THE BOOK OF JUDGES
Lesson 5: Chapters 12:8-15:20
Part II: The Wars Against Israel's Enemies
The Second Northern Campaign of the Judges Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon
The Southern Campaign of the Judge Samson
Before we judge the Israelites in the period of the Judges too harshly, help us to look honestly at ourselves and our society. We also stray far from You when our lives are full of success and happiness but come running back when adversity drags us down to the depths. You are constant in all things in Your relationship with us, Lord, but sadly we cannot make the same claim. Blessed are those who walk in Your Presence daily. Help us, Lord, in our weakness to lean on You always and to remember not to become over confident in the midst of blessings which we must also acknowledge are the gifts of Your Fatherly affection. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
+ + +
For many years
the Philistines held the Hebrews in subjection after their surrender, for they
had lost the prestige of faith by which their fathers had gained victory. Yet
the mark of their election and the ties of their heritage had not been entirely
obliterated by their Creator. But, because they were often puffed up by
success, he delivered them for the most part into the power of the enemy, so
that with manly dignity they would seek from heaven the remedy of their ills.
We submit to God at a time when we are overwhelmed by other reverses; success
puffs up the mind. This is proved not only in other matters but especially in
that change of fortune by which success returned again from the Philistines to
St. Ambrose, Letter 35
In last week's lesson we mentioned the word clues and repetition of key words or events the inspired writer of the Book of Judges used to encourage comparisons in the narratives of the judgeships of Gideon and the rule of the usurper Abimelech and also in the comparisons between the judgeships of Gideon and Jephthah.
Gideon and Jephthah
Abimelech and Jephthah
The failures of these three men illustrate the moral and spiritual decay of the Israelites as a people in the era of the Judges.
The Minor Judges Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon
The narrative of the major judge Jephthah is followed by the short account of three minor Judges. After the accounts of the judge-deliverers on the east side of the Jordan River (Jair and Jephthah), the inspired writer returns to the struggles of the tribes on the west side of the Jordan. Judges 12:8-15 completes the account of the minor judges. Their short stories have been distributed across chapters 3-12 in groups of one: Shamgar, two: Tola and Jair, and three: Ibzan, Elon and Abdon, with each minor judge introduced with the word "after" (Judg 3:31; 10:1, 3; 12:8, 11, and 13).
Judges 12:8-10 ~ The Judge Ibzan
8 After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem was judge in Israel. 9 He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He gave his daughters in marriage outside his clan and brought in thirty brides from outside for his sons. He was judge in Israel for seven years. 10 Ibzan then died and was buried in Bethlehem.
Flavius Josephus, the first century AD priest-historian identified the Bethlehem of Ibzan in the tribal lands of Judah, five miles from Jerusalem, the town of Boaz and Ruth (Antiquities of the Jews, 5.7.13; Book of Ruth 1:2, 22). However, since the tribes of the judges Elon and Abdon are in the territory of the northern tribes of Zebulun and Ephraim, many Bible scholars assume that the home town of this judge is the Bethlehem located in the tribe of Zebulun in the Galilee.
It appears Ibzan was the first leader to encourage marriages outside the tribal clan. This does not include marriages outside the tribe; daughters who were their father's heirs when there was no male heirs could only inherit their father's ancestral lands if they married within the tribe (Lev 27:1-11; Num 36:5-9). If they married outside the tribe, the ancestral land passed to the next closest male. The political marriages Ibzan arranged gave his clan more power and prestige.
Judges 12:11-12 ~ The Judge Elon
11 After him, Elon of Zebulun was judge in Israel. He was judge in Israel for ten years. 12 Elon of Zebulun then died and was buried at Aijalon in the territory of Zebulun.
Elon's tribe is Zebulun in the Galilee. Elon is named as one of the sons of Zebulun who made the migration into Egypt with the family of Jacob-Israel (Gen 46:14), and an Elonite clan is named in the genealogy of the tribe of Zebulun in Numbers 26:26-26. There are two towns called Aijalon: one is located in the south in territory originally assigned to the tribe of Dan before they migrated north (Josh 10:12; 19:42), but this judge's town is obviously the Aijalon located in the land of Zebulun.
Judges 12:13-15 ~ The Judge Abdon
13 After him, Abdon son of Hillel of Pirathon was judge in Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode seventy young donkeys. He was judge in Israel for eight years. 15 Abdon son of Hillel of Pirathon then died and was buried at Pirathon in the territory of Ephraim, in the Amalekite highlands.
Abdon was an Ephraimite who lived in the highlands of Canaan that was once controlled by the Amalekites, descendants of Amalek the grandson of Esau (Gen 36:15-16). The Amalekites were a nomadic people who inhabited territory assigned to Israel, Judah and the Transjordan states. Abdon's hometown of Pirathon was southwest of Shechem and was also named as the home of one of King David's thirty champions, Benaiah of Pirathon (2 Sam 23:30). The mention of Abdon's sons and grandsons who rode seventy young donkeys speaks of his wealth and prestige and suggests they participated in his judgeship like Jair's sons (Judg 10:3-5).
Chapter 13: The Birth of Samson
His mother bore nothing at first, then everything!
Ranier Maria Rilke cited by G. Mobley in Empty Men, page 15
The great nation of Egypt had been the regional super power for over a thousand years, but political turmoil that began in the mid-14th century BC finally led in the 12th century BC to Egypt's collapsed from within and the nation separated into several weak states. The failure of Egypt to maintain its control over its client states including the Levant (Syria, Phoenicia and Canaan) produced a power vacuum that allowed for an unhindered Israelite conquest of Canaan but unfortunately later also allowed Israel's neighboring states the freedom to invade and harass the Israelites. These enemies included the Sea Peoples who had been driven out of Egypt in one last display of power by the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses III (1190 BC). The survivors had settled in five city-states along the coast of southern Canaan to become a people known as the Philistines. The Philistines now became the Israelite's greatest enemy and the deliverer God sent was Samson.
The story of the Judge Samson both attracts and repels us. He is the only hero Judge whose birth is foretold by an angel and who is consecrated to God from his mother's womb. He is powerful but he is also flawed. His is hot-blooded, sensual, and violent, but he serves the God of Israel and none other. The Philistines are his enemies, but he is fatally attracted to their women. Samson is, in fact, his own worst enemy. His is the last narrative of a deliverer-judge in the Book of Judges and his story is the longest, spanning four chapters. The narrative begins with another un-named women, the mother of Samson, and ends with the fourth named women in the Book of Judges, the Philistine woman Delilah. Notice how many times women are mentioned in the narrative.
