הוחל שבועתו של אבימלך דכתיב (בראשית כא, כג) אם תשקר לי ולניני ולנכדי Samson’s parents were being told that the oath of Abimelech, king of the Philistines, was negated, as it is written that Abimelech said to our forefather Abraham: “Now therefore swear unto me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son; but according to the kindness that I have done unto you, you shall do to me, and to the land wherein you have sojourned” (Genesis 21:23). The oath of the descendants of Abraham was no longer binding since the Philistines broke their oath by subjugating the Jewish people.
(שופטים יג, כד) ויגדל הנער ויברכהו ה' במה ברכו אמר רב יהודה אמר רב שברכו באמתו אמתו כבני אדם וזרעו כנחל שוטף The verse states: “And the woman bore a son, and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him” (Judges 13:24). The Gemara asks: With what did He bless him? Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: It means that He blessed him with regard to his penis, that despite his youth his penis should function like that of physically mature men, and that his seed should be like an overflowing river.
(שופטים טז, כח) ויקרא שמשון אל ה' ויאמר ה' אלהים זכרני נא וחזקני נא אך הפעם הזה ואנקמה נקם אחת משתי עיני מפלשתים אמר רב אמר שמשון לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע זכור לי עשרים (ושתים) שנה ששפטתי את ישראל ולא אמרתי לאחד מהם העבר לי מקל ממקום למקום Prior to Samson’s death, the verse states: “And Samson called unto the Lord, and said: Lord God, remember me, I pray to You, and strengthen me, I pray to You, only this once, O God, that I may be this once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes” (Judges 16:28). Rav said that Samson said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, remember on my behalf the twenty-two years that I judged the Jewish people without receiving any reward, and I did not even say to any one of them: Move a stick for me from one place to another place.
(שופטים טו, ד) וילך שמשון וילכד שלש מאות שועלים מאי שנא שועלים אמר רבי איבו בר נגדי א"ר חייא בר אבא אמר שמשון יבא מי שחוזר לאחוריו ויפרע מפלשתים שחזרו בשבועתן The verse states earlier: “And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned tail to tail, and put a torch in the midst between every two tails” (Judges 15:4). The Gemara asks: What is different about foxes than any other animal, that he chose them for this purpose? Rabbi Aivu bar Nagdi says that Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba says: Samson said: Let the animal that goes in reverse when it tries to escape, i.e., the fox, come and exact punishment from the Philistines, who reneged on their oath that Abimelech swore to Abraham.
תניא א"ר שמעון החסיד בין כתיפיו של שמשון ששים אמה היה שנאמר (שופטים טז, ג) וישכב שמשון עד חצי הלילה ויקם בחצי הלילה ויאחז בדלתות שער העיר ובשתי המזוזות ויסעם עם הבריח וישם על כתיפיו וגמירי דאין דלתות עזה פחותות מששים אמה It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Shimon the Pious said: The width between the shoulders of Samson was sixty cubits, as it is stated: “And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and grabbed hold of the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and plucked them up, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of the mountain that is before Hebron” (Judges 16:3). The verse indicates that the width of the gate of the city of Gaza was equal to the width of Samson’s shoulders, and it is learned as a tradition that doors of the gate of Gaza were no less than sixty cubits wide.
(שופטים טז, כא) ויהי טוחן בבית האסורים א"ר יוחנן אין טחינה אלא לשון עבירה וכן הוא אומר (איוב לא, י) תטחן לאחר אשתי מלמד שכל אחד ואחד הביא לו את אשתו לבית האסורים כדי שתתעבר הימנו אמר רב פפא היינו דאמרי אינשי קמי דשתי חמרא חמרא קמי רפוקא גרידיא דובלא With regard to Samson’s capture, the verse states: “And the Philistines laid hold on him, and put out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison-house” (Judges 16:21). Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Grinding is nothing other than a language of a transgression of sexual intercourse, and so the verse says: “Then let my wife grind unto another man” (Job 31:10). This teaches that each and every Philistine man brought his wife to the prison in order that she should be impregnated by Samson. Rav Pappa said: This is an example of the folk saying that people say: Before a wine drinker, bring wine; before one who digs in the ground, bring figs. So too, Samson, who married Philistine women, was brought more Philistine women while in prison.
וא"ר יוחנן כל המזנה אשתו מזננת עליו שנאמר (איוב לא, ט) אם נפתה לבי על אשה ועל פתח רעי ארבתי וכתיב תטחן לאחר אשתי ועליה יכרעון אחרין והיינו דאמרי אינשי איהו בי קארי ואיתתיה בי בוציני And Rabbi Yoḥanan says: With regard to anyone who commits adultery, his wife commits adultery against him, as it is stated: “If my heart has been enticed unto a woman, and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door” (Job 31:9), and it is written: “Then let my wife grind unto another man and may strangers kneel over her” (Job 31:10). And this explains the folk saying that people say: He is found among the pumpkins [karei] and his wife among the zucchinis [butzinei], which are similar types of vegetables. In other words, she acts the same way that he does.
