Judges 13

The Word Made Fresh

1The Israelites soon slipped back into their wicked ways, and the LORD gave them over to the Philistines for forty years.

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2Manoah was a Danite from Zorah. His wife had not been able to bear children. 3An angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “Even though you haven’t had children, you will become pregnant and have a son. 4Do not drink wine during your pregnancy, and do not eat anything that is ritually impure by our rules. 5You will give birth to a healthy boy. Never shave his head, because he will be set apart for God as a Nazarite from birth. He is the one God is sending to begin Israel’s deliverance from the Philistines.”

6She told her husband, “A man of God came to me; he looked like an angel. I was terrified. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me who he was, 7but he said to me, ‘You will conceive and give birth to a son. Don’t drink wine or liquor and only eat food acceptable to God, because the boy will be a Nazarite from the day of his birth until the day he dies.’”

8Manoah prayed to the LORD, and begged, “Lord, send the man of God to us again to teach us how to prepare for the baby being born.”

9God heard Manoah’s prayer, and the angel of God came to the woman again while she was sitting in the field. Manoah was not there with her, 10so she ran to tell him, “The man who came to me the other day has come again!’ 11Manoah went with her, and when they came to the man he asked, “Are you the one who spoke to this woman?”

“Yes,” he answered.

12Manoah said, “When what you said happens, what should be the boy’s upbringing? How should we prepare him?”

13The angel of the LORD said, “Trust the woman to do what I’ve told her to do. 14She must not eat anything that grows on the vine. She is not to drink wine or other strong drink. She is not to eat any forbidden thing. She is to obey everything I’ve told her.”

15Manoah said, “Please stay awhile and let us prepare a kid for your dinner.”

16The angel of the LORD replied, “If you delay me, I will not eat the food you offer. But if you want to prepare a burnt offering, prepare it for the LORD.”

Manoah had not realized he was speaking to the angel of the LORD. 17He said, “Tell me your name, so we can honor you when the child is born.”

18The angel of the LORD said, “Why ask my name? It is not for you to know.”

19Then Manoah brought a kid and a grain offering and offered it on a rock to the LORD, the one who works wonders. 20When the fire blazed up toward heaven the LORD’s messenger rose with it while Manoah and his wife watched. They fell on the ground face down.

21The angel of the LORD never returned to Manoah and his wife, and Manoah realized then whom they had encountered. 22He said to his wife, “We will die, because we have certainly seen God!” 23But she replied, “If the LORD wanted to put us to death, our offerings would not have been accepted, and we would not have been shown all these things, or had such news given to us.”

24She did give birth to a son in due time. She named him Samson. The child grew and was blessed by the LORD. 25The LORD’s spirit began to stir within him in Mahaneh-Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Commentary

1: The Philistines are the new oppressors. The transition from verse one to verse two would indicate that verse one really should have ended chapter 12 instead of starting chapter 13.

2-7: We are introduced to the parents of the famous Samson, Manoah and his wife, who is barren (as was Sarah, and Rachel, and Rebekah). The “angel of the LORD” appears to her and announces that she will have a son. He will be a “Nazarite,” she is told. The Nazarite vows are outlined in Numbers 21, but this case is a bit different. In Numbers, Nazarite vows are intended to be voluntary and temporary. Here it is a lifelong designation from birth. And here it is the mother who is to eschew wine and strong drink rather than the person under the vow!

8-14: Manoah prays for God to let the angel reappear. The angel does, but again appears to his wife first. Manoah asks for more instructions, but the angel only repeats the instructions his wife is to follow, making no mention of the part about not ever cutting the child’s hair.

15-18: Just like Abraham, Manoah insists on customary hospitality for the angel, not recognizing him as an angel. The angel refuses, but then invites him instead to offer a burnt offering of the proffered kid.

19-25: A miraculous ascension takes place over the burnt offering, and Manoah and his wife are awed – he with fear, she with the full import of what has just happened. In due time the child is born, they name him Samson, and the “spirit of the LORD” is evident in him at an early age.

Takeaway

The scene in chapter 13 is strange and unique. The “angel of the LORD” shows up again, and as was the case with Abraham when the three “men” appeared at his tent, the angel has come to announce a birth. This kind of setting occurs a number of times in the Old Testament. The last time this will happen is when the angel of the LORD announces the birth of Jesus.

Unfortunately, Samson’s mother’s name is not given.