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. Judges 13:1
The Israelites’ great tribulations at the time of the Judges were the result of both their failure heed God’s command to rid the land of the Canaanites and their backsliding into apostasy by disobeying the Torah. Their acts of rebellion resulted in their subjugation to the Canaanites and the neighboring peoples.
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord… Over and over again during the time of the Judges, the Israelites turned from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had delivered them out of the bondage of Egypt, and committed spiritual adultery by worshipping pagan gods and engaged in immoral acts and child sacrifice. This time their punishment was fierce oppression from 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. Judges 13:2-3
A Christophany is an appearance of the incarnate Christ in the Old Testament. A Christophany is thus a special case of a theophany. The word, “Theophany” is derived from the Ancient Greek, meaning “appearance of God.” Whenever someone received a visit from “the angel of the LORD,” this was in fact the pre-incarnate Christ. The visible appearances of God in human or angelic form in the Old Testament, is actually the Son of God manifesting Himself prior to His incarnation.
There are several instances in the Scriptures where a barren and childless woman miraculously was able to give birth:
God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” Genesis 17:15-17
“Sarai” means “my princess”, but “Sarah” means simply “Princess”, indicating that she will be exalted, not only by her husband but by all nations. Yes, Sarah would miraculously bear a child at the age of ninety.
and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. Genesis 25:20
After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. Genesis 25:26
Rebekah was barren and childless for twenty years until she gave birth to Esau and Jacob.
When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Genesis 30:1
Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.” Genesis 30:22-24
Rachel’s sister Leah had given birth to six sons. Rachel’s servant Bilhah bore Jacob two sons and Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob two sons before God enabled Rachel to conceive and give birth to her first son Joseph.
Although Manoah’s wife was barren and childless she was told by the angel of the LORD that she would 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 13:4-5
Manoah’s son was to be a Nazarite and dedicated to God from the womb.
Nazarite means one who is separated. A Nazarite is a person of either sex who was bound by a vow of a peculiar kind to be set apart from others for the service of God. During the term of a Nazarite’s consecration, the person was bound to abstain from wine grapes, with every production of the vine and from every kind of intoxicating drink. He was forbidden to cut the hair of his head, or to approach any dead body, even that of his nearest relation.
Manoah’s son was destined to be a life-long Nazarite. He would serve as a warrior-judge who would lead Israel in victory over 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.’” Judges 13:6-7
Manoah’s wife would have to refrain from wine, fermented drinks and unclean foods during her pregnancy. While her baby would be in her womb, he would receive his food and nutrients from his mother through her placenta and his umbilical cord. As she ate, the food would pass through her digestive system where her body would break it down into small particles the body can absorb. The nutrients travel through the mother’s bloodstream and exchange to the bloodstream of the developing baby through the placenta. In order for her son to be a Nazarite from the womb, she needed to refrain from the food and drinks that were forbidden to be consumed by Nazarites.
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.” Judges 13:8
Without hesitation or doubt, although his wife had been barren and childless, Manoah believed the heavenly messenger and earnestly prayed for divine guidance in raising his son. Manoah understood that his son was selected by God to lead Israel and deliver his people from the Philistines.
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!” Judges 13:9-10
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16b
Manoah prayed earnestly in faith and soon received the answer to his prayer.
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?” Judges 13:11-12
Manoah did not doubt and ask if the words of the angel of the LORD would be fulfilled, but confidently said to the man, “When your words are fulfilled.” Manoah understood his and his wife’s privilege and responsibility in raising Israel’s next ruler and wanted clear instructions on how to best accomplish their task.
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.” Judges 13:13-14
Since Manoah was not present at the first appearance of the angel of the LORD, it was important to him that he received the instructions on raising his son directly so that there would be no miscommunication as there was in the Garden of Eden.
And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17
The LORD God gave this command to Adam before Eve was formed from his rib. God did not say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden.” In fact, God had given Adam access to a variety of eye pleasing trees that were good for food. God had only forbidden Adam from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” Genesis 3:2-3
Eve’s response was not accurate. Actually, there were two trees that were in the middle of the garden – the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. The LORD did say that man must not eat from the tree of the knowledge, but He did not say that if you touch it you will die. When Eve touched the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and did not die, she then proceeded to eat it.
