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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Judges 13

 

 

Verse 1

NINTH SECTION

The Oppression Of The Philistines. Samson, The Nazarite Judge

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Renewed apostasy

Judges 13:1.

1And the children [sons] of Israel did evil again [continued to do evil] in the sight of the Lord [Jehovah]; and the Lord [Jehovah] delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.

EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL

The same fatal history repeats itself everywhere. Not one single tribe, the Book of Judges teaches us, is exempted from it. Apostasy is constantly followed by subjection, whether it be inflicted by eastern or western neighbor-tribes. It is written, Judges 2:14, that when Israel falls into sin, it will be persecuted by all the nations round about. And Judges 3:3 includes the “five princes of the Philistines” among those through whom Israel is to become acquainted with distress and war. The Book began with the oppression of the Mesopotamian king in the east, from which Othniel, the hero of Judah, liberated the people. After tracing a circular course through the east and northeast, it ends, like the daily course of the sun, in the west; and the tribe of Judah, with which the narrative began, is again brought forward at its close. As far back as Judges 10:7, in connection with events after the death of Abimelech, we read that God “gave Israel up into the hands of the Philistines and the sons of Ammon.” The heroic achievement of Jephthah against Ammon Isaiah, however, first reported. (The Judges named immediately afterwards belong to northern tribes, two to Zebulun, one to Ephraim.) Now the writer comes to speak of the great conflicts which Israel had to wage with the brave and well-equipped people of the five Philistine cities on the coast, and which, with varying fortunes, continued to the time of David. The tribes especially concerned in them were Daniel, the western part of Judah, and Simeon, encircled by Judah. How changed went the times! Once, the men of Judah, in their stormlike career of victory, had won even the great cities on the sea-coast. Afterwards, they were not only unable to maintain possession of them, but through their own apostasy from God and the genuine Israelitish spirit, became themselves dependent on them. Dan had already been long unable to hold its ground anywhere except on the mountains ( Judges 1:34). Now, the Philistines were powerful and free in all the Danite cities. Chapter Judges 10:15 f. tells of the earnest repentance of the sons of Israel before God. But such a statement is not made here, although the history of a new Judge is introduced. Everywhere else the narrative, before it relates the mighty deeds of a Shophet, premises that Israel had cried unto God, and that consequently God had taken pity upon them. Now, unless it be assumed that Judges 10:15 refers also to Dan and Judah, as in Judges 13:6 the Philistines are likewise already spoken of, it is remarkable that the narrative of Samson’s exploits is not preceded by a similar remark. It is a point worthy of special notice. For since the story of Israel’s apostasy is repeated, that of its repentance would likewise have been repeated. That which he does not relate, the narrator must have believed to have had no existence. And in fact no such repentance can have taken place at this time in Dan and Judah, as we read of in Gilead. The history of the hero, whose deeds are about to be related, proves this. If, then, such a man nevertheless arose, the compassion which God thereby manifested toward Israel, was doubtless called forth by the few, scattered here and there, who sought after and acknowledged Him. The power which shows itself in the history of Samson’s activity is of a similarly isolated, individual character. It is only disconnected deliverances which Israel receives through him. It is no entire national renovation, such as were brought about by former Judges within their fields of action. Herein the history of Samson differs entirely from the events of Othniel’s, Ehud’s, Barak’s, Gideon’s, and Jephthah’s times, just as he himself differs from those heroes. Jephthah also speaks as an individual I, when he treats with the enemy; he was in fact the national I, for his will was the will of the people, his repentance their repentance. He can say, “I and my people,” ( Judges 12:2): his people have made him their prince. Samson is an individual without a people; a mighty I, but no prince; a single person, consecrated to God, and made the instrument of his Spirit almost without his own will; whereas Jephthah and his people are one in penitential disposition and trust in God. Hence, the circumstance that, although Samson was a Judges, and announced by an angel of God, it is nevertheless not recorded that before his advent the “sons of Israel had cried to God,” affords an introductory thought important for the right apprehension of the peculiar and remarkable narratives in which the new hero appears.


Verses 2-7

An angel foretells the birth of Samson

Judges 13:2-7.

2And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose 3 name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. And the [an] angel of the Lord [Jehovah] appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold, now, 4thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore [And now] beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine, nor strong drink, 5and eat not any unclean thing: For lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child [boy] shall be a Nazarite unto [of] God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of 6 the Philistines. Then [And] the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance [appearance] was like the countenance [appearance] of an angel of God, very terrible [august]: but [and] 7I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name: But [And] he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child [boy] shall be a Nazarite to [of] God from the womb to the day of his death.

EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL

Judges 13:2-3. And there was a certain man of Zorah. In the times of Israel’s penitence, men rose up filled with the Spirit of God; when this was not the case, God had to bring forth the hero for himself. Samson’s election was unlike that of any other Judge. Concerning Othniel and Ehud, it is simply said, “and God set them up as deliverers” (וַיָקֶם). Barak was called through Deborah, who was a prophetess. An “angel of God” came also to liberate the people from Midian; but he came to Gideon, a man of valor already proved. Jephthah’s case has just been considered. The election of Samson presents an altogether different phase. He is chosen before he is born. An angel of God comes, not to him, but to his mother. Jephthah is recognized by Gilead as the right Prayer of Manasseh, because he has begun (יָחֵל) to triumph over the enemy. In Samson’s case, it is predicted to hi mother that her son “shall begin” (יָחֵל) to deliver Israel.

The father of Samson was of Zorah (see below on Judges 13:25), of the race of Dan; whence Samson is also called Bedan ( 1 Samuel 12:11). He bears the beautiful name Manoah, “Rest,” equivalent to the Greek ‘́Ησυχος, Hesychius,—a name sufficiently peculiar for the father of so restless a spirit as Samson. The name of his wife is not given. Jewish tradition (Baba Bathra, 91) derives her from the tribe Judah, and with reference to 1 Chronicles 4:3, names her Zelelponi or Hazelelponi. The parents were at first childless. The mother was barren, as Sarah was before her. But it is not related of her, any more than of Sarah, that she prayed for a son. This can only be inferred from the similar instance of Hannah ( 1 Samuel 1:10); but it does not appear, that, like Hannah, she made a vow. Nor is it said of her and Manoah that they were old, as in the cases of Sarah and Elizabeth ( Luke 1:7). They were pious, uncomplaining people, who lived in retirement, and had hitherto borne their childless condition with trustful resignation. Nevertheless, it was this childless condition that peculiarly adapted the wife for the right reception of the announcement which is made to her. The joy which it inspires prepares her fully for the sacrifice which it requires. It holds out a scarcely hoped for happiness, which she will gladly purchase with the restraints imposed upon her. But this is not the only ground why she is chosen. An announcement like that made to her requires faith in the receiver. The pious disposition of the parents shows itself in this faith, by which, less troubled with doubt than Sarah and Zacharias, they receive as certain that which is announced to them.

