1One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye. 2When he returned home, he told his father and mother, “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.”
3His father and mother objected. “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?” they asked. “Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?”
But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.” 4His father and mother didn’t realize the Lord was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time.
5As Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, a young lion suddenly attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah. 6At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. But he didn’t tell his father or mother about it. 7When Samson arrived in Timnah, he talked with the woman and was very pleased with her.
8Later, when he returned to Timnah for the wedding, he turned off the path to look at the carcass of the lion. And he found that a swarm of bees had made some honey in the carcass. 9He scooped some of the honey into his hands and ate it along the way. He also gave some to his father and mother, and they ate it. But he didn’t tell them he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion.
10As his father was making final arrangements for the marriage, Samson threw a party at Timnah, as was the custom for elite young men. 11When the bride’s parents saw him, they selected thirty young men from the town to be his companions.
12Samson said to them, “Let me tell you a riddle. If you solve my riddle during these seven days of the celebration, I will give you thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing. 13But if you can’t solve it, then you must give me thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing.”
“All right,” they agreed, “let’s hear your riddle.”
14So he said:
“Out of the one who eats came something to eat;
out of the strong came something sweet.”
Three days later they were still trying to figure it out. 15On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband to explain the riddle for us, or we will burn down your father’s house with you in it. Did you invite us to this party just to make us poor?”
16So Samson’s wife came to him in tears and said, “You don’t love me; you hate me! You have given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.”
“I haven’t even given the answer to my father or mother,” he replied. “Why should I tell you?” 17So she cried whenever she was with him and kept it up for the rest of the celebration. At last, on the seventh day he told her the answer because she was tormenting him with her nagging. Then she explained the riddle to the young men.
18So before sunset of the seventh day, the men of the town came to Samson with their answer:
“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?”
Samson replied, “If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer, you wouldn’t have solved my riddle!”
19Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. He went down to the town of Ashkelon, killed thirty men, took their belongings, and gave their clothing to the men who had solved his riddle. But Samson was furious about what had happened, and he went back home to live with his father and mother. 20So his wife was given in marriage to the man who had been Samson’s best man at the wedding.