0 Samson's riddle (Judges 13-14)

Episode 93: Samson's riddle

(Judges 13-14)

The Israelites do evil, and God delivers them to the Philistines

13 The Israelites did evil again in the sight of the Lord and the Lord delivered them to the Philistines for forty years.

Samson's miraculous birth

2 There was a man named Manoah who had a barren wife.

3 An angel of the Lord came to Manoah's wife and said,

You will conceive and bear a son.

4 Don't drink any alcohol or eat any unclean thing.

5 He will be a Nazarite from birth, so don't ever cut his hair.

He will deliver Israel from the Philistines.

6-7 Manoah's wife told her husband what had happened.

17 Then Manoah went to the angel and said, “What's your name?”

18 The angel said, "It’s a secret."

19 Manoah offered the young goat as a meat offering, while the angel ascended in the flame while he and his wife fell on their faces.

22 Manoah said to his wife, "We will die because we have seen God."

23 His wife said to him,

If God wanted to kill us, he wouldn't have received our burnt offering, or showed or told us all these things.

24 And Manoah's wife had a son and named him Samson. God blessed him.

25 The Spirit of the Lord moved him at times.

Samson sees a Philistine woman who pleases him well

141-2 Samson said to his parents,

I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnath.

Get her for me as a wife.

3 His parents said to him,

Isn't there a Hebrew woman you could marry?

Do you have to marry a Philistine?

Samson said, "Get her for me because she pleases me well."

4 But Samson's parents didn't know that it was all part of God's plan against the Philistines.

Samson rips apart a lion

5 Samson and his parents went to Timnath. On their way, a young lion roared at Samson.

6 The Spirit of the Lord came mightily on Samson, and he tore apart the lion like it was a young goat. He didn't tell his parents what he had done.

The Philistine woman pleased him well

7 When Samson arrived at his Philistine girlfriend's house, she pleased him well.

He collects "honey" from a lion's carcass

8 Later, when Samson returned to take her as his wife, he saw the carcass of the lion, and there was a swarm of bees and honey in it. 9 Samson ate some of the honey and brought some home to his parents, who ate it. He didn't tell them where he got the honey.

Samson's riddle

10 Samson and his father prepared a feast.

11 Thirty Philistine men went to the feast. Samson said to them,

12 I’ll tell you a riddle.

If you can answer it within the seven-day feast, I'll give you thirty sheets and thirty garments.

13 But if you can't answer it, then you'll have to give me 30 sheets and 30 garments.

The Philistines said to Samson,

Okay. Tell us the riddle.

14 So Samson told them the riddle, saying,

Out of the eater came meat, and out of the strong came sweetness.

And after three days, the Philistines couldn't answer it.

15 The Philistines came to Samson's wife, and said to her,

Make your husband tell us the answer to the riddle, or we'll burn your house down.

16-17 Samson's wife begged Samson to tell her the answer to his riddle. Finally, on the seventh day, he told her. And she told her Philistine friends.

18 Before the sun set on the seventh day the Philistines answered Samson's riddle, saying,

What is sweeter than honey and stronger than a lion?

Samson said to them,

If you hadn't plowed with my heifer, you wouldn't have answered my riddle.

Samson kills thirty men for their clothes

19 The Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson and he killed thirty men, took their clothes, and gave it to the men at the party as a prize for guessing his riddle.

James Tissot Bible, Samson brings back the garments, c 1899

Samson's Philistine wife is given to his best man.

20 Then Samson's wife was given to his best man.

A few more words about this episode

There was a man named Manoah who had a barren wife. (13:2)
What the Bible says about barren women.
He will be a Nazarite from birth. (13:5)
According to Numbers 6:6, Nazarites are not to touch any dead bodies. But Samson was a mass murderer. He must have touched hundreds of dead bodies. (Or did he just kill his victims, being careful not to touch them after they were dead?)
Samson saw the carcass of the lion, and there was a swarm of bees and honey in it. (14:8)
"The swarm of bees in the lion's carcass ... were nothing but so-called drone flies, Eristalis tenax, hoverflies disguised as bees. It was these drone flies that Samson saw." The Fly Trap, Fredrik Sjoberg, p.114.
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