Judges 13:4. And now beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor intoxicating drink. For Samson, the child that is to be born to her, shall be a “Nazir of God.” The ideas which here come to light, are of uncommon instructiveness. They reveal a surprisingly free and discriminating conception of the life and wants of the Israel of that time. Farreaching thoughts, which still influence the Christian Church of our own day, are reflected in them.

I. The law of the Nazarite and his vow, in Numbers 6, rests upon the great presuppositions which are implied in Israel’s calling. In Exodus 19:6, God says to Israel, “Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation;” but he precedes it ( Judges 13:5) by the words, “Ye shall be a possession unto me out of all nations, for all the earth is mine.” All nations are God’s; but among them, Israel was to be his holy people; and the law expresses in symbolic actions the moral ideas through which Israel exhibits itself as holy and consecrated. Within the holy nation, the priests occupy the same relation which the nation holds to the world. Their service, in sacrifice, prayer, and atonement, expresses especially consecration and nearness to God. Moreover, with respect to this service they have likewise a law, whose external command represents the internal idea of their consecration. The command to Aaron Isaiah, that the priests, when they go into the tabernacle, are not to drink wine nor strong drink, in order that they may be able to distinguish between holy and unholy, and to teach the children of Israel ( Leviticus 10:9); for wine is a mocker ( Proverbs 20:1) Wine, says Isaiah, with reference to the priesthood of his day ( Isaiah 28:7), has drowned all priestly consecration. The consequences of intoxication show themselves not only in a man like Nabal ( 1 Samuel 25:36), but also in the case of a pious Prayer of Manasseh, like Lot.

That death is the wages of sin, the Old Testament teaches on every page. The priests are to abstain from wine, lest they die. Hence, also, they are not to touch a corpse, for it has the nature of sin and uncleanness ( Leviticus 21:1), and the priests are to be holy. But although the special official priesthood was given by law to the tribe of Levi, holiness and consecration of life were not limited to that tribe: every one, no matter what his tribe, can consecrate himself to God, and without the aid of office, visibly realize the general priesthood in his own person. It is the peculiarity of the law, that it expresses every internal religions emotion by means of a visible act. It obliges the inward life to allow itself to be visibly recognized. All Israel was to be holy; but when an Israelite, in a condition of special spiritual exaltation, rising above the common connection between God and the people, as mediated by the priests, vowed himself to God, this act also was made the subject of ordinances, by which the Nazir, as he who thus vowed was called, was distinguished from other men, and held to special obligations. Hence, an Israelite can vow himself to God for a time, and is accordingly during that time holy to God in an especial sense ( Numbers 6:8). Without holding any priestly office, he enters into a free and sacred service before God. Hence, during the whole time of his vow, he is forbidden to touch wine or strong drink, as if he were constantly officiating in the tabernacle, although the priests, when not actually engaged in service, were under no restraint. The priests, generally forbidden to touch a corpse, are yet allowed to do so in the case of a blood relative ( Leviticus 21:1 ff); but the Nazir, who is to look upon himself as if he were ever in the sanctuary, from which every impurity is excluded, is not to know any exception. He may not touch, the dead body of even father or mother. Yea, he is himself, as it were, a temple or altar of God, as appears from the personal mark by which he is distinguished. The priest comes only to the altar; and is forbidden to wear the signs of the idolaters on his hair and beard ( Leviticus 21:5), and is moreover distinguished by his clothing. The Nazir is in the congregation, his clothing is not different from that of others; but he is himself an altar; and therefore, as over an altar, so over his body, and over the head of that body, no iron may be lifted up. “When thou makest an altar of stone,” says Moses, “thou shalt not build it of hewn stone; for if thou lift up thy iron[FN1] upon it, thou hast desecrated it” ( Exodus 20:25). Accordingly, Joshua built an altar of stones “over which no man had lifted up any iron” ( Joshua 8:31). The reason for this prohibition is grounded, not in the nature of stone, but in the symbolical significance of iron. Iron, as the Mishnah observes (Middoth, iii4), must not even touch the altar; for iron is used to shorten life, but the altar to lengthen it (comp. my treatise Schamir, pp57, 58). It is well known that other ancient nations regarded iron in the same way. The Egyptians called it “Typhon’s Bones” (Plutarch, de Osirid. cap. lxii). Iron, according to the oracle (Pausan. iii3, 4), is the image of evil, because it is used in battle.[FN2]When, therefore, it was enjoined upon the Nazir to let no knife come upon his head during the time of his vow, the ground of the injunction was none other than this: that since the Nazir, like the altar, is holy and consecrate to God, iron, the instrument of death and terror, must not touch him.[FN3]

