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Judges 14

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Samson’s Unconsummated Marriage

14:1 Samson went down to Timnah, where a Philistine girl caught his eye. 1  14:2 When he got home, 2  he told his father and mother, “A Philistine girl in Timnah has caught my eye. 3  Now get her for my wife.” 14:3 But his father and mother said to him, “Certainly you can find a wife among your relatives or among all our 4  people! You should not have to go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines.” 5  But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, 6  because she is the right one for me.” 7  14:4 Now his father and mother did not realize this was the Lord’s doing, 8  because he was looking for an opportunity to stir up trouble with the Philistines 9  (for at that time the Philistines were ruling Israel).

14:5 Samson went down to Timnah. When he approached 10  the vineyards of Timnah, he saw a roaring young lion attacking him. 11  14:6 The Lord’s spirit empowered 12  him and he tore the lion 13  in two with his bare hands 14  as easily as one would tear a young goat. But he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.

14:7 Samson continued on down to Timnah 15  and spoke to the girl. In his opinion, she was just the right one. 16  14:8 Some time later, when he went back to marry 17  her, he turned aside to see the lion’s remains. He saw 18  a swarm of bees in the lion’s carcass, as well as some honey. 14:9 He scooped it up with his hands and ate it as he walked along. When he returned 19  to his father and mother, he offered them some and they ate it. But he did not tell them he had scooped the honey out of the lion’s carcass. 20 

14:10 Then Samson’s father accompanied him to Timnah for the marriage. 21  Samson hosted a party 22  there, for this was customary for bridegrooms 23  to do. 14:11 When the Philistines saw he had no attendants, they gave him thirty groomsmen who kept him company. 24  14:12 Samson said to them, “I will give you a riddle. If you really can solve it during the seven days the party lasts, 25  I will give you thirty linen robes and thirty sets 26  of clothes. 14:13 But if you cannot solve it, 27  you will give me thirty linen robes and thirty sets of clothes.” They said to him, “Let us hear your riddle.” 28  14:14 He said to them,

“Out of the one who eats came something to eat;

out of the strong one came something sweet.”

They could not solve the riddle for three days.

14:15 On the fourth 29  day they said to Samson’s bride, “Trick your husband into giving the solution to the riddle. 30  If you refuse, 31  we will burn up 32  you and your father’s family. 33  Did you invite us here 34  to make us poor?” 35  14:16 So Samson’s bride cried on his shoulder 36  and said, “You must 37  hate me; you do not love me! You told the young men 38  a riddle, but you have not told me the solution.” He said to her, “Look, I have not even told my father or mother. Do you really expect me to tell you?” 39  14:17 She cried on his shoulder 40  until the party was almost over. 41  Finally, on the seventh day, he told her because she had nagged him so much. 42  Then she told the young men the solution to the riddle. 43  14:18 On the seventh day, before the sun set, the men of the city said to him,

“What is sweeter than honey?

What is stronger than a lion?”

He said to them,

“If you had not plowed with my heifer, 44 

you would not have solved my riddle!”

14:19 The Lord’s spirit empowered him. He went down to Ashkelon and murdered thirty men. He took their clothes 45  and gave them 46  to the men who had solved the riddle. He was furious as he went back home. 47  14:20 Samson’s bride was then given to his best man. 48 

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1 tn Heb “and he saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines.”

2 tn Heb “and he went up.”

3 tn Heb “I have seen a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines.”

4 tn Heb “my.” The singular may seem strange, since the introduction to the quotation attributes the words to his father and mother. But Samson’s father apparently speaks for both himself and his wife. However, the Lucianic recension of the LXX and the Syriac Peshitta have a second person pronoun here (“you”), and this may represent the original reading.

5 tn Heb “Is there not among the daughters of your brothers or among all my people a woman that you have to go to get a wife among the uncircumcised Philistines?”

6 tn “Her” is first in the Hebrew word order for emphasis. Samson wanted this Philistine girl, no one else. See C. F. Burney, Judges, 357.

7 tn Heb “because she is right in my eyes.”

8 tn Heb “this was from the LORD.”

9 tn Heb “for an opportunity he was seeking from the Philistines.”

