Samson’s riddle

🏷  Bible text Samson Semitic hidden ruler pun recommended · text   —   by Gerry · Nov 2019 · 1909 words

Samson’s riddle “sweeter than honey, stronger than a lion” officially has no answer, except that it’s about bees & lions. The real solution is kept hidden by our hidden leaders, because the answer is the phrase “hidden leaders”. The Semitic word roots for bees & lion are דבר dbr & כפר kpr, and have multiple meanings: The 1st answer to the riddle is “words of atonement”, the 2nd answer is “hidden leaders”. It’s a riddle by the spooks about themselves.

Samson with lion and bees

Samson strangling the lion, bees flying out of the animal’s mouth.
(print by Cornelis Galle, British Museum)

Samson’s riddle: sweeter than honey, stronger than a lion

In Samson’s story, he kills a lion on his 1st journey to see his chosen Philistine bride at Timnath. On his 2nd journey to the wedding, he sees that bees have nested in the lion’s carcass. At his wedding, he poses a riddle to his Philistine guests: “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet”. The guests coerce the answer out of Samson’s bride and answer with a new riddle: “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?”

Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.

וירד שמשון ואביו ואמו תמנתה ויבאו עד כרמי תמנתה והנה כפיר אריות שאג לקראתו

Judges 14:5

And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

ותצלח עליו רוח יהוה וישסעהו כשסע הגדי ומאומה אין בידו ולא הגיד לאביו ולאמו את אשר עשה

Judges 14:8

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.

וישב מימים לקחתה ויסר לראות את מפלת האריה והנה עדת דבורים בגוית האריה ודבש

Judges 14:8

And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.

ויאמר להם מהאכל יצא מאכל ומעז יצא מתוק ולא יכלו להגיד החידה שלשת ימים

Judges 14:14

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.

ויאמרו לו אנשי העיר ביום השביעי בטרם יבא החרסה מה מתוק מדבש ומה עז מארי ויאמר להם לולא חרשתם בעגלתי לא מצאתם חידתי

Judges 14:18

Unsolvable riddle

In the narrative, only Samson knows about the lion & the bees. Since bees do not really nest in carcasses, no one could possibly know that answer. This hints at another, inofficial answer, which may also be an answer to the 2nd riddle that the Philistine guests use for an answer.

On Wikipedia, the Wiki spooks stress very explicitly that there may be more to this riddle than meets the eye, but it seems their handlers did not allow them to divulge the real solution.

Some scholars, especially the earlier ones, influenced by form criticism, tend to assume that the distinctive elements of the riddle and its surrounding narrative had existed separately before the literary crystallization that interwove them together, and that their original form and meaning might have been different than those reflected in their current context. For example, the Philistines’ answer appears in the text as the correct answer to the riddle, but it is possible that the original answer was different.


Scholars have tried to explain the incident with the lion, which constitute the subject of the riddle. This incident, like other descriptions in Samson cycle, contains unrealistic elements: That Samson could tear apart the lion bare-handed is undoubtedly exceptional, but the description of bees nesting in the lion’s carcass also seems unrealistic, as bees do not normally nest in carcasses.


Many commentators have been uncomfortable with the riddle’s unsolvable nature, and they have tried to interpret it according to the assumption that it can be solved without knowledge of the incident with the lion and the bees. It is assumed that the riddle originally had an independent answer, not necessarily identical with the one stated in the biblical text, and that only at a later stage in the creation of the narrative was the riddle connected to the incident with the lion and the bees.

Wikipedia: Samson’s riddle

The dbr-kpr pun

There are 2 keywords that form the pun for Samson’s riddle: כפר kpr & דבר dbr.

Semitic dbr for “bee”

The 1st term for the riddle is the common term דבורה dbwrh deborah for “bee”, which in the story nest inside the lion. (Honey is also a part of Samson’s riddle wording, but it may be a synonym for “bee”.)

Even though the Hebrew singular for “bee” has a feminine ending, the plural is always masculine: דבורים dbwrym deborim. This may be a grammatical oddity, or a hint (see the plurals lives and faces).

If the vowels & suffixes are taken away, the consonantal stem for the bee is דבר dbr, which is another word root.

This word root דבר dbr has many different meanings, but the common denominator seems to be “following”. The most widely used meaning is “words”, often explained as words “following” the things they denote. Many other things that somehow “follow” something else are also written as דבר dbr. For a full discussion, see the √dbr entry.

Hebrew dbr = things following behind

דבר dbr dabar : speech, word — Old Hebrew (Strong)

דברות dbrwt doberah : floats, rafts — Old Hebrew (Strong)

מדבר mdbr midbar : desert, wilderness — Old Hebrew (Strong)

דביר dbyr debir : inner sanctuary — Old Hebrew (Strong)

The specific term דבר dbr for “bee”, with its general meaning of “following”, is the 1st part of the pun-solution to Samson’s riddle.

