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We arrived at The Tipsy Tavern to find it bustling with activity. As Manoah and Naamah stepped off the cart, two men came out of the tavern to carry the four barrels of wine to the kitchen. We could smell the savor of meat that was being roasted on spits over hot coals in the rear of the building.
We dismounted and directed the horses to the stable boy, who, by this time, was running toward us eagerly to take care of them once again. Then we walked through the door and to the counter, where we booked a room for the next week.
Eglah, of course, was not there, for she had preparations of her own for the seventh day when Samson would return to her house to claim his bride. It was customary for the bride to refrain from seeing her husband-to-be during the week of the wedding feast, and, if it were necessary to talk to him in person, to wear a veil over her face.
The feast in Timnah was planned and financed by Manoah on behalf of his son, and Samson had invited thirty of his Philistine friends to the wedding. For the next week, they would eat and drink together, though all understood that Samson the Nazirite would drink no fruit of the vine. He was, after all, a Nazirite. On the seventh day, with great fanfare, Samson was to go to the house of Avoda and claim his bride, who, after “completing her week,” would be ready to receive him.
Just then a young man came to greet us.
“Shalom, Manoah,” he said.
“Shalom,” Manoah replied. “I see you are handling all of the arrangements very well. Is there anything more that you need?”
“Now that the wine is here,” the man replied, “all is well indeed. I have used the money you gave me to purchase goats and lambs to feed the guests. The rooms in the inn upstairs are ready for the out-of-town guests. I cannot think of anything else that we may need.”
“That is good,” Manoah said. “I think that we will find our rooms and rest awhile. I am not as young as I used to be, and I feel somewhat weary from this journey.”
Samson swung two bags over his shoulders and offered to carry mine as well. “Thank-you, my friend,” I said, letting him take it.
As we climbed the stairs, Manoah explained, “Baasha is the Friend of the Groom who is responsible to prepare the feast for Samson.”
“That is Baasha?” I asked with a surprised look.
“Yes. Have you heard of him?” Manoah asked with a surprised but quizzical look on his face.
“Eglah told us that he was the Best Man at the wedding, but I did not recognize him just now. I first met him when he was a child many years ago,” I said. “It appears that he has grown up into a responsible young man.”
“He is the son of the fur dealer just outside of town,” Manoah said.
“Yes, so I have heard,” I replied. “I do not know if he remembers me, but perhaps it is best not to remind him. The circumstances of our first meeting were not too pleasant, at least not for him. Even so, if he sees our horses, he may remember them—and me.”
After Samson had brought the bags to our respective rooms, he excused himself, saying, “It is time for me to give Eglah my gift.”
When he had gone, Naamah turned to Sipporah and explained, “Samson has made a pair of ornamented slippers for Eglah. Such is the custom here. Do you practice that custom in your country?”
“It is not normally practiced there,” Sipporah replied. “We have lost or discontinued many customs since our fathers left this country.”
“That is regrettable,” Naamah said sadly. “A gift of slippers may not seem like much, but it blesses the bride with a token of peace and a happy life as she prepares for her marriage.”
After we had settled ourselves in our respective rooms, Manoah and Naamah came to our room to talk further. We sat around the simple table, and Manoah sighed. “It is customary to give a new garment to each of the guests,” he said. “But Samson did not think it appropriate to give uncircumcised Philistines the garments of salvation.” 35
“Samson knows the Scriptures,” I mused. “I hope that he sees the full plan of God in this matter. In the end, God intends to give the lost garments to all of His children.”