Judges 13

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1 And the sons of Israel again did evil in the eyes of Jehovah; and Jehovah gave them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.

2 And there was one man from Zorah, from the family of the Danites, and his name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and gave· not ·birth.

3 And the angel of Jehovah appeared to the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren and givest· not ·birth; but thou shalt conceive and give·​·birth to a son;

4 and now, keep thyself, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong·​·drink, and eat not anything unclean.

5 For, behold, thou shalt conceive, and give·​·birth to a son, and a razor shall not go·​·up upon his head; for the lad shall be a Nazarite of God from the belly; and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.

6 And the woman came and said unto her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his appearance was as the appearance of an angel of God, very fearsome; and I asked him not whence he was, neither told he unto me his name.

7 And he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and give·​·birth to a son; and now drink no wine or strong·​·drink, neither eat anything unclean, for the lad shall be a Nazarite of God from the belly until the day of his death.

8 And Manoah supplicated to Jehovah and said, By·​·me, my Lord, let the man of God, whom thou didst send, come, I pray, again to us, and instruct us as to what we shall do to the lad that shall be·​·born.

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

10 And the woman made·​·haste and ran and told her husband, and said to him, Behold, the man has appeared to me, who came to me that day.

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

12 And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. What shall be the judgment of the lad, and his deed?

13 And the angel of Jehovah said to Manoah, Of all that I said to the woman, let her take·​·heed.

14 From all that goes·​·forth from the vine of the wine, she shall not eat, and wine and strong·​·drink shall she not drink, and anything unclean she shall not eat; all that I commanded her, let her keep.

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

16 And the angel of Jehovah said to Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread, and if thou wilt make a burnt·​·offering, offer· it ·up to Jehovah; for Manoah knew not that he was an angel of Jehovah.

17 And Manoah said to the angel of Jehovah, What is thy name, that when thy words come to pass, we may give glory·​·to thee?

18 And the angel of Jehovah said to him, Why is this, that thou askest my name? and it is too wonderful*.

19 And Manoah took the kid of the goats, and the gift·​·offering, and offered· it ·up upon a rock to Jehovah. And He* did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife saw it.

20 And it was, when the flame went·​·up toward the heavens from upon the altar, that the angel of Jehovah went·​·up in the flame of the altar; and Manoah and his wife saw it, and fell on their faces to the earth.

21 And the angel of Jehovah did not appear again to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that it was an angel of Jehovah.

22 And Manoah said unto his wife, Dying we shall·​·die because we have seen God.

23 But his wife said to him, If Jehovah had delighted to make us die, He would not have taken from our hands a burnt·​·offering and a gift·​·offering, and would not have caused us to see all these things, and would not as at this time have caused us to hear such things as this.

24 And the woman gave·​·birth to a son, and called his name Samson; and the boy grew·​·up and Jehovah blessed him.

25 And the spirit of Jehovah began to disquiet him in the camp of 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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Thanks to the Kempton Project for the permission to use this New Church translation of the Word.


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