The narrative of Samson can be divided into four parts:
Judges 13:1-7 ~ The Prophecy of Samson's Birth
1 Again the Israelites began doing what is evil in Yahweh's eyes, and Yahweh delivered them into the power of the Philistines for forty years. 2 There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife [issa] was barren; she had borne no children. 3 The Angel of Yahweh appeared to this woman [issa] and said to her, You are barren and have had no child, but you are going to conceive and give birth to a son. 4 From now on, take great care. Drink no wine or fermented liquor, and eat nothing unclean. 5 For you are going to conceive and give birth to a son. No razor is to touch his head, for the boy is to be God's nazirite from his mother's womb; and he will start rescuing Israel from the power of the Philistines.' 6 The woman [issa] then went and told her husband, a man of God [is ha-Elohim] has just come to me, who looked like the Angel [messenger] of God, so majestic was he. I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, "You are going to conceive and will give birth to a son. From now on, drink no wine or fermented liquor, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy is to be God's Nazirite from his mother's womb to his dying day."' [..] = IBHE, vol. I, pages 671-72.
The Samson narrative begins, like the other major judge narratives, with the formula statement "the Israelites began doing what was evil in Yahweh's eyes." This is the last time the formula statement is used to introduce a judge-deliverer and the eighth time in the Book of Judges. It introduced God's first intervention with Israel in Judges 2:11 and has been repeated eight times: seven times within the section on the history of the Judges (3:7, 12 [twice]; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6 and 13:1). The formula statement reminds us that the root of Israel's problem is maintaining her covenant with Yahweh.
Chapter 13 contains four of the seven statements in the typical judge-deliverer cycle:
Perhaps the "crying out" for deliverance is absent because the Israelites dominated by the Philistines had grown so used to Philistine rule they no longer sought autonomy as the incident in Judges 15:9-13 will suggest.
The narrative of Samson begins with information about his background like the other narratives. His father is Manoah, a member of the tribe of Dan from the town of Zorah. Zorah is listed in Joshua 19:40 as one of the towns allotted to the tribe of Dan. It was located eighteen miles due west of Jerusalem in the low hill country adjacent to the coastal plain. Two of the other towns, Eshtaol and Timnah allotted to Dan will also be mentioned in the narrative of Samson. The territory belonging to the tribe of Dan was in central Canaan between the lands of the tribe of Benjamin to the east, the coastal plain to the west, and the tribe of Judah to the south. Unfortunately, the tribe of Dan could not dispossess the Canaanites and the Danites were being squeezed out by them (Judg 1:34-35). Therefore, the clans of Dan from Zorah and Eshtaol migrated and were able to secure lands about ten miles north of Lake Huleh on the northern limits of Israel (Judg 18:1-31).(1) This migration may have already have taken place before Deborah and Barak led the battle against the king of Hazor since the tribe of Dan is mentioned with the tribe of Asher whose tribal lands were also in the north (Judg 5:17). The narrative of Samson concerns those Danites who did not join the migration but remained in the Danite territory now claimed by the Philistines.
Judges 13:2b-3: His wife [issa] was barren; she had
borne no children. 3 The Angel of
Yahweh appeared to this woman [issa] and said to her, You are barren and have
had no child, but you are going to conceive and give birth to a son.
The Hebrew word for "woman," issa, like the French word for "woman," femme, can mean either "woman" or "wife." The word issa is used to refer to Manoah's wife fourteen times in the part of the narrative that concerns her from verse 2 to verse 24. The word "woman" issa becomes a thematic keyword which sets the stage for Samson's involvement with women that is the force behind the Samson narrative. That Yahweh's messenger is divine is indicated by his "appearing" suddenly. It is the usual way divine persons make their presence known in the Bible.
Question: The wife of Manoah is one of five barren
women in the Bible who, with divine intervention, bear sons who have a mission
to fulfill in salvation history. Can you name the other women and the sons who
become God's agent? Gen 16:1 and 17:19; 25:20-21, 26;
1 Sam 1:1-2, 5, 20;
Lk 1:5-7, 11-13.
Question: What is different about the other
annunciations by an angelic messenger?
Answer: In the annunciation to Abraham, Zachariah and the Virgin Mary the angel told them what to name the child. In the annunciation to Manoah's wife no name is given and she is free to choose a name.
The mysterious "Suffering Servant" in Isaiah 49:1 was also "called" when he "was in the womb" and "given a name," and the prophet Jeremiah was consecrated from his mother's womb and appointed a prophet (Jer 1:5).
Judges 13:4-5 ~ From now on, take great care. Drink
no wine or fermented liquor, and eat nothing unclean. 5 For you are going to conceive and give birth
to a son. No razor is to touch his head, for the boy is to be God's nazirite
from his mother's womb; and he will start rescuing Israel from the power of the
Question: What message does the angel-messenger give the wife of Manoah in this divine annunciation?
The promised child is to be a consecrated Nazirite
according to the commands in Numbers chapter 6:1-21. Please read that passage
and list the restrictions:
In addition it is understood that all other commands and prohibitions of the Sinai Covenant are to be dutifully observed by the Nazirite including the eating of only "clean" animals and the avoidance of all "unclean" foods.
Question: What Nazirite restriction is absent from
the Angel's instructions? Why?
Answer: The only requirement that was not mentioned was that a Nazirite could have no contact with the dead, even a dead relative. Since Samson's mission is to be a warrior-judge, perhaps this requirement was not to be enforced in his case.
The mother of a Nazirite from the womb is bound to the same restrictions in ingesting food and drink because the baby in the womb receives nourishment from her. The term Nazirite is related to the verb nazar, "to separate" or "abstain" (Num 6:1-3). Usually to take a Nazirite vow was entirely voluntary and limited to a specific period for a special purpose, but parents could take a vow on behalf of their child and effectively consecrated a child for a period of time or for a lifetime, as in the case of the judge-prophet Samuel (1 Sam 1:11, 24-28). In Samuel's case his parents made the vow for him but in Samson's case the vow is not taken by the parents. Samson's Nazirite consecration is divinely determined rather than voluntarily assumed and it is for life. During the period of the vow the Nazirite had to observe dietary rules and other disciplines as the outward signs of his separation and consecration to God. He was to be committed to keeping himself ceremonially clean like members of the ministerial priesthood.
