Judges 13


“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.” Judges 13:1-2

As we begin this chapter we see that Israel not only became apostates to wrong beliefs, but they also did that which was contrary to the will of God. In this case, the Philistines from the southern coastal region of Palestine inflicted oppression on Israel.

The Philistines were a people of war and they possibly immigrated from Crete, Amos 9:7. They were probably in the Palestine area at the time Abraham arrived, Genesis 20–22. When Israel arrived, they had settled in five key cities, Gaza, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath and Ashkelon.

Notice that the text tells us that they oppressed Israel for 40 years, this oppression would continue for many years to follow, in fact, up until the time when Samuel tells Israel to get rid of them, 1 Samuel 7.

In this chapter, we’re introduced to possibly one of the most famous Old Testament characters who was famous not only for his strength but also for his riddles.

Samson is one of those tragic heroes we find in the Bible. He was especially gifted by God but became ensnared by the pagan culture around him, which captured him morally and then literally. And as we shall learn, he was a man of great physical strength but he also was ethically weak.

In this chapter, we read about his birth, his marriage and his vengeance and in the next chapter, we read about his relationship with Delilah and that infamous haircut.

During the life of Samson, Israel’s enemy was the Philistines, who occupied Israel for 40 years and it’s from them we get the name Palestine.

The Jews didn’t feel oppressed but they were affluent and apathetic, so they accepted Philistine rule. And notice, unlike the previous occasions, the people didn’t ask God for deliverance but they did do evil in the eyes of the Lord again. Nonetheless, as we shall see, God raised up Samson to wage a one-man war against the enemy.

Why would God raise another leader, if Israel hasn’t asked for one like they did before? Well, the answer to that question is quite simple.

By co-existing with pagans, complacent Israel was in danger of losing its ethnic and spiritual identity. They were in danger of being conformed to the Canaanite culture. And so God is going to intervene out of faithfulness to His covenant with Israel, and to preserve His people.

The Birth Of Samson

“A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” Judges 13:3-5

Notice again that the angel of the LORD is very much involved in Israel’s dealings, Judges 2:1-5 / Judges 6:11-24.

Notice also, that Samson was called by God before he was even born. His parents were childless and unable to conceive, which if you remember in Old Testament times was considered to be a sign of divine disfavour.

But the angel of the LORD appears to them and explains that they will have a son set apart by God as a Nazarite, which was a great privilege but also had a lot of responsibility with it. Let me say a few words about this Nazirite vow.

For men or women, taking on a Nazarite vow meant they would consecrate themselves or dedicate their lives for service to God. And there were 3 stipulations regarding this divine calling, which we find in the book of Numbers 6:1-21.

1. Numbers 6:3-4 tells us that they couldn’t partake of the ‘fruit of the vine’, which meant they were to abstain from drinking wine, in order to live a simple and sober life.

Judges 13:4 tells us that even Samson’s mother had to abstain during her pregnancy, as Samson was set apart from the womb.

2. Numbers 6:5 tells us that Nazirites had to refrain from cutting their hair as an observable sign of their vow.

3. Numbers 6:6-7 tells us that Nazirites were to avoid contact with a dead body, which would disqualify them for tabernacle worship.

And so, to take the Nazirite vow was indeed a privilege for any man or woman to take but it also carried with it a lot of responsibility.

‘Then the woman went to her husband and told him, “A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he said to me, ‘You will become pregnant and have a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from the womb until the day of his death.’” Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. The woman hurried to tell her husband, “He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!” Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, “Are you the man who talked to my wife?” “I am,” he said. So Manoah asked him, “When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule that governs the boy’s life and work?” The angel of the LORD answered, “Your wife must do all that I have told her. She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her.” Judges 13:6-14

Manoah’s wife reports the appearance of the Angel of the LORD to her husband. The Angel of the God reconfirms the words spoken before. Since the angel of God announced that Manoah would have a unique child, then Manoah asked the angel for instructions concerning how the child should be raised.

The angel answered by stating again that the child should observe the rites of a Nazarite. By doing so, it was God who made the decision concerning whether Samson would be a Nazarite.

God honoured Manoah’s request for confirmation but He didn’t answer this request to know the future. He simply called Manoah and his wife to obey what God already told them to do.

‘Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.” The angel of the LORD replied, “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the LORD.” (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the LORD.) Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that we may honour you when your word comes true?” He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.” Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the LORD. And the LORD did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground.’ Judges 13:15-20

The appearance of an angel was so vivid that Manoah assumed that food should be served to him after the custom of the hospitality of the Israelites.

Here, the Angel of the LORD shows Himself to be God, in the sense that He didn’t need a meal but will accept a sacrificial offering made unto the LORD.

Notice that Manoah asked what the angel of the LORD’s name was. The Hebrew word used here for ‘beyond understanding’ can be translated as ‘incomprehensible’ or ‘wonderful’. The same word is used in Psalm 139:6 and Isaiah 9:6. In other words, if the angel of God gave Manoah his name, she shouldn’t be able to understand it.

Notice also that they fell on their face, this is the natural response for anyone who is in the presence of God. Anyone who finds themselves in the presence of God will naturally fall down and worship Him. The Angel of the LORD proved He was wonderful by doing a wondrous thing, He ascended in the flame of sacrifice to heaven.

“When the angel of the LORD did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the LORD. “We are doomed to die!” he said to his wife. “We have seen God!” But his wife answered, “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this.” Judges 13:21-23

Remember the Jews believed if they saw an angel it was a sign to them, that they were about to die, that’s why Manoah was panicking.

He assumed that he and his wife would die because they had come into such close contact with God, Genesis 32:30 / Exodus 20:19 / Exodus 33:20 / Isaiah 6:5. But there is no doubt that God presented Himself in the form of an angel, Exodus 33:20.

Notice something else here, his wife’s name is never mentioned but just because she isn’t named shouldn’t distract us from her faith. While Manoah is panicking, his wife calmly brings her husband back to reality by reminding him of the facts.

Sometimes we get so caught up in an event, we don’t want to accept the reality of what has happened. But there are times when we need someone else to remind us of those realities. And Manoah’s faithful wife, the unnamed hero was there to do just that.

She more or less says to him, if God was going to kill them, then why would He bother to tell us His plans for the unborn child? If God was going to kill us why would He accept our worship?

“The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol”. Judges 13:24-25

The name Samson means ‘sun-lie’, or possibly the Chaldean meaning, ‘to serve’. From his youth, the Lord began to reveal to Samson that he was a unique person.

We’re not told what happened as a result of the Lord urging him to do certain things, other than what is explained in the next four chapters.

Go To Judges 14


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