Judges – Chapter 14

The Marriage of Samson

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Samson saw a Philistine woman in Timnah and asked his parents to get her for his wife. The obvious question is how this was permissible. Granted, people do impermissible things all the time, but Samson was the Judge of Israel and would logically be expected to follow halacha (Jewish law). Samson’s parents were equally bothered by this, but Samson insisted. Verse 4 clarifies for us that this was mandated by G-d as part of Samson’s mission to reduce Philistine oppression.

On the way to Timnah, Samson was attacked by a lion, which he killed with his bare hands. Some time later, he passed that way again and found that bees had built a hive full of honey inside the lion’s carcass. Samson enjoyed the honey, but told no one whence it came.

At the wedding feast, he proposed a riddle based on this incident to his Philistine guests: “From the eater came food and from the strong came sweet.” The wager was a hefty wardrobe and the guests had a week to solve it. They pressed Samson’s wife, who was a Philistine, to get them the answer. She pestered Samson until he told it to her. Then, when the guests knew the answer, Samson knew they had cheated. He killed thirty Philistines and used their clothes to pay the debt. (Verse 19 again clarifies for us that this action was directed by G-d.)

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