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He Had A Temper
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Samson Kills And Robs To Pay A Lost Bet

By James Donahue

Remember the strange Bible story posted a few weeks ago about how Samson tied the tails of 300 foxes together and set them on fire. The crazed animals then ran through the wheat fields of the Philistines and set the crops afire.

Samson did this out of revenge because the Philistine woman he married had been given away to the best man at his wedding.

But we haven’t told all of this strange story.

It seems that this woman, who remained unnamed, lived in the town of Timnah. When he was a young man, Samson was attracted to this girl and decided to take her as his wife, even though she was not of the Hebrew faith and his parents attempted to talk him out of it.

As the story is told in Judges (14:1-19) Samson was apparently making numerous trips to Timnah to court this woman. On one of his early trips he was attacked by a young lion, which he killed with his bare hands. Later, on his way to the wedding, he noticed that a hive of bees had made their home in the old carcass of the dead lion. Inside the carcass Samson found a feast of sweet honey, which he took with him to the wedding feast.

The wedding is held and the feast is attended by 30 guests from Timnah. At some point during the feast, Samson thinks up a clever riddle linked to the dead lion and the honey. He announces a bet that if anyone in Timnah can solve his riddle within seven days he will give them each some new clothes. If they fail to solve it, they must provide him with 30 changes of clothing.

The riddle: "Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet."

So the wager was on. Three days passed and the people could not solve the riddle. So they decided to cheat. They threatened to kill Samson’s new bride and her family if she could not get Samson to reveal the answer to her. Of course, she enticed Samson to give her the answer. When the 30 guests suddenly came up with the answer, Samson knew she had betrayed him.

Samson was so angry that he went to Ashkelon, another Philistine village, killed 30 men, took their clothes and then gave them to the party guests. It was at this point that he learned that his new wife had just run off with the best man at the wedding. And thus the episode involving the foxes began.

This was not Samson’s best week. Nor did it turn out to be a good week for the people who crossed Samson. He left a trail of bodies all over the place before he was finished.