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Judges 16-18

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

Judges Chapter 16

Samson's fatal attraction to the Philistine women of Gaza continued - fatal to the Philistines that is, but soon, to Samson himself.

Samson

"Samson went to Gaza [see The Truth About Israel and the "Palestinians"], and there he saw a harlot, and he went in to her. The Gazites were told, "Samson has come here," and they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They kept quiet all night, saying, "Let us wait till the light of the morning; then we will kill him." But Samson lay till midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two posts, and pulled them up, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that is before Hebron." (Judges 16:1-3 RSV)

Samson then became infatuated with Delilah, a Philistine woman who lived in the valley of Sorek, located west of the Judean hills. By that time, the Philistine men knew that they could not defeat Samson without first understanding what made him strong.

"After this he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came to her and said to her, "Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to subdue him; and we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver." (Judges 16:4-5 RSV)

The incident of "Samson's hair cut" is very often misunderstood. Samson was a Nazirite, some of the conditions of which were "drink no wine or strong drink," "eat nothing unclean," and "no razor shall come upon his head." Violation of any one would have broken Samson's status as a Nazirite - and caused him to lose his unique blessing of great strength which was given to him alone for a specific purpose in that time and place i.e. "it was from The Lord; for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines" (Judges 14:4 RSV). Samson's great strength was physical, not psychological, however: "she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. And he told her all his mind."

"And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. And he told her all his mind, and said to her, "A razor has never come upon my head; for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If I be shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man." (Judges 16:16-17 RSV)

Samson was captured and blinded by the Philistines.

"She made him sleep upon her knees; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head." (Judges 16:19 RSV)

"And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with bronze fetters; and he ground at the mill in the prison." (Judges 16:21 RSV)

The Philistines then took the incapacitated Samson to Gaza as a war trophy - but while there, Samson's Nazirite status returned.

"But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved." (Judges 16:22 RSV)

Samson's death was not a suicide as some have claimed. It was a sacrifice in an act of war against the enemies of Israel, the very purpose of Samson's birth and life. Samson's last words were a prayer to The Lord - that The Lord answered by giving Samson more strength than he ever had before.

"Now the house was full of men and women; all the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who looked on while Samson made sport. Then Samson called to The Lord and said, "O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be avenged upon the Philistines for one of my two eyes." And Samson grasped the two middle pillars upon which the house rested, and he leaned his weight upon them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. And Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines." Then he bowed with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were in it. So the dead whom he slew at his death were more than those whom he had slain during his life.

Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had judged Israel twenty years." (Judges 16:27-31 RSV)

Judges Chapter 17

Micah was a man of Ephraim who well-illustrates the "every man did what was right in his own eyes" religion that is just as common today as back then (see I Did It My Way).

Idol

"And the man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and teraphim [see "Thou shalt not make any graven image"], and installed one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 17:5-6 RSV)

Micah bought himself a corrupt Levite to operate his personal church of idols.

"Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite [see Levites]; and he sojourned there. And the man departed from the town of Bethlehem in Judah, to live where he could find a place; and as he journeyed, he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah." (Judges 17:7-8 RSV)

"And Micah said to him, "Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, and a suit of apparel, and your living." And the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man became to him like one of his sons. And Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. Then Micah said, "Now I know that The Lord will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest." (Judges 17:10-13 RSV)

Judges Chapter 18

The tribal territory of the Danites is in both north and south. The southern territory of Dan covered from the west of Ephraim (where Micah was) and Benjamin to The Mediterranean Sea, but the Danites weren't all satisfied. A large force marched north with the intent of settling wherever they could get land. They found it at the northern frontier of the land of Israel, beyond the existing tribal lands in Galilee. They captured Laish and renamed it Dan, thereby creating the traditional "Dan to Beesheba" north to south boundaries of the land of Israel.

Israel

"And six hundred men of the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set forth from Zorah and Eshtaol, and went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. On this account that place is called Mahaneh-dan to this day; behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim. And they passed on from there to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah.

Then the five men who had gone to spy out the country of Laish said to their brethren, "Do you know that in these houses there are an ephod, teraphim, a graven image, and a molten image? Now therefore consider what you will do." And they turned aside thither, and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and asked him of his welfare. Now the six hundred men of the Danites, armed with their weapons of war, stood by the entrance of the gate; and the five men who had gone to spy out the land went up, and entered and took the graven image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the molten image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war.

And when these went into Micah's house and took the graven image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the molten image, the priest said to them, "What are you doing?" And they said to him, "Keep quiet, put your hand upon your mouth, and come with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and family in Israel?" And the priest's heart was glad; he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people." (Judges 18:11-20 RSV)

The northern Danites' "spiritual leader" was Micah's corrupt personal Levite who thereafter abandoned Micah and took Micah's idol collection along with him.

"And taking what Micah had made, and the priest who belonged to him, the Danites came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and burned the city with fire. And there was no deliverer because it was far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with any one. It was in the valley which belongs to Beth-rehob. And they rebuilt the city, and dwelt in it. And they named the city Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor, who was born to Israel; but the name of the city was Laish at the first." (Judges 18:27-29 RSV)

Other Levites joined in the corruption, including "Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses."

"And the Danites set up the graven image for themselves; and Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land." (Judges 18:30 RSV)

Fact Finder: What was the "captivity of the land" (verse quote above) that happened because of Israelite corruption?
See The Galilee Captivity


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