The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 60
Editorial Introduction [13.1]


Scripture (KJV)

1 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.


Introduction: Samson's Life, and Conflicts with the Philistines - Judges 13-16

While Jephthah, empowered by the power of God, was delivering the tribes on the east side of the Jordan River from the oppression of the Ammonites, the oppression on the part of the Philistines continued uninterruptedly for forty years in the land to the west of the Jordan, and it probably increased more and more after the disastrous war during the closing years of the high-priesthood of Eli, in which the Israelites suffered a sad defeat, and even lost the ark of the covenant, which was taken by the Philistines [1](1 Samuel 4.10-11). But even during this period, Jehovah the God of Israel did not leave himself without witness, either in the case of His enemies the Philistines, or in that of His people Israel. The triumphant delight of the Philistines at the capture of the ark was soon changed into great and mortal terror, when Dagon their idol had fallen down from its place before the ark of God and was lying upon the threshold of its temple with broken head and arms; and the inhabitants of Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron, to which the ark was taken, were so severely smitten with boils by the hand of Jehovah, that the princes of the Philistines felt compelled to send the ark, which brought nothing but harm to their people, back into the land of the Israelites, and with it a trespass-offering (1 Samuel 5-6). At this time the Lord had also raised up a hero for His people in the person of Samson, whose deeds were to prove to the Israelites and Philistines that the God of Israel still possessed the power to help His people and smite His foes.

The life and acts of Samson, who was to begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines, and who judged Israel for twenty years under the rule of the Philistines ([2]Judges 13:5 and [3]Judges 15:20), are described in Judges 13-16 with an elaborate completeness which seems quite out of proportion to the help and deliverance which he brought to his people. His birth was foretold to his parents by an appearance of the angel of the Lord, and the boy was set apart as a Nazarite from his mother's womb. When he had grown up, the Spirit of Jehovah began to drive him to seek occasions for showing the Philistines his marvelous strength, and to inflict severe blows upon them in a series of wonderful feats, until at length he was seduced by the bewitching Delilah to make known to her the secret of his supernatural strength, and was betrayed by her into the hands of the Philistines, who deprived him of the sight of his eyes, and compelled him to perform the hardest and most degraded kinds of slave-labor. From this he was only able to escape by bringing about his own death, which he did in such a manner that his enemies were unable to triumph over him, since he killed more of them at his death than he had killed during his entire life. The results that follow the acts of this hero of God do not measure up to the expectations that might naturally be formed from the miraculous announcement of his birth; the nature of the acts which he performed appears to be less than we would expect from a hero impelled by the Spirit of God. His actions not only bear the stamp of adventure, foolhardiness, and pig-headedness, when looked at impartially, but they are almost all associated with love affairs; so that it looks as if Samson had dishonored and fooled away the gift entrusted to him, by making it subservient to his sensual lusts, and thus had prepared the way for his own ruin, without bringing any essential help to his people. "The man who carried the gates of Gaza up to the top of the mountain was the slave of a woman, to whom he frivolously betrayed the strength of his Nazarite locks. These locks grew once more, and his strength returned, but only to bring death at the same time to himself and his foes" (Ziegler). Are we to discern in such a character as this, a warrior of the Lord? Can Samson, the promised son of a barren woman, a Nazarite from his birth, be the head and flower of the Judges? We do not pretend to answer these questions in the affirmative; and to justify this view we start from the fact, which Ewald and Diestel both admit to be historical, that the deep earnest background of Samson's nature is to be sought for in his Nazarite condition, or rather that it is in this that the distinctive significance of his character and of his life and deeds as judge all culminates. The Nazarite was not indeed what Bertheau supposes him to have been, "a man separated from human pursuits and turmoil;" but the significance of the Nazarite condition was to be found in a consecration of his life to God, which had its roots in living faith, and its outward manifestations negatively, in abstinence from everything unclean, from drinking wine, and even from fruit of the vine of every description, and positively, in wearing the hair uncut. In the case of Samson this consecration of his life to God was not an act of his own free will, or a vow voluntarily taken; but it was imposed upon him by divine command from his conception and birth. As a Nazarite, i.e., as a person vowed to the Lord, he was to begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines; and the bodily sign of his Nazarite condition, - namely, the hair of his head that had never been touched by the scissors, - was the vehicle of his supernatural strength with which he smote the Philistines. In Samson the Nazarite, however, not only did the Lord mean to set before His people a man towering above the fallen generation in heroic strength, through his firm faith in and confident reliance upon the gift of God committed to him, opening up before it the prospect of a renewal of its own strength, that by this example he might arouse such strength and ability as were still slumbering in the nation; but Samson was to exhibit to his age generally a picture on the one hand of the strength which the people of God might acquire to overcome their strongest foes through faithful submission to the Lord their God, and on the other hand of the weakness into which they had sunk through unfaithfulness to the covenant and intercourse with the heathen. And it is in this typical character of Samson and his deeds that we find the head and flower of the institution of judge in Israel.