10 tc The MT reads, “Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah. When they approached…” Verse 6b states that Samson did not tell his parents about his encounter with the lion (vv. 5b-6a), but v. 5a gives the impression they would have seen the entire episode. One could assume that Samson separated from his parents prior to the lion’s attack, but the Hebrew text does not indicate this. It seems more likely that the words “with his father and his mother” were accidentally copied into the text, perhaps under the influence of v. 4a, where the same phrase appears. An original singular verb (“he approached”) may have been changed to the plural form (“they approached”) after the words “his father and his mother” were accidentally added to the text.

11 tn Heb “and look, a young lion of the lions was roaring to meet him.”

12 tn Heb “rushed on.”

13 tn Heb “him” or “it”; the referent (the lion) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

14 tn Heb “and there was nothing in his hand.”

15 tn Heb “He went down.”

16 tn Heb “She was the right one in the eyes of Samson.”

17 tn Heb “get.”

18 tn Heb “and look, a swarm of bees…”

19 tn Heb “went.” Samson apparently went home to his parents before going to Timnah for the marriage. Seeing and tasting the honey appears to encourage Manoah to go with his son to Timnah. Perhaps both Samson and his father viewed the honey as a good omen of future blessing. Possibly Samson considered it a symbol of sexual pleasure or an aphrodisiac. Note the use of honey imagery in Song 4:11 and 5:1.

20 sn Touching the carcass of a dead animal undoubtedly violated Samson’s Nazirite status. See Num 6:6.

21 tn Heb “And his father went down to the woman.”

22 tn Or “[wedding] feast.”

23 tn Heb “the young men.”

24 tn Heb “When they saw him, they gave him thirty companions and they were with him.” Instead of כִּרְאוֹתָם (kirotam, “when they saw”) some ancient witnesses (e.g., some mss of the LXX) assume the reading בְּיִרְאָתָם (bÿyiratam, “because they feared”).

25 tn Heb “If you really can tell it to me [during] the seven days of the feast and you find [its answer].”

26 tn Heb “changes.”

27 tn Heb “you are unable to tell me.”

28 tn Heb “Give your riddle so we can hear it.”

29 tc The MT reads “seventh.” In Hebrew there is a difference of only one letter between the words רְבִיעִי (rÿvii, “fourth”) and שְׁבִיעִי (shÿvii, “seventh”). Some ancient textual witnesses (e.g., LXX and the Syriac Peshitta) read “fourth,” here, which certainly harmonizes better with the preceding verse (cf. “for three days”) and with v. 17. Another option is to change שְׁלֹשֶׁת (shÿloshet, “three”) at the end of v. 14 to שֵׁשֶׁת (sheshet, “six”), but the resulting scenario does not account as well for v. 17, which implies the bride had been hounding Samson for more than one day.

30 tn Heb “Entice your husband so that he might tell us the riddle.”

31 tn Heb “lest.”

32 tn The Hebrew text expands the statement: “burn up with fire.” The words “with fire” are redundant in English and have been omitted from the translation for stylistic reasons.

33 tn Heb “house.”

34 tc The translation assumes the Hebrew form הֲלֹם (halom, “here,” attested in five Hebrew mss and supported by the Targum), instead of the inexplicable הֲלֹא (halo’), a negative particle with interrogative particle prefixed to it.

35 tn For discussion of this difficult form, see C. F. Burney, Judges, 364.

36 tn Heb “on him.”

37 tn Heb “only”; or “simply.”

38 tn Heb “the sons of my people.”

39 tn Heb “Should I tell you?”

40 tn Heb “on him.”

41 tn Heb “the seven days [during] which they held the party.” This does not mean she cried for the entire seven days; v. 15 indicates otherwise. She cried for the remainder of the seven day period, beginning on the fourth day.

42 tn Heb “because she forced him.”

43 tn Heb “she told the riddle to the sons of her people.”

44 sn Plowed with my heifer. This statement emphasizes that the Philistines had utilized a source of information which should have been off-limits to them. Heifers were used in plowing (Hos 10:11), but one typically used one’s own farm animals, not another man’s.

45 tn Heb “equipment”; or “gear.”

46 tn Heb “changes [of clothes].”

47 tn Heb “he went up to his father’s house.”

48 tn Heb “to his companion who had been his attendant.”



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