Samson’s Unconsummated Marriage
1 Samson went down to Timnah, where a Philistine girl caught his eye. 2 When he got home, he told his father and mother, “A Philistine girl in Timnah has caught my eye. Now get her for my wife.” 3 But his father and mother said to him, “Certainly you can find a wife among your relatives or among all our people! You should not have to go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines.” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, because she is the right one for me.” 4 Now his father and mother did not realize this was the Lord’s doing, because he was looking for an opportunity to stir up trouble with the Philistines (for at that time the Philistines were ruling Israel).
5 Samson went down to Timnah. When he approached the vineyards of Timnah, he saw a roaring young lion attacking him. 6 The Lord’s spirit empowered him and he tore the lion in two with his bare hands as easily as one would tear a young goat. But he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
7 Samson continued on down to Timnah and spoke to the girl. In his opinion, she was just the right one. 8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to see the lion’s remains. He saw a swarm of bees in the lion’s carcass, as well as some honey. 9 He scooped it up with his hands and ate it as he walked along. When he returned to his father and mother, he offered them some and they ate it. But he did not tell them he had scooped the honey out of the lion’s carcass.
10 Then Samson’s father accompanied him to Timnah for the marriage. Samson hosted a party there, for this was customary for bridegrooms to do. 11 When the Philistines saw he had no attendants, they gave him thirty grooms-men who kept him company. 12 Samson said to them, “I will give you a riddle. If you really can solve it during the seven days the party lasts, I will give you thirty linen robes and thirty sets of clothes. 13 But if you cannot solve it, you will give me thirty linen robes and thirty sets of clothes.” They said to him, “Let us hear your riddle.” 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.
15 On the fourth day they said to Samson’s bride, “Trick your husband into giving the solution to the riddle. If you refuse, we will burn up you and your father’s family. Did you invite us here to make us poor?” 16 So Samson’s bride cried on his shoulder and said, “You must hate me; you do not love me! You told the young men 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?” 17 She cried on his shoulder until the party was almost over. Finally, on the seventh day, he told her because she had nagged him so much. Then she told the young men the solution to the riddle. 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 ploughed with my heifer,
you would not have solved my riddle!”
19 The Lord’s spirit empowered him. He went down to Ashkelon and murdered thirty men. He took their clothes and gave them to the men who had solved the riddle. He was furious as he went back home. 20 Samson’s bride was then given to his best man.