Judges 14:18

18 Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?” Samson said to them, “If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle.”

Read Judges 14:18 Using Other Translations

And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion? And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.
And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?"And he said to them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have found out my riddle."
So before sunset of the seventh day, the men of the town came to Samson with their answer: “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?” Samson replied, “If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer, you wouldn’t have solved my riddle!”

What does Judges 14:18 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Judges 14:18

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 F14, 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 F15 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 F16; 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 F17; but the first sense is best, for it is not said, "ploughed my heifer", but with her.


FOOTNOTES:

F14 Opera, par. 9. epist. 24.
F15 Odyss. 4. ver. 336.
F16 Vid. Horat. Carmin, l. 2. ode 5. Graja. "Juvenca venit". Ovid. ep. 5. ver. 117.
F17 Vid. Bochart. Hierozoic par. 1. l. 2. c. 41. col. 406.
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