וא"ר יוחנן שמשון דן את ישראל כאביהם שבשמים שנאמר (בראשית מט, טז) דן ידין עמו כאחד וגו' וא"ר יוחנן שמשון על שמו של הקב"ה נקרא שנאמר (תהלים פד, יב) כי שמש ומגן ה' אלהים וגו' אלא מעתה לא ימחה אלא מעין שמו של הקב"ה מה הקב"ה מגין על כל העולם כולו אף שמשון מגין בדורו על ישראל And Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Samson judged the Jewish people as their Father in Heaven does, with complete justice, as it is stated: “Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel” (Genesis 49:16), which is interpreted to mean that Samson, from the tribe of Dan, judges his people just as God, Who is “One.” And Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Samson [Shimshon] is called by the name of the Holy One, Blessed be He, as it is stated: “For the Lord God is a sun [shemesh] and a shield” (Psalms 84:12). The Gemara comments: If that is so, then his name should not be erased just like other sanctified names are not erased. Rather, he is not called by the name of God but his name is akin to the name of the Holy One, Blessed be He, for just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, protects the entire world, so too Samson, in his generation, protected all the Jewish people.
וא"ר יוחנן בלעם חיגר ברגלו אחת היה שנאמר (במדבר כג, ג) וילך שפי שמשון חיגר בשתי רגליו היה שנאמר (בראשית מט, יז) שפיפן עלי ארח And Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Balaam was lame in one of his legs, as it is stated with regard to him: “And he went, limping [shefi]” (Numbers 23:3). Samson was lame in both of his two legs, as it is stated that when Jacob mentioned the tribe of Dan in the prophecy that pertained to Samson, he referred to him as: “Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake [shefifon] in the path” (Genesis 49:17), which is double shefi, i.e., doubly lame.
ת"ר חמשה נבראו מעין דוגמא של מעלה וכולן לקו בהן שמשון בכחו שאול בצוארו אבשלום בשערו צדקיה בעיניו אסא ברגליו § The Sages taught in a baraita: Five individuals were created with a characteristic that is akin to a representation of the One on High, and they were all stricken by that characteristic. Samson was glorified in his strength, Saul in his neck (see I Samuel 9:2), Absalom in his hair, Zedekiah in his eyes, and Asa in his feet.
שמשון בכחו דכתיב (שופטים טז, יט) ויסר כחו מעליו The Gemara clarifies: Samson was stricken by his strength, which led to his demise, as it is written: “And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man and had the seven locks of his head shaved off; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him” (Judges 16:19).
שאול בצוארו דכתיב (שמואל א לא, ד) ויקח שאול את החרב ויפל עליה Saul was smitten in his neck, as it is written: “Then said Saul to his armor-bearer: Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and make a mock of me. But his armor-bearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore, Saul took his sword and fell upon it” (I Samuel 31:4); he fell with his neck upon the sword.
אבשלום בשערו כדבעינן למימר קמן צדקיה בעיניו דכתיב (מלכים ב כה, ז) ואת עיני צדקיהו עור Absalom was stricken in his hair, as we will state later. Zedekiah was stricken in his eyes, as it is written: “And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him in fetters, and carried him to Babylon” (II Kings 25:7).
אסא ברגליו דכתיב (מלכים א טו, כג) רק לעת זקנתו חלה את רגליו ואמר רב יהודה אמר רב שאחזתו פדגרא א"ל מר זוטרא בריה דרב נחמן לרב נחמן היכי דמי פדגרא א"ל כמחט בבשר החי מנא ידע איכא דאמרי מיחש הוה חש ביה ואיכא דאמרי מרביה שמע ליה וא"ד (תהלים כה, יד) סוד ה' ליראיו ובריתו להודיעם Asa was stricken in his feet, as it is written: “Now the rest of all the acts of Asa, and all his might, and all that he did, and the cities that he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? But in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet” (I Kings 15:23). And Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: This indicates that gout [padagra] grabbed hold of him. Mar Zutra, son of Rav Naḥman, said to Rav Naḥman: What are the circumstances of gout? What pain does it involve? He said to him: It feels like a needle inserted into living flesh. The Gemara asks: From where did he know this? The Gemara answers: Some say that he himself suffered from this condition, and some say that he heard it from his teacher, and some say that he knew it through divine inspiration, as it stated: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and His covenant, to make them know it” (Psalms 25:14).
דרש רבא מפני מה נענש אסא מפני שעשה אנגריא בתלמידי חכמים שנאמר (מלכים א טו, כב) והמלך אסא השמיע את כל יהודה אין נקי מאי אין נקי אמר רב יהודה אמר רב אפילו חתן מחדרו וכלה מחופתה Rava taught: For what reason was Asa punished in his feet? Because he made Torah scholars perform forced labor [angarya], as it is stated: “Then King Asa made a proclamation unto all Judah; none was exempted; and they carried away the stones of Ramah and the timber thereof, with which Baasa had built, and King Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah” (I Kings 15:22). The superfluous expression “unto all” indicates that the proclamation was issued to everyone, including Torah scholars. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the next phrase in the verse: “None was exempted [ein naki]”? Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: This includes even a bridegroom from his chamber and a bride from her canopy, as the verse states with regard to a bridegroom: “He shall be free [naki] for his house one year” (Deuteronomy 24:5).
