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…
Surely it is not so unheard of and incredible a thing, to have collected such a number of these animals in ancient times, as to destroy the credibility and literality of our story, because it contains this statement about the foxes. Did not Sylla show at one time to the Romans one hundred lions? And Caesar four hundred, and Pompey six hundred? The history of Roman pleasures, according to the books, states that the Emperor Probus let loose into the theatre at one time one thousand wild boars, one thousand does, one thousand ostriches, one thousand stags, and a countless multitude of other wild animals. At another time he exhibited one hundred leopards from Libya, one hundred from Syria, and three hundred bears. When the caviller settles his hypercriticism with Vopiscus's Life of Probus, and with Roman history generally, we shall then consider whether our story should be rejected as incredible because of its three hundred foxes. It has also been proved by learned men that the Romans had the custom, which they seem to have borrowed from the Phoenicians, who were near neighbours of the Philistines — if they were not Philistines themselves — of letting loose, in the middle of April (the feast of Ceres) — the very time of wheat-harvest in Palestine, but not in Italy — in the circus, a large number of foxes with burning torches to their tails. Is Samson's the original, or did he adopt a common custom of the country? The story of the celebrated Roman vulpinaria, or feast of the foxes, as told by Ovid and others, bears a remarkable similarity to the history before us, ascribing the origin of this Roman custom to the following circumstance: A lad caught a fox which had stolen many fowls, and having enveloped 'his body with straw, set it on fire and let it run loose. The fox, hoping to escape from the fire, took to the thick standing corn which was then ready for the sickle; and the wind blowing hard at the time, the flames soon consumed the crop. And from this circumstance ever afterwards a law of the city of Rome required that every fox caught should be burnt alive. This is the substance of the Roman story, which Bochart and others insist took its rise from the burning of the cornfields of the Philistines by Samson's foxes. The Judaean origin of the custom is certainly the most probable, and in every way the most satisfactory.
(W. A. Scott, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: But it happened after a while, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a young goat; and he said, "I will go in to my wife into the room." But her father wouldn't allow him to go in.