The judges whom Jehovah raised up in the interval between Joshua and Samuel were neither military commanders nor governors of the nation; nor were they authorities instituted by God and invested with the government of the state. They were not even chosen from the heads of the nation, but were called by the Lord out of the midst of their brethren to be the deliverers of the nation, either through His Spirit which came upon them, or through prophets and extraordinary manifestations of God; and the influence which they exerted, after the conquest and humiliation of the foe and up to the time of their death, upon the government of the nation and its affairs in general, was not the result of any official rank, but simply the fruit and consequence of their personal ability, and therefore extended for the most part only to those tribes to whom they had brought deliverance from the oppression of their foes. The tribes of Israel did not want any common secular ruler to fulfill the task that was thrust upon the nation at that time. God therefore raised up the judges only in times of distress and trouble. For their appearance and work were simply intended to manifest the power which the Lord could confer upon His people through His spirit, and were designed, on the one hand, to encourage Israel to turn seriously to its God, and by holding fast to His covenant to obtain the power to conquer all its foes; and, on the other hand, to alarm their enemies, that they might not attribute to their idols the power which they possessed to subjugate the Israelites, but might learn to fear the omnipotence of the true God. This divine power which was displayed by the judges culminated in Samson. When the Spirit of God came upon him, he performed such mighty deeds that the haughty Philistines feel the omnipotence of Jehovah. And this power he possessed by virtue of his condition as a Nazarite, because he had been vowed or dedicated to the Lord from his mother's womb, so long as he remained faithful to the vow that had been imposed upon him.

But just as his strength depended upon the faithful observance of his vow, so his weakness became apparent in his natural character, particularly in his intrigues with the daughters of the Philistines; and in this weakness there was reflected the natural character of the nation generally, and of its constant disposition to fraternize with the heathen. Love to a Philistine woman in Timnath not only supplied Samson with the first occasion to exhibit his heroic strength to the Philistines, but involved him in a series of conflicts in which he inflicted severe blows upon the uncircumcised. This impulse to fight against the Philistines came from Jehovah [4](Judges 14:4), and in these conflicts Jehovah assisted him with the power of His Spirit, and even opened up a fountain of water for him at Lehi in the midst of his severe fight, for the purpose of reviving his exhausted strength [5](Judges 15:19). On the other hand, in his intercourse with the harlot at Gaza, and his love affair with Delilah, he went the ways of the flesh which led to his ruin. In his destruction, which was brought about by his forfeiture of the pledge of the divine gift entrusted to him, the insufficiency of the judgeship in itself to procure for the people of God supremacy over their foes became fully manifest; so that the weakness of the judgeship culminated in Samson as well as its strength. The power of the Spirit of God, bestowed upon the judges for the deliverance of their people, was overpowered by the might of the flesh lusting against the spirit.

This special call received from God will explain the peculiarities observable in the acts which he performed, - not only the smallness of the outward results of his heroic acts, but the character of adventurous boldness by which they were distinguished. Although he had been set apart as a Nazarite from his mother's womb, he was not to complete the deliverance of his people from the hands of the Philistines, but simply to begin, it, i.e., to show to the people, by the manifestation of supernatural heroic power, the possibility of deliverance, or to exhibit the strength with which a man could slay a thousand foes. To answer this purpose, it was necessary that the acts of Samson should differ from those of the judges who fought at the head of military forces, and should exhibit the stamp of confidence and boldness in the full consciousness of divine possession and invincible power.