כתיב (שופטים יד, א) וירד שמשון תמנתה וכתיב (בראשית לח, יג) הנה חמיך עולה תמנתה א"ר אלעזר שמשון שנתגנה בה כתיב ביה ירידה יהודה שנתעלה בה כתיב ביה עליה § It is written with regard to Samson: “And Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines” (Judges 14:1), and it is written in the Torah passage concerning the incident of Judah and Tamar: “And it was told to Tamar, saying: Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to sheer his sheep” (Genesis 38:13). The verses contain an apparent contradiction as to whether Timnah was a place to which one must descend or a place to which one must ascend. Rabbi Elazar says: These terms do not refer to the manner of traveling to Timnah but are used figuratively. Concerning Samson, who was disgraced there in Timnah, the term indicating descent is written with regard to his journey. Concerning Judah, who was elevated there, the term indicating ascent is written with regard to his journey.
ר' שמואל בר נחמני אמר שתי תמנאות היו חדא בירידה וחדא בעליה Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says differently: There were two cities named Timnah, one was reached by descent into a valley, and one was reached by ascent.
רב פפא אמר חדא תמנה הואי דאתי מהאי גיסא ירידה ודאתי מהאי גיסא עליה כגון ורדוניא ובי בארי ושוקא דנרש Rav Pappa said differently: There was one Timnah, and it was located on the slope of a mountain. One who came from this side reached it by descent, and one who came from that side reached it by ascent. The Gemara presents examples of such cities: For example: Vardonia, and Bei Varei, and the market of Neresh.
(בראשית לח, יד) ותשב בפתח עינים א"ר אלכסנדרי מלמד שהלכה וישבה לה בפתחו של אברהם אבינו מקום שכל עינים צופות לראותו ר' חנין א"ר מקום הוא ששמו עינים וכן הוא אומר (יהושע טו, לד) תפוח והעינם The verse states with regard to Tamar: “And she put off from her the garments of her widowhood, and covered herself with her veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the entrance of Enaim [befetaḥ einayim], which is by the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she was not given unto him to wife” (Genesis 38:14). The amora’im dispute the meaning of the word einayim. Rabbi Alexandri says: This teaches that she went and she sat at the entrance of the home of Abraham our forefather, a place that all eyes hope to see it, as she was certain that Judah would pass there. Rabbi Ḥanin says that Rav says: It is a place called Enaim, and similarly the verse states in the list of cities in Eretz Yisrael in the portion of Judah: “Tappuah and Enam” (Joshua 15:34).
ר' שמואל בר נחמני אמר שנתנה עינים לדבריה כשתבעה אמר לה שמא נכרית את אמרה ליה גיורת אני שמא אשת איש את אמרה ליה פנויה אני שמא קיבל בך אביך קידושין אמרה ליה יתומה אני שמא טמאה את אמרה ליה טהורה אני Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says: She provided eyes [einayim] for her statements, i.e., with her words she provided an opening [petaḥ] for Judah to solicit her. When Judah solicited her to engage in sexual intercourse with him, he first attempted to verify her status and said to her: Are you perhaps are a gentile? She said to him: I am a convert. He asked: Perhaps you are a married woman? She said to him: I am an unmarried woman. He asked: Perhaps your father accepted betrothal for you and you are unaware of it? She said to him: I am an orphan. He asked: Maybe you are impure? She said to him: I am pure.
(בראשית כא, לג) ויטע אשל בבאר שבע אמר ריש לקיש מלמד שעשה פרדס ונטע בו כל מיני מגדים The Gemara discusses Abraham’s house: It is written: “And he planted an eshel in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God” (Genesis 21:33). Reish Lakish says: This teaches that Abraham made an orchard and planted in it all kinds of sweet things.
רבי יהודה ורבי נחמיה חד אמר פרדס וחד אמר פונדק בשלמא למ"ד פרדס היינו דכתיב ויטע אלא למ"ד פונדק מאי ויטע כדכתיב (דניאל יא, מה) ויטע אהלי אפדנו וגו' The tanna’im Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Neḥemya disagree as to the meaning of the word “eshel.” One said that it means an orchard [pardes], and one said that it means an inn [pundak]. The Gemara continues: Granted, according to the one who said that it means an orchard, this is what is written: “And he planted,” and this is suitable language for an orchard. But according to the one who said that he opened an inn, what is the meaning of the phrase “and he planted”? The Gemara answers: As it is written: “And he shall plant [vayitta] the tents of his palace between the seas and the beauteous holy mountain; and he shall come to his end, and none shall help him” (Daniel 11:45), indicating that the word vayitta, and he planted, is also used to indicate pitching tents.
ויקרא שם בשם ה' אל עולם אמר ריש לקיש אל תיקרי ויקרא The verse there states: “And he planted an eshel in Beersheba, and called there [vayyikra] on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God” (Genesis 21:33). Reish Lakish said: Do not read this word literally as “vayyikra,” and he called,