The ministerial priesthood consisted of the chief priests who had to be descendants of Aaron, Moses' brother and the first high priest, and the lesser ministers of the Levites who were the descendants of Jacob-Israel's son Levi and members of the tribe of Levi. But taking a Nazirite vow for not less than a month or if desired for as long as a lifetimes was the way an ordinary person could dedicate himself to God's service. All the requirements the Angel placed on Samson's mother were listed in the Nazirite code in Numbers 6 and in the list of clean animals that can be eaten and unclean animals that cannot be eaten are in Leviticus 11 with one exception which was the command to avoid death (Num 6:6-12).
The fifth part of the deliverer cycle is God's
announcement that He is sending or "raising up" a deliverer to save the
Israelites from their enemies.
Question: How are the Angel's words to Samson's mother different from the usual deliverer announcement? See verse 5 and compare it with 13:5 with 3:9; 3:15 and 6:14?
Answer: He tells her that her son will start saving/delivering her people from the Philistines.
Samson is to be a deliverer but the Hebrew word yahel, meaning "begin" or "start" is not in the other deliverer cycles. The struggle to be free of Philistine domination is going to be long and hard and will not be completed in the lifetime of this deliverer. He will only strike the blow that sets the course of future salvation in motion.
Judges 13:6-8 ~ 6 The woman [issa] then went and told her husband, a man of God has just come to me, who looked like the Angel [messenger] of God, so majestic was he. I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, "You are going to conceive and will give birth to a son. From now on, drink no wine or fermented liquor, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy is to be God's Nazirite from his mother's womb to his dying day."'
The woman immediately ran to share the news with her husband that a person who had the appearance of a "majestic" or "awesome" man came to her. She was in such awe of this person, who she has already determined was a divine person, that she did not ask him any questions for fear of offending him. The phrase "man of God" in verse 6 is literally "man of the God" (plural). This is a special use of the article ha in Hebrew which is "to denote a single person or thing (primarily one which is as yet unknown, and therefore not capable of being defined) as being present to the mind under given circumstances" (Genesius' Hebrew Grammar, ed. E. Kautzsch, quoted by Web, The Book of Judges, note 9, page 348). Elohim is the plural form of the Hebrew el, meaning "god" but in this case, in the plural (Elohim) is a reference is to the One God of Israel who Christians acknowledge as one God in three Persons. In the Old Testament the God of Israel is often referred to El, as ha-Elohim, and as ha-Elohim-Yahweh, usually translated Yahweh-Elohim in the NJB (as in Gen chapter 2 in the Creation: 2:4b, 7, 8, 9, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22). The expression is ha-elohim ("man of the God") with our without the article ha is used for Moses (Dt 33:1; Josh 14:6), Samuel (1 Sam 9:6, 7, 9, 10), and Shemaiah (1 Kng 12:22).
She tells her husband that the Angel gave her the
announcement of the future birth of a son. She then repeats the Angel's
instructions but omits one important point and also makes an ominous addition.
Question: What does she omit that is crucial to Samson's story and what does she add to the angel's message that is in itself prophetic?
Answer: She says her son will be a Nazirite from before his birth to his death. The angel never spoke of his death. She also omits the command that he is never to cut his hair (verse 5). Perhaps this should be understood as part of the Nazirite vow, but it is the secret of Samson's great strength and only he and his mother will know it until the climax of the story.
Judges 13:8-18 ~ Manoah's Prayer
8 Manoah then pleaded with Yahweh and said, I beg you, Lord, let the man of God that you sent come to us again and instruct us what to do about the child when he is born.' 9 Yahweh heard Manoah's prayer, and the Angel of Yahweh visited the woman [issa] again while she was sitting in a field and when her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 The woman [issa] quickly ran and told her husband, Look,' she said, the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me again.' 11 Manoah got up, followed his wife [issa], came to the man and said to him, Are you the man who spoke to this woman [issa]? He replied, I am.' 12 Manoah then said, When your words come true, what will be the boy's way of life?' 13 The Angel [messenger] of Yahweh replied to Manoah, From everything that I forbade this woman [issa], let her abstain. 14 Let her swallow nothing that comes from the vine, let her drink no wine or fermented liquor, let her eat nothing unclean and let her obey all the orders that I have given her.' 15 Manoah then said to the Angel [messenger] of Yahweh, Allow us to detain you while we prepare a kid for you;' 16 for Manoah did not know that this was the Angel [messenger] of Yahweh. The Angel [messenger] of Yahweh said to Manoah, Even if you did detain me, I should not eat your food; but if you wish to prepare a burnt offering, offer it to Yahweh.' 17 Manoah then said to the Angel [messenger] of Yahweh, What is your name, so that we may honor you when your words come true?' 18 The Angel [messenger] of Yahweh replied, Why ask my name? It is a name of wonder.'
[..] = IBHE, vol. I, pages 672-73.
Question: What two petitions does Manoah make in
Question: Why does Manoah want the "man of God" to
come to him as well?
Answer: His petition is motivated either by the natural desire to know more, or a nagging doubt that his wife has correctly understood, or he feels any such message should be given to him as the head of the family. His reason is that they do not know what they are to do for the child after he is born.
God's response to Manoah's petition is to send the Angel not to Manoah but instead, for a second time, to his wife. She brings her husband to the Angel.
Judges 13:11-11 Manoah
got up, followed his wife [issa], came to the man and said to him, Are you the
man who spoke to this woman [issa]? He replied, I am.' 12 Manoah then said, When your words come true,
what will be the boy's way of life?' 13 The
Angel [messenger] of Yahweh replied to Manoah, From everything that I forbade
this woman [issa], let her abstain. 14 Let
her swallow nothing that comes from the vine, let her drink no wine or
fermented liquor, let her eat nothing unclean and let her obey all the orders
that I have given her.'
The Angel's "I am" is in Hebrew the single word ani and is not related to the ehyeh "I AM" of God's exchange with Moses in Exodus 3:14 (Web, page 354 and note 20).
