Judges 13:1
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.
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(1) Did evil again.Judges 3:7; Judges 4:1; Judges 6:1-11; Judges 10:6.

Of the Philistines.—Hitherto the nation has only been cursorily mentioned (Judges 3:31; Judges 10:7-11); from this time to the reign of David they play an important part. They were not Canaanites, but foreign conquerors. The district which they held, and from which the name of “Palestine” has been derived, was originally in the hands of the Avim (Deuteronomy 2:23). The name means “emigrants.” They seem to have been also called Caphtorim (Jeremiah 47:4), from living in Caphtor, i.e., Crete (Tac. Hist. v. 3); but it is uncertain whether they were Semitic (Ewald, Mövers), or Hamitic (see Genesis 10:14), or Aryan (Hitzig). Their connection with Crete is inferred from the name Cherethites (LXX., Kretes). They were in Palestine by Abraham’s time (Genesis 21:32).

Forty years.—These terminated with the battle of Ebenezer (1Samuel 7:13). The ark had been taken and sent back about twenty years before this battle, and the acts of Samson probably fall within those twenty years, so that Eli died about the time that Samson came of age.

Jdg 13:1. The children of Israel did evil again — That is, fell into idolatry, not, it seems, after the death of Abdon, the last judge, but in the days of the former judges. The Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines — These were a very inconsiderable people. They had but five cities of any note. And yet, when God used them as a staff in his hand, they were very oppressive and vexatious. Forty years — To be computed, not from Abdon’s death, but before that time. This is the longest oppression which the Israelites ever sustained, but Sir John Marsham and others think it is not different from that mentioned Jdg 10:7-8, but one and the same with it; the Philistines harassing the Israelites in the west, while the Ammonites oppressed them in the east; and that, though the tyrannical treatment of them by the Philistines lasted longer, yet it began at the very same time with the other, and rendered their distress the greater. Others suppose, that it did not begin till after Jephthah’s death, and that the great slaughter of the Ephraimites made by him greatly encouraged the Philistines to rise against Israel, one of Israel’s chief bulwarks being so much weakened.

13:1-7 Israel did evil: then God delivered them again into the hands of the Philistines. When Israel was in this distress, Samson was born. His parents had been long childless. Many eminent persons were born of such mothers. Mercies long waited for, often prove signal mercies; and by them others may be encouraged to continue their hope in God's mercy. The angel notices her affliction. God often sends comfort to his people very seasonably, when they feel their troubles most. This deliverer of Israel must be devoted to God. Manoah's wife was satisfied that the messenger was of God. She gave her husband a particular account, both of the promise and of the precept. Husbands and wives should tell each other their experiences of communion with God, and their improvements in acquaintance with him, that they may help each other in the way that is holy.The Philistines have been mentioned as oppressors of Israel in Judges 3:31; Judges 10:7, Judges 10:11; and the Israelite worship of the gods of the Philistines is spoken of in Judges 10:6. But this is the first time that we have any detailed history in connection with the Philistines. They continned to be the prominent enemies of Israel until the time of David.

Forty years - The Philistine dominion began before the birth of Samson Judges 13:5, and was in force during Samson's twenty years' judgeship Judges 14:4; Judges 15:20. The 40 years are, therefore, about coincident with Samson's life.


Jud 13:1. Israel Serves the Philistines Forty Years.

1. the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years—The Israelites were represented (Jud 10:6, 7) as having fallen universally into a state of gross and confirmed idolatry, and in 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 two chapters immediately preceding this; and now the sacred historian proceeds to describe the inroads of the latter people. The period of Philistine ascendency comprised forty years, reckoning from the time of Elon till the death of Samson.The Philistines again oppress Israel, Judges 13:1. An angel appeareth to Manoah’s wife, promising her a son that should be a Nazarite, and deliver Israel, Judges 13:2-5. She informs her husband hereof: he prayeth, and obtaineth a return of the angel, Judges 13:6-14. Manoah is desirous to provide food for the angel, and inquireth after his name, Judges 13:15-18. He sacrificeth to the Lord, and the angel ascendeth to heaven in the flame of the burnt-offering, Judges 13:19-21. Hereat Manoah is affrighted, but comforted by his wife; who beareth him a son; his name Samson, in whom is the Spirit of the Lord, Judges 13:22-25.

Did evil, i.e. fell into idolatry, &c., not now 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, as is evident both from Judges 13:5, where it is declared that Israel was under the power of the Philistines; and from Judges 15:20, where only twenty of these years are said to have been in Samson’s days. And it is probably conceived, that that great slaughter of the Ephraimites made by Jephthah did greatly encourage the Philistines to rise against Israel, when one of their chief bulwarks was so much weakened; and therefore that the Philistines began to domineer over them not long after Jephthah’s death.

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord,.... Committed idolatry, which was the evil they were prone unto, and were frequently guilty of:

and the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines forty years: which according to Josephus (f) are 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 having been weakened through the slaughter of them by Jephthah, might encourage the Philistines to break in upon them; from which time to the birth of Samson were twenty years, and twenty more may be allowed 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, Judges 10:7.

(f) Ibid. (Antiqu. l. 5.) c. 8. sect. 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.
Ch. 13 Samson’s birth

1. the Philistines] The Dtc. compiler treats the age of Samson on the principle of Jdg 3:7 f., which has been illustrated in the foregoing narratives (Jdg 3:7-15, Jdg 4:1-3, Jdg 6:1-7, Jdg 10:6-8); but no hostile invasion is mentioned 13–16; while the Philistine domination lasted to the time of David, much longer than 40 years.

