Judges 14:13 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 14:13, NIV: If you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.' 'Tell us your riddle,' they said. 'Let's hear it.'

Judges 14:13, ESV: but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Put your riddle, that we may hear it.”

Judges 14:13, KJV: 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.

Judges 14:13, NASB: But if you are unable to tell me, then you shall give me thirty linen wraps and thirty outfits of clothes.' And they said to him, 'Propose your riddle, so that we may hear it.'

Judges 14:13, NLT: But 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.'

Judges 14:13, CSB: But if you can't explain it to me, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.""Tell us your riddle," they replied. "Let's hear it."

What does Judges 14:13 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Samson has been assigned thirty Philistine men as companions for his week-long marriage wedding feast (Judges 14:1–3, 10–11). It's unclear whether these men are meant as drinking companions, security, or simply traditional guests. At some point on the first day of the celebration, Samson has challenged them with a wager (Judges 14:12). He has offered to provide each man a linen garment and a change of outer clothes, if they can solve his riddle—and they have seven days to solve it.

If they cannot solve his riddle, they will each give him one linen garment and change of clothes. If Samson loses, he will be obligated to provide thirty sets of clothes, which would be an expensive penalty. Clothing was much costlier in the ancient world than in most modern cultures. The Philistine men eagerly agree; at first, this seems like moderate stakes for the Philistines. Even if they lose, each man only needs to come up with one change of clothes. That's not cheap, but neither is it outrageous. Further, the men likely assume that between the thirty of them, they should be able to resolve the mystery within in the week. It's possible the men believe Samson is being extravagant: that he's offering them gifts with the added entertainment of figuring out a clever riddle.

Brash Samson doesn't plan on losing. What he will present is not so much a "riddle" as a poetic explanation of a secret event (Judges 14:14)—so he has no reason to think anyone could ever guess the answer.