If we simply confine ourselves to the biblical account, the acts of Samson may be divided into two parts. The first (Judges 14 and 15) contains those in which Samson smote the Philistines with gradually increasing severity; the second (Judges 16) those by which he brought about his own fall and ruin. These are separated from one another by the account of the time that his judgeship lasted [3](Judges 15:20), and this account is briefly repeated at the close of the whole account [6](Judges 16:31). The first part includes six distinct acts which are grouped together in twos: viz., (1 and 2) the killing of the lion on the way to Timnath, and the slaughter of the thirty Philistines for the purpose of paying for the solution of his riddle with the clothes that he took off them (Judges 14); (3 and 4) his revenge upon the Philistines by burning their crops, because his wife had been given to a Philistine, and also by the great slaughter with which he punished them for having burned his father-in-law and wife [7](Judges 15:1-8); (5 and 6) the bursting of the cords with which his countrymen had bound him for the purpose of delivering him up to the Philistines, and the slaying of 1000 Philistines with the jaw-bone of an ass [8](Judges 15:9-19). The second part of his life comprises only three acts: viz., (1) taking off the town gates of Gaza, and carrying them away [9](Judges 16:1-3); (2) breaking the bonds with which Delilah bound him three separate times [10](Judges 16:4-14); and (3) his heroic death through pulling down the temple of Dagon, after he had been delivered into the power of the Philistines through the treachery of Delilah, and had been blinded by them [11](Judges 16:15-31).

Finally, Samson is unique as a judge. He did his own thing, but never ruled the nation or even his tribe. He seems to lack those types of aspirations. Instead, he was a prankster and was definitely selfish. But what made him great was his consecration. I would place these words on his tombstone; SAMSON, A CONSECRATED MAN. And there is this: I don’t find in scripture a physical description of this man. I don’t think he was a tall impressive figure of a man; that he resembled a weight lifter or that he was the athletic type. I believe he was ordinary in every respect and that he was only strong when the Spirit of God came to him and controlled him.

________________________introduction notes____________________________
[1](1 Samuel 4.10-11; KJV) “And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.”
[2](Judges 13:5; KJV)
“For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”
[3](Judges 15:20; NKJV)
“And he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.”
[4](Judges 14:4: GW)
“His father and mother didn't know that the LORD was behind this. The LORD was looking for an opportunity to do something to the Philistines. (At that time the Philistines were ruling Israel.)”
[5](Judges 15:19; GW) “So God split open the hollow place at Lehi, and water gushed out. Samson drank some water. Then he was refreshed and revived. So he called the place En Hakkore [Spring of the One Who Calls Out]. It is still there at Lehi today.”
[6](Judges 16:31; NKJV)
“And his brothers and all his father's household came down and took him, and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had judged Israel twenty years.”
[7](Judges 15:1-8)
“But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in. And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? take her, I pray thee, instead of her. And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure. And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives. Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire. And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease. And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.”
[8](Judges 15:9-19; NKJV)
“Now the Philistines went up, encamped in Judah, and deployed themselves against Lehi. And the men of Judah said, "Why have you come up against us?" So they answered, "We have come up to arrest Samson, to do to him as he has done to us." Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, "Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? What is this you have done to us?" And he said to them, "As they did to me, so I have done to them." But they said to him, "We have come down to arrest you, that we may deliver you into the hand of the Philistines." Then Samson said to them, "Swear to me that you will not kill me yourselves." So they spoke to him, saying, "No, but we will tie you securely and deliver you into their hand; but we will surely not kill you." And they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock. When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it. Then Samson said: "With the jawbone of a donkey, Heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of a donkey I have slain a thousand men!" And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand, and called that place Ramath Lehi.  Then he became very thirsty; so he cried out to the LORD and said, "You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant; and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?" So God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out, and he drank; and his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore he called its name En Hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day.”
[9](Judges 16:1-3; NKJV)
“Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her. When the Gazites were told, "Samson has come here!" they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They were quiet all night, saying, "In the morning, when it is daylight, we will kill him." And Samson lay low till midnight; then he arose at midnight, took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two gateposts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.”
[10](Judges 16:4-14; GW)
“After {leaving Gaza}, he fell in love with a woman in the Sorek Valley. Her name was Delilah. The Philistine rulers came to her and said, “Trick him, and find out what makes him so strong. Find out how we can overpower him. We want to tie him up in order to torture him. Each of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me what makes you so strong. How can you be tied up so that someone could torture you?” Samson told her, “If someone ties me up with seven new bowstrings that are not dried out, I will be like any other man.” The Philistine rulers brought her seven new bowstrings that were not dried out. She tied Samson up with them. Some men were hiding in the bedroom waiting for her {to tie him up}. Then she said to him, “Samson, the Philistines are attacking!” Samson snapped the bowstrings as a thread snaps when it touches fire. So no one found out why he was so strong. Delilah told Samson, “Look, you're making fun of me by telling me lies. Now, tell me how you can be tied up.” Samson told her, “If someone ties me up tightly with new ropes that have never been used, I will be like any other man.” So Delilah took some new ropes and tied him up with them. Then she said to him, “Samson, the Philistines are attacking!” Some men were in her bedroom waiting to ambush him. But Samson tore the ropes off his arms as though they were strings. Delilah told Samson, “You're still making fun of me by telling me lies. Tell me how you can be tied up.” Samson replied, “Just weave the seven braids of my hair with the other threads in the loom.” So Delilah tied his braids to the loom shuttle. Then she said to him, “Samson, the Philistines are attacking!” But Samson woke up and tore his braids and the threads out of the loom shuttle.”
[11](Judges 16:15-31; KJV)
“And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth. And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him. But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.
His strength renewed, he pulls down the house upon the Philistines, and dies
Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven. Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand. And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us. And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars. And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them. Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. And Samson called unto 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 at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.”


