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3 posted on 12/18/2012 8:16:32 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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From: Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a

Samson, God’s Nazirite from His Mother’s Womb

[2] And there was a certain man of Zorah of the tribe of the Danites whose
name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children [3]. And
the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you
are barren and have no children; but you shall conceive and bear a son. [4]
Therefore beware and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean,
[5] for lo, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his
head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth; and he shall begin to
deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” [6] Then the woman came and
told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his countenance was like
the countenance of the angel of God, very terrible; I did not ask him whence
he was, and he did not tell me his name; [7] but he said to me, ‘Behold, you
shall conceive and bear a son; so then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat
nothing unclean, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth to the day
of his death.’”

[24] And the woman bore a son, and called his name Samson; and the boy
grew and the Lord blessed him. [25a] And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir

13:1-21:25. History repeats itself once more (cf. 13:1): infidelity causes the
Israelites to lose the Lord’s favor. On this occasion they fall foul of the Philis-
tines, a Mediterranean people who had come down the coast and on to the
plains of Canaan; their military strength proved superior to Israel’s. However,
God again decides to send a liberator—Samson, of the tribe of Dan.

The story of Samson begins with the announcement of his birth; his parents
are told that he will be a Nazirite, consecrated to God, from his birth (13:2-
24). The account goes on to portray Samson as a rather empty-headed per-
son (14:1-19), and reports various feats which show that God endowed him
with a physical strength which enabled him to deal with his people’s enemies,
despite his personal defects (14:20-16:3). Still, he will end up being seduced
by Delilah and revealing to her the secret or his strength: as a result he will
fall into the hands of the Philistines and be imprisoned (16:4-22). Eventually
his hair will grow back and he will avenge himself for how he was treated,
losing his own life in the process but causing the death of many Philistines

After narrating the story of Samson, the sacred writer again tags on some
other stories as an appendix. To his account of the deeds of Deborah he
attached the ancient canticle celebrating her victory; and after the death of
Gideon he described in detail the (failed) coup of Abimelech one of Gideon’s
sons. Now he brings in two stories which are similar in so far as the protago-
nist in each is a Levite and both men were given hospitality by Ephraimites.
Their connection with the history of Samson is through the tribe of Dan, to
which Samson belonged. The first of these two accounts (17:1-18:31) is con-
nected with the migration of the tribe of Dan (from their original place, in the
Shephelah, beside where the Philistines were in control, towards the north of
the country, to the slopes of the mountains of Lebanon), and the protagonist
is a Levite, who is taken in first by a man of Ephraim and later by the Danites
(17:1-18:31). The second story deals with another Levite given hospitality by
an Ephraimitein Gibe-ah, but the Benjaminites of that city want to sexually
abuse him and they ill-treat his concubine so badly that she dies. This sparks
a concerted attack on Benjamin by the other tribes which almost wipes out
the Benjaminites (19:1-21:25).

Both episodes show ever more clearly the internal anarchy affecting the tribes
of Israel and the decadent state of morality to which they have been reduced;
there is no one capable of re-establishing order—as the text repeatedly says,
“in those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his
own eyes” (17:6 and 21:25; cf. 18:1 and 19:1).

Thus, the book draws to a close by illustrating that, despite the exceptional
patience and mercy of God who constantly forgave his people for their unfaith-
fulness and raised up one savior after another, Israel continued to sin against
him. Therefore, they could have no reason to complain against God if he left
them at the mercy of their enemies. When the sacred writer was gathering all
these ancient traditions during the Babylonian exile and composing this book
in its present form, he made it quite clear that they could not blame the course
of events on the Lord or argue that his power had weakened: history shows
that they themselves were to blame for what happened.

13:2-25. Samson’s vocation was decided by God from even before he was
conceived. This account has a structure similar to that of the calling of Gideon
(6:11-23). God sends his angel to a woman who is barren and tells her she will
have a son (v. 5), who will be consecrated to God as a Nazirite (cf. Num 6:1-21
and its note), and he will perform a specific mission—to save his people from
the Philistines. In this account, vocation, dedication to God and mission are
all closely linked.

The main features of vocation are outlined here. The initiative comes from God
who sees his people’s predicament and prepares, from birth onwards, a man
who will save them from their enemies. In due course he announces his plans
through a messenger: an angel presents himself to the wife of Manoah (v. 3)
— she sees him as a “man of God” (v. 6) — and he tells her about God’s plans.
The couple’s readiness to go along with God’s will is plain to see (vv. 8 and
12). As happens in some supernatural communications, in special circum-
stances the Lord offers some remarkable sign to demonstrate that the mes-
sage indeed comes from him and that what he says will happen (cf. 6:21; Lk
1:20, 36).

Some of God’s ways of acting to be seen in Gideon’s vocation (6:11-24) are
also found in the annunciation to Mary (cf. Lk 1:26-38). The way Manoah and
his wife make themselves available for God’s plan to work, as also Mary’s great
refinement and generosity in doing the divine will, are messages to the reader
of God’s word in Scripture—to check his or her own readiness to go along with
God’s plans.

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 12/18/2012 8:17:48 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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