What does Judges 14:16 mean?
ESV: And Samson’s wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?”
NIV: Then Samson's wife threw herself on him, sobbing, 'You hate me! You don't really love me. You've given my people a riddle, but you haven't told me the answer.' 'I haven't even explained it to my father or mother,' he replied, 'so why should I explain it to you?'
NASB: So Samson’s wife wept in front of him and said, 'You only hate me, and you do not love me; you have proposed a riddle to the sons of my people, and have not told it to me.' And he said to her, 'Behold, I have not told it to my father or mother; so should I tell you?'
CSB: So Samson's wife came to him, weeping, and said, "You hate me and don't love me! You told my people the riddle, but haven't explained it to me.""Look," he said, "I haven't even explained it to my father or mother, so why should I explain it to you? "
NLT: So Samson’s wife came to him in tears and said, 'You don’t love me; you hate me! You have given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.' 'I haven’t even given the answer to my father or mother,' he replied. 'Why should I tell you?'
KJV: And Samson's wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee?
NKJV: Then Samson’s wife wept on him, and said, “You only hate me! You do not love me! You have posed a riddle to the sons of my people, but you have not explained it to me.” And he said to her, “Look, I have not explained it to my father or my mother; so should I explain it to you?”
Verse Commentary:
Samson's new Philistine bride will be fully wed to him at the end of a seven-day feast (Judges 14:1–3; 10). When Samson makes an unfair wager with his thirty assigned bridegrooms, they become frustrated and threaten the bride with death if she doesn't bring them the answer to Samson's challenge (Judges 14:11–15).

As one might expect, the woman agrees to betray Samson to her fellow Philistines. She probably felt she had no choice. To get the answer, she employs a technique which proves extremely effective (Judges 16:15–16) against a man like Samson: she cries. That brief description does not mean she "merely" sheds tears. As her words here suggest, the new bride is applying a great deal of emotion and manipulation. She accuses Samson of mistreating her and her family.

At first, Samson refuses to be controlled. He hasn't even told his own parents the answer to the riddle—so why would he tell her? This is a logical answer, but not necessarily a flattering one. Nor does it speak well of Samson's attitude towards this marriage. Samson is declaring more love and loyalty for his parents than for her. Naturally, he has only recently met her, and they are not fully wed. Yet it also reveals that Samson's desire for his wife is not based in a godly understanding of marriage (Genesis 2:24). This union is not about cooperation and partnership, at least for Samson.
Verse Context:
Judges 14:10–20 explains the disastrous outcome of Samson's attempted marriage to a Philistine woman. As was the custom, a weeklong wedding feast is held. Thirty Philistines companions are assigned to Samson. He makes an exorbitant bet with them, making a riddle about his killing of the young lion (Judges 14:5–6). The men threaten the future bride, who pesters Samson until he tells her the secret, which she gives to the groomsmen. Enraged at her betrayal, and empowered by the Lord's Spirit, Samson assaults thirty Philistine men in another town (Judges 14:4). He takes their clothes as the payment for the wager. Because Samson angrily abandons the wedding feast, his bride is given to another man.
Chapter Summary:
Samson (Judges 13:24–25) is now old enough to marry. He demands his parents arrange marriage to a Philistine woman with whom he is infatuated. When attacked by a lion, Samson rips the animal apart with his bare hands, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Later, he finds a beehive and honey in the lion's carcass. At the wedding feast, Samson proposes a wager based on this secret. His thirty Philistine companions become frustrated when they can't solve it. They threaten Samson's bride, and she manipulates him to get the secret. Samson attacks thirty Philistines in another town to pay the wager.
Chapter Context:
This chapter leaps forward from Samson's birth (Judges 13:5, 24–25) to somewhere in his adulthood. He demands a Philistine woman for a wife. At the wedding feast, he proposes a bet with thirty Philistine men. They learn the answer to his trick question by threatening to kill the bride. Samson attacks thirty Philistines in another town to secure the payment for the wager. His bride is given to one of the men who threatened her. Samson will return, expecting marital rights, only to be told she has been given to someone else (Judges 15:1–2).
Book Summary:
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
Accessed 5/30/2024 6:12:22 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com