The Unnamed Barren Woman

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.
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 13:1-5

The son born to Manoah’s wife was Samson.  As the story continues from these first five verses in Judges 13, Manoah distrusts his wife, as men were known to do in those days.

Manoah goes to God in prayer and basically says that if his wife is correct, then he is a Danite, and he does not have the knowledge to raise a child to be a Nazirite.  He requests an audience with the Angel of the Lord.  God grants his request, but the Angel of the Lord, which many scholars state is a Christophany and is really Jesus Himself, again appears to the woman.  She runs and gets her husband who must “get up,” which tells me that Manoah’s wife is working all day while her husband naps, but the Bible does not expressly state that.

The Angel of the Lord tells Manoah that Manoah’s wife has the necessary instructions.  In other words, the Angel of the Lord required Manoah to do something that he was not accustomed in doing – listen and trust his wife.

Then Manoah insists on learning the Angel’s name.  After much insistence, the Angel of the Lord says that his name is not understandable.  Then when Manoah offers a burnt offering, the Angel of the Lord rises with the flame into the heavens.

Manoah collapses, thinking that since he had just seen God, he will surely die.  It is Manoah’s wife who calms down her husband.  How can the prophecy come true if he dies, unable to impregnate his wife?  And she cannot die because she needs to bring the child to full term and deliver the son.  They will not die!!!

Have you noticed something in the telling of this story?

Manoah did not trust his wife.  He might have had the habit of napping while she did all the work.  He had little faith at all.  But he had to know the Angel’s name.

Manoah’s wife did all the work.  She was responsible.  She was the one that the Angel of the Lord appeared to, even when Manoah asked for the second appearance.  She had faith that the prophecy would come true.  BUT, the Scriptures never mention her name, in spite of Manoah insisting on learning the name of the Angel of the Lord.

There are many instances of God making silk purses out of sow’s ears, but this one tops the cake for many reasons.

The prophecy that the Philistines will be utterly defeated was not fully completed in Samson’s time due to Samson’s indiscretions, but it was in the time of King David.

But our pastor, on Mother’s Day, did a sermon that was the start of a new series.  The sermon was on “What is in a name?”  Of course, he focused on the names for God and the name Jesus.  But, my mind went to a beleaguered woman in the land of the Danites who bore a son and called him Samson.

On the way home from church, my wife and I discussed it.  I said that there were a lot of questions that I would like answered when I get to Heaven.  One is that I want to go up to Manoah’s wife and ask her, “What is your name?”

And my wife replied, “And I know what her response will be.  She will say, ‘My name is Manoah’s wife.’ “

We were still laughing when we pulled into the driveway.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

2 Comments

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  1. Mark, this is a post after my own heart. It was about 20 years when reading this account yet another time that I finally realized that Manoah is named, and not his wife. And this despite the fact that she’s the one who comes off admirably.

    Just one of those mysteries of the Bible …one I would have rectified had I been called it to do some editing. (I’m sure the Lord knows that was a tongue-in-cheek remark!!)

    Liked by 1 person

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