The Nazir is a walking altar of God; and his flowing hair is the visible token of his consecration, reminding both himself and the people of the sacred vows he has assumed. It is the proper mark of the Nazir, as the linen garment is that of the Levite. By it he is known, and from it probably comes his name. It may be assumed that the signification “to devote one’s self, to abstain from,” of the verb נָזַר, belongs to it only in consequence of the distinction attached to the נָזִיר. It seems to me that Nazir is equivalent to καρηκομόων, long-haired, Cincinnatus, curly-haired, or Harfagr (Haralld hinn Harfagri). For it has been justly remarked that in Numbers 6 the term Nazir is already accepted as a familiar expression. It may be compared with the Latin cirrus, curl, lock, or tuft of hair (cf. cœsaries = cœraries); for comparative philology shows that in most verbs beginning with נ, this letter is a specific Hebrew prefix to the root, so that נָטַר, to guard, to keep, may be compared with τηρέω; נָטַל, to bear, with τλάω; נחָשׁ, brass, with œs, נָחָשׁ serpent, with the onomatopoetic zischen, to hiss; נִחָם with gemere;נזַל with salire, etc. The word נֵזֶר would then get its signification diadem, ornament (cf. זִרִ, in the same sense), just as the Greek κομμός, derived from κόμη, κομεώ, comes to signify adornment. To trace the original etymological identity of cirrus, cicinnus, and the Sanskrit kikura, with the Hebrew nazir, or to inquire whether the terms ξύρομαι, to shave one’s self, and κείρειν, to cut the hair, are connected with the same root, would be out of place here. Precisely those terms which designate objects of primitive interest to Prayer of Manasseh, are most deeply imbedded in the general philological treasures of all nations. But not to pursue these speculations any farther, it must already appear probable, that the use of nazir in Leviticus 25:5, where it is applied to the untrimmed vine of the sabbatic year, is to be explained by reference not to the Nazaritic custom of human beings, vowing and consecrating themselves to God, but to the original meaning of the root. The Sabbath-year being time belonging to God ( Leviticus 25:4), no knife was applied during its course to the vine, which from that circumstance was named nazir. This would have been an unsuitable designation, if it had been derived from the vows assumed by the human Nazir; for such subjective activity could not be ascribed to the vine. It was the objective appearance of the Nazir, who, whether man or vine, was holy, and therefore had not been touched by the knife, which gave rise to the name. The name suggests the unshaven condition, the long hair, of the Nazarite, not primarily his consecration, although the sacred character of the person, through the law, gave sanctity to the name and set it apart from common uses, just as the rite of circumcision was indebted for its name (מוּלָח), not to the sacramental character of the rite, but to the mere act of cutting (מוּל, σμίλη), and then reflected its own sanctity upon the name. Long hair, although without any reference to the Nazaritic institute it may be called נֵזֶר (cf. Jeremiah 7:29), was the proper mark of the Nazir, because regularly set apart for this purpose by the law. To sanctify the natural life, is the very thing at which the law constantly aims. By its institutions its spiritual requisitions are rendered visible and personal. The circumcision of the foreskin is after all but the national image of circumcision of the heart, and the Nazaritic institute is the symbol of the general priesthood, in which no sin or impurity is to sully the free service of God. But the visible character in which each of these conceptions appeared, was more than a subjective, mutable image: it was a definite and unchangeable law. It was, to a certain extent, a sacrament. It is instructive to see how the relation of spirit and law affects Biblical language and conceptions. The wearing of long hair, a purely natural Acts, is first, by spiritual ideas, raised into an expression of the general priesthood, in which man is a living altar; but when long hair has become characteristic of the sacred Nazir, whose duty it is to keep far from impurity, a new verb is derived from his name, with, the sole spiritual signification of “withholding one’s self from what is unclean.” The same process may be noted in connection with circumcision. Originally elevated into a sacrament by the intervention of spiritual ideas, incorporated into the law, it affords occasion for the transfer of its name to the spiritual conceptions of the circumcision of tongue and heart. But especially remarkable is the apprehension of the relation between spirit and law in the history of Samson.

II. Why was it necessary for the hero who should begin to deliver Israel, to be a Nazir? Why was the same election and education not necessary in the cases of the other great Judges, as, for instance, Gideon and Jephthah? Were then those heroes not spiritual Nazarites, who gave their lives to the service of God? May we not understand the opening words of Deborah’s Song as indicating their spiritual consecration to Jehovah: “That in Israel waved the hair, in the people’s self-devotion” (see on Judges 5:2)? No doubt; and for that very reason Samson is distinguished from them. For those men arose in times when the tribes of Israel them selves repented and turned their hearts to God. In Samson’s day, the situation was different. Dan and Judah were oppressed, but not repentant. An uprising from within through faith, is not to be expected. It is brought about, therefore, as it were from without, by means of the law. The power of the objective, spiritual law manifests itself. It becomes an organ of deliverance, when the subjective source of freedom no longer flows. The angel would have found no Gideon. A prophetess like Deborah, there was not. But the law abides: it is independent of the current popular spirit. It is thus the last sure medium through which the help of God can come to Israel. This significance of the law, and its objective power, is very instructively set forth before the people in the person of Samson. It is this also which, from Samson onward, becomes the ruling force in the vocation and appointment of deliverers, until the kingship is established, which by the objective rite of priestly anointing, changes David the shepherd-boy into David the victorious ruler. And this instruction concerning the law as a whole, is imparted through the medium of the special law concerning the Nazir, because it is here that the relation to be pointed out comes most clearly to view. For precisely the Nazariteship Isaiah, according to the Biblical law, the out-flow of unrequired, voluntary consecration to God on the part of an individual. No doubt, to a certain extent, the earlier heroes, though not Nazarites in form, were such self-devoted men. But heroes such as they do not arise in times when the absence of penitence and faith dulls the prophets and Nazarites (cf. Amos 2:12). Hence, the history of Samson teaches that Israel would have had nothing to hope for from the Nazariteship, if it had had no other than subjective validity. When faith is wanting among the people, no man becomes a Nazir; but the objective law can make of the Nazir, a man. In Samson’s case, the Nazariteship makes the hero, the long hair characterizes his strength, the renunciations of the mother consecrate the child. Samson, a Nazarite from his birth and without his own will, becomes what he is only as such, and continues to be a hero only so long as he continues to be a Nazarite. The Nazariteship is first, everything else second, in him. Its power over him is so objective, that it already operates on him before he is born, before anything like free consciousness can be thought of. The command addresses not him whom it concerns, but his mother, and she, during her pregnancy; becomes a female Nazir, in order that her son may be able to become a hero. It is this that properly distinguishes Samson from the other heroes; and its occasion appears in the fact that the narrator could not, as at other times, introduce his story by stating that the tribes had persistently “cried unto God.”