Semitic kpr for “lion”

The giveaway for the actual solution is that the story leading up to the riddle uses a rather rare & specific word for lion. 3 different words for lion are used in the story, but the lion is first introduced in Judges 14:5 with the term כפיר אריות kpyr ˀrywt kephir aryot. This is universally translated as “young lion”, but that is not the actual meaning. Rather, the term means “mane-covered lion”, because the root כפר kpr means “cover”. You can even find that explanation in some official dictionaries.

Hebrew kpr = lion covered with mane

כפיר kpyr kephir : lion, young lion, village; From kaphar, a village (as covered in by walls); also a young lion (perhaps as covered with a mane) — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כפיר kpyr : young lion; Of uncertain origin; perhaps a derivative of base כפר ᴵ (= to cover), and properly denoting a lion already covered with a mane. — Hebrew (Klein)

The same word root כפר kpr includes many more terms with the meaning “cover”. For a full discussion of this word root, see the √kpr entry.

Hebrew kpr = cover, things that cover

כפר kpr kaphar : to cover over (figurative), pacify, make propitiation — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כפר kpr kopher : pitch — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כפור kpwr kephor : hoarfrost — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כפר kpr kopher : henna — Old Hebrew (Strong)

The specific term כפר kpr for “lion”, with its general meaning of “cover”, is the 2nd part of the pun-solution to Samson’s riddle.

First-level solution: “words of atonement”

The riddle-like answer of Samson’s wedding guests is this: “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?”

If we now combine the Hebrew words for “bee” & “lion”, we get a possible answer: “words of atonement”! In early vowel-less Hebrew, “bee” & “lion” are written דבר כפר dbr kpr, and “words of atonement” is also written דבר כפר dbr kpr.

The answer “words of atonement” is a solution to the riddle, because:

  1. Words of atonement sound sweeter than honey to the wronged person who hears them.
  2. Words of atonement are stronger than a lion, because it can overcome the strongest enmity.

Second-level solution: “hidden leaders”

Since the 1st-level solution is so harmless, one may wonder why it’s not made official. We’ll now see that it’s because of the very nasty 2nd-level solution: The roots דבר כפר dbr kpr do not only mean “bee & lion” and “words of atonement”, but also “hidden leaders”.

The secret answer “hidden leaders” is a solution to the riddle, because:

  1. Hidden leaders can feign to be sweeter than honey to their subjects and be parasitic tyrants at the same time, because their true identity as corrupt leaders is covered up.
  2. Hidden leaders are stronger than a lion, because their lies & propaganda will be more believable when their true identity as corrupt leaders is covered up.

Semitic dbr for “leader”

The basic meaning of the root √dbr is “following”, but in the causative form, this becomes “leading”. There are specific grammar markers for the causative, but when it’s the main established meaning, they are often omitted. The root √dbr is such a case: When applied to people, the established meaning of דבר dbr is “guide” & “leader”, i.e. someone who makes others follow him.

The root דבר dbr in the sense of “leader” is not officially used in the Old Testament and generally considered to be Aramaic. There are, however, several instances where this meaning seems to be used as an inside joke, by the “leaders” who wrote the texts. Samson’s riddle is one of these examples.

Aramaic dbr = leadership, management

דבר dbr dabar : lead, guide, cattle, sheep, government, take a wife; Aramaic דְּבַר; Syriac ܕܒܰܪ — Aramaic (Strong)

דבר dbr : leader, guide — Aramaic (CAL)

דבר dbr : to lead, to drive; to plow; to take as wife; to lead, shepherd sheep, drive a conveyance, take control of; to give precedence, treat as leader; be taken, be led away — Aramaic (CAL)

Arabic dbr = leadership, management

دَبَّرَ dabbara : to arrange, to dispose, to plan, to prepare, to organize; to hatch (a plot), to contrive; to direct, to manage, to regulate — Arabic (Wikt)

تَدْبِير tadbīr : arrangement; administration; government; politics, policy — Arabic (Wikt)

Semitic kpr for “hidden”

Likewise, the root √kpr does not just mean “lion” or “atonement”. The basic meaning of √kpr is “cover”, and this specifically includes the meaning of “denial”.

Hebrew kpr = cover up, deny, lying, feign ignorance

כפר kpr : to bend, arch over, cover; to deny, withhold the truth by claiming ignorance; to ignore — Hebrew (Jastrow)

כפר kpr : to deny, renounce — Hebrew (Jastrow)

כפר kpr : to deny, denied — Hebrew (Klein)

כפרנות kprnwt : denial, lying; atheism — Hebrew (Klein)

כפירה kpyrh : denial; atheism — Hebrew (Klein)

כפור kwpr : unbeliever, atheist; one who denies a charge — Hebrew (Klein)

A “hidden leader” in the sense of דבר כפר dbr kpr is therefore a leader who officially denies being a leader and feigns to be a commoner. This is a major spook trick, as Miles’ research has proven again & again. It’s an incredibly cheap trick, but since it’s only ever been played by the powerful against the powerless, the spooks can get away with it almost every single time.

Spookery has changed very little over the millennia: The hidden leaders of ancient times still rule us today, with the same basic set of simple lies & scams. The 2nd-level solution to Samson’s riddle is proof to that fact.

🏷  Bible text Samson Semitic hidden ruler pun recommended · text