In Judges 14.1-20 we have the story of Samson desiring a wife from among the Philistines. This story has a deeper meaning than what many will give in their commentaries on this chapter. They will be very critical about Samson but we are going to see that this will be a picture of Yeshua who marries apostate Israel, and there is more to this story than meets the eye. Samson goes to Timnah (“allotted portion”) and finds a woman, like Yeshua came to the woman Israel and found his “allotted” talmidim (apostles). Samson wants her as a wife, like Yeshua desired to take a remnant as his wife from apostate Israel. Samson says, “she looks good to me” but his parents object saying, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?”
Matt 9.11-13 tells us that there were objections to some of Yeshua’s converts, too. Some were tax collectors, harlots and plain sinners, but the Lord saw them as righteous in the Kingdom of God and “good in his eyes” (John 1.47-51). However, Judges 14.4 tells us that his parents did not know that this was of the Lord, for “he was seeking an occasion against the Philistines.” In other words, it was the will of God that a way should be opened to judge the Philistines for what they were doing. They were ruling over Israel in the same way the Pharisees from Beit Shammai ruled over Israel through their rulings in the Sanhedrin, like the 18 Edicts, in Yeshua’s day and the Lord took issue with them in Matt 23.
When Samson went down to Timnah alone a lion came roaring towards him. Yeshua came to the “allotted portion” seeking his people, and this lion alludes to Satan who “prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet 5.8). The Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) came upon Samson and he defeated the lion with nothing in his hands. Yeshua has defeated Satan by the power of the Ruach Ha Kodesh alone, with no weapons but his obedience to Yehovah and the Torah.
So Samson continues to Timnah and he talks with the woman and she looked right in his eyes. He returned later (resurrection) to take the woman in marriage, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion and there was a swarm (“edah” meaning “congregation or assembly”) of bees, and honey was in the body of the lion. He ate some and brought the honey to his parents, but did not tell them that he scraped the honey out of the lion’s carcass. Only a small remnant will enjoy the “honey” of the Lord’s word (Psa 119.103).
Eschatologically, after Yeshua resurrected he sent the Ruach Ha Kodesh on Shavuot, called Yom Kahal or “the day of the assembly” (Deut 18.16). Shavuot is the betrothal of the bride to Yeshua. Honey is eaten at this festival which speaks of the sweetness of the Torah and the word of the Lord which was given on that day. Israel did not know that Yeshua had killed the lion.
Then Samson’s father went down to the woman and Samson made a feast there, and this alludes to the wedding feast of the Messiah in the presence of his Father. When the people of Timnah saw him, they brought thirty companions to be assigned to the groom. These men allude to the people who saw the miracles of Yeshua, but would later betray and reject him, as these men will.
Then Samson proposes a riddle to his companions. They were to give him the answer within seven days of the feast. If they got the right answer, he would give them thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes. The wraps were undergarments (what God can see) and the number thirty is the number of resurrection, maturity and service (Gen 41.46; 2 Sam 5.4; Luke 3.23; Num 20.29; Deut 34.8; Num 4.1-3; Exo 21.32; Zech 11.12-13; Matt 2615). Linen represents righteousness and the changes of clothes were outer garments and the righteousness that can be seen by men. Man will need a “change of clothes” to reign with the bridegroom in the Messianic Kingdom because we must be “born again” (John 3.3; 1 Cor 15.50-53). If they were unable to solve the riddle, then they were to give Samson thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes. Failure will result in spiritual losses as well.
So, Samson gives them the riddle, but they could not tell the riddle after three days. The riddle alludes to the riddle of the Messiah, the mysteries of the Basar (gospel, good news) and Yeshua’s resurrection after three days. Unbelievers at the time did not understand the basar of the kingdom of God or what happened to Yeshua in the resurrection after three days. They could not explain the riddle. Yeshua defeated the lion and honey came forth, which is the fulfillment of bible prophecy concerning the Messiah (Luke 24.27) and his enemies didn’t get it.
On the seventh day (alludes to the Lord’s Day, the Atid Lavo or Millenium) they came to Samson’s wife and they wanted her to entice Samson for the answer. Their animosity towards Samson now extended to his wife. This also teaches us that the unbeliever will not understand the Scriptures concerning Yeshua and their animosity towards God will extend to his bride (John 15.18-21). She tries to get the answer for them in Judges 14.16-17, and he finally tells her. Now, Samson loved her but she was still a Philistine. It’s the same with Israel. She didn’t know the riddle and Israel doesn’t understand the riddle of the Messiah. But, what is the riddle of the Messiah you may wonder? Let’s explain that.
Our thoughts are like trees in a secret garden. On each tree there are leaves which are words, and these words are blown by the winds which utter their meanings. Here is the riddle. We are thinking of someone in history who left an indelible mark on mankind. Without a biological miracle on the womb of his mother, his birth would have been impossible. As an infant he was called the son of God. He was taken to Egypt to preserve life. He returned to the land of Israel and was hated by those around him, despised and rejected by men. He was hated so much that he was executed by the Romans. On the third day he was raised up and finally, he will never die again.
Now, some of you who are reading this are thinking of Yeshua, but that is not who we have in mind. Yeshua brought Israel’s meaning to its fullest depth, but we were referring to Israel. Without a biological miracle in the womb of Sarah, Isaac would have never been born. As an infant Israel was called the son of God (Exo 4.22-23; Hos 11.1). Israel was taken to Egypt to preserve life (Gen 43.1-3, 45.7). Israel returned to the land and was hated by those around him (Canaanites, Ammonites, Moabites, Amalekites, Edomites, Perizzites, Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites). He was hated so greatly he was executed by the Romans in 70 AD, but on the third day he will be raised up (Hos 5.11-15, 6.1-3; Ezek 37.1-28). The riddle of the Messiah teaches us to look further.
Samson’s wife weeps before him and he tells her the answer to the riddle, but she betrays him and she told the sons of her people the answer. How different things would have been had she told Samson of their plot against him. How different things would have been if Israel trusted in Yeshua and stopped the plot against him instead of betraying him (Matt 26.1-5). So, the men came to Samson (v 18) before the sun went down and told him the answer. Samson knew his wife had betrayed him and says, “If you had not plowed with my heifer you would not have found out my riddle.”
Then the Ruach Ha Kodesh came upon Samson and he went down to Ashkelon, which means “fire of infamy” and a type of God’s judgment, and killed thirty of them and took their spoil (stripped of their self-righteousness). He gave their clothes to those who told the riddle’s answer. Now, these were Philistine clothes, not Israeli, and this means that their self-righteousness was increased. His anger burned (God was angry with Israel) and he went “up” to his father’s house, like Yeshua did after he left self-righteous Israel (Hos 5.15 through 63; John 14.1-3; Acts 1.9; Rev 12.5). Samson’s wife was given to his friend, which alludes to the fact that Israel rejected Yeshua and she was given over to apostasy and Rabbinic Judaism (another husband). Keep in mind that the Philistines are a picture of the unbeliever as we move through the story of Samson.
In Part 13, we will pick up in Judges 15.1-20.