Judges 13: Samson’s Arrival

The cycle continues as the Israelites are given over to the Philistines by God because they turn away from him once more. 

Manoah and his wife (unnamed in this chapter) have tried to have a child, but have been unsuccessful because Manoah’s wife is barren, unable to bear children. 

Manoah’s wife is visited by the Angel of the Lord, an emissary from God sent to deliver a special message from God. This Angel of the Lord tells her that she will bear a son, he will be a Nazirite, and that he will deliver Israel from the Philistines. She is also told to abstain from wine and to not eat anything unclean. These are restrictions placed on the diet of a Nazirite, and Samson’s mother should not ingest these while pregnant with Samson, lest they pass to him in her womb.

In Numbers 6:1-21 the Nazarite vow is explained. A Nazirite was one that dedicated himself to God. He was consecrated, set aside for service to God. Among other things, a Nazirite was to abstain from drinking wine and to not cut his hair. There was also a series of sacrifices he was to make. Manoah’s son was designated to become a Nazirite before birth. 

Returning to our text, Manoah’s wife tells Manoah that she was visited by an Angel of the Lord and what he said a about her bearing a son. Manoah wants to meet this man himself and prays to God that he come again. At this point, it appears that Manoah does not recognize that the man actually is an angel from God, and his wife, having seen him, seems to have an inkling that he was not merely a man. 

God hears Manoah’s prayer and sends the man again. When Manoah meets him, he wants to know what his son’s life and work will be like. The Angel simply repeats the Manoah’s wife ought to take care to abstain from those things previously mentioned while pregnant. Manoah wants to offer a sacrifice for this man, who he does not yet know is an angel, but the angel deflects this offering, iterating instead that it ought to be offered to God. The angel also does not give them a name for himself, instead drawing attention to the miraculous gift from God this yet unborn Nazirite son will be. As Manoah offers a young goat to God, the angel ascends in the fire on the altar up to God. It is at this point that Manoah realizes that this man was actually an Angel of the Lord.

Manoah is fearful at this realization and believes that they will die because they have seen God. But his wife, with sound reason indicates to him that if this was going to happen, it would have already. Instead, they simply receive the blessing of the birth of Samson, and the Spirit of the Lord begins to influence the child.

Notice the similarities of Samson’s birth with Jesus’s. Samson’s mother was not a virgin as Mary was when she conceived, but she was barren. Also an angel came from God to announce the birth of both, and to stress the importance of their arrival. Samson’s birth was an event, realized by God, just as Jesus’s birth was, although of course Jesus’s life and death had a much greater impact. 

Nevertheless, the lives of both Samson and Jesus follow the savior pattern. Samson’s saving is on a lesser scale as we will see in the coming chapters. When God decided to illuminate the importance of one whose birth was to fulfill a portion of His will, He made it known. 

Just as Manoah’s wife did in this chapter, we should also receive God’s blessings out of hand, with unquestioning acceptance. If God blesses us with a gift, it is His will that we have it and it is then our responsibility to express gratitude. An increase of faith and a renewed motivation to do His will should logically follow.

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