III. The Mishnah (Nazir, i2) already distinguishes between a perpetual Nazarite and a Samson-Nazarite. And in fact, the Nazariteship of Samson is unique, has never repeated itself, and never can repeat itself; for it is conditioned by the history of his age. Samuel also is consecrated by his mother’s vow that he shall belong to God, and that no razor shall come upon his head; but there is nothing to show that the mother observed the Nazaritic rules in her own person, nor is anything said about any virtue in long hair in connection with Samuel. Hannah was wholly self-moved in the making of her vow. The case of John the Baptist likewise stands entirely by itself. Here, the birth of the child is indeed announced by an angel, but his character as a Nazarite is expressed in language altogether peculiar: “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink.” John will be great before God, and because of that greatness will drink no wine. Nothing is said about long hair, and the origin of John’s vow is placed, not in the act of another, but in the strength with which God had endowed himself. The Mishnah puts it as a possible case that a person should vow to be a Nazarite like Samson; that Isaiah, the vow is hypothetically so limited that, while it requires him who makes it to wear his hair long, he is not required to bring sacrifices for defilement. Such a vow was named after Samson, because a part of his life was imitated by it. But properly speaking, a vow to be like Samson, is impossible For Samson’s vow began not with himself, but with his mother. According to the law in the 6 th chapter of Numbers, an Israelite could take a vow upon himself for a longer or, like the four friends of James ( Acts 21:23), for a shorter period. When the time was expired, he shaved himself, and brought an offering. But no one could vow to be like Samson. It was indeed within the power of a mother to promise to bring up her child like Samson, but even then she had no right to expect the same results as in the case of Samson. It is precisely the impotence of human subjectivity that is demonstrated by Samson’s history. It cannot be the wish of all mothers to have Samson-children, when they suffer the hair of their offspring to grow. The angel’s announcement, through which the spirit in the law begins to operate even in the maternal womb, is the original source of strength. The Spirit of God operates on mother and Song of Solomon, through the Nazariteship as its organ. The power of the Nazir, the holy influence of the law, opens the man himself; the outflow of divine consecration into the life of the consecrated cannot take place without the Spirit of God. The theological doctrine of the preparatory history of Samson, is just this: that while the law in its immutable objectivity is placed over against the subjective forces of prophecy and heroic inspiration, yet it can never of itself, but only by virtue of the Spirit of God pervading and quickening it, become the organ of deliverance.

The Nazaritic institute is the image of the general priesthood, of the fact that outside of the tribe of Levi, it is possible for man to belong wholly to God. The visible acts which it prescribes, represent, as in a figure, the purity and sinlessness of the heart consecrated to God. In the case of Samson, this Nazariteship begins from his mother’s womb. Were it in the power of a son born of human parents, to be sinless through the law, Samson the Nazarite ought to have been sinless. But only Christ is the true Nazarite in spirit, whose life realizes the purity of the idea, and whose free love, rooted in God, continues among men from the womb until death. Jacob, the dying patriarch, announced a blessing “on the head of Joseph and on the crown of the head of the Nazir of his brethren” ( Genesis 49:26); and there is no reason to doubt that the primitive Christian consciousness interpreted the expression “Nazir of his brethren” not of Joseph, but found in the “and” a link connecting the blessing of Joseph with the person of Him who was a Nazir of the brethren of Joseph. It saw in the passage a prophecy of the Messiah, who though not descended from Levi, was yet the true holy and consecrated high-priest. Hence, the opinion that in the language of the evangelist Matthew ( Judges 2:23), “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Ναζωραῖος,” reference is made to the נְזיר אֶחָיו, the “Nazir of his brethren,” is not to be hastily set aside. Remarkable, at all events, is it that the ancient Jewish interpretation, when Jacob after the blessing on Dan ( Genesis 49:17) adds the words: “I wait for thy salvation, Jehovah!” conceives him to glance from the nearer but transient deliverance by Samson, to the more distant but eternal redemption of Messiah (Beresch. Rabba, p86 c; cf. the Targums on the passage); and that, as already mentioned, the mother of Samson, in 1 Chronicles 4:3, is named Hazelelponi or Zelelponi, i. e., “the shadow falls on me,” which may be compared with the words of the angel to the mother of Jesus: “the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.”

Judges 13:5. And let no razor come upon his head. Here, and in the history of Samuel, the razor is called מוֹרָה, whereas in Numbers 6:4תַּעַר is used. Both terms come from the same stem עָרָה, nudare, to uncover, as it were novare, to renew, whence also novacula, sharp knife, razor. There appears to be less ground for comparison with the Greek μάῤ̓δον, Latin marra, the signification “spade” being too far removed. On the other hand, a certain relationship of עָרָה with the Greek ξυρόν, Sanskrit khschura, shears, may not be altogether denied.

He shall begin. For the Philistines oppressed Israel forty years, and Samson judged his people only twenty. Samson began to restore victory to Israel, he did not make it full and final. The angel of God who calls the hero out of the womb of his mother, knows that he will not finish that for which God nevertheless gave him strength. He knows it, and therefore does not speak as he did to Gideon: “Thou shalt deliver Israel” ( Judges 6:14).

Judges 13:6-7. And the woman came and told her husband. Before telling him what the angel had said, she excuses herself for having obtained no particular information about the bearer of the announcement. She should have asked him whence he was, but dared not; for he was a “man of God,” with the look of an “angel of God.” The angel appeared in human form; but there was an imposing splendor about him, which terrified the woman. Such, probably, had also been the case in Gideon’s experience. In her narrative she supplies what we do not find in Judges 13:5, that the child’s character, as a Nazir of God, is to last from the womb until “the day of his death.”

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The grace of God shows itself constantly more wondrously. It was to be made ever clearer in Israel that all salvation comes from God, and that without God there is no peace. With God all things are possible. He can raise up children for himself out of stones. His works are independent of human presuppositions and conditions. He has no need of antecedent historical conditions in order to raise up men. When in times of impenitence even vessels are wanting, He creates the vessels He needs.

How differently God proceeds in the election of grace from the methods human thought would conceive, is shown by the history of all previous Judges. The deliverer arises there where the natural understanding would never have looked for him. But Samson God raises up in a manner in which no man ever conjectured the growth of a hero to take place. The other Judges He selected as men: Samson He brought up to be a hero.

The earlier Judges were to a certain extent prepared for their work even before their election. Ehud had the abilities of a Benjaminite, Deborah was a prophetess, Gideon a strong Prayer of Manasseh, Jephthah a successful military leader. When the Spirit of God came upon them, they became Deliverers and Judges. In Samson, God made it known that his grace is able to save Israel even when such persons are not to be found. Before birth, He consecrates the child, through his Spirit, to be a Nazarite. Hence grows a hero.

