New International Version Judges 15:6

When the Philistines asked, "Who did this?" they were told, "Samson, the Timnite's son-in-law, because his wife was given to his companion." So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death.

English Standard Version

Then the Philistines said, “Who has done this?” And they said, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion.” And the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire.

In https://biblehub.com/judges/15-6.htm, 17 versions translate the expression as burning them with fire. Burning obviously involved fire. Why the redundancy?

  • Comparing the Biblehub Interlinear of Judges 15:6 with the Biblehub Interlinear of Exodus 3:2 ('the bush was burning with fire') indicates a similar construction, the same noun, but a different verb. This is well worth pursuing for the sake of the highly significant Exodus incident. (Up-voted +1.) . . . And remembering that Abraham ascended the mount with Isaac (to sacrifice him) with fire and a knife in his hand. Not a torch, not a brand, but with fire (itself) in his hand.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


The expression, "Burn with fire" is a quintessential Hebraic expression. While it is true that "burn with fire" is technically redundant, it was an expression used to convey a feeling of intensity and complete destruction, ie, not merely scorched. Here is a sample:

  • Ex 12:10 - And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire [= completely destroy it]
  • Ex 29:14 - But the flesh of the bull and its hide and its refuse, you shall burn with fire [= completely destroy it] outside the camp; it is a sin offering
  • Lev 8:32 - The remainder of the flesh and of the bread you shall burn in the fire [= completely destroy it].
  • Lev 13:57 - and if it appears again in the garment, whether in the warp or in the woof, or in any article of leather, it is an outbreak; the article with the mark shall be burned in the fire [= completely destroyed].
  • Lev 16:27 - But the bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall be taken outside the camp, and they shall burn their hides, their flesh, and their refuse in the fire. [= completely destroy it]
  • Deut 7:25 - The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire [= completely destroy it]; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the LORD your God.
  • Josh 11:6 - Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire [= completely destroy them].
  • Ps 46:9 - Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire [= completely destroy them].
  • Jer 43:13 - He will also shatter the obelisks of Heliopolis, which is in the land of Egypt; and the temples of the gods of Egypt he will burn with fire [= completely destroy].
  • Eze 23:47 - The company will stone them with stones and cut them down with their swords; they will slay their sons and their daughters and burn their houses with fire [= completely destroy them].

There are two important exceptions to this general pattern of Scripture which will be shown not to be exceptions:

  • Ex 3:2, 3 where the LORD appeared in the burning bush and Moses was instructed to remove his sandals and not come too close or be destroyed.
  • Deut 5:32 discusses the mountain burning with fire (but the mountain was not burned up) showing that, at the giving of the 10 commandments, anyone who came close to the mountain would be destroyed by fire

This supports the frequent contention that God, in His capacity as perfectly Holy, is described as a "consuming fire" and sinners cannot stand in the presence of such a holy God. Heb 12:29, Deut 4:24, 9:3, Ps 50:3, Isa 29:6, 30:27, 30, 33:14, Ex 24:17, etc.

Thus, Judges 15:6 has a sense of ritual cleansing a judgement. The Pulpit commentary agrees:

Verse 6. - And the Philistines... burnt her and her father with fire. See Judges 14:15. It appears from Genesis 38:24; Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9; Joshua 7:15, 25, that burning with fire was a judicial punishment among the Hebrews. Possibly the Philistines, in their fear of Samson, and perhaps also from a rude sense of justice, inflicted this punishment upon the Thimnathite and her father as the real authors of the destruction of their corn-fields, by giving Samson so unheard-of provocation. Note the fact of the identical fate overtaking Samson's wife which she had sought to escape by base treachery (cf. John 11:48 with what actually happened).

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