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.”
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.”
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 honor 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. 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.”
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 13:1-25
“ [Judges 13:1] ” We are aware that throughout the Old Testament and in the New Testament as well, wonderful heavenly and angelic creatures walked among the people of God. Angels came to Abraham—three of them. And to Jacob. Strange beings came to Gideon as he was threshing. An angel came to Samson’s mother when she was in the field. She dashed home to tell her husband. ‘Come back with me and see this wonderful man!’
“Were these disturbed, unbalanced, insane people? Were they fanatics? No. They were normal, sane people. Their subsequent lives and experiences proved it. But in matters of faith, worship, and obedience, they had been in touch with another world, a world largely invisible. They had heard another and more compelling voice. They had seen an other-worldly vision and had communed with the powers of the world to come.”
- A. W. Tozer, Men Who Met God
What Do We Know about their Relationship?
The Angel of the Lord, or the Lord as a Christophany, appears to the woman instead of her husband.
In many cases, I have commented that we know very little of this or that relationship. In this one, we have no mention of the name of the wife of Manoah. The only other reference to this couple is that Samson, after twenty years of ruling Israel as a judge, is buried in the tomb of Manoah his father (Judges 16).
What Can We Infer about their Relationship?
On both occasions, Manoah’s wife is working, and Manoah is “not there.” She had to go find him. Did Manoah treat his wife as a slave? Was Manoah angry that she could not give birth, so he rested while she worked?
But while the revelation of the open tomb was given to the women and the disciples did not believe them, Manoah only distrusts his wife’s understanding of the rules that she must follow. Even in this, he trusted that the Angel was telling the truth, although his wife is the only one who witnessed the conversation. But a barren wife is lower than low in that time. If the Angel was real, then he had to make doubly sure that he got the procedure right. If not, no baby, yet again.
In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?
In filling in the gaps, and so many gaps, we get the idea that the relationship was strained. Manoah might have been tending the young goat, but he might have been napping, expecting this worthless, unnamed barren woman to do all the work as punishment for not giving him a son. Sarai, Rebekah, and Rachel, all wives of the patriarchs, were at one point barren, but Manoah may have simply not gone to God in the matter. But he does go to God in that he wants the right information to ensure this latest ghost of a chance will produce an heir.
And as we have filled the gap with Manoah having little respect for his wife due to her barrenness, it seems a poignant moment when Manoah thinks he will die due to seeing the Lord, his wife says that if he died, how could Manoah make his wife pregnant?
Regardless of what Manoah felt about his wife, she was shown to be the intelligent one making logical observations. Regardless of how men felt about women in that time, she was the stronger of the two, probably in many ways.
What Can We Learn from this Relationship?
God appears to those who can handle the information that they receive. It may not be the most respected person, but it is the person that trusts God and whom God trusts.
We need to be examples so that others can trust us, especially that person with whom we have a relationship.
What Have We Learned thus far?
We have learned to:
- Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
- Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
- Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
- Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
- Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
- Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
- A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
- At times, we must be bold and trust God.
- And to love, love, and love.
- Be trustworthy. Trust is required.
- And don’t worry. God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
- And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
- And never go against what God instructs us to do.
A Closing Prayer
We look to You for guidance. We depend upon You. Even if we have children, we are often barren in other respects. Lord, help us to not be barren when it comes to trustworthiness. Help us so that You can trust us and the people with whom we live, work, and worship.
In Thy Name we pray,
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
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