Commentary


1 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.— Judges 13:1 (KJV)
1 Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years—Judges 13:1 (NKJV)

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord,
They committed idolatry, which was the evil they were prone to do, and were frequently guilty of doing it.
This introduction, which is verse one, is very brief for the story of Samson which is covered in chapters 13-16. That is probably because a much longer introduction had already been given for all of the judgeships from Gideon and afterward in Judg. 6:1-10. (See my comments on those ten verses—Chapter 18.)

The character of the times Samson was born into  is described Here as “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord” Simply said, they Did evil—That is, fell into idolatry, not after the death of Abdon the last judge, but in the days of the former judges. Forty years - To be computed, not from Abdon's death, but before that time. And it is probable that the great slaughter of the Ephraimites made by Jephthah, greatly encouraged the Philistines to rise-up against Israel, when one of their chief bulwarks was significantly weakened; and therefore the Philistines (see article 12.1:THE HISTORY OF THE PHILISTINES) began to terrorize and oppress them not long after Jephthah's death. These were a very inconsequential people. They had just five cities of any note. And yet when God used them as the staff in his hand, they were very oppressive and formidable. The character of the people of Israel was similar to those who were there when God raised-up Gideon, and they may have been on the way to being as bad as they were just prior to the Flood. Because of their sin and rebellion, God had to get their attention again; therefore, He allows them to be subjected to the Philistines which gave rise to the need for Him raising up a deliverer. If there had been no sin, there would have been no need for a Savior; but sin was allowed to abound, that grace might much more abound. Samson is truly a man from his times; he is a study in contrasts, a man of great strengths and great weaknesses. In this, he is sort of a picture of Israel's history - of great highs and lows. Samson is also an important example of unfulfilled potential; though he did great things for God, it is awesome to consider what he might have done and been for God if he was a good godly man like some of his predecessors. {See Article 12.2: REGARDING SAMSON'S JUDGESHIP}

