Judges 13

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1 And the children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah; and Jehovah delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.

2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.

3 And the angel of Jehovah appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not; but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.

4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:

5 for, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come upon his head; for the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of the angel of God, very terrible; and I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:

7 but he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing; for the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from the womb to the day of his death.

8 Then Manoah entreated Jehovah, and said, Oh, Lord, I pray thee, let the man of God whom thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.

9 And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.

10 And the woman made haste, and ran, and told her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the [other] day.

11 And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.

12 And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass: what shall be the ordering of the child, and [how] shall we do unto him?

13 And the angel of Jehovah said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.

14 She may not eat of anything that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; all that I commanded her let her observe.

15 And Manoah said unto the angel of Jehovah, I pray thee, let us detain thee, that we may make ready a kid for thee.

16 And the angel of Jehovah said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread; and if thou wilt make ready a burnt-offering, thou must offer it unto Jehovah. For Manoah knew not that he was the angel of Jehovah.

17 And Manoah said unto the angel of Jehovah, What is thy name, that, when thy words come to pass, we may do thee honor?

18 And the angel of Jehovah said unto him, Wherefore askest thou after my name, seeing it is wonderful?

19 So Manoah took the kid with the meal-offering, and offered it upon the rock unto Jehovah: and [the angel] did wondrously, and Manoah and his wife looked on.

20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of Jehovah ascended in the flame of the altar: and Manoah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground.

21 But the angel of Jehovah did no more appear to Manoah or to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of Jehovah.

22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.

23 But his wife said unto him, If Jehovah were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt-offering and a meal-offering at our hand, neither would he have showed us all these things, nor would at this time have told such things as these.

24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and Jehovah blessed him.

25 And the Spirit of Jehovah began to move him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 13      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 13: The birth of Samson.

Chapters 13-16 of Judges tell the story of Samson, one of the greatest judges of Israel. At the time of Samson’s birth, Israel had been under Philistine oppression for forty years, because they had once again sinned against the Lord. As we have seen in previous chapters, the Lord appears to have punished them, but this is not the case; it is really our own waywardness that brings about these negative consequences.

This story begins with Samson’s parents, Manoah and his wife. Manoah’s wife was barren, but the angel of the Lord appeared to her, with news that she would have a son. The angel said that she was forbidden to drink alcohol or eat anything unclean, and that her son was never to have his hair cut, for he would be a Nazirite. And finally, the angel prophesied that her son would deliver Israel from the Philistines.

When Manoah’s wife told him what had happened, he prayed to the Lord for the man to return. The angel reappeared to Manoah’s wife, so she brought her husband to speak with the angel directly. Manoah asked what they should do for their child, but the angel only told Manoah that his wife must follow the instructions she had received.

Manoah offered a meal to the angel of the Lord, but the angel declined, saying that the burnt offering must be made to the Lord. Manoah brought out the meat of a young goat, placed it upon a rock, and gave it as a burnt offering to the Lord. The angel of the Lord ascended in the flames toward heaven, and the couple knew that they had seen God.

In time, Samson was born, and the Lord blessed him.

*****

Samson’s name literally means “sun-like”. He was a mighty warrior, a womaniser, and a powerful character prone to sudden outbursts and rage, but his intention was to defend Israel and defeat the Philistines. He was strong in his acknowledgement of his people and his God.

Samson represents the Lord in His divine human, and also the power of the Word in its literal sense. This is why Samson had strength in the abundance of his hair (see Swedenbrog’s works, Doctrine of Sacred Scripture 49[2], and Arcana Caelestia 9836[2]).

Spiritually, barrenness stands for a lack of personal doctrine or a spiritual path, representing how life can feel before regeneration begins. The angel of the Lord appeared to just the woman at first, because the purpose of regeneration is primarily to make us love what is good (represented by a woman). We do this by knowing and obeying truth (represented by a man).

The Nazarites, who vowed not to drink or cut their hair, represented the Lord as the Word in its ultimate and fullest sense (see Swedenborg’s work, Apocalypse Revealed 47). These customs are the marks of a natural and genuine life, as wine can lead us astray, and focusing on appearances can lead to vanity. Above all, Samson’s uncut hair represented this greatness of divine truths from the Word (see Swedenborg’s work, True Christian Religion 214).

The angel was reluctant to tell Manoah and his wife details about their son’s future, except that he would be a Nazarite, and would deliver Israel. He intentionally kept them from knowing what would take place, because if they knew the future, they would no longer be able to act in freedom. Divine Providence - the Lord’s plan for our world - cannot be disclosed to us, or we would no longer live in freedom to make our own decisions (Arcana Caelestia 2493).

Manoah asked the angel what his name was, so he could be honored. However, the angel declined to tell them, as his name was wonderful. A name describes a person’s spiritual qualities, and we are unable to fathom the extent of heavenly qualities because they are of God.

The spiritual meaning of Manoah’s sacrifice comes from the correspondence of a young goat (innocence within the human soul) and the rock (truth). The young goat, placed on the rock as a sacrifice, represents worshipping from our hearts in faith to the Lord. This is the Lord’s requirement of us (Doctrine of Sacred Scripture 18[3] and Arcana Caelestia 9393).

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