Judges 16:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 16:2, NIV: The people of Gaza were told, 'Samson is here!' So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, 'At dawn we'll kill him.'

Judges 16:2, ESV: The Gazites were told, “Samson has come here.” And they surrounded the place and set an ambush for him all night at the gate of the city. They kept quiet all night, saying, “Let us wait till the light of the morning; then we will kill him.”

Judges 16:2, KJV: And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.

Judges 16:2, NASB: When it was reported to the Gazites, saying, 'Samson has come here,' they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. And they kept silent all night, saying, 'Let’s wait until the morning light, then we will kill him.'

Judges 16:2, NLT: Word soon spread that Samson was there, so the men of Gaza gathered together and waited all night at the town gates. They kept quiet during the night, saying to themselves, 'When the light of morning comes, we will kill him.'

Judges 16:2, CSB: When the Gazites heard that Samson was there, they surrounded the place and waited in ambush for him all that night at the city gate. They kept quiet all night, saying, "Let's wait until dawn; then we will kill him."

What does Judges 16:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Philistines in Gaza realize Samson—the Israelite who killed so many of their people (Judges 14:19; 15:8, 15)—was in town. Unbelievably, he was spending the night with a prostitute, giving his enemies ample time to react. The Philistines saw an opportunity to finally put an end to Samson.

Obviously, there are large gaps in Samson's overall story; most of his life is not described in the Bible. The same is true of this incident. It may have been years since he killed many hundreds of Philistine soldiers with a jawbone. We're not told how the people in Gaza (Joshua 13:3), far from Samson's home, know who he was. Thanks to his earlier adventures, it's not difficult to imagine reasons he would be recognizable throughout the territory. It would only require one person to identify him. Other questions are also left unanswered. Why was he in Gaza now? Was he looking to have a good time in a new place? Was he on some specific mission? None of this is revealed.

All that matters, for the sake of the story, is that the Philistines are preparing an ambush. The fear inspired by Samson's reputation might be reflected in that very fact. They don't rush into the room while he's engaged with the prostitute. Instead, they seem intent on waiting until he comes out, most likely the moment he arrives at the city gates. These would have been secured overnight, so Samson would not suspect anything if they were still closed in the morning. They assume he will pass by on his way out of town. Then they can corner him in the open and attack as a mob. As did the army who confronted him at Ramath-lehi (Judges 15:16–17), they intend to kill their enemy. Once again, they will fail.