Judges 14:12
And Samson said to them, I will now put forth a riddle to you: if you 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:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) I will now put forth a riddle unto you.Chidah, “a riddle,” comes from chud, “to knot.” The use of riddles at feasts is of great antiquity both among the Jews (1Kings 10:1, &c.) and Greeks (Athen. x. 457; Pollux, vi. 107, &c.). Jewish legends have much to tell us of the riddles which passed between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and between Solomon and Hiram (Dius ap. Jos., Antt. viii. 5, § 3); and as large sums often depended on the discovery of the answer, they were very much of the nature of wagers. A sharp boy named Abdemon helped Hiram, just as the Greek sage Bias is said to have helped Amasis to solve the riddles of the Ethiopian king, which would otherwise have caused heavy losses. The Sphinx of Theban legend devoured those who could not solve her riddle. Mirth and riddles are also connected with the rites of Hercules (Müller, Dorians, ii. 12).

Sheets.—Rather, as in the margin, shirts; but it means shirts of fine linen (sedinim; LXX. Vulg., sin-dones), such as are only won by the wealthy (Isaiah 3:23; Mark 14:51). Samson’s offer was fair enough, for if defeated, each paranymph would only have to provide one sindon and one robe, whereas Samson, if they guessed his riddle, would have to provide thirty.

Jdg 14:12. I will now put forth a riddle unto you — The custom of those times, and which was transmitted to succeeding ages, was to propose some enigmatical questions to the guests, in order to render the feast more agreeable. Within the seven days of the feast — For so long marriage-feasts lasted. Sheets — Vestments of linen, which were worn next the skin, (Mark 14:51,) or fine linen clothes, which were used for divers purposes, Matthew 27:59. Thirty changes of raiment — Suits of clothes, which consisted of an upper and under garment.14:10-20 Samson's riddle literally meant no more than that he had got honey, for food and for pleasure, from the lion, which in its strength and fury was ready to devour him. But the victory of Christ over Satan, by means of his humiliation, agonies, and death, and the exaltation that followed to him, with the glory thence to the Father, and spiritual advantages to his people, seem directly alluded to. And even death, that devouring monster, being robbed of his sting, and stripped of his horror, forwards the soul to the realms of bliss. In these and other senses, out of the eater comes forth meat, and out of the strong, sweetness. Samson's companions obliged his wife to get the explanation from him. A worldly wife, or a worldly friend, is to a godly man as an enemy in the camp, who will watch every opportunity to betray him. No union can be comfortable or lasting, where secrets cannot be intrusted, without danger of being divulged. Satan, in his temptations, could not do us the mischief he does, if he did not plough with the heifer of our corrupt nature. His chief advantage against us arises from his correspondence with our deceitful hearts and inbred lusts. This proved an occasion of weaning Samson from his new relations. It were well for us, if the unkindness we meet with from the world, and our disappointments in it, obliged us by faith and prayer to return to our heavenly Father's house, and to rest there. See how little confidence is to be put in man. Whatever pretence of friendship may be made, a real Philistine will soon be weary of a true Israelite.See the marginal references. Riddles formed one of the amusements of these protracted feasts.

Sheets - Rather "linen shirts;" the "garments" which follow are the outward garments worn by the Orientals.

Jud 14:12-18. His Riddle.

12-18. I will now put forth a riddle—Riddles are a favorite Oriental amusement at festive entertainments of this nature, and rewards are offered to those who give the solution. Samson's riddle related to honey in the lion's carcass. The prize he offered was thirty sindinim, or shirts, and thirty changes of garments, probably woolen. Three days were passed in vain attempts to unravel the enigma. The festive week was fast drawing to a close when they secretly enlisted the services of the newly married wife, who having got the secret, revealed it to her friends.

A riddle, i.e. an obscure sentence for you to resolve and explain.

The seven days of the feast; for so long marriage-feasts lasted. See Genesis 29:27.

Thirty sheets; fine linen clothes, which were used for many purposes in those parts. See Matthew 27:59 Mark 14:51.

