Judges 14:18 MEANING

Judges 14:18
(18) What is sweeter than honey?--Their answer is given in the same rhythmical form as the riddle itself.

If ye had not plowed with my heifer.--Many commentators, following Rabbi Levi Ben Gershom, read in this proverbial phrase an implication that Samson suspected his wife of adultery; but there is no sufficient reason for this view.

Verse 18. - The men of the city - the same as were spoken of in ver. 11 as Samson's companions. Before the sun went down - just in time, therefore, to save the wager, as defined in ver. 12. This is the uncommon word for the sun used also in Judges 8:13, where see note. What is sweeter, etc. They put their answer in a form to make it seem as if they had guessed the riddle; but Samson instantly perceived his wife's treachery, and showed that he did so by quoting the proverb of plowing with another person s heifer. They had not used their own wit to find out the riddle, but had learnt the secret at Samson's cost, through his wife. He insinuates that had they acted fairly he would have won the wager.

14:10-20 Samson's riddle literally meant no more than that he had got honey, for food and for pleasure, from the lion, which in its strength and fury was ready to devour him. But the victory of Christ over Satan, by means of his humiliation, agonies, and death, and the exaltation that followed to him, with the glory thence to the Father, and spiritual advantages to his people, seem directly alluded to. And even death, that devouring monster, being robbed of his sting, and stripped of his horror, forwards the soul to the realms of bliss. In these and other senses, out of the eater comes forth meat, and out of the strong, sweetness. Samson's companions obliged his wife to get the explanation from him. A worldly wife, or a worldly friend, is to a godly man as an enemy in the camp, who will watch every opportunity to betray him. No union can be comfortable or lasting, where secrets cannot be intrusted, without danger of being divulged. Satan, in his temptations, could not do us the mischief he does, if he did not plough with the heifer of our corrupt nature. His chief advantage against us arises from his correspondence with our deceitful hearts and inbred lusts. This proved an occasion of weaning Samson from his new relations. It were well for us, if the unkindness we meet with from the world, and our disappointments in it, obliged us by faith and prayer to return to our heavenly Father's house, and to rest there. See how little confidence is to be put in man. Whatever pretence of friendship may be made, a real Philistine will soon be weary of a true Israelite.And the men of the city said unto him, on the seventh day, before the sun went down,.... And so soon, enough to free them from the obligation they otherwise would have been under, to have given him the sheets and changes of raiment agreed unto:

what is sweeter than honey? nothing, at least that was known, sugar not being invented. Julian the emperor (n), in commendation of figs, shows, from various authors, that nothing is sweeter than they, excepting honey:

and what is stronger than a lion? no creature is, it is the strongest among beasts, Proverbs 30:30. Homer (o) gives the epithet of strong to a lion:

and he said unto them, if ye had not ploughed with my heifer; meaning his wife, whom he compares to an heifer, young, wanton, and unaccustomed to the yoke (p); and by "ploughing" with her, he alludes to such creatures being employed therein, making use of her to get the secret out of him, and then plying her closely to obtain it from her; and this diligent application and search of theirs, by this means to inform themselves, was like ploughing up ground; they got a discovery of that which before lay hid, and without which they could never have had the knowledge of, as he adds:

ye had not found out my riddle; the explanation of it. Ben Gersome and Abarbinel interpret ploughing of committing adultery with her; in which sense the phrase is used by Greek and Latin writers (q); but the first sense is best, for it is not said, "ploughed my heifer", but with her.

(n) Opera, par. 9. epist. 24. (o) Odyss. 4. ver. 336. (p) Vid. Horat. Carmin, l. 2. ode 5. Graja. "Juvenca venit". Ovid. Ephesians 5. ver. 117. (q) Vid. Bochart. Hierozoic par. 1. l. 2. c. 41. col. 406.

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