Question: Does the Angel answer either of Manoah's
petitions in his earlier prayer or Manoah's repeated second petition in the
form of a question in verse 12? Why?
Answer: No. It is clear that the woman is God's partner in the birth of His consecrated Nazirite. The Angel may not have answered the second question about the child's upbringing because Manoah will not have the typical father-son relationship with this child who belongs to God.
Judges 13:15-16 ~ Manoah
then said to the Angel [messenger] of Yahweh, Allow us to detain you while we
prepare a kid for you;' 16 for
Manoah did not know that this was the Angel [messenger] of Yahweh. The Angel
[messenger] of Yahweh said to Manoah, Even if you did detain me, I should not
eat your food; but if you wish to prepare a burnt offering, offer it to
Manoah is prepared to observe the rules of hospitality by inviting the stranger to have a meal with them. He still does not recognize the true identity of the stranger and thinks the "man" is a prophet.
Question: Why does the Angel tell Manoah he cannot eat their food? What does his answer tell us about Jesus who ate with His disciples and Apostles after the Resurrection?
Answer: The Angel is a spiritual being and not human, therefore he cannot consume material food. That Jesus both ate and drank after His Resurrection demonstrates that He was not only resurrected spiritually but also physically.
Judges 13:17-18 ~ ' 17 Manoah then said to the Angel [messenger] of Yahweh, What is
your name, so that we may honor you when your words come true?' 18 The Angel [messenger] of Yahweh replied, Why
ask my name? It is a name of wonder.'
The Angel refuses to reveal his name as in the case of Jacob-Israel's encounter with the Angel of Yahweh who also evaded his request in Genesis 32:30/29.
Question: Where are the names of angels reveled elsewhere in Scripture? Why might this "messenger" of God not want to reveal his name? See Dan 8:16, 9:21; Dan 10:13; 12:13; Jude 9; Rev 12:7; Tob 3:16/24ff; Lk 1:19 and 16.
Answer: Angels' names are revealed in Scripture in Daniel 8:16 and 9:21 (Gabriel); Daniel 10:13; 12:13; Jude 9 and Revelation 12:7 (Michael); Tobit 3:16/24 ff (Raphel); Luke 1:19 and 26 (Gabriel). If this spiritual being is the pre-Incarnate Christ, the time is not fulfilled for the revelation of His name which is above all other names (Phil 2:9).
Judges 13:19-25 ~ Manoah's Offering and the Birth of
19 Manoah then took the kid and the oblation [hamminha = grain offering] and offered it on the rock as a burnt offering to Yahweh the Wonder-worker. Manoah and his wife [issa] looked on. 20 Now, as the flame rose heavenwards from the altar, the Angel [messenger] of Yahweh ascended in this flame before their eyes of Manoah and his wife [issa], and they fell face downwards on the ground. 21 After this, the Angel [messenger] of Yahweh did not appear any more to Manoah and his wife [issa], but Manoah understood that this had been the Angel [messenger] of Yahweh. 22 And Manoah said to his wife [issa], We are certain to die, because we have seen God.' 23 His wife [issa] replied, If Yahweh had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and oblation from us, he would not have let us see all this and, at the same time, have told us such things.' 24 The woman [issa] gave birth to a son and called him Samson. The child grew, and Yahweh blessed him; 25 and the spirit of Yahweh began to stir him in the Camp of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. [..] = literal translation IBHE, vol. I, pages 673-74.
Like Gideon's offer of hospitality for his visitor in Judges 6:17-24, Manoah intends to fulfill the duties of hospitality, still unaware of the true identity of his visitor. As with Gideon, the fire theophany erases any doubt as to the identity of the visitor and Manoah is filled with fear like Gideon that he may die for having come into the presence of the divine. His wife comforts his fears. It is the woman's intuition that has been correct twice: first in recognizing the identity of the visitor as a divine personage and second in the assurance that God does not intend to kill them.
It appears that many of the Israelites had reverted back to the practice of worship and sacrifice during the age of the Patriarchs when every father of a family acted as a priest and offered sacrifice wherever and whenever he felt the need. This practice was supposed to change with the ratification of the Sinai Covenant in which an ordained priesthood offered sacrifice at God's one altar at God's one Sanctuary (Lev 17:1-9; Dt 12:5-14). However, after taking possession of the Promised Land permission was given for animals to be humanely killed and eaten for food but not for sacrifice wherever the people settled (Dt 12:15-16); however, as in the case of Gideon, Yahweh has given His permission for Manoah and his wife to give an offering on a rock.
Judges 13:24-25 ~ The
woman [issa] gave birth to a son and called him Samson. The child grew, and
Yahweh blessed him; 25 and the
spirit of Yahweh began to stir [pa'em] him in the Camp of Dan, between Zorah
That God's Spirit being on Samson is part of number 5 in the deliverer cycle that was first mentioned in 13:5 with Othniel. The "spirit of Yahweh" upon Samson will be mentioned four times (13:25; 14:6, 19 and 15:14). In this case the verb used in association with God's spirit and translated as "to stir" is pa'em. It is the same verb found in Genesis 41:8 and also in Daniel 2:1 and 3 to indicate the inner turmoil of a dreamer waking from a disturbing dream (Webb, page 359). As a young man living in the camp of Dan, the Spirit of God begins to awaken Samuel to his special destiny.
Samson grew up within the two towns out of the fourteen towns originally assigned to the tribe of Dan (Josh 19:41; 18:11). Zorah and Eshtaol were about seven and a half miles apart. The "Camp of Dan," located between the towns, may have been a militia camp to defend the remaining members of the tribe of Dan living in the two towns from the Philistines, or it may have been the only area remaining to the Danites whose towns are now occupied by Philistines. Samson's story begins and ends between Zorah and Eshtaol like Gideon's story began and ended at Ophrah (Judg 16:31). The Hebrew word issa is used for the fourteenth time in verse 24 since 13:2. It will continue to be a keyword in the Samson saga.
Chapter 14: The Judge Samson
You must not
intermarry with them; you must not give a daughter of yours to a son of theirs,
or take a daughter of theirs for a son of yours, for your son would be seduced
from following me into serving other gods; the wrath of Yahweh would blaze out
against you and he would instantly destroy you.
