THE GOD FEARING PARENTS OF SAMSON
Wife of Manoah; Samson's Mother: Midrash and Aggadah Discuss
by Tamar Kadari
Manoah’s wife, the mother of Samson, is included among the twenty-three truly upright and righteous women who came forth from Israel ( Midrash Tadshe , Ozar ha-Midrashim [Eisenstein], 474) and among the twenty-two worthy women in the world ( Gen. Rabbati , Hayyei Sarah , 100–101). The Babylonian Rabbis knew Manoah’s wife as “Zlelponi” or “Zlelponith” (BT Bava Batra 91a; and from there this tradition also made its way into the late aggadah ), a name that affiliates her with the tribe of Judah, since a woman by this name appears in the Judahite lineage in I Chron. 4:1–3. This identification is meant to resolve a certain textual problem: Jud. 13:2 states that Manoah was from Zorah, from a Danite family. Zorah is mentioned as being in the tribal portions of both Judah and Dan (cf. Josh. 15:33 and Josh. 19:41). The Rabbis deduce from this that Samson’s father was from the tribe of Dan, while his mother was of Judahite descent, thereby associating Samson, who judged Israel for twenty years, with the Israelite royal tribe ( Num. Rabbah 10:5).
THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE ANGEL
The angel appeared to Samson's mother and foretold her of the birth of a son and warned her not to drink wine nor strong drink or eat any unclean thing. The child should be a Nazarite and no razor should come on his head for he should be called a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death. He would also begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines (Judges 13:3-5).
This passage shows that the mother of Samson must be holy from the time she conceived Samson. She must refrain herself from wine and strong drink and unclean food while carrying the baby. She quickly told her husband of the appearance of the angel, but she left out the message about Samson's delivery of Israel from the Philistine. Why did she leave the important part of the deliverance of Israel? There was no record of the reason in the Bible and we can only surmise. Did or did she not believe this or because she feared this would upset her husband. We can only speculate!
MANOAH, NO DOUBTING THOMAS
Manoah straitaway believed when he met the angel of the Lord and did not ask for confirmation of the message. He first believed his wife's message and then the angel who appeared to the two of them. He was not a doubting Thomas. To believe in the supernatural act from God reguires both faith and desire.
- And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah ...
- But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
THE HOSPITALITY OF MANOAH
Though Manoah was not as righteous and perceptive as his wife, he had other good qualifies to compensate for them. He was grateful to the angel of the Lord for the message. A man of character must be grateful for any small mercies given. An ungrateful person does not care about anybody. He takes, but does not give back in return for he only thinks of himself and nobody else..
Manoah offered to prepare a kid for the angel but he refused, saying, "Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the Lord." (v. 16). So Manoah took a lamb and made an offering to the Lord and the angel of the Lord went up in the flame of fire towards heaven.
TRAINING A CHILD
Manoah knew the importance of bringing up a child in the right way before he grew up to be a man. Samson was to be holy from the moment of his conception in his mother's womb till his death. He seeked God help in bringing up the child.
- Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
- The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth. The father shall teach the child the truth from young till he becomes an adult.
- Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. The child is probably weaned from the milk when still young and starts to understand knowledge.
2 Timothy 1:5
Timothy's faith was passed on to him by his mother and previously by his grandmother, Lois to his mother. The child learns from generation to generation.
THE UNDERSTANDING OF SAMSON'S MOTHER
The angel of the Lord did not appear again to Samson's parents, and Manoah thought that they had seen God and replied, "We shall surely die, because we have seen God." His wife, being more perceptive and acute in understanding replied, "If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering 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."
Only God opened her heart to understand the workings of the will of God and she helped her husband to realize this concept. Because Zlelponi, Samson's mother seeked God's word, she found understanding.
- For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
- But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
- Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
- Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion.
1 Kings 4:29
- And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.
- For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
MANOAH AND ZLELPONI
Manoah and Zlelponi as a couple are united in the Lord, complement each other and make good parents for Samson. She nutured his physical needs seeing that he followed God's commands as a Nazirite while Manoah saw to his upbringing and training as a child of God.
- Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
- She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
The couple acted as one in serving the Lord Manoah spoke on behalf of his wife. He included his wife when he offered the angel of the Lord food.
- And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.
In deference to Manoah, Zlelponi spoke not a word at all to the angel when both appeared before the angel, but she spoke when the angel first appeared. She allowed Manoah to continue the conversation with the angel. She knew her place and kept her tongue. She was very astute and knew when and what to say when needed.
God had chosen Manoah and Zlelponi as the perfect couple to be Samson's parents so the Lord could use Samson to defeat the Philistines.
The God Fearing Parents of Samson
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- Nobodies of the Bible: Manoah and his wife, Samson's...
Samson may be the most disappointing of all Bible heroes, but don't blame his parents. They did everything right.
© 2011 einron
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