Earlier Judges were able, like Ehud, to perform single-handed exploits; but they achieved deliverance only in connection with the people. They were all military leaders of Israel, and had to stand at the head of pious hosts. In Samson it is seen that this also is not indispensable. Only individuals among the people were penitent; the tribes, as such, were unbelieving. Therefore the Spirit raised up a single man to be Judge: he alone, without army and without people, fought and delivered.

For this reason, the ancient, deeply thinking church regarded Samson especially as a type of the history of Christ. His birth was similar to that of Jesus. Like the eternal Word who became flesh, he was typically born and consecrated of the Spirit. In Christ, also, it is his sinlessness that presupposes his office as Saviour. The birth of Christ determines his resurrection. He must be born from heaven in order to return to heaven. No one can ascend into heaven but He who came down from heaven.

There was also no penitence in Israel when Christ was born. A few sought the promised Messiah in the prophets. Christ did not come to put himself at the head of a host of believers; but alone, as He was, so He stood among the people. He performs his entire work alone. He needs no legions of angels. His work is unique; and Hebrews, the worker, is a solitary hero.

Every believing heart treads in the footsteps of Christ. Fellowship is good in Christian work, but not essential. A Christian can live alone, if he be with Christ.

Starke: God cares for his people when they are in misery, and often thinks of their redemption before they think of it themselves.—The same: God connects his grace and gifts with mean things, in order to make men know that everything is to be ascribed to the grace of God, and not to the merits of men.

[Bp. Hall: If Manoah’s wife had not been barren, the angel had not been sent to her. Afflictions have this advantage, that they occasion God to show that mercy to us, whereof the prosperous are incapable. It would not beseem a mother to be so indulgent to a healthful child as to a sick.—The same: Nature pleads for liberty, religion for restraint. Not that there is more uncleanness in the grape than in the fountain, but that wine finds more uncleanness in us than water, and that the high feed is not so fit for devotion as abstinence.—Wordsworth: Samson is a type of Christ: and in all those things where Samson fails, there Christ excels. Samson began to deliver Israel, but did not effect their deliverance (see Judges 13:1; Judges 15:20). He declined from his good beginnings; and fell away first into sin, and then into the hands of the enemy. But Christ not only began to deliver Israel, but was able to say on the cross, “It is finished.”—Tr.].

Footnotes:

FN#1 - The English version renders, “tool.” The word is הֶרֶב, in the sense of “chisel.” The interpretation “iron” is justified by Joshua 8:31, where, with evident reference to Exodus 20:25, בַּרְזֶל is substituted for הֶרֶב.—Tr.].

FN#2 - The following is said to have been uttered by Apollonius of Tyana: “Let the iron spare the hair of a wise man. For it is not right that it should touch a place where lie the sources of all the senses, whence all sacred sounds and voices issue, and prayers proceed, and the word of wisdom interprets.”—Philostrat, Vit. Apollon., viii6.

FN#3 - Hence, we cannot agree with the explanations cited and proposed in Oehler’s article on the Nasiraat, in Herzog’s Encyklopddie (x208). A poem by Max Letteris, on the “Locks of the Nazarite,” in Jolowicz Blüthenkranz, p239, has entirely missed the idea of the Nazaritic institution.


Verses 8-23

Manoah, believing, yet desirous of confirmation, prays that the “Man of God” may return, and is heard

Judges 13:8-23.

8Then [And] Manoah entreated the Lord [Jehovah], and said, O my Lord [Pray, Lord—cf. Judges 6:15], let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.[FN4] 9And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her 10 And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed [informed] her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day 11 And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the Prayer of Manasseh, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am. 12And Manoah said, Now let [When now] thy words come to pass. [,] How [how] shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?[FN5] 13And the angel of the Lord [Jehovah] said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman, let her beware 14 She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe 15 And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord [Jehovah], I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made [and make] ready a kid for [lit. before] thee 16 And the angel of the Lord [Jehovah] said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer [prepare] a burnt-offering, thou must [omit: thou must] offer it unto the Lord [Jehovah]. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the Lord [Jehovah]. 17And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord [Jehovah], What is thy name,[FN6] that when thy sayings come [word comes] to pass, we may do thee honour? 18And the angel of the Lord [Jehovah] said unto him, Why askest thou thus [omit: thus] after my name, 19seeing [and] it is secret [Peli, Wonderful]? So [And] Manoah took a [the] kid, with a [and the] meat-offering, and offered it upon a [the] rock unto the Lord [Jehovah]; and the angel did wondrously [and he caused a wonder to take place], and Manoah and his wife looked on 20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the Lord [Jehovah] ascended in the flame of the altar, and Manoah and his wife looked on it [omit: it], 21and fell on their faces to the ground. But [And] the angel of the Lord [Jehovah] did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord [Jehovah]. 22And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God [Elohim]. 23But his wife said unto him, If the Lord [Jehovah] were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt-offering and a meat-offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

1 Judges 13:8.—הַיּוּלָּד. This form may be the imperfect of pual, with the article used as a relative; but it is probably more correct, with Keil (after Ewald, 169 d), to regard it as the pual participle, the preformative מ being fallen away. Even then, however, the more regular mode of writing would be היֻּלָּד.—Tr.].

2 Judges 13:12.—Dr. Cassel renders the clause more literally: “What will be the manner of the boy, and his doing?” But the rendering of the E. V. correctly interprets the language of the original, and agrees with our author’s exposition. Whatever obscurity there may appear to be in Judges 13:12, is removed by Judges 13:8; for it is clear that the petition preferred in Judges 13:12 can be no other than that made in Judges 13:8. מִשְׁפַּט הַגַּעַר is the statute or precept (cf. the monastic term “rule”) to be observed with regard to the boy—the right treatment of him by his parents; and, similarly, מַעֲשׂהוּ is that which they are to do to him. The genitives are genitives of the object, cf. Ges. Gram. 114, 2; 121, ***—Tr.].

2 Judges 13:17.—“מי שְׁמֶךָ; properly quis nomen tuum, equivalent to quis nominaris מִי asks after the person, מַה after the nature, the quality, see Ewald, 325 a.” (Keil).—Tr.].

EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL

Judges 13:8 ff. And Manoah entreated Jehovah. The narrative affords a pleasing view of the childlike piety of an Israelitish husband and wife under the old covenant.

The adventure with the angel takes upon the whole the same course as the similar incident in the life of Gideon (cf. on Judges 6). The angel here comes and goes as there, yields to entreaties to tarry, receives an offering, disappears in the flame. But the present passage discloses also new and beautiful features, growing out of the mutual relations of Manoah and his wife. The peculiar characteristics of both husband and wife are most delicately drawn. Manoah is a pious Prayer of Manasseh, he knows how to seek God in prayer, and is not unbelieving; but the statements of his wife do not appear to him to be sure enough, he would gladly have them confirmed. And for the instruction and strengthening of Israel, that faith may be full and strong, not being compelled to content itself with the testimony of one woman only to the wonderful event,—God, having respect to the unawakened condition of the people, allows himself to be entreated.[FN7] But although Manoah sees in the second appearance of the angel the fulfillment of his prayer, he still recognizes in him nothing but a man (אִישׁ). And truly, nothing is more difficult for Prayer of Manasseh, even though he prays, than to receive the fulfillment of prayer! The believing obedience of Manoah to the commands touching his wife’s conduct with reference to the promised child, although he conceives them to be delivered by no other than a Prayer of Manasseh, indicates that the coming and preaching of such a Prayer of Manasseh, here spoken of as a “man of God,” was nothing unusual. There had probably been a lack only of such obedience as Manoah here shows him. What is more surprising, Isaiah, that even when the angel declines to eat of his bread, Manoah yet does not perceive that his visitor is not a man. He had intended, according to the manner of ancient hospitality, as known also to Homer, first to entertain his guest, and then to inquire after his home and name. Such inquiries have interest, and afford guarantees, only in the case of a man. But even the answer concerning the “wonderful” name, does not yet excite his attention. It is only after the angel’s disappearance in the flame that he perceives,—what, however, none but a believing heart could perceive,—that he who had just departed was not a man. The wife shows herself more receptive and sensitive to the presence of a divine being. To her, the stranger’s appearance, even at his first visit, seemed like that of an angel. At his second visit also, she speaks of his coming in language usually applied to angels,—“Behold, he hath appeared unto me (נִרְאָה, Judges 13:10). She had needed no proof or explanation. She asks no questions, but knows what he has said to her heart; and hence, she also is in no dread when now it becomes manifest that it was indeed an angel of God. Her husband is apprehensive of death; she is of good courage, and infers the contrary. She had long since foreboded the truth, and belongs to the number of those women of sacred history whose sensitive hearts enabled them to feel and see divine secrets, and whose appearance is the more attractive, the more unbelieving and unreceptive the times are, in which, as here, angels reveal themselves to women rather than to men. For although it is Manoah who prays that the man of God may come again, he appears not to him, but again to the wife. He waits, however, while she, intuitively certain that though feelings of reverence do not allow her to entreat him to tarry, he will nevertheless do Song of Solomon, hastens to call her husband.

Judges 13:12-13. And Manoah said, When now thy words come to pass, what will be the manner of the boy and his doing? It is peculiar that notwithstanding the plain words told him by his wife, Manoah cannot rest satisfied with them. Doubtless, it could not but appear singular to him, that his wife tells him of what she is to do, although the call to be a Nazir pertains to the son whose birth is promised. Of such directions, the Mosaic statute contained no traces. It appeared to him as if the report of his wife must contain a misunderstanding on this point. He therefore asks twice, what is to be done with the child, since hitherto he had principally heard only what the mother is to do. Hence, the angel answers him plainly: “What I commanded the mother, that do!”

Nor eat any unclean thing. It had already been said in Judges 13:4, “Thou shalt drink neither wine nor intoxicating drink, nor eat any thing unclean.” The older expositors identified this prohibition as to food and drink with that imposed on Nazarites in Numbers 6:4. But this is not altogether accurate, as appears from Judges 13:14 of our passage. Express mention is here made of all that Numbers 6:4 forbade to be eaten, namely, everything that comes from the vine, and yet it is added, “nor eat any unclean thing.” Numbers 6 does not speak at all of anything “unclean,” as forbidden to the Nazarite, because no Israelite was allowed to eat what was unclean. Here the angel adds this injunction, first, because it was a time in which much of the law and customs of Israel had perhaps fallen into neglect; and, secondly, in order to serve to Manoah and his wife as an explanation of all that was enjoined upon the latter. The wife was to abstain from the use of everything that can render unclean, because a holy and pure consecration was to rest on him whom she was to bring forth.

Judges 13:17 ff. Why askest thou after my name, and it is Peli? Renewed attention must constantly be directed to the nice discrimination with which the designations Jehovah, Elohim, and the Elohim, are used in the narrative. Whenever the narrator speaks, he always writes Jehovah. Concerning Samson, the expression ( Judges 13:5) Isaiah, that he will be a Nazir of Elohim; because there Elohim indicates the general divine afflatus by which he is to be surrounded, and is the term also used in Numbers 6:7 : “For the consecration of his God (אֱלֹהָיו נֵזֶר) is upon his head.” When the believing parents first speak, they speak, as in Judges 6:20 (see above), of the man or angel of “the God,” i. e., the God of Israel ( Judges 13:6; Judges 13:8). Especially, however, do they characterize themselves in Judges 13:22-23. Manoah anticipates death, “for we have seen Elohim,” a divine being in general. The wife, impressed by the appearance and announcement, says: “If Jehovah were pleased to kill us, he would not have accepted our offerings.” Whenever full faith returns in Israel, the full name of Israel’s God, Jehovah, returns with it.