Judges 14:1-11 ~ Samson Takes a Philistine Bride
1 Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he noticed a woman [issa], a Philistine girl. 2 He went home again and told his father and mother this. At Timnah', he said, I noticed a woman [issa], a Philistine girl. So now get her for me, to be my wife.' 3 His father and mother said to him, Is there no woman [issa] among your brothers' daughters or in our entire nation, for you to go and take a wife [issa] among these uncircumcised Philistines?' But Samson said to his father, Get that one for me; she is the one I am fond of [Get her for me for she is right in my eyes].' 4 His father and mother did not know that all this came from Yahweh, who was seeking grounds for a quarrel with the Philistines, since at this time the Philistines dominated Israel. 5 Samson went down to Timnah [with his father and mother] and, as he reached the vineyards of Timnah, he saw a young lion coming roaring towards him. 6 The spirit of Yahweh seized on [rushed upon] him and he tore the lion to pieces with his bare hands as though it were a kid; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done. 7 He went down and talked to the woman [issa], and he became fond of her. 8 Not long after this, Samson went back to marry her. He went out of his way to look at the carcass of the lion, and there was a swarm of bees in the lion's body, and honey. 9 He took up some honey in his hand and ate it as he went along. On returning to his father and mother, he gave some to them, which they ate too, but he did not tell them that he had taken it from the lion's carcass. 10 His father then went down to the woman [issa], and Samson made a feast there, as is the custom for young men. 11 And when the Philistines saw him, they chose thirty companions to stay with him.
[..] = literal translation IBHE, vol. I, pages 674-75.
Timnah was originally one of the fourteen cities given to the tribe of Dan and was about four miles west of Zorah and Eshtaol on the opposite side of the Valley of Sorek. It is now a Philistine city. Samson has reached young adulthood. In going "down" to Timnah, Samson is crossing the line physically and metaphorically between Israel and Philistia and will be blurring the line between love and lust.
Judges 14:2-3a ~ He
went home again and told his father and mother this. At Timnah', he said, I
noticed a woman [issa], a Philistine girl [daughter]. So now get her for me,
to be my wife [issa].' 3 His father
and mother said to him, Is there no woman [issa] among your brothers'
daughters or in our entire nation, for you to go and take a wife [issa] among
these uncircumcised Philistines?'
What father or mother hasn't feared or experienced the pain of their son or daughter choosing to love someone who was unsuitable? His parents are deeply disappointed. The first thing Samson's parents think to ask is why he hadn't found someone suitable within the tribe of his Danite "brothers"/kinsmen or from one of the other tribes of Israel?
Question: Does their disappointment only stem from
the fact that their son wants to marry a woman who is not from their cultural
background or traditions? See Dt 7:3-4.
Answer: The additional problem is that the Israelites were expressly forbidden to give their sons in marriage with pagan women.
Question: What is the significance of their
objection that the woman he wants belongs to the "uncircumcised"? What was the
significance of circumcision among the Israelites? See Gen 17:9-14; Ex 12:44;
Lev 12:3; Jos 5:2-8. How is it like Noah's rainbow?
Answer: Since the time of Abraham, circumcision has been the sign of the unique bond of covenant between the "chosen people" and Yahweh, like the rainbow was the covenant sign for Noah and his family. Circumcision marks every Israelite male from the eighth day of his birth as belonging to the chosen people and a son of the covenant with Yahweh; while every daughter born from a circumcised male is a daughter of the covenant. That the woman is the product of an uncircumcised people means she is not of the covenant people nor, without entrance into the covenant through the rites of conversion, can her children be considered Israelites.
This is an impossible situation for loving future grandparents since any children born of this union will be lost to them. The Israelites are to be a consecrated people set apart from the other peoples of the earth by the sign of circumcision which identifies them as an elect covenant people.(2) In addition, to the Israelites the marital covenant involves the deepest possible union between a man and a woman in which the husband and wife, according to God's command, become "one flesh" (Gen 2:24). How can their son take a wife from among the uncircumcised without betraying his separation to God as an Israelite; and if his uniqueness as an Israelite is compromised, how can his deeper consecration to God as a Nazirite be maintained? Their deepest fear must be that their special son is betraying his identity as an Israelite and may be jeopardizing his status as God's Nazirite.
Judges 14:3b ~ But Samson said to his father, Get
that one for me; she is the one I am fond of.' Literally: Get her for
me for she is right [yasera] in my eyes.'
Question: What is Samson's response to his parents question in verse 3a? What is his demand and why might he take this course of action concerning his parents?
Answer: There is no response to their question or an apology for their pain. He rejects the objections of his parents and like an insistent child, speaking of the woman as though she were an object, demands that they secure the object of his desire for him despite their concerns.
Samson is the spoiled "special" son, and he is probably an only child since no siblings are mentioned in the story. He does not care about pleasing his parents or about being obedient to them. That he uses the words for me for she is right in my eyes is very like the accusation God makes against the Israelites in the literal Hebrew in the dreadful last five chapters of Judges in 17:6 and the very last line of the Book of Judges in 21:25 where the inspired writer states that everyone "did what if right/fit [hay-yasar be'enqyw] in his own eyes. Commentator Barry Webb points out that Samson's response is chilling because "It subverts the normal, positive sense of yasar (right, upright) by emptying it of all moral content. On Samson's lips it means only "desirable, attractive" (The Book of Judges, page 366).
Judges 14:4 ~ His
father and mother did not know that all this came from Yahweh, who was seeking
grounds for a quarrel with the Philistines, since at this time the Philistines
It is God's plan to move Samson forward in his role as a "deliverer." It is a role he has perhaps been hesitant or too lazy to fulfill now that he is an adult. God will use his attraction for the women of the enemy to move forward his plan. The Philistines had spread inland from the coast and were now dominating the highlands. Soon they would be threatening the whole of Israel. God cannot approve of Samson's desire to marry a pagan woman who is not in covenant with Him since it is a decision that is contrary to His commands. He will, however, use this turn of events to move forward His divine plan to stop the Philistines from dispossessing Israel of the Promised Land.
