Daily Bible Reading for February 18, 2014, with Commentary: Judges 12-16
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Context and Meaning: We conclude the story of Jephthah with his return from defeating the Ammonites. The tribe of Ephraim met him and was upset that he had went after and defeated the Ammonites without their help and threatened to burn down his house. Jephthah, remember, was the son of a prostitute who had no family. He took the threat personally and instead of uniting Israel, he divided it and killed many men of Ephraim for personal revenge. The three minor judges mentioned after Jephthah served to remind us that the book of Judges is not a comprehensive list of all the judges. Then we come to the story of Samson. The Philistines had moved on the land of Israel. Instead of throwing them out, the Israelites had come co-exist with them. Israel had become complacent. Samson had great potential. His birth was foretold by an angel of the Lord and, at a young age, he began to feel the Spirit of the Lord. Samson was extraordinarily strong, but he wasted and disrespected the gift given to him by the Lord. Samson also showed disrespect to his heritage. He chose, time and again, Philistine women over Israelites. Each of his two wives betrayed him. Instead of uniting Israel against the Philistine, Samson used his gift for selfish purposes and gains, and, in the end, he gambled it away. Even his final act, the destruction of numerous elite Philistines, was a selfish move on Samson's part. He was doing it for revenge. He killed the Philistines because they had taken his strength and his sight. In his death, he killed more Philistines than he ever did while he was alive. Are you wasting the gift or gifts God has given you?
World History: Between Samson's capture and his death, Samson was likely put to work in a Philistine "grinding house." He would sit on a stool and grind grain with a hand held pestle and mortar. It was a tedious, time consuming task, often appropriated to the women in the house. The privileged elite would have slaves and prisoners perform the task. As Samson was battling the Philistines, the New Kingdom was coming to an end in Egypt. It is also around this time that the legendary King of Athens, Melanthus died.