Judges 13:3-5: The Angel of the Lord and Manoah's Wife

Verse 3: And the (Judg. 6:12; Luke 1:11, 13, 28, 31) angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.


The angel of the Lord; the Son of God, oft so called in the Old Testament, as may be gathered from verse 18, yet distinguished from the Lord, because he appeared here as it were in the form of a servant, as a messenger sent from God, and was really a distinct person from God the Father.


Verse 4:[1] Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and (Judg. 13:14; Num. 6:2, 3; Luke 1:15) drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing


[Beware that thou drinkest not wine nor strong drink[2]] יַיִן is new wine; שֵׁכָר, old wine (Jonathan and Rabbi Salomon in Drusius). That is, Whatever is able to intoxicate (Lapide). From these every Nazarite was obliged to abstain. Now, it followed that, if one was perpetually consecrated to God, from these his mother also (both while she was pregnant, and while she was nursing him) should abstain, since with the same foods with which the mother is nourished the infant in the womb is nourished (Bonfrerius).


[And eatest not anything unclean[3]] That is, no food prohibited in the Law, Leviticus 11 (Junius, Piscator, Malvenda); but neither food related to that sort of drink, since that is prohibited to Nazarites, Numbers 6:3, 4 (certain interpreters in Piscator, Junius, Malvenda). But this sort of food is not comprehended under the name of uncleanness, as it is evident from Judges 13:14, where those sorts are distinctly mentioned (Piscator). Moreover, every unclean thing, in the place of any unclean thing, is a well-known Hebraism. Not shall be justified all flesh,[4] that is, any man (Drusius out of the Hebrews). For good reason is it here asked, what is here understood by the name of unclean foods; and, whether any hair of Samson, or of any similar Nazarite, be polluted with uncleanness, or his Nazarite status was interrupted on account of it. Response 1: It does not appear that all pollution was here prohibited; nor was his Nazarite status interrupted, if he happened to be defiled. For it was not morally possible, that with a such a multitude of legal uncleannesses one be not polluted for an entire life. Many things were polluting a man, for example, 1. The touch of one’s wife either in her menstruation, or after childbirth, Leviticus 15: 2. The touch of a cadaver:[5] 3. All sexual intercourse, Leviticus 15:16: 4. All killing, even if just, Numbers 31. But Samson’s Nazarite status was not interrupted, nor was his hair polluted, either, 1. when his mother carried him in the womb, or was touching him with her hand, or was then giving milk or other food to him; or, 2. when he touched the cadaver of the lion;[6] 3. in sexual intercourse with his wife,[7] or with a harlot;[8] or, 4. through killing, Judges 14:19; 15:15 (for Samuel also, although a Nazarite, slew Agag[9]); but we read that for this reason alone was his hair polluted.[10] Therefore, it is to be asserted that the manner of the temporary Nazarite is different from that of the perpetual Nazarite. The hair of the former is to be consecrated to God, etc., and so it is appointed that it is polluted in the matter of the dead, and is shaved anew; which is not a great inconvenience. But in the case of the perpetual Nazarite all shaving was forbidden throughout the whole life, and the hair was never to be consecrated to God. Response 2: The prohibition only has regard to this, that, for the greater comeliness and veneration of the sanctification of Samson, at least those pollutions that are voluntary and are able to be avoided might be avoided with all study and care, that is, that his mother, as much as himself, might abstain from the use of the unclean foods prohibited in Leviticus 11. You will say that this prohibition, which had regard unto all, was thus unnecessary. Response: It is denied; both because that distinction of foods, either from commerce with the Philistines, or from idolatry, had been neglected; and because God was requiring greater carefulness here (Bonfrerius). This admonition is not superfluous, because many violate laws that they were obliged to keep (Tirinus). Samson was holy to God after the manner of the Nazarites. But he was held to the things that are here expressed, not to all the things of the Nazarites: but he pertually, they for a time. See what things were said on Numbers 6 (Grotius).


