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Judges 13

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Samson’s Birth

13:1 The Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight, 1  so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines for forty years.

13:2 There was a man named Manoah from Zorah, from the Danite tribe. His wife was infertile and childless. 2  13:3 The Lord’s angelic 3  messenger appeared to the woman and said to her, “You 4  are infertile and childless, 5  but you will conceive and have a son. 13:4 Now be careful! Do not drink wine or beer, and do not eat any food that will make you ritually unclean. 6  13:5 Look, you will conceive and have a son. 7  You must never cut his hair, 8  for the child will be dedicated to God 9  from birth. He will begin to deliver Israel from the power 10  of the Philistines.”

13:6 The woman went and said to her husband, “A man sent from God 11  came to me! He looked like God’s angelic messenger – he was very awesome. 12  I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not tell me his name. 13:7 He said to me, ‘Look, you will conceive and have a son. 13  So now, do not drink wine or beer and do not eat any food that will make you ritually unclean. 14  For the child will be dedicated 15  to God from birth till the day he dies.’”

13:8 Manoah prayed to the Lord, 16  “Please, Lord, allow the man sent from God 17  to visit 18  us again, so he can teach 19  us how we should raise 20  the child who will be born.” 13:9 God answered Manoah’s prayer. 21  God’s angelic messenger visited 22  the woman again while she was sitting in the field. But her husband Manoah was not with her. 13:10 The woman ran at once and told her husband, 23  “Come quickly, 24  the man who visited 25  me the other day has appeared to me!” 13:11 So Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he met 26  the man, he said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife?” 27  He said, “Yes.” 28  13:12 Manoah said, “Now, when your announcement comes true, 29  how should the child be raised and what should he do?” 30  13:13 The Lord’s messenger told 31  Manoah, “Your wife should pay attention to everything I told her. 32  13:14 She should not drink 33  anything that the grapevine produces. She must not drink wine or beer, and she must not eat any food that will make her ritually unclean. 34  She should obey everything I commanded her to do.” 13:15 Manoah said to the Lord’s messenger, “Please stay here awhile, 35  so we can prepare a young goat for you to eat.” 36  13:16 The Lord’s messenger said to Manoah, “If I stay, 37  I will not eat your food. But if you want to make a burnt sacrifice to the Lord, you should offer it.” (He said this because Manoah did not know that he was the Lord’s messenger.) 38  13:17 Manoah said to the Lord’s messenger, “Tell us your name, so we can honor you when your announcement comes true.” 39  13:18 The Lord’s messenger said to him, “You should not ask me my name, because you cannot comprehend it.” 40  13:19 Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered them on a rock to the Lord. The Lord’s messenger did an amazing thing as Manoah and his wife watched. 41  13:20 As the flame went up from the altar toward the sky, the Lord’s messenger went up in it 42  while Manoah and his wife watched. They fell facedown 43  to the ground.

13:21 The Lord’s messenger did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. After all this happened Manoah realized that the visitor had been the Lord’s messenger. 44  13:22 Manoah said to his wife, “We will certainly die, because we have seen a supernatural being!” 45  13:23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted the burnt offering and the grain offering from us. 46  He would not have shown us all these things, or have spoken to us like this just now.”

13:24 Manoah’s wife 47  gave birth to a son and named him Samson. 48  The child grew and the Lord empowered 49  him. 13:25 The Lord’s spirit began to control him 50  in Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

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1 tn Heb “in the eyes of.”

2 tn Heb “and had not given birth.”

3 tn The adjective “angelic” is interpretive (also in vv. 6, 9).

4 tn Heb “Look, you.”

5 tn Heb “and have not given birth.”

6 tn Heb “eat anything unclean.” Certain foods were regarded as ritually “unclean” (see Lev 11). Eating such food made one ritually “contaminated.”

7 tn Another option is to translate, “you are already pregnant and will have a son.” The earlier reference to her being infertile (v. 3) suggests that her conception is still future, but it is possible that the earlier statement only reflects her perspective (as far as she is concerned, she is infertile). According to this interpretation, in v. 5 the angel reveals the truth to her – actually she has recently conceived and is now pregnant (see the translation in R. G. Boling, Judges [AB], 217). Usage favors this interpretation. The predicate adjective הָרָה (harah, “[be/become] pregnant”) elsewhere has a past (1 Sam 4:19) or present (Gen 16:11; 38:25; 2 Sam 11:5) translation value. (The usage in Isa 7:14 is debated, but a present translation is definitely possible there.) A final, but less likely possibility, is that she miraculously conceived during the angel’s speech, sometime between his statements recorded in vv. 3 and 5.

8 tn Heb “a razor should not go up on his head.”

9 tn Or “set apart to God.” Traditionally the Hebrew term נָזִיר (nazir) has been translated “Nazirite.” The word is derived from the verb נָזַר (nazar, “to dedicate; to consecrate; to set apart”).

