Judges 13

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1 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord: and he delivered them into the hands of the Philistines forty years.

2 Now there was a certain man of Saraa, and of the race of Dan, whose name was Manue, and his wife was barren.

3 And an angel of the Lord appeared to her, and said: Thou art barren and without children: but thou shalt conceive and bear a son.

4 Now therefore beware and drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing.

5 Because thou shalt conceive and bear a son, and no razor shall touch his head: for he shall be a Nazarite of God, from his infancy, and from his mother's womb, and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.

6 And when she was come to her husband she said to him: A man of God came to me, having the countenance of an angel, very awful. And when I asked him who he was, and whence he came, and by what name he was called, he would not tell me.

7 But he answered thus: Behold thou shalt conceive and bear a son: beware thou drink no wine, nor strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite of God from his infancy, from his mother's womb until the day of his death.

8 Then Manue prayed to the Lord, and said: I beseech thee, O Lord, that the mail of God, whom thou didst send, may come again, and teach us what we ought to do concerning the child that shall be born.

9 And the Lord heard the prayer of Manue, and the angel of the Lord appeared again to his wife as she was sitting in the field. But Manue her husband was not with her. And when she saw the angel,

10 She made haste and ran to her husband: and told him saying: Behold the man hath appeared to me whom I saw before.

11 He rose up and followed his wife: and coming to the man, said to him: Art thou he that spoke to the woman? And he answered: I am.

12 And Manue said to him: When thy word shall come to pass, what wilt thou that the child should do? or from what shall he keep himself?

13 And the angel of the Lord said to Manue: From all the things I have spoken of to thy wife, let her refrain herself:

14 And let her eat nothing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: and whatsoever I have commanded her, let her fulfil and observe.

15 And Manue said to the angel of the Lord: I beseech thee to consent to my request, and let us dress a kid for thee.

16 And the angel answered him: If thou press me, I will not eat of thy bread: but if thou wilt offer a holocaust, offer it to the Lord. And Manue knew not it was the angel of the Lord.

17 And he said to him: What is thy name, that, if thy word shall come to pass, we may honour thee?

18 And he answered him: Why askest thou my name, which is wonderful?

19 Then Manue took a kid of the flocks, and the libations, and put them upon a rock, offering to the Lord, who doth wonderful things: and he and his wife looked on.

20 And when the flame from the altar went up towards heaven, the angel of the lord ascended also in the flame. And when Manue and his wife saw this, they fell flat on the ground.

21 And the angel of the Lord appeared to them no more. And forthwith Manue understood that it was an angel of the Lord,

22 And he said to his wife: We shall certainly die, because we have seen God.

23 And his wife answered him: If the Lord had a mind to kill us, he would not have received a holocaust and libations at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor have told us the things that are to come.

24 And she bore a son, and called his name Samson. And the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.

25 And the spirit of the Lord began to be with him in the camp of Dan, between Saraa and Esthaol.

  

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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