Sefer Shoftim-Chapter 15: Shimshon battles the Philistines

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Chapter 15: Shimshon battles the Philistines

1. Shimshon requests his wife back and is instead offered her sister:

  • The request: In the summer, during the time of harvest of the wheat, Shimshon brought his wife a young goat [to appease her to return to him], as he desired to be intimate with her in the room. However, her father refused to give her to him for intimacy. Her father told Shimshon that he saw that he hated her, and he therefore gave her to his friend as a wife.
  • Offering her sister: The father offered Shimshon his wife’s younger sister to be his wife in her stead, saying that she is much better than his current wife.

2. Shimshon takes revenge against the Philistines:

  • Shimshon did not like the refusal and new offer received from his wife’s father and decided to justifiably take revenge against the Philistines.
  • Gathering three hundred fox and burning the fields: Shimshon went and gathered three hundred foxes and tied their tails to each other. He then placed torches between the tails of the foxes. He lit the torches and sent the foxes to the fields of the Philistines. The fire destroyed all their fields of grain produce and olive orchards.
  • The Philistines kill the family of Shimshon’s wife: The Philistines inquired as to who placed arson to their produce and fields, and were informed that it was Shimshon, the son-in-law of the Timni man, as the father took Shimshon’s wife and gave her to his friend in marriage. So, the Philistines went forth and burnt her and her father in a fire.
  • Shimshon again takes revenge: When Shimshon heard what they did to his wife and father in-law, he again decided to take revenge.[1] He smote the Philistines greatly, killing many men.
  • Shimshon dwells in a cave: After this event, Shimshon went and dwelled in a cave.

3. The Philistines seek revenge against Shimshon and fail:

  • The Philistines ask for Shimshon to be handed to them: The Philistines ask Yehuda to give up Shimshon: The Philistines went up to the land area of Yehuda and encamped there, and they spread out by the area called Lechi. The people of Yehuda confronted the Philistines asking them why they have come against them in war? The Philistines replied that they have come to incarcerate Shimshon, and do to him that which he has done to them.
  • Yehuda confronts Shimshon and hands him over to the Philistines: Three thousand men from the tribe of Yehuda went down to the cave where Shimshon was located. They confronted Shimshon saying, “Do you not know that the Philistines govern us, what have you done to us?” Shimshon replied that what the Philistines did to him he did back to them. They then told Shimshon that they have come down to imprison him and hand him over to the Philistines. Shimshon said he would not fight back against them, but they would need to swear that they would not harm him. The people of Yehuda replied that indeed they will only bind him in ropes and hand him to the Philistines, and will not kill him. So, they bound Shimshon in two new ropes and carried him from the cave. They brought Shimshon down to the area called Lechi and the Philistines came towards him.
  • Shimshon fights back against the Philistines and kills 1000 men with a donkey jawbone: The spirit of G-d befell Shimshon and the ropes that bound him felt like flax which burn in fire, and he easily broke through the binding, having them melt off his hands. Shimshon found a young donkey’s jawbone and took it and used it to smite 1000 Philistines. Shimshon stated that with a jawbone of a donkey he made piles of corpses, as he killed 1000 Philistines with it. When Shimshon finished speaking, he threw away the donkey bone and name the area Ramas Lechi

4. Shimshon becomes thirsty and prays to G-d for water:

  • Shimshon was very thirsty and began praying to G-d to send him water. He stated: G-d, you have given me this great salvation, now will I die of thirst and fall to the hands of the uncircumcised one’s?
  • So, Hashem did a miracle and split open the jawbone from the cavity of the teeth[2] [or opened a rock in the area called Lechi[3]] and water came out. Shimshon drank and revived his spirits.
  • Due to these events, the area was named Eiyn Hakoreh Asher Balechi until this very day.

5. Shimshon judges the Jewish people:

  • Shimshon judged the Jewish people during the times of the Philistines for twenty years.


[1] See Ralbag 15:7

[2] See Yalkut Shimoni Shoftim Remez 70 who implies that the water came out from the donkey’s jawbone that he threw.

[3] See Midrash Raba Bereishis Parsha 98

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