In the 13th Chapter of Judges, we begin with the same old sad refrain.
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord (13:1).
This is the seventh time that we hear this mournful refrain in the book of Judges, the seventh apostasy, and as the result, we see a very familiar penalty from the Lord.
The Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years (13:1).
In II Chronicles, Chapter 14, the prophet came to King Asa, upon his return from victory near the beginning of his reign, and he told him “The Lord is with you, while you are with him and, if you seek him, he will be found of you. But, if you forsake him, he will forsake you.” This is just a basic Biblical truth, which didn’t apply JUST to King Asa. It goes for us today, also. The Lord will be with you, if you’ll be with Him. If you seek Him, you’ll find Him. If you forsake Him, He will forsake you. The children of Israel forsook the Lord. They did evil in the sight of the Lord and God delivered them into the hands of their enemies, this time the Philistines.
The Canaanite people, called the Philistines, populated the coastal region in the southern part of Israel. One of the cities of the Philistines, Ashkelon, is still a city in Israel today. We hear a lot about the Gaza Strip. The city of Gath, today, is nothing but ruins. There is an Israeli settlement nearby Gath, but it’s the coastal region in the southern part of Israel, which was the area that was occupied by the Canaanites, known as the Philistines. From them came the name Palestine.
Now, there was a certain man of Zorah, which is west from Jerusalem, about a third of the way to Tel Aviv. It’s right at the base of what they call the Jerusalem Mountains. From Zorah, you go up the mountains to Jerusalem. This area is where the tribe of Dan first settled. The tribe of Dan later moved on up into the northern part of the country, near mount Hermon in upper Galilee, but the tribe of Dan originally settled in this area next to the Philistines. Because the Philistines were tough, they found it hard to settle in that area and ultimately moved.
This man’s name was Manoah and his wife was barren. Now, that was a cultural curse. The most important thing that a woman could do in that culture, was to bear children. If she could not bear children, she was considered cursed by God.
It was legal grounds for divorce. If a man’s wife could not bear children, the man could legally divorce her. It was considered a disgrace for a woman not to be able to bear children. So, there was always a heavy pressure upon a young girl to bear a child, so that she is not shamed with barrenness.
There were other cases in the Bible. We all remember the case of Abraham’s wife, Sarah. In I Samuel, you can read of the case of Samuel’s mother, Hannah. In the New Testament there was Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, who for years was barren. These are a few of the women in Biblical history, who had to endure the shame of the cultural curse. Here, we hear of the wife of Manoah.
“But the Angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, “Behold, you are barren, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now, therefore be careful, I pray thee. Don’t drink any wine or strong drink, nor eat any thing that is unclean. For lo you are going to conceive and bear a son and no razor shall come on his head, for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God, from the womb and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines.” (13:3-5)
As the result of her barrenness, the angel of the Lord appeared and informed her that she was no longer to be barren. She was going to have a son, and that God was going to use this son to begin to deliver the children of Israel. She was informed that, during her time of pregnancy, she is not to drink any wine, or any strong drink, and not to eat anything unclean. When the child is born, a razor is never to come to his head for he is going to be a Nazarite unto God.
Numbers, Chapter 6, deals with the vow of the Nazarite. However, the description in Numbers 6 was only for a specific period of time, not a lifetime.
During this period of time, the person was to totally dedicate their life to God. So, it could be for a month, or a shorter or longer period, but for the child to be, it was for a lifetime. To take the Nazarite vow, the person would first shave their head and beard, completely. Then, for the month, or whatever period of time of seeking the Lord, the person would seek the Lord. They would not work, they would not cut their hair, they would not drink any wine or strong drink, and they wouldn’t drink anything that came from the vine, even to the point of not eating grapes. At the end of the dedication period, they would again shave their head and face, and take the hair to the priest to burn on the altar as an offering to the Lord. This was the vow of consecration to God, as a Nazarite.
In the Book of Acts, Chapter 17, we read how Paul made such a vow. He took a Nazarite vow and dedicated himself totally to God for a specified period of time.
This was to prepare himself for the feast, because he was heading back to Jerusalem.
Here, we read how this young man, who is to be born, is not to have a time limit on his commitment, but it was to be a life-long commitment to God. He’s gonna belong to the Lord and be committed to God throughout his life. During his entire lifetime, a razor is never to come to his head.
“So the woman came and told her husband, and she said there was a man of God that came to me and his countenance, his face was like an angel of God (13:6)..
In the Old English translation, the word is terrible. When you see that word, in the Old English translation, it literally translates ‘awesome’. So, she saw this angel of the Lord as awesome.
But I did not ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name (13:6).
So, she comes home and tells her husband “I met an interesting man he had a face like an angel. I don’t know where he came from, and I didn’t ask him his name, but he told me that I was going to conceive and bear a son, and that I wasn’t to drink any wine or strong drink, and that I wasn’t to eat any unclean thing, for the child will be a Nazarite to God from the womb, until the day of his death. His whole life is to be spent committed unto God.”
“So Manoah, her husband, prayed and he asked the Lord to let the man of God come again to us and teach us what we should do for this child that’s to be born.
So God listened, or hearkened to the voice of Manoah. The Angel of God came again to the woman, as she sat in the field, but her husband wasn’t with her. So she said, “Would you wait here a minute?” and she ran with haste and got her husband and she said to him, “Behold, the man has appeared unto me, that came to me the other day”. So, Manoah arose and went with his wife and they came to the man and said unto him, he said unto him, “Are you the man that spoke with this woman?” And he said, “I am.” And Manoah said, “Now let your words come to pass. We would like to have a son but how shall we order the child? What shall we do to him?” And the Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Just everything that I told the woman, be careful that you do that.” She may not eat of anything that comes of the vine, neither let her drink any wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. All that I have commanded her, let her observe.” So Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord, “I pray thee, let us detain you until we can make ready for you a little uh shish kebab, a kid, and then they used those little goats for shish kebab, and the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, “Though you detain me, I will not eat of your bread, and if you want to offer a burnt offering, you must offer it to the Lord, for Manoah did not know that he was an Angel of the Lord. And so, Manoah said unto the Angel of the Lord, “What is your name? That when all of this comes to pass we’ll be able to say, well, you know, we’ll want to give you honor, we’ll want to recognize you for this.” And the Angel of the Lord said unto him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing that it is wonderful?”
The word translated here as “secret”, is the same word that is used in the Greek, in Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Jesus. His name shall be called “Wonderful”.
“Why do you ask my name seeing that it is wonderful?”
So Manoah took the little goat with the meal offering, and he put it on the rock, offered it unto the Lord, and the Angel did wonderously as Manoah and his wife looked on. For it came to pass when the flame went up toward heaven, from off the altar, that the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on and they fell on their faces to the ground. And the Angel of the Lord did not appear again to Manoah and to his wife and Manoah knew that it was the Angel of the Lord; and, he said to his wife, we’re gonna die. Because we’ve seen God. We’ve had it. That’s it! You know, it’s all over! We’ve seen God! His wife having a little more presence of mind said to him, “If the Lord wanted to kill us, why would he tell us we are going to have a son? How can we have a son if God kills us; and, why would He have received our burnt offering and our meal offering? And so, the woman bear a son, called his name Samson, which refers to the son; and, you have Mahaneh Dan right near the valley of Zorah, between Eshtaol and Zorah, and the child grew. The Lord blessed him and the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol. (13:8-25)
Okay, we have the birth of the child, announced before hand by the Lord. He was to be, truly a special child.
Watch for Chapter 14 – Coming in a day or two!
Teaching notes – Don D. Stephens