitants and sold the rest, he re-peopled it with a new colony, and made it one of his garrisons. It was afterwards (B.c. 98) destroyed by Alexander Jannæus, the king of the Jews. It lay desolate about forty years, and was rebuilt by Gabinus, the Roman president of Syria. Augustus gave it to Herod the Great, after whose death it was re-annexed to Syria. It was afterwards, according to Josephus, again destroyed by the Jews, with several other towns, to avenge a massacre of their countrymen at Cæsarea. This explains the expression of St. Luke, who, in mentioning Gaza, observes that it was then “ desert” (Acts viii. 26). It must, however, soon have been rebuilt or repaired, as it existed in the time of Hadrian, who granted it some important privileges; these were enlarged by Constantine, who gave it the name of Constantia, in honour of his son, and granted it the rank and privileges of a city. This seems to have led to the statement that Gaza was rebuilt by Constantine ; but we cannot find good authority for more than we have stated. Jerome says, that the town existing in his time was nearer to the sea than the old town.
Under so many changes, besides others of inferior moment which we have not specified, it is not to be expected that much, if any thing, of its more ancient remains should now be found. It seems to have undergone a gradual decline in importance, although its share in the commerce between Egypt and Syria still maintains it as a small town in a condition of comparatively decent prosperity:
Baumgarten, who was at Gaza early in the sixteenth century, describes it as a large place, containing more inhabitants than Jerusalem ; but not fortified. He, as well as other old travellers, tells us gravely, that the remains of the temple which Samson pulled down were still shown, consisting only of a few pillars which were kept standing in memory of the event. To him, and to all subsequent travellers, was shown at about a mile from the town, the hill to which Samson carried the gates of Gaza during the night. But the text says that he carried them to “the hill which is before Hebron;" and Hebron is about twenty miles from Gaza.Sandys, who was in this neighbourhood about a century later, gives a rather full account of the place, which is particularly valuable, as the remains of ancient Gaza must have been in a more perfect condition 230 years ago than at present. The following is the substance of his account:
" It stands upon a hill surrounded with valleys; and those again well-nigh environed with hills, most of them planted with all sorts of delicate fruits. The buildings mean, both of forme and matter: the best but low, of rough stone, arched within, and flat on the top, including a quadrangle: the walls surmounting their roofes, wrought through with potsheards to catch and strike downe the refreshing winds, having spouts of the same, in colour, shape, and sight, resembling great ordnance. Others covered with mats and hurdles, some built of mud; amongst all, not any comely or convenient. Yet there are some reliques left, and some impressions, that testifie a better condition: for divers simple roofs are supported with goodly pillars of Parian marble, some plaine, some curiously carved. A number broken in pieces doe serve for thresholds, jambs of doores, and sides of windowes. On the north-east corner, and summitie of the hill, are the ruines of huge arches, sunke low in the earth, and other foundations of a stately building. From whence the last Sanziack conveyed marble pillars of an incredible bignesse ; enforced to saw them asunder ere they could be removed: which he employed in adorning a certaine mosque below in the valley."...."On the west side of the city, out of sight and yet within hearing, is the sea, seven furlongs off" (recent travellers make it more); "where they have a decayed and unsafe port, of small auaile at this day to the inhabitants. In the valley, on the east side of the city, are many straggling buildings.” After mentioning the hill to which Samson is said to have carried the gates of the town, as higher than the others in this vicinity, and as having at the top a mosque surrounded with the graves of Mohammedans, he continues :—“ In the plaine betweene that and the town, there stand two high pillars of marble, their tops much worne by the weather: the cause of their erecting unknowne, but of great antiquity. South of that, and by the way of Ægypt, there is a mighty cisterne, filled onely by the fall of raine, and descended into by large staires of stone: where they wash their clothes, and water their