So Samson’s wife wept before him and said, “You surely hate me, and do not love me. You have told a riddle to the children of my people and have not told it to me.”

And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told it to my father or my mother, and should I tell you?” Bible see other translations

“hate.” The word “hate” in the Bible does not always have the meaning it has in English, an intense feeling of animosity, anger, and hostility toward a person, group, or object. In Hebrew and Greek, the word “hate” has a large range of meanings, from actual “hate” to simply loving something less than something else, neglecting or ignoring something, or being disgusted by something. “Hate” can also mean “to ignore, to have nothing to do with; or to have a lack of love and kindly sentiment toward someone or something.” Especially in the context of “love” and “hate,” “hate” means you like something else better than the thing you “hate” (you ignore, you neglect). Samson’s wife was saying that Samson loved other things more than she, and was neglecting her.

[For more on the large semantic range of “hate” and its use in the Bible, see commentary on Proverbs 1:22, “hate.”]

“to the children of my people.” The fact that Samson’s wife referred to the Philistines as “my people” reveals to us where her allegiance was, and thus it should not be unexpected that she told Samson’s secret to “her people.”

“and have not told it to me.” This is a battle of secrets. Samson has a secret, and it is the answer to his riddle. But Samson’s wife also had a secret, which is that she is really Samson’s enemy and secretly plans to betray him. Thus her words, that you, Samson, “do not love me” are hollow, because the truth is that it is she who does not love him. He loves her and tells her his secret; she hates him and betrays him to his enemies.

“I have not told it to my father or my mother, and should I tell you?” Samson denies the claim that he does not love his wife and points out that he has not told his parents, and he loves them just as much as he loves his wife.

Commentary for: Judges 14:16