Chapter 4. Samson (Mead)


So his father went down to [Samson's fiancee]: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.

And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.

And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty shirts and thirty changes of garments: But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty shirts and thirty changes of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.

And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.

 Judges 14:10-14 [1]


You are probably wondering how meat can come from the eater and sweetness from the strong. I will tell you. First you must understand that my parents vowed that I should be a Nazarite. As such, I was forbidden to touch dead bodies, which did not seem a particularly onerous imposition at the time. I was also not allowed to cut my hair, which suited my fashion sense as well. Finally, I was to have nothing to do with grapes. No raisins, no wine.

Now, growing up a Nazarite is no romp through the park, I can tell you. Not so much for the dead body and hair cutting parts, you understand, but for the tea-totaling. They really knew how to throw parties in my day, and I was the perpetual designated driver. I hope that it will not shock you to learn that I rebelled by falling in love with a Philistine. I don't mean that she couldn't appreciate modern art. No, she was an ethnic Philistine. Now, dating Philistines is not what Jewish mothers generally want for their sons, but sobriety had turned me into something of a whiner, and I eventually wore my parents down.

We went down to Timnath to make arrangements for the wedding. One day I was strolling through a vineyard, admiring the grapes, you understand, but not eating them. Suddenly, I was attacked by a lion. What was I supposed to do, ask it whether it would like a nice whine with dinner? I killed it with my bare hands, an act which, unavoidably, involved touching the thing at the instant of its death and inadvertently breaking my Nazarite vow. I didn't think it would help matters to tell my folks about my desperate heroism. Well, on the way home from Timnath, I stopped by the vineyard, not for the grapes, of course, but to check out the lion, and I found it full of bees. Now this struck me as funny for some reason, and I trundled the honey home with me.

My in-laws, as you might expect, were not overjoyed at the prospect of a wine-free wedding feast, but they brightened right up when they found out about my honey. It seems there was an old Philistine custom that newlyweds should drink honey-water for the first month of marriage. They called it a "honeymoon." Who knew? Anyway, this was the first party I had ever given that was still rocking at 8:30 in the evening. I suppose I got a little rowdy, and that is when I came up with my riddle. I thought it would be funny that the answer had been sitting in their cups all along, but as it turned out, the joke was on me. My fall from grace was immortalized in the alchemical symbol for water, a downward-pointing triangle reminiscent of a cup.



Reference [14].