cattel.” This is a far more complete account of Gaza than any which modern travellers give; and most of it is still applicable, except that some of the ancient remains of columns, &c., have now disappeared. The substructions and columns of the ruin in the centre of the town, scattered pillars of grey granite, and fragments of old marble columns and statues appearing in the buildings of the town, are all that is now noticed. The hill on which Gaza stands is about two miles in circumference at the base, and appears to have been wholly enclosed within the ancient fortifications. The town, being surrounded by and interspersed with gardens and plantations of olive and date trees, has a picturesque appearance, to which its numerous minarets, raising their elegant forms, not a little contribute ; and as the buildings are mostly of stone, and the streets moderately broad, the interior disappoints expectation rather less than that of most other towns of Syria ; and both the town and the people upon the whole seem comfortable, and in every kind of accommodation far superior to the Egyptians. The suburbs, however, are composed of miserable mud huts ; but all travellers concur with Sandys, in admiring the richness and variety of the vegetable productions, both wild and cultivated, of the environs. The inhabitants are now reduced to between two and three thousand. They have manufactures of cotton and soap; but derive their principal support from the commerce between Egypt and Syria, which must all pass this way. They also traffic with Suez for Indian goods brought from Jidda ; and they send a caravan with supplies of provisions (which they sell on very advantageous terms) to the pilgrims on their way to Mecca. The Arabs also make it the mart for the sale of their plunder: and all these sources of prosperity render Gaza a very thriving place for the country in which it is found. See further in Wittman's • Travels in Turkey;' Richardson's Travels along the Mediterranean ;' Irby and Mangles’ « Travels in Egypt,' &c.; and Jolliffe's • Letters from Palestine.'
4. “ The valley of Sorek.”—See the note on Num. xiii. 23. Towards the end of that note the word 577) is, by a typographical error, incorrectly spelt 5772.
5. “ We will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.”—These pieces of silver were probably shekels; and the shekel being worth about half-a-crown, the total 5500 pieces of silver from the five lords of the Philistines would amount to 5771. 108.—a vast bribe for the time and country.
7. “ Seven green withs.”—This is an interesting indication that the ropes in use among the Hebrews were of crude vegetable tendrils, pliable rods, fibres, or leaves. As the word translated “withs” is a general word for rope or cord (77', jeter), we should not have known this, were it not that the epithet “green” is here employed. “With” is too restricted a term. “Green ropes," as distinguished from “ dry ropes," is the proper meaning, the peculiarity being in the greenness, not in the material. It may imply any kind of crude vegetable commonly used for rores, without restricting it to withs, or tough and pliable rods twisted into a rope. It is true that such ropes are used in the East, and, while they remain green, are stronger than any other; and, so far, the probability is that such are here particularly intended. In India, the legs of wild elephants and buffaloes newly caught are commonly bound with ropes of this sort. Josephus says that the ropes which bound Samson were made with the tendrils of the vine. At the present time ropes in the East are rarely made of hemp or flax. Except some that are made with hair or leather, they are generally formed with the tough fibres of trees (particularly the palm-tree) and roots, with grasses, and with reeds and rushes. These ropes are in general tolerably strong ; but in no degree comparable to our hempen ropes. They are very light in comparison, and, wanting compactness, those employed for a given purpose are always incomparably thicker than those employed by ourselves. In most cases they are also rough and coarse to the eye. The praise which travellers bestow on ropes of this sort must not be understood as putting them in comparison with those in use among ourselves; but perhaps in comparison with the bands of hay which our peasants twist, and with reference to the simple and crude materials of which they are composed.
11. " New ropes," as distinguished from the former ; these seem to be new dried ropes of the usual description, and (as the Hebrew word seems to imply) of the thickest and strongest sort.
