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Judges 14:12-18

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, 1  I will give you thirty linen robes and thirty sets 2  of clothes. 14:13 But if you cannot solve it, 3  you will give me thirty linen robes and thirty sets of clothes.” They said to him, “Let us hear your riddle.” 4  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 5  day they said to Samson’s bride, “Trick your husband into giving the solution to the riddle. 6  If you refuse, 7  we will burn up 8  you and your father’s family. 9  Did you invite us here 10  to make us poor?” 11  14:16 So Samson’s bride cried on his shoulder 12  and said, “You must 13  hate me; you do not love me! You told the young men 14  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?” 15  14:17 She cried on his shoulder 16  until the party was almost over. 17  Finally, on the seventh day, he told her because she had nagged him so much. 18  Then she told the young men the solution to the riddle. 19  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, 20 

you would not have solved my riddle!”

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

2 tn Heb “changes.”

3 tn Heb “you are unable to tell me.”

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

5 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.

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

7 tn Heb “lest.”

8 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.

9 tn Heb “house.”

10 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.

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

12 tn Heb “on him.”

13 tn Heb “only”; or “simply.”

14 tn Heb “the sons of my people.”

15 tn Heb “Should I tell you?”

16 tn Heb “on him.”

17 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.

18 tn Heb “because she forced him.”

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

20 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.

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