- 1 Samson went down to Timnah and saw there one of the Philistine women.
- On his return he told his father and mother, "There is a Philistine woman I saw in Timnah whom I wish you to get as a wife for me."
- His father and mother said to him, "Can you find no wife among your kinsfolk or among all our people, that you must go and take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?" But Samson answered his father, "Get her for me, for she pleases me."
- Now his father and mother did not know that this had been brought about by the LORD, who was providing an opportunity against the Philistines; for at that time they had dominion over Israel.
- 2 So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother. When they had come to the vineyards of Timnah, a young lion came roaring to meet him.
- But the spirit of the LORD came upon Samson, and although he had no weapons, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a kid.
- However, on the journey to speak for the woman, he did not mention to his father or mother what he had done.
- Later, when he returned to marry the woman who pleased him, he stepped aside to look at the remains of the lion and found a swarm of bees and honey in the lion's carcass.
- So he scooped the honey out into his palms and ate it as he went along. When he came to his father and mother, he gave them some to eat, without telling them that he had scooped the honey from the lion's carcass.
- His father also went down to the woman, and Samson gave a banquet there, since it was customary for the young men to do this.
- 3 When they met him, they brought thirty men to be his companions.
- Samson said to them, "Let me propose a riddle to you. If within the seven days of the feast you solve it for me successfully, I will give you thirty linen tunics and thirty sets of garments.
- But if you cannot answer it for me, you must give me thirty tunics and thirty sets of garments." "Propose your riddle," they responded; "we will listen to it."
- So he said to them,
"Out of the eater came forth food,
and out of the strong came forth sweetness." After three
days' failure to answer the riddle,
- they said on the fourth day to Samson's wife, "Coax your husband to answer the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your family. Did you invite us here to reduce us to poverty?"
- At Samson's side, his wife wept and said, "You must hate me; you do not love me, for you have proposed a riddle to my countrymen, but have not told me the answer." He said to her, "If I have not told it even to my father or my mother, must I tell it to you?"
- But she wept beside him during the seven days the feast lasted. On the seventh day, since she importuned him, he told her the answer, and she explained the riddle to her countrymen.
- On the seventh day, before the sun set, the men of the city said to him,
"What is sweeter than honey,
and what is stronger than a lion?"
He replied to them,
"If you had not plowed with my heifer,
you would not have solved my riddle."
- The spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, where he killed thirty of their men and despoiled them; he gave their garments to those who had answered the riddle. Then he went off to his own family in anger,
- and Samson's wife was married to the one who had been best man at his wedding.
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Footnotes1 [1-3] Marriages were arranged by the parents of the bridegroom as well as of the bride; cf Genesis 24:2-8; 34:3-6. The Mosaic law specified only seven pagan nations, not including the Philistines, in the prohibition against mixed marriages; cf Deut 7:1-4. But national and religious sentiment was against any marriage with a non-Israelite; cf Genesis 28:1-2; 1 Kings 11:1-10.
2 [5-7] Although Samson was accompanied by his parents on the journey to Timnah, Jdgs 14:7 implies that he was not near them when he tore the lion in pieces.
3 Companions: known at a later period as "the friends of the bridegroom" (1 Macc 9:39; Mark 2:19), the best man and his fellows. Here they are Philistines (Jdgs 14:16), appointed by the family of the bride, who would also have several bridesmaids; cf Matthew 25:1-13.
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