13. “ if thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.”—A little attention will show that a line has been here dropped from the text by some transcriber, since, as it stands, Delilah does something which Samson does not express, and omits something which he specifies. The omitted clause is found in the Septuagint, after which, Dr. Boothroyd thus renders the passage :-“ If thou interweave the seven locks of my head with that web, and fasten them to the pin, I shall become weak and be as another man. So while he was asleep she interwove with the web the seven locks of his head, and she fastened them to the pin, and said unto him,” &c. We do not intend in this place to enter into the peculiarities of Oriental weaving: and as so much of the subject as is necessary to the understanding of the present text, has been clearly and briefly stated by the learned translator whose version we have quoted, we avail ourselves of his note. “ In order to have some idea of what is here told, the reader must know, first, that the looms of Palestine were extremely simple, probably not unlike those that are still used in many parts of Asia and Africa ; secondly, that they were worked by women ; thirdly, that the web was narrow, little more perhaps than a hand's breadth ; fourthly, that the woof was driven into the warp, not by a reed but by a wooden spatula ; fifthly, that the end of the web was fastened to a pin or stake, fixed probably in the wall, or driven into the ground ; sixthly, that Samson was probably sleeping, with his head in Delilah's lap, when she wove his hair into the web. Comp. v. 19."
19. “ She made him sleep upon her knees.”—Probably in a relative position, such as is still often seen in the East, where one person sitting cross-legged on a mat or carpet which covers the floor (which is the usual sitting posture in the East), another, extended at length or reclining, rests his head on the lap of the former, as on a pillow. " She called for a man,
and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head.”—That a man should be able not only to cut, but to shave off the hair on which, during all Samson's life, razor had never before come, implies either that Samson slept very soundly, or that the man was very dexterous in his craft. In fact, the Oriental barbers do their work with so much ease, as to render the shaving of the head (the head is usually shaven in the East) rather gratifying than unpleasant. The most delicate sleeper would scarcely be awakened by it; and even those who are awake are scarcely sensible of the operation which they are undergoing,
21.“ Bound him with fetters of brass," or rather, probably, of copper. This seems another proof that although iron was at this time pretty well known, it had not yet come into general use. If it had, we should expect to find Samson bound with fetters of that metal rather than of brass, which is not thought of for such a purpose in countries where iron is
The emphasis is here on brass, not as distinguished from any other metal; but to show that his fetters were of metal, and that he was, not like the common race of offenders, bound with ropes or thongs of leather.
“ He did grind in the prison-house.”—Of course, with millstones worked by the hands, this being still the usual method of grinding corn in the East. This is an employment which usually devolves on women ; and to assign it therefore to such a man as Samson, was doubtless with a view to reduce him to the lowest state of degradation and dishonour. To grind corn for others, was, even for a woman, a proverbial term expressing a degraded and oppressed condition ; and how much more for Samson, who seems to have been made the general grinder for the “prison-house."
“O glorious strength
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke.”—Samson Agonistes. To him, the great pang of his condition must have been to feel that all this misery and degradation had been the obvious result of his own weak and dissolute conduct, which had rendered all but entirely abortive the high promise of his birth. It was probably more through this than any thing else that he did not deliver Israel ; but, as the angel had foretold, only began to deliver. Much as we may blame the backwardness of the Hebrews to enter into the great struggle to which Samson would have led them, it must not be forgotten that the hero's private character does not seem to have been calculated to inspire 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 heart 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 from 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 abased 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 show that the histories of these 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 trace the analogies which it offers. We have been more interested in observing some traditions and customs connected with the hair, which, however they arose, furnish some curious points of coincidence with the history of Samson's locks. Thus there is the story of Nisus, king of Megara, upon whose locks the fortune of the kingdom depended; and whose capital could not be taken by Minos until the daughter of Nisus, to win his love, cut off her father's hair, while he slept, and sent it to him. The account which Tacitus gives of the Catti, a German nation, is still more interesting, from being a description of actual manners. He says, as soon as they were fit to bear arms they let their beards grow, and the hair of their heads, which hung over their faces. This was a sign of a martial vow, from which they could not absolve themselves till they had slain an enemy. When they did so, they cut off, over his bloody spoils, the hair which overgrew their foreheads, and then boasted gloriously that they had at length made themselves worthy of their parents and their country. But the bravest of the brave renewed their vow, with its obligation to let the hair grow; but at the same time wore an iron ring, to distinguish themselves from those whom lack of opportunity, or of courage, had prevented from redeeming their first vow. Many, by repeated renewals of their vow, retained through life the rough and savage appearance which drew upon them the admiring attention of their countrymen, and rendered them terrible to their enemies. These hairy men charged the first in battle; their troop was in the van; and their appearance in war was terrible, and even in peace was fierce and alarming.—This, although not exactly a parallel instance, seems to us to touch on some interesting points of coincidence.
