Sefer Shoftim-Chapter 14: Shimshon Kills a lion & Gets married

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Chapter 14: Shimshon Kills a lion & Gets married

1. Shimshon requests to marry a Philistine woman:

  • Shimshon descended to Timna, and he saw a woman there from the daughters of the Philistines.
  • Shimshon asks his parent’s permission to marry: Shimshon went up to his father and mother and informed them that he had seen a woman from amongst the Philistines and he wished that they take her for him as a wife. His parents replied: Are there not any daughters from amongst your brothers and nation who are fit for you as a wife that you must take a Philistine woman, who come from the uncircumcised. Shimshon repeated his request to his father that he take specifically that woman to be his wife, as she finds favor in his eyes.
  • G-d’s desire of the marriage: Shimshon’s parents did not know that his marriage to this woman was destined by G-d, as Shimshon was searching for a way to undermine the Philistines, who ruled over the Jewish people at that time.

2. Shimshon travels to Timna, meets a lion, kills it, and proposes:

  • Shimshon and his father and mother descended towards Timna. They arrived at the vineyards of Timna [and Shimshon went on his own through the vineyard] and met a young lion who was roaring towards him [to kill him].
  • Killing the lion: The spirit of G-d [i.e. bravery, strength, and courage] rested upon Shimshon, and he tore the lion apart as easily as one would tear a young goat. He did this with his bare hands, not having any weapons with him.
  • He did not inform his parents of what happened.
  • The proposal: Shimshon descended [towards Timna] and spoke with the woman [and her family[1]] about marriage. She found favor in his eyes.
  • Removing honey from the lion corpse: After some time, Shimshon returned [to Timna] to marry her and he traveled through his original path to go see what was left of the lion. Behold, he saw a colony of bees inside the corpse of the lion, and they had created honey within it. Shimshon went ahead and removed the honey with his hands and ate from it. He gave some to his father and mother, and they also ate from it. He did not inform them that he retrieved the honey from the corpse of the lion.

3. The bachelors party, wedding, and wager for solving the riddle:

  • The bachelors party: The father of Shimshon descended [towards Timna] to arrange the marriage with the woman and Shimshon threw a bachelors party there, as was commonly done by the Bochurim, young adults. When the woman and her parents saw the party, they took thirty of their friends and went to join him.
  • The proposed wager for solving the riddle: Shimshon said to those [Philistines] present by the party: Allow me to tell you a riddle. If you can solve it within the seven days of the festive [bachelor[2] and wedding[3]] parties [thrown prior to, or after, the wedding], then I will need to provide you with thirty sheets and thirty changes of clothing. If, however, you cannot tell me the solution to the riddle, then you will provide me with thirty sheets and thirty changes of clothing. The attendees agreed and asked him to say his riddle.
  • The riddle: Shimshon said to them the following riddle that they needed to solve: From the food came food, and from the bitter came sweet.
  • Threatening the wife of Shimshon to retrieve the solution from her husband: For the first three days they [worked on the riddle and] were unable to solve the riddle. On the seventh day [i.e. Shabbos, which was the fourth day of the celebration[4]], they approached the wife[5] of Shimshon and asked her to seduce her husband into revealing the solution of the riddle to them. They threatened her that if she does not do so, they will burn down her and her entire father’s household in a fire, as “did you invite us to the celebration in order to inherit us?”
  • Shimshon’s wife persuades him to reveal the riddle’s solution: The wife of Shimshon cried to him saying he hates her and does not love her, as he has told a riddle to her Philistine friends, and he has not revealed it to her. Shimshon replied that he has not even told his father and mother, and thus certainly she should not expect him to tell her. She cried to him for the seven days of the wedding festivities. On the seventh day[6] Shimshon gave into her pressure as she pestered him to no end, and he revealed to her the solution to the riddle, and she revealed it to her Philistine friends.
  • The participants tell Shimshon the solution to his riddle: On the seventh day, prior to sunset, the people of the city told Shimshon the solution to his riddle. They said that there is nothing sweeter than honey, and nothing more bitter than a lion. Shimshon replied that if they would not have plowed with his calf, they would not have discovered the solution [referring to that they forced the solution out of his wife]. [Some say that Shimshon suspected his wife of adultery with them, and that she revealed to them the solution to the riddle.[7]]
  • Shimshon kills thirty Philistines and hands over thirty garments: A spirt of G-d rested on Shimshon and he descended to Ashkelon and killed thirty men from there. He took their garments and handed them over to the people who solved the riddle. He was very angry [with his wife for having revealed the solution to the riddle[8]], and went back to his father’s home.
  • The wife of Shimshon is given to another man: The wife of Shimshon was given [by her father[9]] to one of the friends who rejoiced with him at the wedding, who he was close with.


[1] Rashi 14:7

[2] Malbim 14:9

[3] From Rashi and other Mefarshim it seems evident that this refers to the seven days of celebration post the wedding

[4] Rashi and Radak 14:15; However, see Malbim 14:15 who says that this was the seventh day of the bachelor’s party which was the day of the wedding

[5] According to Malbim ibid they got married that day. Accoridng to Rashi and Radak, this was seemingly the 4th day after the wedding.

[6] Even according to the Malbim ibid, this refers to the seventh day of the second set of seven days of festivities which follow the wedding, and thus she pestered him for seven days. According to Rashi 14:17 and Radak, there were only one set of seven day festivities after the wedding, and thus she pestered him for four days.

[7] Ralbag 14:18

[8] Metzudos David 14:19

[9] Ralbag 15:1

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