1Samson went down to the city of Timnah. He saw a young Philistine woman there. 2When he returned home, he said to his father and mother, “I saw a Philistine woman in Timnah. I want you to get her for me. I want to marry her.”
3His father and his mother answered, “But surely there is a woman from the Israelites you can marry. Do you have to marry a woman from the Philistines? Their men are not even circumcised.”
But Samson said, “Get that woman for me! She is the one I want!” 4(Samson’s parents did not know that the Lord wanted this to happen. He was looking for a way to do something against the Philistines. They were ruling over the Israelites at that time.)
5Samson went down with his father and mother to the city of Timnah. They went as far as the vineyards near that city. There a young lion suddenly roared and jumped at Samson! 6The Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with great power. He tore the lion apart with his bare hands. It seemed easy to him. It was as easy as tearing apart a young goat. But Samson did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
7So Samson went down to the city and talked to the Philistine woman. She pleased him. 8Several days later, Samson came back to marry her. On his way, he went over to look at the dead lion. He found a swarm of bees in its body. They had made some honey. 9Samson got some of the honey with his hands. He walked along eating the honey. When he came to his parents, he gave them some of the honey, and they ate it too. But Samson did not tell his parents that he had taken the honey from the body of the dead lion.
10Samson’s father went down to see the Philistine woman. The custom was for the bridegroom to give a party. So Samson gave a party. 11When the Philistines saw that he was having a party, they sent 30 men to be with him.
12Then Samson said to the 30 men, “I want to tell you a story. This party will last for seven days. Try to find the answer during that time. If you can answer the riddle in that time, I will give you 30 linen shirts and 30 changes of clothes. 13But if you cannot find the answer, you must give me 30 linen shirts and 30 changes of clothes.” So the 30 men said, “Tell us your riddle, we want to hear it.”
14Samson told them this riddle:
“Out of the eater came something to eat.
Out of the strong came something sweet.”
The 30 men tried for three days to find the answer, but they couldn’t.
15On the fourth day,#14:15 fourth day This is from the ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text has “seventh day.” the men came to Samson’s wife. They said, “Did you invite us here just to make us poor? You must trick your husband into telling us the answer to the riddle. If you don’t get the answer for us, we will burn you and everyone in your father’s house to death.”
16So Samson’s wife went to him and began crying. She said, “You just hate me! You don’t really love me! You told my people a riddle, and you will not tell me the answer.”
Samson said to her, “Look, I have not even told my father and mother. So why should I tell you?”
17Samson’s wife cried for the rest of the seven days of the party. So he finally gave her the answer to the riddle on the seventh day. He told her because she kept bothering him. Then she went to her people and told them the answer to the riddle.
18So before the sun went down on the seventh day of the party, the Philistine men had the answer. They came to Samson and said,
“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?”
Then Samson said to them,
“If you had not plowed with my cow,
you would not have solved my riddle!”
19Samson was very angry. The Spirit of the Lord came on Samson with great power. He went down to the city of Ashkelon and killed 30 Philistine men. He took all the clothes and property from the dead bodies and gave them to the men who had answered his riddle. Then he went to his father’s house. 20So Samson’s wife was given to his best man.