Thirty change of garments, i.e. changeable suits of apparel, as below, Judges 14:19 Genesis 45:22. And Samson said unto them,.... His thirty companions, very likely on the first day of the feast:

I will now put forth a riddle to you: a secret, hidden, abstruse thing, not easy to be understood; a dark saying, wrapped up in figurative terms; and this he proposed as an amusement to them, to exercise their wits, which it seems was usual to entertain guests with, and might be both pleasing and profitable:

if you can certainly declare it unto me within the seven days of the feast; for so long the nuptial feast was usually kept, see Genesis 29:27. If they could find it out; and with clearness and certainty explain the riddle to him within that period of time, which was giving them time enough to do it in:

then I will give you thirty sheets, and thirty change of garments: that is, every man one of each. By "sheets" he means, as Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it, a covering of the body in the night next to the flesh, in which a man lies, and was made of linen; meaning either what we call shirts, or bed sheet, and by change of raiment, a suit of clothes worn in the daytime.

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 {f} change of garments:

(f) To wear at feasts, or solemn days.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. a riddle] This is the only specimen in the O.T. of a riddle in our sense (1 Kings 10:1); elsewhere the word means a sententious maxim Proverbs 1:6, or a parable Ezekiel 17:2.

the seven days] Cf. Genesis 29:22; Genesis 29:27, Tob 8:19 f., Jdg 11:19. Similarly among the early Arabs (Benzinger, Hebr. Arch.2, p. 109 n.).

linen garments] The garment referred to (Hebr. sâdîn, Isaiah 3:23, Proverbs 31:24, perhaps of foreign origin, cf. Assyr. sudinnu) was of fine material, and seems to have been worn sometimes outside the other clothes, sometimes next the skin. The Talmud implies that it was a linen sheet or wrapper of considerable size, and put to various uses. The LXX render by sindôn, cf. Mark 14:51 f., Mark 15:46.

changes of raiment] Hebr. ḥalîfôth begâdîm, generally explained as clothes which might be exchanged for ordinary raiment on festal occasions, gala dresses; Genesis 45:22, 2 Kings 5:5; 2 Kings 5:22-23. But ḥalîfôth may be a loan-word from the Babylonian (ḥalâpu = ‘clothe’) with the sense of clothings; if this is the case, the two words ḥalîfôth begâdîm will each mean the same thing (like our ‘dress-clothes’), the foreign word being explained by the native one. It is worth noticing that LXX here render στολὰς ἱματίων, and that in Jdg 14:19 ḥalîfôth occurs alone, robes.Verse 12. - Riddle. The Hebrew word is the same as that which is rendered hard questions in 1 Kings 10:1, and dark questions, Numbers 12:8, and occurs also in Ezekiel 17:2, where the phrase is the same as here and in ver. 16, as if we should say in English, I will riddle you a riddle. In English, however, to riddle, as a verb active, means to solve a riddle, not, as in Hebrew, to propound one. The derivation of the Hebrew word and of the English is the same as regards the sense - something intricate and twisted. Thirty sheets, or rather, as in the margin, shirts, a linen garment worn next the skin. In Isaiah 3:23 spoken of the women's garment, "the fine linen," A.V., as also Proverbs 31:24. The word (sadin, Sanscrit sindu) means Indian linen. Change of garments - the outward garment of the Orientalist, which was part of the wealth of the rich and great, and was, and is to the present day, one of the most frequent presents on all state occasions (see Genesis 45:22; 2 Kings 5:5, 22; Isaiah 3:6, 7; Matthew 6:19, etc.). When Samson went down with his parents to Timnath, a young lion came roaring towards him at the vineyards of that town. Then the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him, so that he tore the lion in pieces as a kid is torn (lit. "like the tearing in pieces of the kid"), although he had nothing, i.e., no weapon, in his hand. David, when a shepherd, and the hero Benaiah, also slew lions (1 Samuel 17:34-35; 2 Samuel 23:20); and even at the present day Arabs sometimes kill lions with a staff (see Winer, Bibl. R. W. Art. Lwe). Samson's supernatural strength, the effect of the Spirit of Jehovah, which came upon him, was simply manifested in the fact that he tore the lion in pieces without any weapon whatever in his hand. But he said nothing about it to his parents, who were not eyewitnesses of the deed. This remark is introduced in connection with what follows.
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