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son of Ham. They came originally from Egypt and removed to the southward of the land of Canaan. In process of time, they made inroads upon Canaan, and in Abraham's days they had got possession of some parts which lay along the Mediterranean sea : this tract of ground was divided into five principalities or little kingdoms, called Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath, and Akron.
The Philistines were a very warlike people, and in the days of Abraham and Isaac they were a hospitable nation; and being originally descended from a son of Noah, they must at first have known the true God; but they became like other ido'strous nations, and then their arrogance and ambition were great, and their enmity to Israel irreconcileable. The Israelites had received a command to destroy the Philistines ; but on their breaking the covenant, God's anger was kindled, and He resolved that the Philistines and others should be left to prove His people; and they were at times extremely oppressive and vexatious, as we shall find in the course of the history.
We may suppose that the Israelites now began to repent as formerly, when afflictions made them consider the cause of their calamity, therefore it pleased God to. raise up a person to begin their deliverance.
It was the will of God that Samson should be a Nazarite from his birth. A Nazarite was one who, under the Jewish law, made a vow of particular purity, and separated himself in an extraordinary manner for the service of God. During this time the person abstained. from wine and all strong liquors, did not cut his hair, nor come near a dead body: after the time of his sepa. ration was ended, he offered such sacrifices as the law required, and returned to society. It is likely that the LORD testified his acceptance of
Manoah's sacrifice, by sending fire to consume it. Manoah felt immediate conviction that God had revealed Himself as he had done to other chosen persons, and he was seized with the utmost apprehension that he should not long survive it. Manoah's wife had much more composure of mind, and she expressed it with the utmost propriety.
We may reasonably suppose, that as Manoah and his wife had entered into a covenant with the LORD, in Samson's name, they acquainted him, as soon as he was capable of understanding them, with the conditions on which the Lord had promised to give him extraordinary endowments-That he was to regard himself as
person chosen to God to begin to deliver Israel-that the spirit or power of the LORD would always assist him in the work, provided he observed the rules which were required of him, that he might be distinguished for the sanctity of his life, and so contributed by his example to the reformation of that people he was born to deliver.
SOME OF THE
SAMSON'S MARRIAGE-HE KILLETH
From Judges Chap. xiv. AND Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman at Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.
And he came up and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy bre
thren, or among all thy people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines ? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth
But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.
Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath : and behold, a young lion roared against him.
And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand; but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Sanson well : And after a time, he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the car. ease of the lion : and behold there was a swarm of bees, and honey in the carcase of the lion.
And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat : but he told them not that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.
So his father went down unto the woman, and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do. And it came to pass when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.
And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: If ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets, and thirty changes of garments; But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me
thirty sheets, and thirty changes of garments. And they said unto hin, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.
And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.
And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson's wife, Entice thy husband that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father's house with fire : have ye called us to take that we have? is it not so ?
And Samson’s wife wept before him and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not : thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me.
And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell thee? And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day that he told her, because she urged him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.
And the men of the city said unto him that on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion ? and he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.
And the spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house.
But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It most likely, that when Samson went to Timnath, the Lord inspired him with a desire of seeking occasion to try his strength on the Philistines : but he suffered himself to be diverted from his purpose.
If the Philistines considered him as their professed antagonist, their triumph must have been great on his wishing to form an alliance with them; but Samson's indiscretion could not counteract the will of the LORD, who ordained that this very marriage should be a means of punishment to the Philistines : Samson was therefore permitted to pursue his design, and his father and mother, indulgent to a faulty degree, gave way to his earnest solicitations.
Samson's slaying a lion without the assistance of any weapon, was an earnest to him of the conquests he might expect to gain over the Philistines, by the assistance of the same Divine Power; and his finding honey in the carcase afterwards, might be intended as an assurance that his courage should not go unrewarded.
It was customary in those days, at festive entertain. ments, for the company to amuse themselves with proposing and explaining difficult questions: Samson, in compliance with this custom, gave his guests a riddle, promising gifts to those who could solve it: indeed it was so strange a one, that neither learning nor ingenuity could have discovered the meaning of it: but it answered the purpose of proving whether the attendants on the marriage were friends or enemies. Samson's wife proceeded with great artifice; but the event discovered her treachery, and he resolved to be revenged: his wrath proved instrumental to the design