What does Judges 14:6 mean?
ESV: Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.
NIV: The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done.
NASB: And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, so that he tore it apart as one tears apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
CSB: the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on him, and he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
NLT: At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. But he didn’t tell his father or mother about it.
KJV: And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
NKJV: And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.
Verse Commentary:
Samson is alone near the Philistine town of Timnah. There, he is attacked by a young lion. It was not uncommon to encounter lions in and around the forests of Palestine during this time in Israel's history (1 Samuel 17:34–35). It has always been relatively rare for a lion to attack a man unprovoked. Still, this incident will play an important role in God's plan for Samson.

As the lion charges, God's Spirit rushes on Samson. In this case, it means Samson was quickly and fully filled with the supernatural power of God—giving him abilities otherwise impossible. God's power in Samson resulted in supernatural physical strength. Not only does an unarmed Samson kill the lion, but he literally tears it apart with his bare hands. The text compares this to ripping the limbs from a small animal during the butchering process. Samson does this to an animal which is at least the size of an adult man.

Egyptian and Assyrian paintings from this era show warriors and kings killing fierce lions with swords, spears, and bows. Only heroes of myth and legend were said to have killed attacking lions with their hands. Skeptics sometimes relate Samson's feat to the Greek hero, Heracles—or Hercules—who famously killed a near-invincible monster, the Nemean lion. In Heracles case, he trapped the animal, stunned it with a club, and then strangled it. That act was a defining moment in Heracles' life. Samson accomplishes his task without warning, without weapons, and without much fanfare. The results of his act are indirect—he does not even tell his parents what happened.

Samson may have kept this event a secret to hide the fact that he was now ritually unclean. According to custom and law, he may have been obligated to endure ritual cleansing before he could proceed with the wedding. Some commentators suggest this was the first time Samson had been supernaturally empowered. If so, he may have been unsure how or if to tell others what had happened. Scripture gives no direct explanation.
Verse Context:
Judges 14:5–9 is the first example of Samson's supernatural strength, as empowered by the Holy Spirit. While travelling to meet his future wife, he is attacked by a young lion. Samson rips the animal apart with his bare hands. Later, he finds a beehive growing in the lion's carcass. He takes honeycomb and eats it, sharing this with his parents.
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).
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