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.) Judges 13:15-16
Manoah did not realize that he was speaking to the angel of the LORD. Manoah assumed him to be a man, a prophet sent from God. Therefore, Manoah offered him a meal as was the custom of Middle Eastern hospitality.
Then angel of the LORD refused to eat, but told Manoah to prepare a burnt offering for Yehovah.
A “burnt offering” is an offering which was wholly consumed by fire on the altar. The burnt offering, except for the ashes, would ascend in the smoke to God. The meaning of the whole burnt offering was that the person offering the sacrifice was submitting himself, soul and body, to God and the submission of his will to the will 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.” Judges 13:17-18
Manoah’s request to learn the name of the angel of the LORD elicited unequivocal proof of the divinity of his supernatural visitor. The NIV translates the reply as “It is beyond understanding.” Other translations includes, “It is wonderful,” “It is hidden,” “It is secret,” and “You can’t comprehend it.”
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” Genesis 32:24-26
Wrestling is one of the most physically demanding activities that there is. Wrestling is personal, physically exhausting, and emotionally taxing. Although Jacob was 97 years old, he wrestled through the night. Even when he suffered excruciating pain from having his hip dislocated, he refused to let go of his opponent. With the coming of daylight, Jacob and this mysterious man might be seen by others. Since this significant encounter was to be highly personal, the man said that it was time for Jacob to let go.
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Genesis 32:27
Jacob understood that the man he wrestled with was no ordinary man. The hip is the body’s largest ball-and-socket joint. Surrounding the hip joint are many tough ligaments that prevent the dislocation of the joint. The strong muscles of the hip region also help to hold the hip joint together and prevent dislocation. This man just touched the socket of Jacob’s hip and it was wrenched out of place. This man was not only supernaturally powerful but Jacob understood that the man also had the spiritual authority to bless him.
The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Genesis 32:27-28
Names of people in the Bible have great importance. A person’s name may reflect their character or have prophetic significance, while others reflect their faith and gratitude to God.
Jacob whose name means, “heel-grabber” or “usurper” had deceived his father and stolen his brother’s blessing. In spite of being deceived and cheated by Laban for twenty years, Jacob remained faithful to fulfill his end of their work agreement. Jacob’s struggles served to refine his character. His name change reflected his new nature. Israel means “prince of God” or “he who struggles with God.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. Genesis 32:29
Many years later, Manoah the father of Samson asked the same question.
Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that when your words come to pass, we may honor you?” But the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” Judges 13:17-18
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” Genesis 32:30
Both Jacob and Samson’s parents had an encounter with the “Angel of the LORD.” Though Jacob wrestled with a figure that looked like a man, Jacob declared that he saw God face-to-face. Jacob saw the second person of the Godhead – the pre-incarnate Jesus.
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. Judges 13:19-20
The rock served as an altar. As the fire consumed the sacrificial offering, and the flames and the smoke ascended upwards, the angel of the LORD also ascended upwards towards heaven.
Manoah and his wife in astonishment and awe fell on their faces to the ground in fear and reverence in their realization that they were in the presence of a divine being.
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!”Judges 13:21-22
Although the parents of Samson had spoken to the angel of the LORD, Manoah knew that they had 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.” Judges 13:23
Manoah’s wife reasoned correctly and helped to quell her husband’s fear. Their sacrifice was acceptable to the LORD and the purpose of the divine visitation was to prepare them to parent Israel’s next judge and deliverer.
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 13:24-25
The English name, “Samson” is derived from the Hebrew name Shimshon which means of the “sun”.
While Samson grew to adulthood the Spirit of the LORD began to strengthen him, encourage him, and prepare him for his destiny. This happened while he lived in the territory of Dan which was located near the Philistines. Samson would be a witness to the ravages and oppression by Israel’s enemy and was being groomed to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.