Judges 14:9 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 14:9, NIV: He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion's carcass.

Judges 14:9, ESV: He scraped it out into his hands and went on, eating as he went. And he came to his father and mother and gave some to them, and they ate. But he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion.

Judges 14:9, KJV: And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.

Judges 14:9, NASB: So he took out the honey on his hands and went on, eating as he went. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them and they ate it; but he did not tell them that he had took the honey out of the body of the lion.

Judges 14:9, NLT: He 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.

Judges 14:9, CSB: He scooped some honey into his hands and ate it as he went along. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them and they ate it. But he did not tell them that he had scooped the honey from the lion's carcass.

What does Judges 14:9 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

On his way to Timnah to claim his Philistine wife, Samson has stopped to see the body of the lion he killed (Judges 13:1–6). In an extraordinary moment, the Lord's Spirit rushed upon Samson just as the lion was attacking him. With God's power, Samson fatally wounded the lion with his bare hands. Upon his return, Samson has discovered something unusual inside the remains: a hive of bees producing honey.

This would not have been a normal sight. Bees will make hives in almost anywhere they can find room, but animal carcasses don't normally make good foundations. In this case, the lion's leftover bones and skin may have helped create a suitable space. Or the bees made their home in the skull. It's also possible this was simply a bizarre, supernaturally driven moment decreed by God. Such details are absent, but irrelevant to the story. The bizarre nature of what Samson sees is, itself, an important part of what happens next.

One possible reason God might have engineered this discovery was to test Samson, or to make use of his lack of self-control (Judges 13:4). Samson had been set aside as a Nazirite by "the angel of the LORD" (Judges 13:5). This vow (Numbers 6:1–21) came with certain restrictions and was tied to his special mission. Careful readers will note that a normal Nazirite vow involved having no contact with a dead body. At the same time, the only aspect of a Nazirite vow explicitly given to Samson, himself, involved not cutting his hair.

Since touching dead bodies wasn't directly mentioned by "the angel of the LORD" to Samson's parents, it's unclear whether this was part of his special designation. Even so, all Israelites were prohibited from eating unclean food (Leviticus 11). One way or another, Samson's choice to eat honey from an animal carcass body was a direct violation of God's law for Israel. Worse, he gave it to his parents without telling them where he got it, making them unclean, as well.

If the honey in the lion's carcass was meant as a test for Samson, he failed miserably. Adding to his errors, Samson will use this unusual experience as the basis of a bet with his Philistine groomsmen (Judges 14:12–14).