What does Judges 14:8 mean?
ESV: After some days he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey.
NIV: Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey.
NASB: When he returned later to take her, he turned aside to look at the carcass of the lion; and behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the body of the lion.
CSB: After some time, when he returned to marry her, he left the road to see the lion's carcass, and there was a swarm of bees with honey in the carcass.
NLT: Later, when he returned to Timnah for the wedding, he turned off the path to look at the carcass of the lion. And he found that a swarm of bees had made some honey in the carcass.
KJV: And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.
NKJV: After some time, when he returned to get her, he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion.
Verse Commentary:
In prior verses, Samson travelled to Timnah to see a Philistine woman. This was the person he demanded his parents obtain as his bride (Judges 14:1–4). On the way there, he was attacked by a lion, which he supernaturally killed with his bare hands (Judges 14:5–7). Samson's parents have agreed to his demand to marry the woman and have arranged with her family for the wedding to take place. In this verse, he is returning from his hometown to take his Philistine bride. This is to be the beginning of a traditional, week-long wedding celebration.

The phrase "some days later" suggests a relatively long period. In ancient Israel, there was a betrothal period before a wedding, which could last months. It might have been many weeks since Samson killed the lion. Samson stops to see the carcass of the lion he had previously killed. A mass of bees has made a honey-producing hive in the body. Although the text simply states these facts, this is a remarkable event, perhaps also brought about through God's intervention.

Honeybees don't normally take up residence in animal carcasses. However, they will make hives in almost any properly sized space. It's possible that whatever skin and bones were left by scavengers dried to create a suitable cavity. Or the bees might have made their home in the lion's skull. Scripture offers few details, as they aren't relevant to the story. Something unusual is going on here, without any question, and the strangeness of the incident will be important in the next part of Samson's story.
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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