Beth and her brother Bobby were sitting on the porch and telling riddles one day.
"What is black and white and red all over?" asked Beth.
"A zebra in Hell!" answered Bobby. "Why did Jacob climb the ladder?" he asked.
"To get to the other side!" answered Beth. "What's brown and red and goes 'round and 'round and 'round?" she asked.
"A Canaanite in the blender!" answered Bobby. "Where does the mother of God sleep?" he asked.
"Anywhere she wants to!" answered Beth. "What comes back in three days if you nail it to a tree?" she asked.
Before Beth could answer that one, she was startled by her mother's voice behind her.
"Children," said their mother.
"Yes, mother?" said Beth and Bobby, turning to see their mother standing with a tray holding a pitcher of lemonade surrounded by three empty glasses.
"Those are good riddles you are telling, but they are not very difficult. Why don't I sit with you and tell you a story about a really hard riddle while we watch the sun set? Maybe you'll learn something about telling riddles."
"Yay!" said the children, and they scooted to the sides to give their mother room to sit between them.
When they all had their lemonades, Beth's mother began to tell her story. And this is the story she told:
One day Samson went to Timnath where he saw a woman who was one of the Philistines' kids. After seeing the woman, Samson went to his parents and said, "I saw this Philistine woman in Timnath, could you get her to marry me?"
Samson's parents said, "Wouldn't you rather marry one of your brothers' daughters or someone else in town than a woman who is one of the didn't-have-the-ends-of-their-penises-cut-off Philistines?"
"Get her to marry me," said Samson. "She's real fine."
But Samson's parents knew that this would make God mad because God was pissed off at the Philistines. You see, at this time the Philistines were in control of Israel.
Samson and his parents went to Timnath. When they got to the vineyards, they saw a young lion and it roared at them. God helped Samson rip up the lion the same way he might rip up a goat with his bare hands, but Samson decided not to tell his parents about it.
When he was done tearing up the lion, Samson went to talk to the woman. He really liked her.
After a while he went back to take her away with him and he noticed that there was a swarm of bees making honey in the body of the lion that he had torn up. Samson got some of the honey and ate it. He even brought some back for his parents, but he didn't tell them where he got it.
Samson's father went to talk to the woman and get her to marry her son. Meanwhile, Samson made a feast, because that was what young men always did. After a while, some people saw him and brought thirty friends to be with him.
Samson said to the group, "I'm gonna tell you a riddle. If you can guess it within a week, then I'll give you thirty sheets and thirty suits, but if you can't, then you have to give me thirty sheets and thirty suits." The people said, "Okay."
Here's the riddle that Samson asked them: "Out of the eater comes meat, and out of the strong comes sweetness." Nobody could guess the answer to the riddle; not in three days, not in a week.
When their time was almost up, some of the people went to Samson's new wife and said, "Act all sexy with your husband so that he'll tell you the answer to the riddle. If you don't, we'll set you on fire and burn your dad's house down."
Samson's wife went to him and cried, "You don't love me or you would have told me the answer to the riddle. You hate me."
"Look," Samson said, "I didn't even tell my parents, why should I tell you?"
His wife kept crying and it got on Samson's nerves so he went ahead and told her the answer to the riddle. Samson's wife ran right out and told the people the solution.
Just before sundown on the seventh day, the men of the city came to Samson and said, "There's nothing sweeter than honey and nothing stronger than a lion."
Samson was a bad looser and he said to the men, "If you hadn't plowed with my cow you would never have found out the answer." Then God helped Samson kill thirty men in another town and steal their stuff so he could pay off his bet.
When Samson got to his father's house he was still mad. It didn't make him feel any better when he found out that someone had given his new wife to one of his friends.
After a while, Samson brought his wife a goat and said, "Let's have sex," but her father wouldn't let them do the wild thing.
Her father said to Samson, "I thought you hated her so I gave her to your friend. Why don't you put your penis her little sister instead?"
"What ever happens now isn't my fault," said Samson.
Then Samson went and caught three hundred foxes. He also got a bunch of torches and tied the tails of two foxes to each torch. When he was done, he set the torches on fire and let the foxes loose in the Philistines' fields. This made all the corn and the vineyards and the olive groves burn down.
Some Philistines said, "Hey, why'd Samson do that?"
Other Philistines answered, "He did it because his father-in-law gave his wife away to a friend of his."
So the Philistines set Samsons' father-in-law on fire.
After his father in law was all burned up, Samson said to the Philistines, "It's not that I don't appreciate you setting my father-in-law on fire, but I'm not finished getting my revenge on you. I won't stop until I'm done." Then he killed a whole bunch of them.
When Samson was done killing Philistines, he went to live on top of the rock named Etam* .
The Philistines who Samson hadn't killed went to Judah to look for Samson and get revenge.
Three thousand men from Judah went to the top of the rock named Etam and said to Samson, "Didn't you know that the Philistines are in charge of us? Why did you make so much trouble?"
"I just did to them what they did to me," said Samson.
"We're going to have to tie you up and give you to the Philistines," said the men from Judah.
Samson said, "Do you promise that you won't just kill me yourselves?"
"Oh, sure," said the men of Judah. "We're just going to tie you up, that's all." Then they tied him up with some nice new rope and brought him down from the rock.
When the Philistines saw Samson they started to yell at him. Because of this, God made the ropes fall off Samson so that he was free.
Samson found a fresh donkey jaw and killed a thousand people with it. "Hey, I just killed a thousand men with a donkey jaw," said Samson.
When Samson was done talking he threw away the donkey jaw and named the place Ramathlehi.
Samson was thirsty so he asked God for a drink. "I killed a lot of people today," said Samson to God. "Do you want me to die of thirst and let people who haven't had the ends of the penises cut off get me?"
Because of Samson's whining, God made water come out of the donkey jaw and Samson drank until he wasn't thirsty any more. In fact, Samson felt so good after having his drink that he renamed the place Enhakkore.
Samson was judge of the Israelites for twenty years after that.
Beth thought about this for a moment. "I never realized that telling riddles could have such serious consequences," said Beth.
"Yeah," said brother Bobby.
"So you see there was a lesson in my story," said Beth's mother. "Maybe you'll be more careful in the future."
Then the children put their empty lemonade glasses down on the tray, smiled and hugged her mother. They would never tell riddles thoughtlessly again.
* That's "mate" backwards.
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