Judges 14:5-6 ~ Samson
[and his father and mother] went down to Timnah and, as he reached the
vineyards of Timnah, he saw a young lion coming roaring towards him. 6 The spirit of Yahweh seized on [rushed upon] him
and he tore the lion to pieces with his bare hands as though it were a kid; but
he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
Samson accompanied his parents to Timnah to make arrangements with the woman's parents, but along the way, as they approach a vineyard, he separates from them (verse 6). The separation on the journey is symbolic of his emotional separation from his parents. Samson comes unexpectedly upon a young lion in the vineyard and kills it. The killing of the young lion in the vineyard is a demonstration of Samson's great strength, but it is also a metaphor for Samson and Israel. In Scripture Israel is described metaphorically as God's vineyard (for example see Is 5:1-17; 27:2-5; Ps 80:8-18), and young Samson is the young lion in the vineyard that is Israel.
Question: What is the metaphorical imagery in this episode? What question does the imagery raise?
Answer: Like the young lion, Samson is wild and unpredictable but also powerful. With help from the Spirit of Yahweh, he conquers the young lion in the vineyard on his journey to Timnah. But the question is will he be able to use the Spirit of Yahweh to conquer his own wildness like he conquered the lion in order to be an effective agent of God in Israel's deliverance from the Philistines?
Do not miss the fact that Samson separates himself from his parents on the journey and then fails to tell them about his adventure. The symbolic elements of the episode in the vineyard in 14:5-6:
|Samson separates from his parents on the journey||Beginning of Samson's emotional distancing himself from his parents|
|The young lion||The young Samson|
|Yahweh's Spirit aids him in conquering the wild and unpredictable lion||The invitation for Samson to use Yahweh's Spirit to conquer his wild and unpredictable human nature|
|Withholding the event from his parents||Distancing himself from his parents established|
|Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2013|
There is a lot at stake here. Samson's wild, willful, and out-of-control human nature threatens God's plan for Israel and his own future if he is unable to master himself and submit himself in obedience to God's plan.
Question: Why doesn't he tell his parents about
killing the lion? See Lev 5:2-5; 11:24-31.
Answer: He does not tell his parents probably because he does not want them to insist that he undergoes the required ritual purification and a sin sacrifice. Any contact with a dead animal required ritual purification and eating any part of a dead animal or anything that has come in contact with a dead animal was strictly forbidden (Lev 5:1-2, 5-6; 11:24-28). But he is also distancing himself from his parents' involvement in his life.
Question: Which of the Angel of Yahweh's specific command
to his mother and father has he knowingly violated?
Answer: In 13:4 and 14 both parents were commanded to be careful that the child ate nothing unclean according to the Law to maintain his status as God's consecrated Nazirite.
Judges 14:7-9 ~ He went down and talked to the woman
[issa], and he became fond of her. 8 Not
long after this, Samson went back to marry her. He went out of his way to
look at the carcass of the lion, and there was a swarm of bees in the
lion's body, and honey. 9 He took
up some honey in his hand and ate it as he went along. On returning to
his father and mother, he gave some to them, which they ate too,
but he did not tell them that he had taken it from the lion's carcass [emphasis
Samson went back to see the lion out of curiosity and probably to mentally relive the event, but the visit to the carcass becomes a test of obedience.
Question: How does he fail the test of obedience in the choice between what he desires and what the Law of God demands? See Lev 5:1-2, 5-6.
Answer: He wants the honey in the carcass of the lion, but is forbidden to eat anything "unclean" in association with a dead animal. To do so is a sin. As in the case of the Philistine woman, he chooses what he wants above honoring his parents' wishes and the prohibitions of the Law.
Question: When he returns to his parents, he
shares the honey with them but why doesn't he tell them where the honey came
from? What is his double sin? See Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16.
Answer: That he did not tell his parents previously of his condition of ritual uncleanliness was bad enough, but now he makes them ritually unclean as well by giving them unclean food from the carcass of a dead animal. He is guilty of shamelessly manipulating his parents and his sin is both a failure to honor his parents as commanded in the Ten Commandments and in making them a party to his sin.
Question: The use of the sequence of Hebrew verbs
in the literal translation "to look/see," "to take," "to eat," and "to give" and
"to eat" again recalls what similar sequence of verbs in the sin of eating what
was forbidden in Genesis chapter 3? Quote the passage. What is the judgment
for the enticing another to sin?
Answer: Eve eating from the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was enticing for the wisdom that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. When we contribute to the sin of others, our sin judgment is doubled.
Samson, like Adam, knew the food was forbidden, but Samson's parents did not know that their son had sinned by violating the laws of ritual purity according to the covenant with Yahweh and had also made them also a party to his sin. The young lion Samson, like a wild beast, wants what he sees regardless of rules or regulations.
Judges 14:10-11 ~ His father then went down to the
woman [issa], and Samson made a feast there, as is the custom for young men. 11 And when the Philistines saw him, they chose
thirty companions to stay with him.
The "bride price" is paid and a marriage is arranged according to Philistine customs. Samson contracts a sadiqa marriage in which the husband does not bring the bride to his house but allows her to continue living with her family while he pays her visits, bringing presents (see Judg 15:1).(3) In this type of marriage any children born from the union belong to the woman's clan. It is not the Israelite custom. For Israelites the bride leaves her own family and pledges her loyalty to her husband's family, clan, and tribe. Perhaps Samson preferred such an arrangement to spare his parents the disgrace of a marriage to a pagan woman, however, Samson's parents are not included in the wedding planning nor does he take a bridegroom's escort from among his own kinsmen. His escort is provided by the bride's clan. The Philistines select an unusually large number of attendants to accompany Samson, probably because they fear him.
