Slings (20:16) were weapons made of two long straps, usually either leather or cloth. These were attached to a wider pocket in the middle, where the thrower would place a rock or some other object. The sling was then swung above the head until one of the straps was let go, releasing the rock. Slings were designed to incapacitate the enemy. A fellow soldier with a sword or spear could then deliver the fatal blow.
Jebus (19:11) was the name of Jerusalem during this time because it was still under the control of the Jebusites. It would stay in the hands of the Jebusites until David conquered it and claimed it for Israel (2 Sam. 5:6–10).
Laish was about 25 miles (40 km) north of the Sea of Galilee. The Danites would have traveled about a hundred miles (161 km) to reach the city (18:7). After they invaded and destroyed Laish, the city was renamed Dan (18:29). For many years thereafter, this city would be considered the northern border of Israel. The nation was often described as extending “from Dan to Beersheba” (20:1).
Blinding a prisoner and forcing him to grind grain at a mill (16:21) was a common form of punishment in the ancient Near East. This is one more example of how the Bible presents an accurate record of the events of its day.
City gates in Bible times were often very elaborate. Many of them were two stories high or even higher. The actual opening would be narrow, with guardrooms on each side. The gateposts were anchored deep in the ground to support the doors. City gates would often have multiple doors and entrances as well as sharp turns. These were designed to slow down enemies if they tried to get through the gate. They were also the place where business transactions and judicial decisions were made.
Were the “foxes” actually jackals? The same Hebrew word can mean either “fox” or “jackal.” While foxes usually travel alone, jackals can often be seen roaming in small packs around nightfall. They can be instantly recognized by their wailing, even if they are not seen. It would have been easier for Samson to round up 300 jackals than to catch 300 foxes (15:4), though neither task would have been easy!
Riddles were as popular in ancient Near Eastern cultures as they are around the world today. Samson’s riddle about the lion and the honey (14:5–18) is the best example of a riddle in Scripture.