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Was the honey that Samson ate from the inside of the lion (Judges 14:8-9) kosher?

There are two premises to my question: 1) The derivation that bee's honey os kosher is from the Talmud, which, obviously, did not exist in Samson's time. Any place the Torah refers to "honey" as in the listing of the 7 sepcies, it means date honey.

Next - the honey was inside the gut of a lion, which is a non-kosher animal. Or, can we assume that since the lion was already dead, and the bees built the hive after it was dead, then the hive is not considered inside the lion, which would otherwise make it kosher?

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I don't understand the relevance of the first premise. –  Double AA May 29 '14 at 15:27
Seconded, this doesn't mean that bees' honey was not the honey of this story. The Talmud's logic and subsequent exegesis do not affect the question. –  Noach mi Frankfurt May 29 '14 at 15:30
@DoubleAA - I'm assuming that all Jews mentioned in Tana"ch followed Torah laws, including kashrut. If so, Shimshon would not have been allowed to eat bee's honey, and he would have known this. –  DanF May 29 '14 at 15:30
@DanF Why is bee honey prohibited by Torah law? –  Double AA May 29 '14 at 15:54
@DanF Actually, G-d said that bee honey is kosher, as pointed out by the Talmud. –  Ypnypn May 29 '14 at 18:51

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The Encyclopedia Talmudis has a complete article on bee honey (under dvash) and why it is kosher. As part of the article it shows the difference between bee honey and milk of a nonkosher animal. The honey is carried by "baskets" outside the bee and is processed by "external" processing. That is, it is chewed by the bee, mixed with saliva and regurgitated. It is never digested. Milk on the other hand is considered as if it is derived from the "blood" of the animal. That is by "internal" processing. It is created internally from digested nutrients.

In this particular case, just because the bees set up there hive inside the lion's body does not make the honey considered as if it was part of the lion. The bees and the honey are totally separate objects. If it had been a deer, which had tumas neveilah, then he would not have been able to get to the honey while the deer was tamei. Once the tumah dissipated (after the deer was no longer edible), he could have gotten it. Since a lion is not a kosher animal, it was not tamei and he was able to take the honey. (Besides it was quite a while later).

Note that bee honey is not kosher because of a takkana but was known to be kosher from the beginning. For example the case of Yonasan ben Shaul Hamelech taking some honey during the war with Amalek. The only objection was the oath his father had made. It was well known and accepted that bee honey was kosher. Similarly, we see here that bee honey was kosher. The Talmudic derivation is only to point out how we know this.

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As much as you are correct, your example from Yonasan ben Shaul is circular - "I'll show you that Shimshon could eat bee honey, because Yonasan ben Shaul, years later, did!" The question (as asked) would apply equally to that case. –  YeZ May 29 '14 at 19:51
@YEZ The point is that a single case (Shimshon) might be a matter of he made a mistake or it was a riddle that did not require him to eat it. In the later case of Yonasan we see that he ate it in public and there was no fuss about the kashrus and the entire nation accepted that he did not violate anything other than the oath. If the question were asked about Yonasan, the answer would be that everyone (including the Sanhedrin) accepted that he could eat it. –  sabbahillel May 30 '14 at 2:59
I don't have it before me now but seem to recall that Yonasan's "honey" was actually some kind of sap or sugar or something. –  msh210 May 30 '14 at 8:09
@msh210 IIRC The comment in Encyclopedia Talmudis was that the Torah reference to dvash was fruit sap (like date honey) but Yonasan was bee honey. I do not have it here. In Shmuel volume I 14:26 and 27 Radak says bee honey, Rashi says cane sugar, Ralbag says bee honey. Rav Yosef Kara says bee honey. –  sabbahillel May 30 '14 at 9:31
I guess I was remembering Rashi. :-) –  msh210 May 30 '14 at 13:50

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