Judges 13 – “The Birth of Samson”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
An angel appears to Manoah and his wife and tells them that they will have a Nazirite child. The child is born, and his name is Samson.

II. Photo
The angel tells Manoah’s wife about her future son: “You are going to conceive and bear a son; let no razor touch his head, for the boy is to be a nazirite to God from the womb on.” (v 5)

III. Important Verses
vv 3-5: An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “You are barren and have borne no children; but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now be careful not to drink wine or other intoxicant, or to eat anything unclean. For you are going to conceive and bear a son; let no razor touch his head, for the boy is to be a nazirite to God from the womb on. He shall be the first to deliver Israel from the Philistines.”
vv 15-18: Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “Let us detain you and prepare a kid for you.” But the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I shall not eat your food; and if you present a burnt offering, offer it to LORD.” — For Manoah did not know that he was an angel of the LORD. So Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name? We should like to honor you when your words come true.” The angel said to him, “You must not ask for my name; it is unknowable!”
vv 22-23: And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen a divine being.” But his wife said to him, “Had the LORD meant to take our lives, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and meal offering from us, nor let us see all these things; and He would not have made such an announcement to us.”
v 24: The woman bore a son, and she named him Samson. The boy grew up, and the LORD blessed him.

IV. Outline
1. Philistine oppression
2-23. An angel tells Manoah and his wife that they will have a Nazirite son
24. Samson is born
25. God dwells in the camp of Dan

V. Comment
Chapter 15 introduces the character of Samson, the man who saves the Israelites from Philistine oppression. Who were the Philistines? Collins writes: “The people with whom Samson interacts are the Philistines. The origin of the Philistines is obscure, but they were part of a wave of ‘Sea Peoples’ that swept through the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Bronze Age, destroying the Mycenean Greek Civilization. They are sometimes said to come from Capthor (= Crete; see Deut 2:23; Amos 9:7). They also destroyed the Hittite Empire in Anatolia (modern Turkey) and the Canaanite city-state of Ugarit. They were defeated in battle by Ramesses III of Egypt about 1190 B.C.E. Ramesses settled defeated Philistines as mercenaries in the coastal towns of Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ashdod. Subsequently, the Philistines in these cities shook off their Egyptian overlords and formed a powerful local confederation that included the nearby cities of Ekron and Gath. The source of Philistine power came from their early mastery of forging iron (cf. 1 Sam 13:19-21). From an early time the Philistines accepted the local Canaanite deities, Dago (father of Baal) and Astarte. The history of the Philistine cities paralleled that of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. They were conquered by the Assyrians, occupied by the Egyptians, and finally destroyed by the Babylonians, who deported Philistines as well as Judeans. Unlike the Judeans, the Philistines eventually lost their identity, but they did give their name to the country called Palestine. The biblical accounts tend to portray them as barbarians, but in fact they had a rich material culture, which has been amply documented by archaeological excavations in many years.” (211)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Trent C. Butler, “Judges” (Word Biblical Commentary vol. 8; Nashville: Nelson, 2009).
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 15 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
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