Title: Judges 13. Samson part 1 - a type of Israel.
JDG 13:1 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years [from the birth of Samson to the battle of Ebenezer in 1Sa 7].
Along with the curses that the captured ark spread upon the Philistines, God raised up Samson, the capstone of the judges, endowed by the Spirit with supernatural physical strength.
It would be prudent to look at some chronology of Israel at this point.
1KI 6:1 Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord.
Exact years can often be difficult for us. The historians of the Bible, often prophets, are inspired by God the Holy Spirit and so chronology is not difficult for them since it is not for God. There are many theories concerning timelines for the events of the Bible, but it would serve us to attempt to calculate this number. The chronology I'm giving you is from Arnold Fruchtenbaum.
Wilderness wandering: 40
Entrance of land to division of land: 7
Division to first oppression of Cushan: 10
Cushan (JDG 3:8) to the death of Jair: 301
Philistine oppression: 40 yrs
Samuel and Saul: 39 yrs
Solomon's reign until the building of the Temple: 3
Total: 480 years.
At this time the Lord had also raised up a hero for His people in the person of Samson, whose deeds were to prove to the Israelites and Philistines that the God of Israel still possessed the power to help His people and smite His foes.
The Philistines were not a Canaanite group. They very likely originated from somewhere in Greece or the Aegean Sea and arrived in Canaan over land through Anatolia (Turkey) and over sea through the Mediterranean. They fought Egypt but were unable to overcome them, while Egypt was not able to expel them from the land. Since they couldn't invade Egypt they settled in the south western plains which came to be known as the Plain of Philistia. They would play a major role in Jewish history until they were utterly defeated by David. They have already been a problem for Israel in the time of the Judges in 3:31.
Samson's cycle is unique in the book of Judges in a number of ways.
The oppression is twice as long as the longest so far.
Samson does not actually deliver Israel.
He judged while they were under oppression.
In every other case the Judge judged after the oppression was lifted. The oppression of the Philistines lasted 40 years when the longest oppression so far has been 20 years. In every other judge, Israel is delivered from the oppressor, but Israel is not in this case and Samson dies while the oppression continues.
Samson was called before his birth.
Samson was a Nazirite.
Samson did not call an army.
There are more specifics to this cycle, but they do not separate Samson from the rest of the judges or from this time, but rather they show him to be a representative of the whole period. Samson is a type of Israel and of all the judges during this period. As in all cases, God is teaching and instructing Israel, their enemies, and even us in this age. Samson is truly an odd choice for what we would consider a judge sent by God, but God does not rise him us for the reason we would expect.
Other unique characteristics of Samson is that he entered freely into marriage with the enemy, which God actually willed so as to represent Israel's spiritual adultery in idol worship. Samson entered into more than one fateful and fatal relationship with the Philistines. Also, the focus of the narrative is not on the deliverance of Israel, but upon the life of Samson and his own personal deliverance. Also, Israel's attitude towards oppression has changed. In every other cycle we have heard them cry out to the Lord once the pain had gone on long enough, but in this case they do not cry out but rather co-exist with the enemy. We will see the tribe of Judah cooperate with the Philistines so as to not upset the status quo. In other words, a certain level of slavery has become acceptable to them.
Samson as an individual is a type of the condition of Israel during this age.
A bit off from being a deliverer of Israel, Samson will actually become part of the problem. He has four women in his life in this narrative: his mother, who seems to be devoted to Yavah, his unnamed first Philistine wife, the unnamed prostitute at Gaza, also very likely a Philistine, and the Philistine Delilah.
Samson as a type of Israel:
Supernatural element involved in birth.
Called to separation unto God.
Drawn to foreign women/idols.
Experienced oppression and bondage.
Cried out to God and God worked.
Ignorant to being abandoned by God.
Relationship with God restored.
Because Samson is listed in the list of OT heroes given in Heb 11, some commentators distinguish between the man who was under the power of the Holy Spirit and the man who followed his lust. There is nothing in the narrative that gives Samson a dual personality. It is true that the Holy Spirit is not leading and empowering him in his sins and that Samson becomes an instrument in God's hands for His good purpose and pleasure. Samson is not in Heb 11 because he is a great man. He is there because he was used by God and in that some credit, albeit small, must be given to him. He believes in the God of Israel. He bets his life on that belief at his end and it is taken from him. He, like the rest of the judges, do not allow us to intelligently put labels on them in terms of godly or ungodly. They all seem to have a measure of both and not in equal proportions. Our personal opinions are not doctrines.
Samson was a mirror for Israel to look into. His strength lay only in being a Nazirite (separated unto God) and his weakness in his carnal lust.
Israel, as people set apart unto God found no achievement, no matter how marvelous, that they could not and did not accomplish. From crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan to destroying all opposition, far superior to them, in taking the land of promise. And there was Israel, unsanctified, yielding to spiritual adultery, that found no end to the depth of degradation that they would descend into. The history of Israel was the history of Samson; his victories were like theirs, till, like him, yielding to the seductions of a woman, Israel betrayed and lost its Nazirite strength.
JDG 13:1 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years.
JDG 13:2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children.
JDG 13:3 Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman, and said to her, "Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son.
The angel of the Lord is the Son of God manifesting Himself (theophany) as a man in the OT in order to enforce His purpose.
We will not pursue the doctrine of the angel of the Lord in this book. If you have any questions concerning any such doctrines please email me and I will forward the pertinent doctrines.
JDG 13:4 Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing.
JDG 13:5 For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines."
"Nazirite to God from the womb" - the Nazirite vow (Num 6) was not Samson's choice, but put on him by God even in the womb and for his entire life.