Judges 14:12-20 ~ Samson's Wedding Feast
12 Samson then said to them, Let me ask you a riddle. If you can give me the answer during the seven days of feasting, I shall give you thirty pieces of fine linen and thirty festal robes. 13 But if you cannot tell me the answer, then you in your turn most give me thirty pieces of fine linen and thirty festal robes.' Ask your riddle,' they replied, we are listening.' 14 So he said to them: Out of the eater came what is eaten, and out of the strong came what is sweet.' But three days went by and they could not solve the riddle. 15 On the fourth day they said to Samson's wife [issa], Cajole your husband into explaining the riddle to us, or we shall burn you and your father's family to death. Did you invite us here to rob us?' 16 Samson's wife [issa] then went to him in tears and said, You only hate me, you do not love me. You have asked my fellow countrymen a riddle and told not even me the answer.' He said to her, I have not told even my father or mother; why should I tell you?' 17 She wept on his neck for the seven days [four days *] that their feasting lasted. She was so persistent that on the seventh day he told her the answer, and she told her fellow-countrymen. 18 So on the seventh day, before he went into the bedroom, the men of the town said to him: What is sweeter than honey, and what stronger than a lion?' He retorted: If you had not ploughed with my heifer, you would never have solved my riddle.' 19 Then the spirit of Yahweh seized on him. He went down to Ashkelon, killed thirty men there, took what they wore and gave the festal robes to those who had answered the riddle, then burning with rage returned to his father's house. 20 Samson's wife [issa] was then given to the companion who had acted as his best man. [..] = literal translation IBHE, vol. I, pages 675-76.
The Septuagint translation reads "four days" in 17a which with the previous three days makes "the seventh day" in verse 17b.
It was the custom for a wedding feast to last seven days
(Gen 29:27). This is the first of two times that a secret of Samson's will be
betrayed by a woman he loved. He may be as strong as a giant and as wild as a
lion, but he is also as gullible as a child. It was not uncommon for there to
be entertainment during the seven days of wedding feasting and Samson
introduces entertainment in the form of a riddle.
Question: What is the problem with Samson's choice of a diversion?
Answer: It is provocative and is bound to cause bad feelings. It is also unfair since the other men have no way of knowing the event that is behind the riddle to allow them to solve it.
Samson's wife was in a difficult position, but instead of
trusting her new husband and alerting him to the threat against her and her
family it is clear that her loyalties still rest with her people. In his anger
at his betrayal by his wife, Samson makes a reference to her that is
particularly offensive in verse 18.
Question: How does Samson refer to his wife?
Answer: He refers to her as though she is a domesticated animal he owns that was illegally used by someone else.
Judges 14:19-20 ~ Then
the spirit of Yahweh seized on him. He went down to Ashkelon, killed thirty
men there, took what they wore and gave the festal robes to those who had
answered the riddle, then burning with rage returned to his father's house. 20 Samson's wife [issa] was then given to the
companion who had acted as his best man.
Samson's mission is not to marry Philistines and feast with them; his mission is to fight the Philistines and stop their advance into Israelite territory. God's Spirit moved Samson to war; unfortunately he turns what should be a holy war into a personal vendetta and pays his debt to the Philistines groomsmen by murdering and robbing their countrymen. Then he returns to in a rage to his father's house. It will only make matters worse that his Philistine father-in-law has given his wife to the "best man" Philistine attendant who is one of his enemies.
Chapter 15: War with the Philistines
Long hair flowing, the original Hell's Angel,
rumbling through Philistia like a one man army...
A Nazirite of God from birth until the day of his death.
Gregory Mobley, Empty Men: the Heroic Tradition of Ancient Israel, page 7
Judges 15:1-8 ~ Samson burns the Philistines' Harvest
1 Not long after this, at the time of the wheat harvest, Samson visited his wife [issa] with a kid; he said, I wish to go to my wife [issa] in her room.' But her father would not let him enter. 2 I felt sure,' he said, that you had taken a real dislike to her, so I gave her to your companion. But would not her younger sister suit you better? Have her instead.' 3 But Samson answered them, I can get my revenge on the Philistines now only by doing them some damage.' 4 So Samson went off and caught three hundred foxes, then took torches and, turning the foxes tail to tail, put a torch between each pair of tails. 5 He lit the torches and set the foxes free in the Philistine's cornfields [grain fields]. In this way be burned both sheaves and standing corn [grain], and the wines and olive trees as well. 6 The Philistines asked, Who has done this?' and received the answer, Samson, who married the Timnite's daughter; his father-in-law took the wife back again and gave her to his companion instead.' The Philistines then went and burned the woman [issa] and her father's family to death. 7 Samson said to them, If that is how you behave, I swear I will not rest till I have had my revenge on you.' 8 And he fell on them systematically and caused great havoc. Then he went down to the cave in the Rock of Etham and lived there. [..] = literal translation IBHE, vol. I, pages 676-77.
Like a child who has behaved badly after a tantrum and
then expects to resume life without the consequences for his actions, Samson
returns to the home of his wife's father and expects to resume marital
relations. His father-in-law explains that his elder daughter has been given
to the chief Philistine groomsman at his wedding than then tries to make amends
by offering Samson his wife's younger sister.
Question: How does Samson once again turn what should be a holy war into a personal vendetta?
Answer: He destroys the Philistines' crops and vineyards.
That he used three hundred foxes or jackals (more likely since these animals live in packs) may only be given as an example of an outrageous abuse of the animals over whom Adam and mankind has been given stewardship. Once again Samson acts as the fallen "adam" (man) and not as the model of redeemed man.
Question: Since the Philistines cannot find
Samson, how do they get retribution for his crimes against them?
Answer: They burn down the house of Samson's Philistine father-in-law, destroying his entire family.
It is ironic that in her attempt to save her family from the threat of death by fire in 14:15 Samson's wife betrayed him. But her betrayal didn't save her; instead it cost her and her family their lives.
Judges 15:7-8 ~ Samson
said to them, If that is how you behave, I swear I will not rest till I have
had my revenge on you.' 8 And he
fell on them systematically and caused great havoc. Then he went down to the
cave in the Rock of Etham and lived there.
The Philistine act of retribution against Samson has only escalated the war as Samson takes an oath to get revenge and only then will he stop. When his rage is satiated, Samson withdrew to the Rock of Etham. The location of this site is unknown. In 1 Chronicles 4:32 Etham is referred to as a village within the territory of Simeon, which according to Joshua 19:1-9 is within the boundaries of the tribe of Judah. He hid in a cave near Etham.
Judges 15:9-13 ~ The Men of Judah give Samson to the
9 The Philistines came up and encamped in Judah and made a foray against Lehi. 10 The men of Judah said to them, Why are you attacking us?' They replied, We have come to seize Samson and to treat him as he has treated us.' 11 Three thousand men of Judah then went down to the cave of the Rock of Etham and said to him, Don't you know that the Philistines have us in their power? Now what have you done to us?' He replied, I have treated them only as they treated me.' 12 They then said, We have come down to take you, to hand you over to the Philistines.' He said, Swear to me not to kill me yourselves.' 13 They replied, No,' we only want to bind you and hand you over to them; we certainly do not want to kill you.' They then bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the Rock.
