And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)After a time.—There is nothing to show how long this time was. A betrothal might last a year. In Judges 11:4 the same phrase (“after days “) is used of many years.
To take her.—To lead her to his own home after the bridal feast.
A swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.—This incident has been questioned, because it is truly said that bees hate all putrescence and decomposition, and that the notion of bees being generated in the rotting bodies of oxen (which we find in Virgil, Georgic 4, &c.) is a vulgar error. But it is overlooked that the word “carcase” here means (as the Syriac renders it) “skeleton.” The fierce sun of the East dries up all the animal moisture of a dead body, and reduces it to a skeleton with extreme rapidity, and bees have no dislike to dried bones as a place in which to swarm. Thus Herodotus tells us (v. 114) that when the Amathusians cut off the head of Onesilus, because he besieged them, and hung it over their gates, a swarm of bees filled the skull with their combs and honey. Rosenmüller also quotes the authority of the physician Aldrovand for the story that swarms of bees built their combs between the skeletons of two sisters who were buried in the Church of Santa Croce, at Verona, in 1566. (Comp. Plin. H. N., xi. 24; Varro, R. R., 3:16.)Jdg 14:8-9. After a time — Hebrew, 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 scull, or in a sepulchre. Came to his father and mother — From whom he had turned aside for a season, Jdg 14:8.
The carcase of the lion - The lion, slain by him a year or some months before, had now become a mere skeleton, fit for bees to swarm into. It was a universal notion among the ancients that bees were generated from the carcass of an ox.
he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion—In such a climate, the myriads of insects and the ravages of birds of prey, together with the influences of the solar rays, would, in a few months, put the carcass in a state inviting to such cleanly animals as bees.After a time, Heb. after days, i.e. either after some days; or rather, after a year, as that word oft signifies; as Exodus 13:10 Leviticus 25:29 Numbers 9:22 Judges 17:10 1 Samuel 1:3 27:7; when the flesh of the lion, which by its strong smell is offensive to and avoided by bees, was wholly consumed, and nothing was left but the bones.
There was a swarm of bees; not generated of the dead lion’s body, but elsewhere, and settling themselves there, as they have sometimes done in a man’s skull, and in a sepulchre, and such-like places. Genesis 4:3 and so Ben Gersom interprets it, that a year after this woman became Samson's wife (i.e. betrothed to him) he returned to take her to himself to wife; and it seems, adds he, that twelve months were given her to prepare herself; and some considerable time must have elapsed, as appears from what had happened to the carcass of the lion, next related:
and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: just before he came to Timnath he thought of the lion he had slain some time ago, and he went a little out of the way to see what was become of it, or had happened to it. Josephus says (d), when he slew it he threw it into a woody place, perhaps among some bushes, a little out of the road; for which reason it had not been seen and removed, and was in a more convenient place for what was done in it:
and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion; and though naturalists (e) tell us that bees are averse to flesh, and will not touch any, yet in the course of time that the carcass of this lion had lain, its flesh might have been clean eaten off by the fowls of the air, or was quite dried away and consumed, so that it was nothing but a mere skeleton; a bony carcass, as the Syriac version. Josephus (f) says, the swarm was in the breast of the lion; and it is no more unlikely that a swarm of bees should settle in it, and continue and build combs, and lay up their honey there, than that the like should be done in the skull of Onesilus king of Cyprus, when hung up and dried, as Herodotus (g) relates. Besides, according to Virgil (h), this was a method made use of to produce a new breed of bees, even from the corrupt gore and putrid bowels of slain beasts; and Pythagoras (i) observes, they are produced from thence. This may be an emblem of those sweet blessings of grace, which come to the people of Christ through his having destroyed Satan the roaring lion, and all his works; particularly which came to the poor Gentiles, when the devil was cast out from them, and his empire there demolished.
(c) "a diebus", Montanus; "post dies", Vatablus. (d) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 8. sect. 5.) (e) Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 40. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 21. (f) Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 8.) sect. 6. (g) Terpsichore, sive, l. 5. c. 114. (h) "----quoquo modo caesis", &c. Georgic. l. 4. ver. 284, &c. "Liguefacta boum per viscera", &c. Ib ver. 555. (i) Apud Ovid. Melamorph. l. 15. fab. 4. ver. 365, 366.And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. he returned] i.e. to Zorah; the woman stays in her father’s house, as was the rule in a mot‘a marriage. The natural sense of the narrative is destroyed by the expression to take her, i.e. to marry her (a single word in the Hebr.); obviously it has been inserted. The marriage does not begin till later, Jdg 14:10.
a swarm of bees] Though in a hot country the carcase would quickly decay and shrivel up, some time must have elapsed before the bees could hive in it and form honey-comb. But in a popular story, so full of marvels, this matter-of-fact detail would not be considered. The tale of Onesilus told by Herodotus, 14:114, has been quoted to illustrate the incident. If we wish to look for the origin of this popular story, Stahn (l.c. on p. 140) offers an explanation which is certainly plausible. The connexion between the lion and the honey may be founded on the observed fact that when the sun stands in the sign of Leo, i.e. in the month of May–June, bees in Palestine produce their honey. This would be common knowledge, and would suggest an answer to the riddle in Jdg 14:14, which the Philistines might have answered if they had used their wits.Verse 8. - He returned to take her. All the preliminaries being settled between the parents, he returned to Timnath to take his bride by the same road which he and his parents had travelled by before, and, remembering his feat in killing the lion, very naturally turned aside to see what had become of the carcase. And, behold, there was a swarm of bees, etc. This has been objected to as improbable, because bees are very dainty, and would not approach a putrefying body. But as a considerable time had elapsed, it is very possible that either the mere skeleton was left, or that the heat of the sun had dried up the body and reduced it to the state of a mummy without decomposition, as is said to happen often in the desert of Arabia. Judges 14:1-9. At Tibnath, the present Tibne, an hour's journey to the south-west of Sur'a (see at Joshua 15:10), to which Samson had gone down from Zorea or Mahaneh-dan, he saw a daughter of the Philistines who pleased him; and on his return he asked his parents to take her for him as a wife (לקח, to take, as in Exodus 21:9).
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