士師記 13

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1 以色列人違背神的惡果以色列人又行了耶和華看為惡的事,耶和華就把他們交在非利士人四十年。

2 預告參孫出生那時有個瑣拉,是屬於但支派的,名叫瑪挪亞;他的妻子不能生育,沒有孩子。

3 耶和華的使者向那婦人顯現,對她:“你向來不能生育,沒有孩子,現在你必要懷孕,生一個兒子

4 現在你要謹慎,清酒或烈酒都不可,各樣不潔的東西也不可

5 看哪!你必懷孕,生一個兒子;不可用剃刀剃他的,這孩子從在母腹開始就歸作拿細耳人;他必拯以色列人脫離非利士人。”

6 就回去,告訴她的丈夫:“有一位到我這裡,他的容貌像使者的容貌,非常可畏,我沒有問他從哪裡,他也沒有告訴我他的名字

7 他對我:‘你必要懷孕,生一個兒子;現在清酒或烈酒你都不可,各樣不潔的東西你也不可,因為這孩子從在母腹開始,一直到,都必歸耶和華作拿細耳人。’”

8 瑪挪亞就懇求耶和華:“啊,啊,求你叫你派再到我們這裡吧!好指教我們要怎樣對待將要生下的孩子。”

9 了瑪挪亞的聲音。婦人正在田間的時候,的使者又到她那裡,她的丈夫瑪挪亞卻沒有與她在一起。

10 急忙跑去告訴丈夫,對他:“那到我這裡的那,又向我顯現了。”

11 瑪挪亞起來,跟著他的妻子出去,到那跟前,問他:“你就是向這個婦說過話的嗎?”他回答:“我就是。”

12 瑪挪亞:“你的應驗的時候,這孩子的生活方式怎樣?他要作甚麼呢?”

13 耶和華的使者對瑪挪亞:“我對婦人所的一切話,她都要謹守。

14 從葡萄樹所產的,她都不可;清酒或烈酒,她都不可;各樣不潔的東西,她也不可;我吩咐她的,她都要謹守。”

15 瑪挪亞對耶和華的使者:“請留下,好讓我為你預備一隻山羊羔。”

16 耶和華的使者對瑪挪亞:“你雖然要我留下,我卻不你的食物;如果你預備燔祭,就當獻給耶和華。”原來瑪挪亞還不知道他是耶和華的使者。

17 瑪挪亞問耶和華的使者:“你叫甚麼名字?到你的應驗的時候,我們好把尊榮歸你。”

18 耶和華的使者對他:“你為甚麼問我的名字呢?我的名是奇妙的。”

19 瑪挪亞取了一隻山羊羔和素祭,在磐石上獻與那行奇事的耶和華;瑪挪亞和他的妻子一直在觀

20 火燄從祭壇上往升起的時候,耶和華的使者在祭壇上的火燄中也升上去了;瑪挪亞和他的妻子見了,就俯伏在地。

21 耶和華的使者沒有再向瑪挪亞和他的妻子顯現,那時瑪挪亞才知道他是耶和華的使者。

22 瑪挪亞對他的妻子:“我們必定要,因為我們見了。”

23 他的妻子卻對他:“如果耶和華有意要殺我們,就必不從我們裡接納燔祭和素祭,也必不會把這一切事指示我們,更不會在這個時候向我們宣布這些事啊。”

24 後來那婦人生了一個兒子,她就給他起名參孫;孩子漸漸長大了,耶和華賜福給他。

25 在瑪哈尼.但(“瑪哈尼.但”意即“但的軍”),就是在瑣拉和以實陶中間,耶和華的靈開始感動參孫。

  

Exploring the Meaning of 士師記 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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