Judges 15:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 15:5, NIV: lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.

Judges 15:5, ESV: And when he had set fire to the torches, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines and set fire to the stacked grain and the standing grain, as well as the olive orchards.

Judges 15:5, KJV: And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.

Judges 15:5, NASB: When he had set fire to the torches, he released the jackals into the standing grain of the Philistines and set fire to both the bundled heaps and the standing grain, along with the vineyards and olive groves.

Judges 15:5, NLT: Then he lit the torches and let the foxes run through the grain fields of the Philistines. He burned all their grain to the ground, including the sheaves and the uncut grain. He also destroyed their vineyards and olive groves.

Judges 15:5, CSB: Then he ignited the torches and released the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned the piles of grain and the standing grain as well as the vineyards and olive groves.

What does Judges 15:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

God has raised Samson up as a judge (Judges 2:16–19) and deliverer in Israel. His mission in life is to begin to free Israel from Philistines oppression (Judges 13:5). That odd job description suggests how deeply subjugated Israel had become. Both sides have grown complacent. God's people are not motivated to struggle against the Philistines for their freedom. Samson, too, has shown he would rather marry a Philistine wife than rid the Promised Land of her depraved people (Judges 14:1–3; Deuteronomy 7:1–4).

Rather than a typical military leader, the Lord has crafted an agent of chaos (Judges 14:4), who takes his feud with the Philistines very personally (Judges 15:3). God has used Samson's perceived betrayal by the people of Timnah (Judges 14:17–20; 15:1–2) to spur an act of revenge. This vengeance takes a devastatingly clever form. Samson has trapped three hundred wild animals resembling small dogs or coyotes; varied translations call them "foxes" or "jackals." These are released in pairs, tied together by the tail with a burning torch in between. Samson sets the animals loose into the wheat fields of the Philistines, which are ready for harvest.

The panicking creatures would instinctively run in an erratic pattern through the fields, attempting to separate from each other and escape the fire from behind. The field would very quickly be ablaze as the dry wheat caught and burst into flame. Setting crops on fire has long been used by aggressive armies in historical wars. Samson's use of animals would have added additional chaos and speed to this act of arson. On top of whatever the animals are doing, he is seeing to it that olive groves and harvested grain are also ignited. This vicious, calculated assault will decimate the agricultural resources of the season for that entire region, leaving the people of Timnah with nothing.

Samson is bringing God's judgment on the Philistines (Judges 13: 5; 14:4). In truth, Samson only cares that his enemies pay for what they have done to him (Judges 15:11).