1. Judges 16:1 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

How does Judges 16:1 compare to 14:1?

Judges 16:1 (ESV)

1 Samson went to Gaza, and there he saw a prostitute, and he went in to her.

This opening verse to the final part of Samson’s career functions as a parallel to Judges 14:1. Samson went to a Philistine town and saw a woman. So we seem to be back to square one. Yet not quite, since the differences are more than the similarities. In Judges 14:1 we read, Samson went down to Timnah. That descent from Israelite territory to Philistia was physical, from uplands to foothills, but it also implied a moral descent, from the Promised Land to the land of the uncircumcised. In Judges 16:1, we read that Samson went to Gaza. The verb here is different than in Judges 14:1; there, the verb yarod (he went down) was used, while here the more neutral verb halach (he went) is in use. That the verb yarod (to go down) is absent implies that Samson’s starting point is in Philistia, not Israel; thus, he did not go down because he already was down.1