士師記 13

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1 以色列人又行耶和華眼中看為惡的事,耶和華將他們交在非利士人四十年。

2 那時,有個瑣拉,是屬但族的,名叫瑪挪亞。他的妻不懷孕,不生育。

3 耶和華的使者向那婦人顯現,對他:向來你不懷孕,不生育,如今你必懷孕生一個兒子

4 所以你當謹慎,清酒濃酒都不可,一切不潔之物也不可

5 你必懷孕生一個兒子,不可用剃刀剃他的,因為這孩子一出胎就歸作拿細耳人。他必起首拯以色列人脫離非利士人

6 就回去對丈夫:有一個到我面前,他的相貌如使者的相貌,甚是可畏。我沒有問他從哪裡,他也沒有將他的名告訴我,

7 卻對我:你要懷孕生一個兒子,所以清酒濃酒都不可,一切不潔之物也不可;因為這孩子從出胎一直到,必歸□作拿細耳人。

8 瑪挪亞就祈求耶和華啊,求你再差遣那我們這裡,好指教我們怎樣待這將要生的孩子。

9 應允瑪挪亞的話;婦人正在田間的時候,的使者又到他那裡,他丈夫瑪挪亞卻沒有同他在一處。

10 急忙跑去告訴丈夫:那日到我面前,又向我顯現。

11 瑪挪亞起來跟隨他的妻到那面前,對他:與這婦說話的就是你麼?他:是我。

12 瑪挪亞:願你的應驗!我們當怎樣待這孩子,他後當怎樣呢?

13 耶和華的使者對瑪挪亞:我告訴婦人的一切事,他都當謹慎。

14 葡萄樹所結的都不可,清酒濃酒都不可,一切不潔之物也不可。凡我所吩咐的,他都當遵守。

15 瑪挪亞對耶和華的使者:求你容我們款留你,好為你預備一隻山羊羔。

16 耶和華的使者對瑪挪亞:你雖然款留我,我卻不你的食物,你若預備燔祭就當獻與耶和華。原來瑪挪亞不知道他是耶和華的使者。

17 瑪挪亞對耶和華的使者:請將你的名告訴我,到你應驗的時候,我們好尊敬你。

18 耶和華的使者對他:你何必問我的名,我名是奇妙的。

19 瑪挪亞將一隻山羊羔和素祭在磐石上獻與耶和華,使者行奇妙的事;瑪挪亞和他的妻觀

20 見火燄從上往上升,耶和華的使者在上的火燄中也升上去了。瑪挪亞和他的妻見,就俯伏於地。

21 耶和華的使者不再向瑪挪亞和他的妻顯現,瑪挪亞才知道他是耶和華的使者。

22 瑪挪亞對他的妻:我們必要,因為見了

23 他的妻卻對他耶和華若要殺我們,必不從我們裡收納燔祭和素祭,並不將這一切事指示我們,今日也不將這些話告訴我們

24 後來婦人生了一個兒子,給他起名參孫。孩子長大,耶和華賜福與他。

25 在瑪哈尼但,就是瑣拉和以實陶中間,耶和華的靈才感動他。

  

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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