Samson’s Riddle Print E-mail
Written by Victoria Radin   

The Deliverance of Israel

Many stories in the Bible are allegories of the gospel or types of the Messiah and His deliverance. The story of Samson (Judges 13-17) and the riddle that he proposed is no exception, being an allegory of the finished work of the cross – salvation. At first glance, its reference to the Gospel is not clear.

“Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.” (Judges 14:14)

To understand the riddle, it is important to know what was happening in Israel during the time the story of Samson was penned. The Book of Judges records the period when there was no king in Israel and everyone “did what was right in his own eyes”. It was often tumultuous because the Philistines had dominion over Israel. They had done evil in the sight of the L-rd, and G-d delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years. Then, the L-rd sought an occasion to come against the Philistines (Judges 14:4) in order to set Israel free from their oppressive rule. He chose a family from the tribe of Dan to prepare a son for this purpose.

An ‘angel’ of the L-rd appeared to the wife of Manoah, who was barren and had no children. The ‘angel’ told her that she would conceive and give birth to a son who would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines. This son was to be a Nazirite from the womb until his death

When asked by Manoah for his name, the ‘angel’ said his name was ‘Wonderful’ (Isaiah 9:6) and ascended to heaven in the flame of the sacrificial offering Manoah had prepared for the L-rd. Upon seeing this marvel, Manoah declared, “…we have seen G-d!” Some theologians believe this was indeed a theophany, the visible manifestation of G-d on earth. While G-d planned to deliver Israel through Manoah’s Nazirite son, this theophany adds to the veracity of the ‘riddle’ being an allegory of Yeshua’s future deliverance of mankind from the hand of Satan. 

The promised son, Samson, was born and as a Nazirite, drank no wine nor cut his hair. However, contrary to G-d’s Law, Samson sought a wife from among the pagan Philistines. On his way to see the woman, a young lion came roaring against him. The Spirit of G-d came upon Samson and he tore the lion apart.  

“After some time, when he returned to get [his wife], 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.” (Judges 14:8)

Later, she becomes his wife, and at the wedding feast, Samson proposed a ‘riddle’ about the lion to the guests with a promised reward for the correct answer if they guessed it within the seven days of the feast. 

“Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.” (Judges 14:14)

The Philistines threatened the life of his wife and her family if she did not reveal the answer to the riddle. She betrayed Samson, making known the riddle to the Philistines. This betrayal was “the occasion to come against the Philistines” that G-d sought from the very beginning (Judges 14:4). 

“But his father and mother did not know that it was of the L-rd [who was] seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines.”   

After wreaking havoc on the Philistines, Samson left and dwelt in “the cleft of the rock of Etam”. No one could capture him due to his supernatural strength, i.e. his Nazirite relationship with the L-rd, unless that covenant relationship was broken. 

Later, it happened that he loved a woman whose name was Delilah. Delilah continually begged Samson to tell her the source of his strength. The  Philistine's had secretly promised her great riches for that information.

“And the L-rds of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, ‘Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.’” (Judges 16:4-5)

Delilah’s constant queries about the source of his strength wore him down and he finally told her the truth. 

"...he told her all his heart and said to her, 'No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to G-d from my mother's womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.'" (Judges 16:17)

Delilah divulged Samson’s secret to the Philistines and they successfully cut off his hair while he slept. This signified that his covenant with G-d as a Nazirite was ended. Samson was thus captured and blinded by the Philistines. Yet, in the end, Samson repented and sought G-d to restore his strength so that he could take vengeance on his enemy. His hair began to grow, suggesting that his relationship with G-d was restored and he was once again given supernatural strength to bring down the Philistines according to G-d’s plan for which Samson was groomed from his birth. His final act of vengeance eventually led to the end of the Philistine rule over Israel.

“Then Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the L-rds and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life.” (Judges 16:30)

The Allegory

Samson was a ‘type’ of the Nation of Israel. G-d supernaturally birthed both Samson and Israel. At times, the Spirit of the L-rd would come upon Sampson to give him supernatural strength, just as the Spirit of the L-rd would come upon Israel at times, making them able to defeat enemies much stronger and more numerous, especially when Israel was living in obedience to the L-rd. 

The riddle expresses G-d’s plan for defeating all our enemies. Like the supernatural, yet imperfect Samson, G-d used the supernatural, yet imperfect Nation of Israel to procure the salvation of mankind.

Samson [Israel] killed a lion [the Messiah] bringing forth the sweetness of honey [salvation] to the world.

G-d put the sins of the world on Yeshua, the Messiah as He prayed in The Garden before His crucifixion (Luke 22:43-44). Thus, He became sin (i.e. Satan, the man of sin) so that in the crucifixion, sin, which is Satan’s power over mankind, was destroyed. 

“G-d made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of G-d.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

[Satan is] “the man of sin, the son of perdition who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called G-d or that is worshiped…(2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

Israel will be delivered from her Palestinian enemies when she returns to G-d, just as Samson avenged the Philistines when he sought the L-rd at the end of his life. Isaiah suggests that Israel will be delivered from her enemies in ‘old age’, i.e. in latter years, as well.

“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb: Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you." (Isaiah 46:3-4)

As G-d began to deliver Israel from the Philistines during the period during which Samson lived, in the end, G-d will sacrifice all His enemies for His people Israel, procuring the promised deliverance for them.

“Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4 NLT)

Barukh HaShem (Blessed is the Name of the Lord)

1. an Israelite consecrated to the service of G-d, under vows to abstain from alcohol, let his hair grow, and avoid defilement by contact with corpses (Numbers 6)

2. "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22)

3. After conquering Israel and destroying their Temple, the Roman emperor renamed the land of Israel, Palestine after their sworn enemy, the Philistines.

4. "The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years..." (Psalm 90:10)Israel reaches 70 years in 2018.


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