Matthew Poole's Commentary
And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.Samson desires to wife a daughter of the Philistines of Timnath; and this of the Lord, for an occasion against them, Judges 14:1-4. His parents go down with him to Timnath: a young lion meets him; he kills it, Judges 14:5-7; in his return he findeth honey in the carcass, Judges 14:8,9. Keepeth a marriage feast: hath thirty companions adjoined to him; to whom he propoundeth a riddle; with promise of a present, Judges 14:10-15. His wife extorts from him the explication, and discovereth it, Judges 14:16-18. He slayeth thirty Philistines of Ashkelon, and therewith payeth his present, Judges 14:19. His wife is given to another, Judges 14:20.
After he was come to mature age.
Timnath; a place not far from the sea; of which see Genesis 38:12 Joshua 15:57 19:43.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.The uncircumcised Philistines, with whom the Israelites were forbidden to marry, Exodus 34:12, &c. And although the Philistines were not Canaanites in their original, Genesis 10:14 Deu 2:23; yet they were so in their habitation, and concurrence with them in wickedness, and therefore were liable to the same censures and judgments with them.
Get her for me: this action of Samson’s, though against common rules, seems to be warranted, partly by the greatness and goodness of his design in it, and principally by the instinct and direction of God, which is mentioned in the following words, which was known to Samson, but not to his parents.
She pleaseth me well; not so much for her beauty, as for the design mentioned in the next verse.
But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.He sought an occasion against the Philistines; which he knew by very probable conjecture, if not by particular inspiration, that marriage would give him many ways.
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.His father and his mother 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, or to watch if they could find any occasion to take him off from his intention.
Came to the vineyards of Timnath, whither he had turned aside, either by a Divine impulse, or upon some real or pretended occasion.
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 upon him; stirred up and increased his courage and bodily strength.
As he would have rent a kid; as soon and as safely.
He told not his father or his mother, lest by their means it should be publicly 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.
And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.No text from Poole on this verse.
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, 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.
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.He took thereof in his hands, out of the lion’s carcass.
Quest. Did not Samson transgress in touching a carcass?
Answ. It was in itself a legal pollution; but some such pollutions were involuntary and unavoidable, as in one that hath an issue running in his sleep; and some were necessary duties, as in those who were to attend upon a woman in her month, or upon the burial of a dead body. And such was this pollution, being contracted by Divine instinct and direction, and in order to God’s honour, and therefore dispensed with by the author of that law, and required by him for his service.
Came to his father and mother; from whom he had turned aside for a season, Judges 14:8, upon some pretence or other.
So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.No text from Poole on this verse.
And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.When they saw him, or, observed or considered him, his stature, and strength, and countenance, and carriage, which were extraordinary.
They brought thirty companions to be with him; partly in compliance with the custom of having bridemen; of which see Matthew 9:15 Mark 2:19 John 3:29, though they were not so numerous; and principally by way of caution, and as a guard put upon him under a pretence of respect and affection.
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: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.
But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.i.e. Out of that strong and devouring creature, the lion, came forth sweet meat, to wit, honey; withal it is covertly implied, that the Philistines, though now they had strength on their side, and dominion over Israel, whom they did devour upon all occasions, yet at last they should become meat to the Israelites.
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?On the 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 press her with more vehemency, and put her under a necessity of searching it out.
To take that we have, i.e. to strip us of our garments; and so your civility will end in gross unkindness and injustice.
And Samson's wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee?Though I have had much more experience of their fidelity and taciturnity than of thine.
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, while their feast lasted, i.e. on the residue of the seven days, to wit, after the third day. It is a familiar synecdoche. Or, on the seventh of the days on which the feast was; and then the following clause, on the seventh day, is only the noun repeated for the pronoun, on that day; as is most frequent, as 1 Kings 8:1, Solomon assembled—unto Solomon, i.e. unto himself.
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 you had not employed my wife to find it out, as men plough up the ground with a heifer, thereby discovering its hidden parts: he calls her
heifer, either because he now suspected her wantonness and too much familiarity with that friend which she afterwards married; or because she was joined with him in the same yoke; or rather, because they used such in ploughing.
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 of the Lord came upon him; though he had a constant habit of eminent 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, which oft comes under the name of the city; or to the city itself, where he had both strength and courage enough to attempt what here follows; and upon the doing hereof they were doubtless struck with such a terror, that every one sought only to preserve himself, and none durst oppose or pursue him.
Change of garments, together with their sheets or shirts, which it sufficed to imply here, being expressed above, Judges 14:13.
His anger was kindled, for the treachery of his wife and companions.
And he went up, to wit, alone, or without his wife.
But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.Samson’s wife was given, by her father, to the chief of the bridemen, to whom he had showed most respect and kindness.