Samson s Marriage. Judges 14:1-20

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1 1 Commentary by Ron Thomas Questions by John C. Sewell Samson s Marriage Judges 14:1-20

2 2 Text: Judges 14:1-20, Samson s Marriage 1. Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife." 3. His father and mother replied, "Isn't there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me." 4. (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.) 5. Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. 6. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. 7. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her. 8. Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass. In it was a swarm of bees and some honey, 9. which he scooped out with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion's carcass. 10. Now his father went down to see the woman. And Samson made a feast there, as was customary for bridegrooms. 11. When he appeared, he was given thirty companions.

3 "Let me tell you a riddle," Samson said to them. "If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. 13. If you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes." "Tell us your riddle," they said. "Let's hear it." 14. He replied, "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet." For three days they could not give the answer. 15. On the fourth day, they said to Samson's wife, "Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father's household to death. Did you invite us here to rob us?" 16. Then Samson's wife threw herself on him, sobbing, "You hate me! You don't really love me. You've given my people a riddle, but you haven't told me the answer." "I haven't even explained it to my father or mother," he replied, "so why should I explain it to you?" 17. She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people. 18. Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" Samson said to them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle." 19. Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father's house. 20. And Samson's wife was given to the friend who had attended him at his wedding. (NIV) Commentary: Samson Begins to Deliver Israel I. Samson desired a woman of the Philistines. 14:1-4

4 4 A. Timnah was a town on the northern border of Judah, bordering Dan. B. That Samson would even desire a Philistine woman over an Israelite and the manner in which he spoke to his parents has Younger commenting, This verse clearly reveals the character of Samson (p. 299). In this, I think he is correct. C. If the Philistines were even a part of the peoples of Canaan, then Samson would have been prohibited from marrying any woman of the Philistines (Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3-4; Joshua 13:2-3). 1. Exodus 34:16, And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same. (NIV) 2. Deuteronomy 7:3, 4, Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. (NIV) 3. Joshua 13:2, 3, "This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and Geshurites: 3 from the Shihor River on the east of Egypt to the territory of Ekron on the north, all of it counted as Canaanite (the territory of the five Philistine rulers in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron that of the Avvites. (NIV) D. Naturally, his parent objected strenuously to his choice (Wolf, p. 466).

5 5 E. Samson, however, would not hear of the objection. 1. Did the Lord prod Samson to get a Philistine woman, perhaps in direct violation of His will? 2. [God s] seeking does not imply that he is inciting Samson s lustful desires for the Timnite woman. a. Rather, it suggests that Samson s sinful actions accord with [God s] will. b. God uses Samson in spite of his wrong motives and actions (cf. Gen 50:20) (Younger, p. 302). c. Genesis 50:20, You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (NIV) Judges 14:5-9, Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her. Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass. In it was a swarm of bees and some honey, which he scooped out with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion's carcass. (NIV) I. Samson and the lion. 14:5-9 A. Samson and his parents went to Timnah.

6 6 B. A lion came toward Samson (evidently his parents were unaware of this; verse 6) and Samson destroyed it. C. Some days later, he came upon the carcass of the lion and noticed a swarm of bees, a honeycomb, and some honey. 1. This honey (some of it or all) Samson scraped from the lion; he gave some to his parents but, again, he did not tell them from where he retrieved it. 2. Honey in an animal carcass? Bees, of course, avoid any kind of decomposition (Davis, p. 136). 3. Keil & Delitzsch mention that in the Arabian sun, moisture is drawn from the dead body and the deceased will not (is not likely too) pass into a state of decomposition and putrefaction (or, decay; p. 410). D. Their religious convictions, in both cases, would have been against it, not to mention that contact with a dead body was a violation of the Nazarite vow (Numbers 6:6, 9). 1. Number 6:6, 9, Throughout the period of his separation to the LORD he must not go near a dead body. "'If someone dies suddenly in his presence, thus defiling the hair he has dedicated, he must shave his head on the day of his cleansing the seventh day. (NIV) 2. Samson, perhaps being attacked, had to defend himself. 3. Killing the lion like he did produced a corpse. 4. Reasonable people understand the need for self-defense in such cases.

