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Slings

Slings (20:16) were weapons made of two long straps, usually either leather or cloth. These were attached to a wider pocket in the middle, where the thrower would place a rock or some other object. The sling was then swung above the head until one of the straps was let go, releasing the rock. Slings […]

Jebus

Jebus (19:11) was the name of Jerusalem during this time because it was still under the control of the Jebusites. It would stay in the hands of the Jebusites until David conquered it and claimed it for Israel (2 Sam. 5:6–10).

Laish

Laish was about 25 miles (40 km) north of the Sea of Galilee. The Danites would have traveled about a hundred miles (161 km) to reach the city (18:7). After they invaded and destroyed Laish, the city was renamed Dan (18:29). For many years thereafter, this city would be considered the northern border of Israel. […]

Blinding a prisoner

Blinding a prisoner and forcing him to grind grain at a mill (16:21) was a common form of punishment in the ancient Near East. This is one more example of how the Bible presents an accurate record of the events of its day.

City gates

City gates in Bible times were often very elaborate. Many of them were two stories high or even higher. The actual opening would be narrow, with guardrooms on each side. The gateposts were anchored deep in the ground to support the doors. City gates would often have multiple doors and entrances as well as sharp […]

Were the “foxes” actually jackals?

Were the “foxes” actually jackals? The same Hebrew word can mean either “fox” or “jackal.” While foxes usually travel alone, jackals can often be seen roaming in small packs around nightfall. They can be instantly recognized by their wailing, even if they are not seen. It would have been easier for Samson to round up […]

Riddles

Riddles were as popular in ancient Near Eastern cultures as they are around the world today. Samson’s riddle about the lion and the honey (14:5–18) is the best example of a riddle in Scripture.

Is it “Shibboleth” or “Sibboleth”?

Is it “Shibboleth” or “Sibboleth”? The Gileadites came up with a clever test to distinguish between their friends and their enemies (12:1–6). Knowing that the rival Ephraimites spoke a slightly different dialect, they asked them to say the word “Shibboleth.” The Ephraimites pronounced the word with an “s” rather than a “sh” sound, thus making […]

Foolish vows

Foolish vows. When Jephthah realized that his foolish vow could result in the death of his daughter (11:29–40), he could have broken the vow. For whatever reason, however, he chose not to break the vow.

Mount Gerizim

Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal make up the sides of the east-west pass into the Valley of Shechem. When Joshua conquered central Israel, he used these mountains as symbols, pronouncing blessings from Mount Gerizim and punishments from Mount Ebal (Josh. 8:30–35). Perhaps because of its historical importance, Jotham chose Mount Gerizim as the place to […]