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Judges: Chapter 14

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1Once Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw a Philistine woman. 2Then he came up, and told his father and mother, “I saw a Philistine woman at Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” 3But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among your kin, or among all our c Heb them people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, because she pleases me.” 4His father and mother did not know that this was from the LORD; for he was seeking a pretext to act against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.

5Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah. When he came to the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion roared at him. 6The spirit of the LORD rushed on him, and he tore the lion apart barehanded as one might tear apart a kid. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. 7Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she pleased Samson. 8After a while he returned to marry her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. 9He scraped it out into his hands, and went on, eating as he went. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion.

10His father went down to the woman, and Samson made a feast there as the young men were accustomed to do. 11When the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. 12Samson said to them, “Let me now put a riddle to you. If you can explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments. 13But if you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments.” So they said to him, “Ask your riddle; let us hear it.” 14He said to them,

“Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet.”

But for three days they could not explain the riddle.

15On the fourth a Gk Tg Vg: Heb lacks and day they said to Samson's wife, “Coax your husband to explain the riddle to us, or we will burn you and your father's house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?” 16So Samson's wife wept before him, saying, “You hate me; you do not really love me. You have asked a riddle of my people, but you have not explained it to me.” He said to her, “Look, I have not told my father or my mother. Why should I tell you?” 17She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted; and because she nagged him, on the seventh day he told her. Then she explained the riddle to her people. 18The men of the town said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,

“What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?”

And he said to them,

“If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have found out my riddle.”

19Then the spirit of the LORD rushed on him, and he went down to Ashkelon. He killed thirty men of the town, took their spoil, and gave the festal garments to those who had explained the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father's house. 20And Samson's wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.

Notes:

a Heb them

b Gk Tg Vg: Heb lacks and

Text Commentary view alone

14.1–20 : Samson's wedding.

The stories about Samson reveal that he was a judge who chased women instead of enemies and who avenged only personal grievances.

1 :

Timnah may be Tell el‐Batashi, 7 km (4 mi) northwest of Beth‐shemesh.

2 :

Samson is a man dominated by his senses, not logic.

3 :

Cf. Gen 24.4; 8.1–2 . Samson's marriage to a non‐Israelite will cause all of the events of 14.5–15.19 .

4 :

An editorial comment reflecting the belief that God can use human sin and folly to accomplish his divine purpose. In other words, God used Samson in spite of his wrong motives and actions (cf. Gen 50.20 ).

6 :

He did not tell his father or his mother, defilement of a nazirite through uncleanness required an eight‐day purification ritual (Num 6.9–12 ), a ritual that Samson did not want to perform.

8–9 :

A flagrant violation of his nazirite status and a careless defiling of his parents.

10–18 :

The hostility between Samson and the Philistines flared up because of verbal jousting between Samson and his guests; many of these riddles and responses may have sexual overtones. Samson proposed a riddle that could not be solved, or so he thought. Samson's bride betrayed him (anticipatory of Delilah).

19 :

Ashkelon, a Mediterranean coastal city, one of the five main Philistine cities. Samson murdered thirty men and robbed them of their clothing just to pay his debts to his wedding companions. His unbridled anger sets the stage for his bride being given to another ( 14.20 ).

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