But when Manoah asks the angel for his name, the reply is not, Jehovah, but פלאי. The Masora reads פֶּלִי, Peli; later authorities (cf. Keil in loc.), פִּלְאִי, Pilei. In either case, the word is adjective, but identical in meaning with פֶּלֶא. In Isaiah 9:5 (6), it is said: “Unto us a child is born, and his name is פֶּלֶא.” His name is Wonder, Wonder-worker. Isaiah 29:14, which passage serves literally to explain our present passage, says: “וָפֶלֶא הִנְנִי יוֹסִף לְהַפְלִיא אֶת־הָעַם־הַזֶּה הַפְלֵא לָכֵן, I will continue to show myself doing wonders to this people, doing wonder upon wonder.” The epithet of wonder points to the power of him to whom it is applied. He who is a wonder, does wonders. In Isaiah 9:5 (6) the child is named Pele, not as a passive wonder, but as active; all its epithets are active: Pele, Counsellor, Mighty God, Father, Prince. Hence, here the angel also calls himself Peli, Wonder-worker. for what he does appears extraordinary. A child was chosen in the matrix, and endued with the power of doing wonders. God testifies in times of distress that He saves Israel by wonders, and does not cease, even in their ruin, to interest himself wonderfully in their behalf. Ordinary means of salvation are wanting. God ever again manifests himself in Israel as the עשֵֹׁה־פֶלֶא, “the wonder-worker,” as He is styled Exodus 15:11. As such He gives his name in Judges 13:18, and shows his power in Judges 13:19, when He reveals himself in the wonderful manner of his vanishing away: for the expression וּמַפְלִיא (“he caused a wonder”), in the latter verse, refers back to פֶּלִאי, Peli, of Judges 13:18. The name Manoah had not understood; but in the deed he recognized the God of wonders.

The key to the whole narrative is contained in this word. It sets forth that Israel’s preservation and deliverance rest not in itself, but in the grace of Him who is wonderful and does wonders beyond all understanding, not merely in nature, but also in human life and history. Those explanations are therefore wholly insufficient, which render the word by “secret” or “ineffable.” From the old Jewish point of view, this interpretation is intelligible; for to them the external ineffableness of the name Jehovah appeared to be its chief characteristic. Jacob, when he wrestled with the angel, asked after his name. “Why askest thou?” replied the angel, and gave it not. As he wrestled in the night, so he gave no name. Here the unseen corresponds with the unnamed. But in the instance of Samson’s parents, the angel is seen. What he says and does is manifest and visible. It is stated with emphasis, that both “saw” (רֹאִים). If the angel, by saying, “Why askest thou after my name?” had designed to refuse an answer to Manoah’s question, he would have contented himself with these words. But he gives him a name, and that name teaches that Manoah is to attend rather to the message than the manner of him who brings it. If from the word “Peli” Manoah was to learn that the name for which he asked was “ineffable,” he would on hearing it have already perceived that the messenger was no Prayer of Manasseh, for there was only One to whose name this could apply. But it was not till afterwards that Manoah made this discovery. The angel, however, does not design, in this manner to reveal himself. As in the case of Gideon, so here, the deed is to show who the announcer was. Therefore, with fresh kindness, he gives him the name he bears. Angels on earth are always named from their mission and work. The Word of the New Covenant, likewise, when He became flesh, was called Christ Jesus, from his work. The angel in saying “Peli,” gave one of the names of God,—that name to which his work here testified (לַעֲשׂוֹת וּמַפְלִא). Manoah received it as the name of a Prayer of Manasseh, as later a man occurs named Pelaiah (פְּלָאיָה, Nehemiah 8:7).

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Starke: The names of God are of great circumference and vast importance, and enclose many secrets. Nomina Dei non sunt nominalia, sed realia.—Lisco: “My name is wonderful,” mysterious, whose depths of meaning can only be guessed at by human thought, never fully comprehended.

[Bush: The petition of Manoah reminds us also that the care of children is a great concern, and that those who have the parental relation in prospect can make no more suitable prayer at the throne of grace than that of the pious Danite on this occasion. Who upon the eve of becoming parents have not need to say, as said Manoah, “Teach us what we shall do to the child that shall be born.”—Bp. Hall: He that before sent his angel unasked, will much more send him again upon entreaty.—The same: We can never feast the angels better, than with our hearty sacrifices to God.—Bush (on Judges 13:23): This was a just mode of arguing; for such mercies were both evidences and pledges of God’s love; and therefore were rather to be considered as earnests of future blessings, than as harbingers of ill. The woman in this showed herself not only the strongest believer, but the wisest reasoner. The incidents related may teach us, (1) That in times of dark and discouraging providences or sore temptations we should remember the past experience of God’s goodness as a ground of present support. “Account the long suffering of God to be salvation.” He that hath so kindly helped us and dealt with us hitherto, means not to destroy us at last. (2) That the sinner oppressed with a sense of his deserts has no reason to despair. Let him remember what Christ has done for him by his bloody sacrifice, and read in it a sure proof, that he does not design his death.—Tr.].

Footnotes:

FN#4 - Judges 13:8.—הַיּוּלָּד. This form may be the imperfect of pual, with the article used as a relative; but it is probably more correct, with Keil (after Ewald, 169 d), to regard it as the pual participle, the preformative מ being fallen away. Even then, however, the more regular mode of writing would be היֻּלָּד.—Tr.].

FN#5 - Judges 13:12.—Dr. Cassel renders the clause more literally: “What will be the manner of the boy, and his doing?” But the rendering of the E. V. correctly interprets the language of the original, and agrees with our author’s exposition. Whatever obscurity there may appear to be in Judges 13:12, is removed by Judges 13:8; for it is clear that the petition preferred in Judges 13:12 can be no other than that made in Judges 13:8. מִשְׁפַּט הַגַּעַר is the statute or precept (cf. the monastic term “rule”) to be observed with regard to the boy—the right treatment of him by his parents; and, similarly, מַעֲשׂהוּ is that which they are to do to him. The genitives are genitives of the object, cf. Ges. Gram. 114, 2; 121, ***—Tr.].

FN#6 - Judges 13:17.—“מי שְׁמֶךָ; properly quis nomen tuum, equivalent to quis nominaris מִי asks after the person, מַה after the nature, the quality, see Ewald, 325 a.” (Keil).—Tr.].

FN#7 - וַיֶּעְתַּר, as in Genesis 25:21; Exodus 8:25.


