Judges 14 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Judges 14)

Verse 1

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

Went — After he was come to mature age.

Timnath — A place not far from the sea.

Verse 2

[2] And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.

To wife — Herein he is an example to all children, conformable to the fifth commandment. Children ought not to marry, nor to move toward it without the advice and consent of their parents. They that do, as Bishop Hall speaks, unchild themselves. Parents have a property in their children, as parts of themselves. In marriage this property is transferred. It is therefore not only unkind and ungrateful, but palpably unjust, to alienate this property, without their concurrence. Who so thus robbeth his father or mother, stealing himself from them who is nearer and dearer to them than their goods, and yet saith, It is no transgression, the same is the companion of a destroyer, Proverbs 28:24.

Verse 3

[3] Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

Philistines — With whom the Israelites were forbidden to marry. For although the Philistines were not Canaanites in their original, yet they were so in their concurrence with them in wickedness, and therefore were liable to the same judgments with them.

Get her — This action of Samson's, though against common rules, seems to be warranted, by the direction of God, (mentioned in the following words) which was known to Samson, but not to his parents.

Pleaseth me — Not so much for her beauty, as for the design mentioned in the next verse.

Verse 5

[5] Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.

Father and mother — Who accompanied him, either because they were now acquainted with his design; or, to order the circumstances of that action which they saw he was set upon.

Verse 6

[6] And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

Came mightily — Increased his courage and bodily strength.

A kid — As soon and as safely.

Told not, … — Lest by their means it should be publickly known; for he wisely considered, that it was not yet a fit time to awaken the jealousies and fears of the Philistines concerning him, as this would have done.

Verse 8

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

After a time — Heb. after days; that is, either after some days: or, rather, after a year, as that word often signifies; when the flesh of the lion, (which by its strong smell is offensive to bees) was wholly consumed, and nothing was left but the bones.

Bees — Settling themselves there, as they have sometimes done in a man's skull, or in a sepulchre.

Verse 9

[9] And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.

Came to, … — From whom he had turned aside for a season, verse 8.

Verse 11

[11] And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.

Saw him — Or, observed him, his stature, and strength, and countenance, and carriage, which were extraordinary.

Brought — Partly in compliance with the custom of having bride-men; though they were not so numerous; but principally by way of caution, and as a guard put upon him under a pretence of respect and affection.

Verse 12

[12] And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments:

Seven days — For so long marriage-feasts lasted.

Sheets — Fine linen-clothes, which were used for many purposes in those parts.

Changes — Suits of apparel.

Verse 15

[15] And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson's wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father's house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have? is it not so?

Seventh day — They had doubtless spoken to her before this time, but with some remissness, supposing that they should find it out; but now their time being nigh slipped, they put her under a necessity of searching it out.

To take that we have — That is, to strip us of our garments.

Verse 17

[17] And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.

The seven days — That is, on the residue of the seven days; namely, after the third day.

Verse 18

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

If ye had not … — If you had not employed my wife to find it out, as men plough up the ground with an heifer, thereby discovering its hidden parts; he calls her heifer, because she was joined with him in the same yoke.

Verse 19

[19] And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house.

The spirit came — Though he had constant strength and courage; yet that was exceedingly increased upon special occasions, by the extraordinary influences of God's spirit.

To Ashkelon — Either to the territory; or to the city itself, where he had both strength and courage enough to attempt what follows; and upon the doing hereof they were doubtless struck with such terror, that every one sought only to preserve himself, and none durst pursue him.

His anger was kindled — For the treachery of his wife and companions.

He went — Without his wife. It were well for us, if the unkindnesses we meet with from the world, and our disappointments therein has this good effect on us, to oblige us to return by faith and prayer, to our heavenly father's house.

Verse 20

[20] But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.

Was given — By her father.

Whom he had used — That is, to the chief of the bride-men, to whom he had shewed most respect and kindness.