Judges 14

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1 And Samson went down to Timnathah, and saw a woman in Timnathah of the daughters of the Philistines.

2 And he went up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnathah of the daughters of the Philistines; and now take her for me as wife.

3 And his father and his mother said to him, Is there no woman among the daughters of thy brethren, and among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the Philistines, the uncircumcised? And Samson said to his father, Take her for me, for she pleases me well.

4 And his father and his mother did not know that it was of Jehovah, that he was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines were ruling over Israel.

5 And Samson went down, and his father and his mother, to Timnathah; and they came to the vineyards of Timnathah. And behold, a young lion roared against him;

6 and the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him, and he rent it as one rends a kid, and nothing was in his hand. And he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.

7 And he went down and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.

8 And he returned after a time to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion; and behold, [there was] a swarm of bees in the carcase of the lion, and honey;

9 and he took it out in his hands, and went on, and ate as he went. And he came to his father and to his mother, and gave them, and they ate; but he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.

10 And his father went down to the woman, and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.

11 And it came to pass when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions, and they were with him.

12 And Samson said to them, Let me now propound a riddle to you; if ye clearly explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find [it] out, then I will give you thirty shirts, and thirty changes of garments.

13 But if ye cannot explain [it] to me, then shall ye give me thirty shirts, and thirty changes of garments. And they said to him, Propound thy riddle, that we may hear it.

14 And he said to them, Out of the eater came forth food, And out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days explain the riddle.

15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said to Samson's wife, Persuade thy husband, that he may explain to us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father's house with fire. Have ye invited us to impoverish us, -- is it not [so]?

16 And Samson's wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not. Thou hast propounded the riddle to the children of my people, and hast not explained it to me. And he said to her, Behold, I have not explained it to my father nor my mother, and shall I explain it to thee?

17 And she wept before him the seven days, while they had the feast. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that he explained it to her, for she pressed him. And she explained the riddle to the children of her people.

18 And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey, And what stronger than a lion? And he said to them, If ye had not ploughed with my heifer, Ye had not found out my riddle.

19 And the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew of them thirty men, and took their spoil, and gave the changes of garments unto them that explained the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house.

20 And Samson's wife was [given] to his companion, whom he had made his friend.


Exploring the Meaning of Judges 14      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 14: Samson’s Philistine wife.

At the time of Samson, the Philistines were fiercely oppressing Israel. The Philistines lived on the coast, and they may well have come from overseas. They lived in the region for about 600 years, and the Old Testament refers to many later conflicts with the Philistines.

One day, Samson saw a young Philistine woman in Timnath, and he asked his parents to get her for his wife. They asked why he did not choose an Israelite woman, but he insisted on marrying the woman he saw in Timnath, so they all went to meet her. On the way, Samson was attacked by a lion, and he tore it apart with his bare hands. After some time, when he passed by the same place, there was a swarm of bees and honey inside the lion’s carcass. He ate some of the honey, and even brought some of it to his parents, but he did not tell them where it came from.

The woman pleased Samson, and he arranged a feast to which thirty companions were invited. At the feast, Samson told them a riddle: “Out of the eater came something to eat, out of the strong came something sweet.” He said that if they solved the riddle in the seven days of the feast, he would give them thirty linen sheets and thirty changes of clothing. If not, they were to give him the same. They could not solve the riddle for three days, so they convinced Samson’s wife to beg him for the answer. At the end of seven days, the men answered Samson’s riddle, and he was furious.

Then the Lord’s spirit came upon Samson, and he killed thirty Philistine men from Ashkelon, took their garments, and gave these to the thirty men at the feast. His wife was given to his companion.

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The spiritual meaning of the powerful Philistines is believing faith is all-important, and does not require charity or good works in life — a fundamental spiritual error. This way of thinking is called ‘faith alone’ spirituality, and it can take many forms. The proximity of the Philistines to Israel is also significant, as it suggests that the temptation to prefer faith without considering charity is never far away (see Swedenborg’s work, True Christian Religion 200[3]).

The pursuit of a Philistine wife reflects the alluring nature of faith without charity, an easy, complacent spirituality. The young lion represents the force of faith alone to hold us in its grip. The honey stands for the spiritual sweetness following regeneration, as we use our faith to expand our hearts and minds (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 5620[1]).

Samson’s riddle stands for the puzzling nature of the Word’s teachings to those living by faith alone. The number thirty stands for what is whole, in this instance, the completely opposing nature of faith alone and true spiritual living. The linen sheets and changes of clothing mean taking up a genuine spiritual life which involves repentance, living the by the Word, and acknowledging the Lord. Linen is the material of a priest’s robes, and stands for the highest spiritual truths (Arcana Caelestia 5319[7]).

This end of this story shows us that faith alone doubles back on itself, and leads to a completely external understanding of the Lord. This is seen in taking garments from the thirty dead Philistines and giving them to the Philistines from the feast. Samson’s wife, who was given to his Philistine companion, stands for the complete divide between faith alone and love for the Lord. Samson’s apparent anger is really the zeal of protecting the nature of true spiritual life, which comes from the Lord (see Swedenborg’s work, Apocalypse Revealed 365).

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