7 A Nazarite, on the other hand, had to go through ritual cleansing when such things occurred. E. Samson enjoyed a lot of self-indulgence and in so doing affected a lot of people, particularly his parents, in religiously ceremonially uncleanness. 1. His parents were unaware of the harm their son brought upon them. Judges 14:10-20, Now his father went down to see the woman. And Samson made a feast there, as was customary for bridegrooms. When he appeared, he was given thirty companions. "Let me tell you a riddle," Samson said to them. "If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. If you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes." "Tell us your riddle," they said. "Let's hear it." He replied, "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet." For three days they could not give the answer. On the fourth day, they said to Samson's wife, "Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father's household to death. Did you invite us here to rob us?" Then Samson's wife threw herself on him, sobbing, "You hate me! You don't really love me. You've given my people a riddle, but you haven't told me the answer." "I haven't even explained it to my father or mother," he replied, "so why should I explain it to you?" She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people. Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" Samson said to them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle." Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down

8 8 thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father's house. And Samson's wife was given to the friend who had attended him at his wedding. (NIV) I. Samson s wedding feast. 14:10-20 A. A wedding feast of seven days. 1. A feast like this would have encouraged much drinking of the fruit of the vine. 2. If Samson participated and there is no reason to think he did not based upon the events in the chapters already then this would have been another violation of the Nazarite vow. B. Thirty (30) companions. 1. It is thought that since Samson did not provide his own companions, something traditionally done, that the Philistines provided him with companions. 2. What would they have been for? a. A couple of things, perhaps: first, as a sort of bodyguard from those that would seek to pilfer and, second, to match wits with one another. C. The riddle Samson gave was associated with a bet. 1. Samson, it seems to me, provoked (or encouraged) these men into something drastic. 2. Clothing rewards were not so easily attained; they were pricey and common folk did not have so much.

9 Samson s offer was an attractive one, since clothes were highly regarded in the Near East (Wolf, p. 468). D. Midway through the week, the riddle consumed the men and the embarrassment was becoming manifest because it was going to cost them something great. 1. Thus, the Philistine companions threatened Samson s bride. 2. She, as a young women and not having the wits of maturity, not to mention the physical strength or influence to thwart the threat, had to take the warnings seriously. a. Her family s possession would be destroyed if she failed to get them the answer. 3. It was on the fourth day that the Philistine men threatened Samson s wife, yet we read that for seven days she approached Samson with tears over this riddle (14:17). 4. The woman had already come to Samson every day with her entreaties from simple curiosity; but Samson resisted them until the seventh day, when she became more urgent than ever, in consequence of this threat on the part of the Philistines (Keil & Delitzsch, E-Sword). 4. Because of her fear, she wore down Samson. E. The riddle being solved because of treachery, Samson s anger was intense. 1. Thirty (30) men died because of this.

10 It is true that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Samson, but one must exercise caution in attributing to the Lord ALL of Samson s actions. 3. In the killing of the 30 men, was the Lord directly involved? Perhaps. 4. On the other hand, maybe the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon Samson and he (Samson) did what he wanted to do, without regard to the Lord. a. Possible, but it does not appear likely.

11 11 Questions Judges 14:1-20 (Questions based on NIV text.) 1. What was God s position regarding Israelites marrying Gentiles? 2. What was the custom in those days regarding engagement and marriage arrangements? 3. What made Samson think the Timnah Philistine was the right one for him? 4. Locate Timnah.

12 Who were the Philistines? Where did they originate, come from? 6. Samson s parents objected to this marriage? Did Samson listen? Do children heed their parents advice today? 7. How could Samson s attraction to the Philistine woman be God s will in view of the fact that God had forbidden intermarriage with Gentiles?_ 8. Tell of Samson s encounter with a young lion. 9. Later when Samson was going back to Timnah to be married, what happened in regard to the lion?

13 At the wedding feast what riddle did Samson tell those in attendance? 11. What reward was at stake regarding interpretation of the riddle? 12. Was Samson loyal to his Nazarite vow? Explain your answer. 13. Were Samson s feast guests nice people? 14. Was Samson s wife well intentioned? What do you think of her methods to influence Samson? Are these methods still used today?

14 Before on the the of the said to him, What is than? What is than a? said to them, If you had not with my, you would not have my. 16. How did Samson pay his bill? Would you have felt obligated to pay this bill? Why or why not? 17. Was God with Samson in regard to his activities in Ashkelon? If so, how could this be? 18. Locate Ashkelon.

15 Did Samson s actions give him inner peace and satisfaction? If not, what would have given him peace and satisfaction? 20. What happened to Samson s wife?

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