10 tn Heb “hand.”

11 tn Heb “The man of God.”

12 tn Heb “His appearance was like the appearance of the messenger of God, very awesome.”

13 tn See the note on the word “son” in 13:5, where this same statement occurs.

14 tn Heb “eat anything unclean.” Certain foods were regarded as ritually “unclean” (see Lev 11). Eating such food made one ritually “contaminated.”

15 tn Traditionally “a Nazirite.”

16 tn The Hebrew text adds “and said.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.

17 tn Heb “the man of God.”

18 tn Heb “come to.”

19 tc The LXX has “enlighten,” understanding the Hebrew to read וִיאִירֵנוּ (viirenu, “to give light”) rather than the reading of the MT, וְיוֹרֵנוּ (vÿyorenu, “to teach”).

20 tn Heb “what we should do for.”

21 tn Heb “God listened to the voice of Manoah.”

22 tn Heb “came to.”

23 tn Heb “and said to him.” This phrase has not been translated for stylistic reasons.

24 tn Heb “Look.”

25 tn Heb “came to.”

26 tn Heb “came to.”

27 tn Heb “the woman.”

28 tn Heb “I [am].”

29 tn Heb “Now, [when] your word comes [to pass].”

30 tn Heb “what will be the child’s rule [i.e., way of life] and his work?”

31 tn Or “said to.”

32 tn Heb “To everything I said to the woman she should pay attention.” The Hebrew word order emphasizes “to everything,” probably because Manoah’s wife did not tell her husband everything the angel had said to her (cf. vv. 3-5 with v. 7). If she had, Manoah probably would not have been so confused about the child’s mission.

33 tn Heb “eat.”

34 tn Heb “eat anything unclean.” Certain foods were regarded as ritually “unclean” (see Lev 11). Eating such food made one ritually “contaminated.”

35 tn Heb “Please allow us to detain you.”

36 tn Heb “so we can prepare before you a young goat of the goats.”

37 tn Heb “If you detain me.”

38 tn The words “he said this” are supplied in the translation for clarification. Manoah should have known from these words that the messenger represented the Lord. In the preceding narrative the narrator has informed the reader that the visitor is the Lord’s messenger, but Manoah and his wife did not perceive this. In vv. 5 and 7 the angel refers to “God” (אֱלֹהִים, ’elohim), not the Lord (יְהוַה, yÿhvah). Manoah’s wife calls the visitor “a man sent from God” and “God’s messenger” (v. 6), while Manoah prays to the “Lord” (אֲדוֹנָי, ’adonay) and calls the visitor “a man sent from God” (v. 8).

39 tn Heb “Who your name? For [when] your word comes [to pass], we will honor you.” Manoah apparently gets tongue-tied and uses the wrong pronoun (“who” instead of “what”). He starts to say, “Who are you?” But then he switches to “your name” as if he began the sentence with “what.” See R. G. Boling, Judges (AB), 222.

40 tn Heb “Why do you ask for my name, for it is incomprehensible?” The Hebrew adjective פִּלְאִי (pileiy, “wonderful, incomprehensible”) refers to what is in a category of its own and is beyond full human understanding. Note the use of this word in Ps 139:6, where God’s knowledge is described as incomprehensible and unattainable.

41 tc Heb “Doing an extraordinary deed while Manoah and his wife were watching.” The subject of the participle is missing. The translation assumes that the phrase “the Lord’s messenger” was lost by homoioteleuton. If the text originally read לַיהוָה מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה (layhavah malakh yÿhvah), the scribe’s eye could have jumped from the first יְהוָה to the second, accidentally omitting two of the three words. Later the conjunction וּ (shureq) would have been added to the following מַפְלִא (mafli’) for syntactical reasons. Another possibility is that a pronominal subject (הוּא, hu’) has been lost in the MT due to haplography.

42 tn Heb “in the flame from the altar.”

43 tn Heb “on their faces.”

44 tn Heb “Then Manoah knew that he was the Lord’s messenger.”

45 tn Or “seen God.” Some take the Hebrew term אֱלֹהִים (’elohim) as the divine name (“God”) here, but this seems unlikely since v. 21 informs us that Manoah realized this was the Lord’s messenger, not God himself. Of course, he may be exaggerating for the sake of emphasis. Another option, the one followed in the translation, understands Manoah to be referring to a lesser deity. The term אֱלֹהִים (’elohim) is sometimes used of an individual deity other than the Lord (see BDB 43 s.v. 2.a). One cannot assume that Manoah was a theologically sophisticated monotheist.

46 tn Heb “our hand.”

47 tn Heb “the woman.” For clarity this has been specified in the translation as “Manoah’s wife.”

48 tn The name appears to mean “sun-like” or “solar.”

49 tn Traditionally, “blessed.”

50 tn Or “move him to action”; or “stir him.”



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