Beware, I pray thee; because the child was to be a Nazarite from the womb, verse 5, and from the conception; and because the mother’s pollution extends to the child, she is enjoined from this time to observe the following rules belonging to the Nazarites. And drink not wine, nor strong drink; under which by a synecdoche are comprehended the other particulars mentioned Numbers 6:2-4, as is implied Judges 13:14. Any unclean thing; any of those meats forbidden Leviticus 11, which were forbidden to all, but especially to the Nazarites.


Verse 5:[11] For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no (Num. 6:5; 1 Sam. 1:11) razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be (Num. 6:2) a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall (see 1 Sam. 7:13; 2 Sam. 8:1; 1 Chron. 18:1) begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.


[Whose head a razor shall not touch, וּמוֹרָה֙ לֹא־יַעֲלֶ֣ה עַל־רֹאשׁ֔וֹ] And a razor shall not come up upon his head (Montanus, Pagnine, Munster, similarly the Septuagint, Syriac). A razor to come up he shall not make, understanding either a barber (Vatablus), or, one (Piscator). It is able to be explained neutrally, in this way, A razor shall not come up upon his head: which exposition I do indeed prefer as simpler than the other (Piscator). A razor: It is not תַּעַר/razor in its root, but מוֹרָה/razor from יָרָה, to cast down, because the cut hair is cast down (Drusius).


[He shall be a Nazarite] That is, separated;[12] that is, from the eating and drinking of certain things (Piscator).


A Nazarite; a person separated from others, and consecrated to God’s service.


[He shall begin to deliver] That is to say, He, as the first of all, shall deliver Israel. It shows that this liberation is not completed by him (Vatablus). He shall deliver, but only partially. He did not completely overthrow the Philistines in one battle, as the other Judges did; but in multiple small engagements he smote and weakened, etc. (Lapide, similarly Bonfrerius). But he did not completely deliver them, as it is evident from 1 Samuel 7:13. And it is rightly said, he shall begin, for nothing was done against the Philistines from the time of Jair[13] (Junius, Piscator).


He shall begin to deliver Israel; and the deliverance shall be carried on and perfected by others, as it was in part by Eli, and Samuel, and Saul; but especially by David.

[1] Hebrew: וְעַתָּה֙ הִשָּׁ֣מְרִי נָ֔א וְאַל־תִּשְׁתִּ֖י יַ֣יִן וְשֵׁכָ֑ר וְאַל־תֹּאכְלִ֖י כָּל־טָמֵֽא׃


[2] Hebrew: הִשָּׁ֣מְרִי נָ֔א וְאַל־תִּשְׁתִּ֖י יַ֣יִן וְשֵׁכָ֑ר.


[3] Hebrew: וְאַל־תֹּאכְלִ֖י כָּל־טָמֵֽא׃.


[4] See Romans 3:20: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified (οὐ δικαιωθήσεται πᾶσα σὰρξ) in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Similarly Galatians 2:16.


[5] For example, Numbers 19:11.


[6] Judges 14:8, 9.


[7] See Judges 14:10.


[8] See Judges 16.


[9] 1 Samuel 15:32, 33.


[10] See Numbers 6:6-12.


[11] Hebrew: כִּי֩ הִנָּ֙ךְ הָרָ֜ה וְיֹלַ֣דְתְּ בֵּ֗ן וּמוֹרָה֙ לֹא־יַעֲלֶ֣ה עַל־רֹאשׁ֔וֹ כִּֽי־נְזִ֧יר אֱלֹהִ֛ים יִהְיֶ֥ה הַנַּ֖עַר מִן־הַבָּ֑טֶן וְה֗וּא יָחֵ֛ל לְהוֹשִׁ֥יעַ אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מִיַּ֥ד פְּלִשְׁתִּֽים׃


[12] נָזִיר/Nazarite is related to the verb נָזַר, to separate or dedicate.


[13] Judges 10:3-5.

ABOUT US

Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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