Verse 24-25

The birth and growth of Samson

Judges 13:24-25

24And the woman bare a Song of Solomon, and called his name Samson [Shimshon]. And the child [boy] grew, and the Lord [Jehovah] blessed him 25 And the Spirit of the Lord [Jehovah] began to move him at times [omit: at times] in the camp of Daniel, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL

Judges 13:24. And called his name Shimshon. The Septuagint has Σαμψών, Samson; Josephus also, (Antiq. v8, 4). This pronunciation refers to the ancient derivation of the name from שֶׁמֶשׁ, the sun, just as שִׁמְשַׁי (Shimshai, Ezra 4:8) is pronounced Samsai (Σαμσαί; according to the Vat. God. Σαμψά), and as we hear in later times of Sampsæans, a sun-sect.[FN8] The Masora seems to have pointed Shimshon after the analogy of Shimeon (Simeon), and to have had the word שָׁמַע, to hear, in view. The derivation from shemesh, the sun, Isaiah, however, of long standing among the Jewish expositors also, and offers the best grounds for acceptance. Other explanations, “mighty,” “bold,” “desolator,” proposed by various expositors, from Serarius to Keil, appear to be without any historical motive. The name may be brought into connection with the announcement to the parents, that their son would “begin to deliver Israel.” To Hebrew conceptions, the rising of the sun is an act of victory. In this spirit Deborah sings: “So fall all thy foes, O God; but אֹהְבָיו כְּצֵאת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בִּגְבוּרָתוֹ, those who love thee are as the rising of the sun in his strength” (geburatho, as Samson was a gibbor). The Jewish expositors (cf. Jalkut, Judic. n69) said, that “Samson was named after the name of God, who is called Sun and Shield of Israel” ( Psalm 84:12). The symbol of servitude is night, and accordingly the tyranny of Egypt is so called; but the beginning of freedom is as the dawn of day or the rising of the sun. The interpretation of our hero’s name as ἰσχυρός, mighty, by Josephus, is only a translation of gibbor, for the sun also is called a hero ( Psalm 19:5-6). It is an allegorical, not etymological interpretation, and gives no warrant for charging Josephus with philological error, as Gesenius does (Gesch. der hebr. Spr. p82). That some writers find a sun-god in this interpretation, is no reason for giving it up;[FN9] especially when this is done, in a manner as bold as it confused, as by Nork (Bibl. Myth., ii405), who goes so far as to compare a father of Adonis, “Manes” (?!?), with Manoah, and drags in the “Almanack” besides. The Mosaic law forbade to make idol images of wood and stone as representations of nature; but the use of spiritual, figurative images drawn from sun and moon, is constantly characteristic of Scripture. Notwithstanding all nature-worship as connected with the sun, and its censure in Scripture, God Himself is called the “Sun of Righteousness.” The false syncretisms to which more recent times are inclined, have their origin in the failure to separate rightly the fundamental ideas of Biblical and of heathen life.

The celebrated Armenian family of the Amaduni considered itself to be of Jewish extraction. It descends, says Moses Chorenensis (lib. ii. cap. lvii. ed. de Florival. i283), from Samson, the son of Manoah. “Il est vrai, qu’on voit encore aujourd’hui la même chose dans la race des Amaduni, car ce sont des hommes robustes,” etc. A parallel to this is afforded by the Vilkina-legend, which places at the head of its narratives the powerful knight Samson, dark of complexion, like an Oriental, with “hair and beard black as pitch” (cf. the edition by von der Hagen, i4), and from whom the mighty race of the Amelungen springs (cf. W. Grimm, Die Deutsche Heldensaye, p264).

Judges 13:25. And the Spirit of Jehovah began to move him. The fulfillment had taken place. The son had been born. He grew up under the blessing of God. His flourishing strength, his greatness of spirit, are the consequences of this blessing. But the consecration which was on his head, and which through the abstinence of his mother he had already received in the earliest moments of corporal formation and growth, was a power which imparted to him not only physical strength, but also spiritual impulses. No angel ever comes to Samson; God never talks with him; no appearances, like those to his parents, occur to him. Whatever he carries in his soul and in his members, he has received from the consecration that is upon his head. It is from this source that he derives that elevation of spirit which raises him above the level of common life, and urges him on to deeds of heroism.

In the camp of Daniel, between Zorah and Eshtaol. Zorah was Samson’s native place, always appears in juxtaposition with Eshtaol ( Joshua 15:33; Joshua 19:41), and was inhabited by Danites and men of Judah. Its site is recognized in the Tell of Sur’a, from whose summit Robinson had a fine and extensive view (Bibl. Res. iii153). For Eshtaol no probable conjecture has yet been offered. The “Camp of Dan” (cf. Judges 18:12) was a place between the two cities, both of which are located by the Onomasticon in the region north of Eleutheropolis. Eusebius in mentioning Eshtaol says, “’́Ενθεν ὡρμᾶτο Σαμψσών,” thence Samson set out, which Jerome corrected into, “ubi mortuus est Samson,” where Samson died. The “Camp of Daniel,” if it were not a regular military post, must at all events have had warlike recollections connected with its name and hill-top situation (cf. Judges 1:34). It was there that the passion for exploits against the Philistines first seized on Samson. The expression, וַתָּחֶל החַ, “the spirit began,” manifestly answers to the הוּא יָחֵל, “he shall begin,” of Judges 13:5. The young man was first seized upon by the Spirit of God, לְפַעֲמוֹ. The operation which this word פָּעַם expresses is not an organic work of faith, such as Gideon or Jephthah perform. It is an impulsive inspiration; the sudden ebullition of a spiritual force, which, as in the case of the Seer it manifests itself in words, in that of Samson breaks forth into action. But yet it is no demoniac paroxysm, nor the drunken madness of a Bacchant or the frenzy of a rude Berserker but the sober movement of the Spirit of God, which, while giving heroic power, also governed it. How little mythical the history Isaiah, is evinced by the fact that, according to the narrator, the place is still known where the young man first became conscious that he had another calling than to assist his father at home in the field. The Spirit of God thrusts him out into public activity. His father’s house becomes too narrow for him. His public career begins. What that career is to be, is yet to be revealed to him. But he is driven out, and he goes. From the Camp of Dan he issues forth, a youthful hero, like Parcival, in quest of adventure. With what result, is related farther on.

Footnotes:

FN#8 - On other similar forms, cf. Selden, De Diis Syris Synt. i225.

FN#9 - As little reason as there is to doubt the etymology of Heliodorus, because the author of the Æthiopica, Bishop Heliodore of Tricka, calls himself a “descendant of Helios,” from the fact that he belonged to Emesa, the city if a celebrated temple of the sun (lib. x. at the close)

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Judges 13:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/judges-13.html. 1857-84.

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