What does Judges 14:17 mean?
ESV: She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people.
NIV: She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people.
NASB: However she wept before him for seven days while their feast lasted. And on the seventh day he told her because she pressed him so hard. She then told the riddle to the sons of her people.
CSB: She wept the whole seven days of the feast, and at last, on the seventh day, he explained it to her, because she had nagged him so much. Then she explained it to her people.
NLT: So she cried whenever she was with him and kept it up for the rest of the celebration. At last, on the seventh day he told her the answer because she was tormenting him with her nagging. Then she explained the riddle to the young men.
KJV: And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.
The Philistine woman to whom Samson is betrothed finally breaks him down, convincing him to share his secret. Samson's thirty Philistine groomsmen accepted his wager to solve his "riddle," not knowing at first that it was no riddle at all, but an impossible secret (Judges 14:11–16). After three days, they seemed to realize it was a trick, and so the men decided to play dirty. They threatened to kill the woman and her family if she did not get the answer out of Samson. Rather than telling Samson about the danger, she works to get the solution from him.
Samson resisted her tearful, emotional manipulation for several days. Winning the bet depended on keeping his secret. He did not give up the answer even when she accused him of hating her. Either her consistent nagging wore Samson down, or she applied exceptional pressure on the seventh day. This statement indicates that she applied tremendous emotional manipulation—a tactic to which Samson will always be vulnerable (Judges 16:16).
As soon as he submits to her demand, she gives the answer to the thirty groomsmen.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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