The Philistines want Samson and since he is hiding in
territory controlled by the Israelite tribe of Judah, they attack the city of
Lehi and demand that the Judahites turn Samson over to them. The Judahites see
this as a crisis that could end in the loss of their land in a war with the
more powerful Philistines.
Question: What do they agree to do to resolve the crisis?
Answer: They agree to turn their Israelite kinsman Samson over to their enemies.
Lehi will later be known as Ramath-lehi (Jawbone Hill), a name that recalls the events of this episode. Its exact location is unknown but it must have been located somewhere where the territories of the Philistines and the tribal lands of Judah intersected between the central highlands and the coastal plain. Knowing about Samson's great strength, the Judahite warriors didn't take any changes and came for him with a large number of men, represented by the three thousand, or what is more likely "three contingents of men" which would be seventy-five men. They are ready to please their Philistine enemies rather than support their God ordained deliverer. Samson has been betrayed by his wife and now he is betrayed by his own people.
Question: Despite his betrayal, he does not want
to fight his own people. What does he do?
Answer: He negotiates the terms of his surrender: he makes them swear not to attack him and kill him; then he allows them to bind him with "new ropes."
Judges 15:14-20 ~ Samson defeats the Philistines
14 As he was approaching Lehi, and the Philistines came running towards him with triumphant shouts, the spirit of Yahweh was on [rushed upon] him; the ropes on his arms became like burnt strands of flax and the cords around his hands came untied. 15 Coming across the fresh jawbone of a donkey, he reached out and snatched it up; and with it he slaughtered a thousand men. 16 And Samson said: With the jawbone of a donkey I have laid them in heaps, with the jawbone of a donkey I have felled a thousand men.' 17 And with that he hurled the jawbone away; and that is why the place was called Ramath-Lehi. 18 And as he was very thirsty, he called on [called out to] Yahweh and said, You yourself have worked this great deliverance by the hand of your servant; and now must I die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?' 19 Then God opened a hollow in the ground, the hollow there is at Lehi, and water gushed out of it. Samson drank; his vigor returned and he revived. And therefore, this spring was called En-ha-Kore; it is still at Lehi today. 20 Samson was judge in Israel in the day of the Philistines for twenty years. [..] = literal translation IBHE, vol. I, pages 678-79.
The men of Judah deliver Samson to the Philistines at
Lehi, but as the shouting Philistines came running towards him to seize him,
the Spirit of Yahweh came upon him in the same way the Spirit of God came upon
him when he was under attack by the lion.
Question: How can the two events be compared? See 14:5-6 compared to 15:14-19.
|Judges 14:5-6||Judges 15:14-19|
|The lion came roaring towards him.||The Philistines came running towards him with triumphant shouts.|
|The spirit of Yahweh rushed upon him.||The spirit of Yahweh rushed upon him.|
|He killed the lion with his bare hands.||He killed the Philistines with a jawbone of an ass in his hands.|
In both episodes it is God who takes charge and moves the events forward toward a conclusion that is a victory for Samson against a powerful enemy. God's spirit rushes upon His deliverer and the bonds that held him are miraculously loosened. Whether he really killed a thousand Philistines with a jawbone of an ass or not is not the point. Samson uses an unconventional weapon at hand like Shamgar used the ox-goad (3:31) and Jael used the tent peg (4:21). It is possible the words elep is do not refer to a thousand men but a "contingent/unit of men," which would be twenty-five men. The point is that this time Samson is God's deliverer fulfilling his mission of a holy war against Israel's enemy and winning victory through God's intervention.
In verse 16 Samson sings a short victory song, then he gives God the credit for the victory and then, like a child again, complains that he is thirsty. In his complaint he expresses the fear that he could fall into the hands of his "uncircumcised" enemy. It is interesting that the Israelites did not cry out to God to be delivered from their enemies in this deliverer cycle, but now Samson calls out to God, identifying himself as God's "servant" and asks God to deliver him from his Philistine enemies (verse 18). This is Samson's finest moment as he recognizes himself a just a man who is the servant of an extraordinary God. God rewards his deliverer with water that miraculously springs up from the ground. It is a miracle that is similar to the miraculous water God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness journey (Ex 17:5-6; Num 20:11). The name of the spring En-hakkore, "Caller's Spring," underscores the significance of the event in Samson's life.
Judges 15:20 ~ Samson
was judge in Israel in the day of the Philistines for twenty years.
This statement should be the conclusion of the Samson narrative. It is a concluding statement like those for the minor judges. Most of the major judges' narratives ended in "the country then had peace for x years":
However, Samson like the major judge Jephthah does not have the same concluding deliverer statement. Both have the statement ".... judged Israel for x years" (12:7 and 15:20), while the minor judges' short narratives (with the exception of Shamgar, Deborah's contemporary in chapter 3) have a similar statement:
Question: What might the absence of a statement of
peace or "rest" for Israel from the chapter 9 narrative of Abimelech forward in
the judges' narratives suggest? How does the period of Abimelech's rule divide
the narratives of the Judges of Israel?
Answer: It might suggest that while there were still judge-deliverers, there was no lasting peace for Israel as a people as there had been in the era of the earlier judges. The Abimelech narrative is the division between periods of lasting peace and the period of continual turmoil.
We will continue with the climax of Samson's story in the next lesson.
Questions for reflection or group discussion:
Samson was a complex man full of strengths and weaknesses. As a young man he was confident but selfish and violent.
1. When the Danites conquered the Canaanite city of Laish, they renamed it "Dan." Since this Israelite city marked the northern border of Israel, the saying "Dan to Beer-sheba" came to express the northern and southern limits of Israel.
2. Other ancient Near Eastern peoples practiced circumcision but were still considered to be "uncircumcised" because of differences in the practice and because they were only circumcised in the flesh (Jer 9:24-25). For the Israelites it was only an outward sign of an inner condition of complete submission to God through a "circumcised heart" (Dt 30:6; Jer 4:4).
3. This form of a marital union is known in ancient Near Eastern law and among Arab traditions as well as among some Bedouin clans today.
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2013 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.