The law of the Nazirite is in Num 6.
NUM 6:1 Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
NUM 6:2 "Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, 'When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the Lord [voluntary],
NUM 6:3 he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh or dried grapes.
NUM 6:4 'All the days of his separation [unto the Lord for the time of the vow] he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin.
Alcoholism was a problem in Israel as it was in all nations. This restriction therefore had a clear purpose of constant dedication as well as a revelation to others of the inner sanctification of the person under the vow.
NUM 6:5 'All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long.
Not cutting the hair may have been analogous to the divine obligation not to prune new vines for the first three years so that they would be seen only as a gift from God. The long hair became a kind of crown of devotion. Also, the pagan religions surrounding Israel had obligations for cutting the hair in certain ways.
NUM 6:6 'All the days of his separation to the Lord he shall not go near to a dead person.
NUM 6:7 'He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head.
NUM 6:8 'All the days of his separation he is holy to the Lord.
Nazirite vow: dedication of life unto Yavah. The Angel of the Lord came to reveal to Israel through Samson that in returning to dedication, deliverance would come.
This is not to say that they all were to become Nazirites, not to be confused with Nazareth by the way. The Nazirite vow was for a special dedication, but dedication unto the Lord and His law was to be in the hearts of all the people all the time. The obstaining from wine and not cutting the hair were symbols of a more strict dedication to the Lord for a period, either in thanksgiving to the Lord or in seeking the Lord more fully.
The fact that this final judge would be a Nazirite was a call to Israel to turn their hearts from idols to devotion to God and His law. If they did, they would be strong.
You may have noticed that the Lord did not mention anything about the obligation to not touch the dead. This would have been incompatible with Samson's future history as God would use him to kill thousands of Philistines. He was however instructed not to eat anything unclean.
When an Israelite took a Nazirite vow it was only for a period of time in which a special commitment to God was carried out. In the unique case of Samson, the vow being placed upon him while still in the womb, it was to remain for his entire life.
Such was Samson's dedication that his mother was to live under the Nazirite restrictions from his conception since the mother and child share the same blood.
The same lifetime Nazirite vow was made for Samuel by his mother Hannah before his conception.
Besides Samson and Samuel, John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit while yet in the womb and would drink no liquor, and the apostle Paul took and fulfilled a Nazirite vow in ACT 18:18.
The term Nazirite is not used of John, but it is assumed that he was one his whole life.
It must be remembered that being a Nazirite is what qualifies his strength. God performs His power in Samson while he is under the particulars of the Nazirite vow.
JDG 13:6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, "A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.
"A man of God" is an expression used to denote a prophet. She doesn't yet know who the man is, much like Gideon didn't know him either. She describes Him as being "like the appearance of the angel of God" which is equivalent to the angel of the Lord and that He was "very awesome."
"very awesome" - meod nowra = exceedingly fearful. This person's appearance struck fear and awe within her.
Nowra has the root verb yare which means to fear, to stand in fear or awe.
JDG 13:7 But he said to me, 'Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.'"
JDG 13:8 Then Manoah entreated the Lord and said, "O Lord, please let the man of God whom Thou hast sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born."
I think it says a lot about Manoah that he believes her. He must thoroughly trust his wife and he must be a man of faith since he is not unbelieving that a prophet of God would come to them and announce that his barren wife would have a child. He believes that God is going to open his wife's womb. He immediately inquires of God in prayer. All of these things are great indicators of his faith. It is likely that his wife is of the same strength of faith, making them together a part of the remnant of faithful believers in Israel who were always there no matter how deep the apostasy of the nation dove.
Manoah and his wife are Israelites faithful to Yavah and part of the remnant of believers that were always in Israel.
There is always such a remnant in the church, no matter how depraved and compromising is the church at large.
Once he digests the account of the meeting of the man of God with his wife, Manoah soon understands that if God is going to open his wife's womb, then the child must have a divine purpose. This is another sign of his faith, not just currently, but his faith in the scriptures. He likely is thinking of Abraham and Sarah and knowing in the historical acts of God that He purposes to used those whom He has consecrated from the womb.
Manoah is a willing servant of the Lord who inquires as to what are his obligations to God when the child is born.
The call to sire a child dedicated to the Lord is sudden. So often, God calls to a task very suddenly. We don't have the time nor the information to ponder the value or cost of the task. It is upon us to be willing to do anything that God calls us to; yielding our will to His. Manoah and his wife's lives are going to be changed in a way they would have never expected. But as we can see, the will of God is more important to them than their human desire to resist change, especially drastic change.
He asks for the man of God to come back to them and instruct them and God grants the request. As we will see, if they knew who the "man of God" was, they wouldn't have asked for Him to come back.
JDG 13:9 And God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her.
JDG 13:10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, "Behold, the man who came the other day has appeared to me."
JDG 13:11 Then Manoah arose and followed his wife, and when he came to the man he said to him, "Are you the man who spoke to the woman?" And he said, "I am."
JDG 13:12 And Manoah said, "Now when your words come to pass, what shall be the boy's mode of life and his vocation?"
JDG 13:13 So the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, "Let the woman pay attention to all that I said.
JDG 13:14 She should not eat anything that comes from the vine nor drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; let her observe all that I commanded."
The Lord instructs Manoah to make sure that his wife keeps the obligations of the Nazirite vow.
JDG 13:15 Then Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, "Please let us detain you so that we may prepare a kid for you."
Not knowing the man's identity, just as Gideon (6:18), Manoah entreats Him to stay while he prepares an honorary feast for Him. As unto Gideon, they will know His identity after He miraculously transforms the offering.