27. “ There were upon the roof about three thousand men and women.”—It seems that the house or temp e itself was fall 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 three thousand 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 or temple 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 warrants, that the present house was of this conquestion) in the open court or area, while the spectators were crowded in the interior of the building, which, being very open in front, affords 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
persons, or to the possibility of its being sufficiently extensive to accommodate so large a multitude. It is, however, only necessary to refer to the note on Deut. xxii. 8, and to observe, that oriental roofs, being intended for accommodation, and not merely, as with us, designed as a defence of the interior from the weather, are formed with much greater strength and durability in proportion to their size, than any which our buildings exhibit. They are either constructed with a number of small domes, the external hollows between which are filled up to give a flat surface; or else the roofing, altogether flat, is laid on strong horizontal beams supported on walls and pillars. In all our experience we never heard of a roof, in good condition, concerning which any apprehension was entertained that it could be broken down by any weight which might be placed upon it. As to the extent of roof required for three thousand persons, there was of course as much room on the roof as in the interior; and considering the large scale of many ancient temples and theatres, interior accommodation for three thousand persons, with room for as many more on the flat roof, is indeed a large, but by no means an enormous, estimate. Who that recollects the old temples of Egypt, with their vast flat roofs, of immense blocks and slabs of stone, on which the modern Fellahs establish their villages, will question that a temple-roof might afford room for even a greater number of persons, and be strong enough to bear their weight? Indeed, when we consider the origin of the Philistines, and their near vicinity to the Egyptians, it is no unlikely supposition that the roofs of their temples, and indeed the temples themselves, were on the same large scale and general principles of arrangement as those of their great neighbours. In these temples, as in the buildings to which we have referred, there was an interior open area, with the main building opposite the gate which leads to it; and if Samson had made sport” in the area of such a structure as an Egyptian temple, thousands of spectators might, under ordinary circumstances, have stood in perfect security on the roof of the main building and of the cloisters which usually extend around the other three sides of the quadrangle.
29.“ The two middle pillars upon which the house slood.”—To this it has been objected, how could a roof capable of accommodating three thousand persons be supported on two pillars? In the first place, we do not see that it is said there were no more than two. Indeed the expression “two middle pillars” implies that there were others, not in the middle; and if need be, we may translate: “The two midmost of the pillars on which the house stood.” We have explained, that the main building, very open in front, does in most oriental buildings, public or private, occupy one side of an inclosed quadrangle. To illustrate our further ideas we give a wood-cut of an oriental residence of a superior description. It is only intended to bear on the general principle of arrangement; as we, of course, do not suppose that the “house” of the text bore any detailed reserr.blance to it. It will be seen that the large central hall (divan) being quite open in front, the weight of the roof there rests on two pillars (there might be more), which would rest upon the front wall if there had been any. These pillars support in the centre a heavy beam, the ends of which lodge on the side walls; and on it, of course, falls a very considerable part of the weight of the roof, whether it be flat or low, or composed of small domes, one series of which would rest their edges on this beam. Now, if these central pillars were withdrawn, the cross beam would probably not, in ordinary circumstances, break; but its unrelieved weight and that of the part of the roof (always very heavy) supported by it, would either break down the side walls on which the whole weight would then rest; or else the beam would be forced out, when of course the immediately inferior parts of the roof would fall in ; and this, connected as the different parts of the asof are with each other and with the walls, would in all probability involve the fall of the whole