The Philistines are probably to be identified with the Purasati, who, with other non-Semitic tribes from southern Asia Minor and the Aegean islands, are first mentioned in the Egyptian inscriptions of Ramses III (circ. 1198–1167 b.c.). At the beginning of the 12th century these ‘peoples of the sea’ swept down upon Upper Syria and S.W. Canaan; they were twice defeated by the Pharaoh, but he did not succeed in driving them all out of the country. The Philistines settled on the coast between Carmel and Gaza, and in course of time formed a federal state governed by five lords (serânim, Jdg 3:3, Jdg 16:5 ff., Joshua 13:3, 1 Samuel 6:17 f.); a kindred tribe, the Cherçthites (translated Cretans1[48] by LXX in Zephaniah 2:5, Ezekiel 25:16), found a home in the Negeb, 1 Samuel 30:14. At the period of the Samson story the Philistines not only held the maritime plain and the Shephçlah, but had made themselves masters of the inland districts belonging to the Israelites; in the period which follows they pushed their conquests further E. and N., and it was to resist these aggressions that the Hebrew monarchy was founded. The foreign origin of the Philistines is recognized by O.T. tradition. Thus in Judg. and Sam. they are called ‘the uncircumcised,’ and their original home is said to have been Caphtor (Amos 9:7 LXX Cappadocia, Jeremiah 47:4, cf. Deuteronomy 2:23), which may be the equivalent of Keftô, the ancient Egyptian name for the western quarter of the world, especially perhaps Cilicia; the civilization which they brought with them no doubt belonged to the early Aegean type2[49]. But though foreigners by race and civilization, they seem to have adopted the language and religion of the natives whom they conquered. The names of persons and places in Philistia are Canaanite (except perhaps Achish, and serânim above); the gods whom they worshipped, Dagon (Jdg 16:23 f., 1 Samuel 5), Ashtart (1 Samuel 31:10), Baal-zebub (2 Kings 1:2 f.), are Canaanite too; see also Herod, i. 105. Curiously enough, the district inhabited by these foreign invaders (Hebr. Pelesheth) gave its name through Greek influence to the whole country, Παλαιστίνη (Herod. ii. 104, vii. 89), Palestine. The mention of the Philistines in the stories of the patriarchs, Genesis 21:22 ff. E, 26 J, and in Exodus 13:17; Exodus 15:14, is an anachronism; for the Amarna tablets (circ. 1400 b.c.) mention the country and cities afterwards held by the Philistines as in Canaanite possession.

[48] The identification is by no means certain, though recent opinion tends to recognize a connexion between the Philistines and Crete; see Evans, Scripta Minoa (1909), pp. 77 ff.

[49] In the LXX., Judg. and elsewhere, the Philistines are usually called οἱ ἀλλόφυλοι the foreigners; but in Jdg 10:6-7; Jdg 10:11; Jdg 13:1; Jdg 13:5; Jdg 14:2 cod. B gives Φυλιστιείμ, cod. A οἱ ἀλλόφυλοι. The latter rendering is probably due, not to ancient tradition, but to the fact that at the time when the Gk. Version was made the population of the old Philistine country had become thoroughly Hellenized. In Isaiah 9:12 Ἑλληνες Greeks actually appears for the Philistines of the Hebr. text.

Verse 1. - Did evil again. It by no means follows from this phrase that this chapter is in direct chronological sequence to the preceding The scene is shifted to the tribe of Dan, and to the Philistines on the west, and there is nothing to guide us as to the exact time when the things narrated occurred. But the end of the forty years probably coincided with the judgeship of Samuel; for there was no complete deliverance in the time of Samson, only occasional cheeks to the Philistine domination (see ver. 5). It was not till the days of Samuel that the Philistines were really smitten (see 1 Samuel 7:3-14). We may suppose the date of the ensuing narrative to be somewhere in the first decade of the Philistine oppression. Judges 13:1Birth of Samson. - Judges 13:1. The oppression of the Israelites by the Philistines, which is briefly hinted at in Judges 10:7, is noticed again here with the standing formula, "And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord," etc. (cf. Judges 10:6; Judges 4:1; Judges 3:12), as an introduction to the account of the life and acts of Samson, who began to deliver Israel from the hands of these enemies. Not only the birth of Samson, but the prediction of his birth, also fell, according to Judges 13:5, within the period of the rule of the Philistines over Israel. Now, as their oppression lasted forty years, and Samson judged Israel for twenty years during that oppression (Judges 15:20; Judges 16:31), he must have commenced his judgeship at an early age, probably before the completion of his twentieth year; and with this the statement in Judges 14, that his marriage with a Philistine woman furnished the occasion for his conflicts with these enemies of his people, fully agrees. The end of the forty years of the supremacy of the Philistines is not given in this book, which closes with the death of Samson. It did not terminate till the great victory which the Israelites gained over their enemies under the command of Samuel (1 Samuel 7). Twenty years before this victory the Philistines had sent back the ark which they had taken from the Israelites, after keeping it for seven months in their own land (1 Samuel 7:2, and 1 Samuel 6:1). It was within these twenty years that most of the acts of Samson occurred. His first affair with the Philistines, however, namely on the occasion of his marriage, took place a year or two before this defeat of the Israelites, in which the sons of Eli were slain, the ark fell into the hands of the Philistines, and the high priest Eli fell from his seat and broke his neck on receiving the terrible news (1 Samuel 4:18). Consequently Eli died a short time after the first appearance of Samson.
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