Questions From Readers
◼ The Bible says that Samson ripped apart a lion “just as someone tears a male kid in two.” Does that mean that it was common for people back then to tear apart young goats?
No, this comment likely was but an illustration. It meant that with his bare hands Samson conquered the lion as easily as if it had been a mere defenseless young goat.
Samson, serving as judge in Israel, traveled to Timnah so as to find “an opportunity against the Philistines.” Along the way, he met and may have been attacked by a roaring lion, a young, strong one. The historical record says that God’s active force came upon Samson “so that he tore [the maned young lion] in two, just as someone tears a male kid in two, and there was nothing at all in his hand.”—Judges 14:4-6.
Two other men of Bible record single-handedly killed lions, but only Samson is said to have done this with his bare hands. (1 Samuel 17:36; 2 Samuel 23:20) Moreover, he “tore it in two.” If that meant that he tore apart the powerful jaws of the lion, conceivably some Israelites had enough strength to do the same to a young goat. But there is no evidence that they did such a thing, nor any reason why they would try. On the other hand, if Samson tore the lion ‘limb from limb’ in some fashion, it would be even more unlikely that the comment about the goat was anything but a simile. The point is that God’s spirit gave Samson extraordinary physical strength. With such help a powerful, ferocious lion was no more formidable to unarmed Samson than a defenseless young goat would be to a normal man.
The dead lion’s carcass was later involved in a riddle, giving rise to another case of God’s empowering Samson, who on this occasion struck down 30 of the enemy.—Judges 14:8-19.