and the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines forty years:
The Israelites were characterized [12](Jud 10:6, 7) as having fallen collectively into a state of gross and confirmed idolatry, and for the chastisement of this great apostasy, the Lord raised up enemies that harassed them in various quarters, especially the Ammonites and Philistines. The invasions and defeat of the former were narrated in the chapters immediately preceding this one; and now the sacred historian proceeds to describe the inroads of the Philistines. It does not appear that after Shamgar, to the present time, the Philistines were in a condition to oppress Israel, or God had not permitted them to do it; but now they have a commission, the Israelites having departed from the Lord. Nor is it evident that the Philistines had entirely subjected the Israelites, as there still appears to have been a sort of commerce between the two people. They had often vexed and made inroads upon them, but they never had them in entire subjection (it was more like a partial captivity); see [13]Judges 15:11. The period of Philistine ascendency comprised forty years, reckoning from the time of Elon until the death of Samson. But according to Josephus it is to be reckoned from the death of the last judge, and the time of Samson's birth; or rather from some time after the death of Jephthah, particularly taking in the two last years of Ibzan, when the Ephraimites were weakened by their slaughter at the hand of Jephthah, since that might have encouraged the Philistines to invade them; from that time to the birth of Samson were twenty years, and twenty more years before he could begin to deliver Israel out of their hands; so that the oppression lasted forty years. According to others, it began at the same time as the oppression of the Ammonites did, though it lasted longer, [14](Judges 10:7); at least unto the second battle of Ebenezer [15](1 Sam. 7:10).
There is a missing note here. While, in the introductory paragraph for each of the other judges, there is the record of Israel's distress leading to their cries unto God for deliverance. Nothing like that occurred here. The encroachment of the Philistines came one minor assault at a time, hence those that were not affected by it seemingly consented to it, not realizing that they were in the awful danger of losing their identity through a confederacy with the Philistines.

Article 12.1:THE HISTORY OF THE PHILISTINES
In the history of Israel, the Philistines appeared very early as an obstacle in the way of what Israel desired to do. When Moses led Israel out of Egypt, the Philistines were spread out along the coastal strip between Egypt and Gaza, causing Moses to detour inland to "avoid the way of the Philistines" (Exodus 13:17), the date of the Exodus being 1441 B.C.
"Much earlier (circa 1600-1525 B.C.), the Philistines, a people descended from Mizraim, a son of Ham, had arrived on the seacoast of western Palestine from Crete (the Hebrew Caphtor) via Cyprus. By the year 1200 B.C. they were strong enough to attempt an invasion of Egypt, but were forced back, eventually entrenching themselves in their Big Five cities, each of which was ruled by a "lord." These were Gaza, Gath, Ekron, Ashdod and Ashkelon.
Even as early as the days of Abraham, the Philistines were in Palestine. Both Abraham and Isaac came in contact with Abimelech (a dynastic title) the king of Gerar and ruler of the Philistines, whose armed forces were commanded by a general named Phicol (Gen. 20; Gen. 21; and Gen. 26). The names Abimelech and Phicol were also the names of similar rulers in the times of Isaac, there being two incidents involved, not merely one.
It is amazing that the Philistines gave their name to the Holy Land, i.e., Palestine. In the times of the Judges, which we are studying, the Philistines were strong enough to be a continual threat to Israel. Shamgar had opposed them earlier, but the defeat of the powerful Ephraimites by Jephthah had effectively removed any significant opposition to the Philistines. And they dominated Israel for a long period of time reaching down through the judgeship of Samuel, the kingship of Saul, and until the times of David who completely subdued them.
However, not even the victories of David removed the Philistines from their five cities, which they retained until the times of Nebuchadnezzar who found them allied with Egypt in the battle of Carchemish. "Nebuchadnezzar stamped out any remaining sparks of Philistine independence, deporting both the rulers and the people in 604 B.C." The religion of the Philistines was a constant threat to the Israelites. The Philistines, of course, had in a large measure adopted the Baalim cults of ancient Canaan. "There were temples of Dagon in Gaza and Ashdod, one of Ashtoreth in Ashkelon according to Herodotus and one to Baalzebub in Ekron. Some of these existed as late as the times of the Maccabees." The tragedy was that Israel even adopted these gods of the Philistines (Judges 10:6-7).
No complete "salvation" of Israel from the Philistine influence would occur in the judgeship of Samson. As the Angel of Jehovah stated it, "He would `begin to save' Israel."
There is not sufficient data available to provide an exact date for the judgeship of Samson, but Boling placed it, "Somewhere between the space of 1160 and 1100 B.C."

