Judges 14

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1 And Samson goeth down to Timnath, and seeth a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines,

2 and cometh up and declareth to his father, and to his mother, and saith, `A woman I have seen in Timnath, of the daughters of the Philistines; and now, take her for me for a wife.'

3 And his father saith to him -- also his mother, `Is there not among the daughters of thy brethren, and among all my people, a woman, that thou art going to take a woman from the uncircumcised Philistines?' and Samson saith unto his father, `Take her for me, for she is right in mine eyes.'

4 And his father and his mother have not known that from Jehovah it [is], that a meeting he is seeking of the Philistines; and at that time the Philistines are ruling over Israel.

5 And Samson goeth down -- also his father and his mother, to Timnath, and they come unto the vineyards of Timnath, and lo, a lion's whelp roareth at meeting him,

6 and the Spirit of Jehovah prospereth over him, and he rendeth it as the rending of a kid, and there is nothing in his hand, and he hath not declared to his father and to his mother that which he hath done.

7 And he goeth down and speaketh to the woman, and she is right in the eyes of Samson;

8 and he turneth back after [some] days to take her, and turneth aside to see the carcase of the lion, and lo, a company of bees [are] in the body of the lion -- and honey.

9 And he taketh it down on to his hands, and goeth on, going and eating; and he goeth unto his father, and unto his mother, and giveth to them, and they eat, and he hath not declared to them that from the body of the lion he took down the honey.

10 And his father goeth down unto the woman, and Samson maketh there a banquet, for so the young men do;

11 and it cometh to pass when they see him, that they take thirty companions, and they are with him.

12 And Samson saith to them, `Let me, I pray you, put forth to you a riddle; if ye certainly declare it to me [in] the seven days of the banquet, and have found [it] out, then I have given to you thirty linen shirts, and thirty changes of garments;

13 and if ye are not able to declare [it] to me, then ye have given to me thirty linen shirts, and thirty changes of garments.' And they say to him, `Put forth thy riddle, and we hear it!'

14 And he saith to them: `Out of the eater came forth meat, And out of the strong came forth sweetness;' and they were not able to declare the riddle [in] three days.

15 And it cometh to pass, on the seventh day, that they say to Samson's wife, `Entice thy husband, that he declare to us the riddle, lest we burn thee and the house of thy father with fire; to possess us have ye called for us? is it not?'

16 And Samson's wife weepeth for it, and saith, `Thou hast only hated me, and hast not loved me; the riddle thou hast put forth to the sons of my people -- and to me thou hast not declared it;' and he saith to her, `Lo, to my father and to my mother I have not declared [it] -- and to thee I declare [it]!'

17 And she weepeth for it the seven days [in] which their banquet hath been, and it cometh to pass on the seventh day that he declareth [it] to her, for she hath distressed him; and she declareth the riddle to the sons of her people.

18 And the men of the city say to him on the seventh day, before the sun goeth in: -- `What [is] sweeter than honey? And what stronger than a lion?' And he saith to them: `Unless ye had ploughed with my heifer, Ye had not found out my riddle.'

19 And the Spirit of Jehovah prospereth over him, and he goeth down to Ashkelon, and smiteth of them thirty men, and taketh their armour, and giveth the changes to those declaring the riddle; and his anger burneth, and he goeth up to the house of his father;

20 and Samson's wife becometh his companion's, who [is] 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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