Judges 15:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 15:11, NIV: Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, 'Don't you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?' He answered, 'I merely did to them what they did to me.'

Judges 15:11, ESV: Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so have I done to them.”

Judges 15:11, KJV: Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.

Judges 15:11, NASB: Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam and said to Samson, 'Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?' And he said to them, 'Just as they did to me, so I have done to them.'

Judges 15:11, NLT: So 3,000 men of Judah went down to get Samson at the cave in the rock of Etam. They said to Samson, 'Don't you realize the Philistines rule over us? What are you doing to us?' But Samson replied, 'I only did to them what they did to me.'

Judges 15:11, CSB: Then three thousand men of Judah went to the cave at the rock of Etam, and they asked Samson, "Don't you realize that the Philistines rule us? What have you done to us? ""I have done to them what they did to me," he answered.

What does Judges 15:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Judah sends a large contingent to the place where Samson is known to be hiding. This landmark is referred to as "the cleft of the rock of Etam." In Hebrew, the same word can mean "thousands" or "divisions," or "clans." Judah either sent several thousand men, or several divisions of men, to meet Samson. Either would be outrageously more than would be needed to arrest any normal man. Apparently, Samson has become famous for his ferocious strength.

The men of Judah did not know why the Philistine army had been staged against them (Judges 15:9–10), but they did know the damage Samson could do. When the Philistines said they only wanted Samson and they would go, the people of Judah agreed to turn Samson over to them. Instead of seeing a chance to follow a deliverer into battle against their oppressors, the men of Judah sought only to keep the peace as subjects of the Philistines. This is the reason God chose such an unorthodox man to become a "judge (Judges 2:16–19): Israel and Philistia were both complacent, and God intended to disrupt that false peace (Judges 13:5; 14:4).

The Israelites ask Samson if he misunderstands the political reality of their time: The Philistines are in charge. It's their country. They wonder why he's brought wrath down on them. Samson's response echoes any battle between young children: they started it. In fact, Samson claims that he's only done to them what they did to him. This is a classic self-deception tied to revenge and retribution. More importantly, it's not true. However, Samson's self-destructive personal vendetta is the tool used by God to spark this conflict.