Article 12.2: REGARDING SAMSON'S JUDGESHIP
It is difficult indeed to provide any kind of an accurate estimate regarding the value of Samson's judgeship. He was a man of the most astounding physical ability, a man endowed with the special blessing of God in a most remarkable and wonderful manner, but his lustful and immoral behavior cast a sad shadow over his tragic life. We cannot avoid the feeling that his exploits, wonderful as they were, fell far short of what might have been expected of him. All of the scholars whose works we have consulted find this same difficulty.
"His actions not only bear the stamp of adventure, foolhardiness and willfulness, but they are almost all associated with love affairs, and it looks as if Samson dishonored and fooled away the gift entrusted to him, by making it subservient to his sensual lusts, and thus prepared the way for his ruin, without bringing any essential help to God's people."
Campbell stated that, "Along with his physical strength there was moral weakness ... Many a man, like Samson, has loved some woman in the Valley of Sorek, and the whole world is a valley of Sorek' to weak men ... His unbridled passion and overwhelming desires made him a child in morals ... He failed to live up to his potential and ended his life in disgrace."
In this light, we might ask, What was God's purpose in calling such a person as Samson to the judgeship? (1) God was not yet ready for the complete subjugation of the Philistines, for God would use them to destroy the corrupt kingdom of Saul. (2) Furthermore, Samson would be a constant and unanswerable testimony before the Israelites and the Philistines alike of the superiority of Jehovah over the pagan deities of the Philistines, and Israel desperately needed that witness. (3) Also, Samson's life would provide illustrated answers for many questions that arose among God's people.
"Samson's story teaches:
(1) the evils of mixed or foreign marriages,
(2) the folly of loose sexual relations and playing with temptation,
(3) that bodily strength, like all gifts, is of God, and
(4) that its retention is dependent upon one's obedience to God's laws."
Despite the multiple tragedies that marked the life of this ancient judge of Israel, his name, nevertheless, stands in the roster of the faithful, alongside the names of the most illustrious leaders of Israel's history (Hebrews 11:32).
"Because Samson's feats were so unusual, liberal scholars have suggested that Samson's story is only a Hebrew version of the legend of Hercules, the Greek strong man." However, Boling assures us that there is no sufficient reason to doubt that, "A firm basis of fact underlies ... the Samson saga."
As this chapter begins the story of Samson, the last of the judges of Israel whose story is recorded in this book, and next before Eli. The passages related concerning him are, from first to last, very surprising and uncommon. The figure he makes in this history is really great, and yet vastly different from that of his predecessors. We never find him at the head either of a court or of an army, never upon the throne of judgment nor in the field of battle, yet, in his own proper person, a great patriot of his country, and a terrible scourge and check to its enemies and oppressors; he was an eminent believer (Hebrews 11:32) and a glorious type of him who with his own arm wrought salvation. The history of the rest of the judges commences from their advancement to that station, but Samson's begins with his birth, nay, with his conception, no less than an angel from heaven ushers him into the world, as a pattern of what should be afterwards done to John Baptist and to Christ. This is related in this chapter.
I. The occasion of raising up this deliverer was the oppression of Israel by the Philistines, Judges 13:1.
II.  His birth is foretold by an angel to his mother, Judges 13:2-5.
III. She relates the prediction to his father, Judges 13:6,7.
IV. They both together hear it again from the angel (Judges 13:8-14), whom they treat with respect (Judges 13:15-18), and who, to their great amazement, discovers his dignity at parting, Judges 13:19-23.
V. Samson is born, Judges 13:24, 25.

__________________________________verse 1 notes____________________________________
[12](Jud 10:6, 7; NKJV) “Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him. So the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon.”
[13](Judges 15:11: GW) “So 3,000 men from Judah went to the cave in the cliff at Etam. They said to Samson, “Don't you know that the Philistines rule us? Why have you done this to us?” Samson replied, “I did to them what they did to me.”
[14](Judges 10:7; GW) “The LORD became angry with the people of Israel. So he used the Philistines and Ammonites to defeat them.
[15](1 Sam. 7:10; NKJV) “Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel.

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