Bible Reference: Judges chapter 13
Heart of the Story: The Angel of the Lord announced Samson’s birth to his parents. The Angel appeared first to Samson’s mother and then to his father, Manoah.
Back Story: Although the Philistines ruled Israel 40 years, the Israelites didn’t repent or ask God to free them. God decided to rise up a judge to begin the process of freeing the Israelites from Philistine tyranny.
Story Line: A woman of the Danite tribe was barren. The Bible identified her only as Manoah’s wife and Samson’s mother. One day, the Angel of the Lord visited the woman and told her that she would become pregnant and bear a son. The Angel directed the woman to drink no wine or strong drink and eat nothing unclean. Her future son was to be a Nazrite and never cut his hair. After the Angel’s visit, Manoah’s wife went to her husband. She told him that a Man of God visited her and what the Man said. She didn’t realize that the man was the Angel of God. Manoah’s prayed to God that the Man would come again and teach them how to raise their son.
God responded to Manoah’s prayer. The Angel appeared to Manoah’s wife a second time. Hurriedly, she found Manoah and brought him to the Angel. Manoah asked the Angel how they should manage the child. The Angel replied that Manoah’s wife should do all that he told her; the Angel provided no additional information.
When Manoah invited the Angel to eat with him, the angel refused, but suggested that Manoah make a burnt offering to God. As Manoah offered a goat and grain sacrifice on a rock, the Angel ascended in the altar flame toward heaven. After the Angel ascended, Manoah told his wife that they were going to die because they saw God. Sensibly, his wife responded that if God wanted to kill them, he wouldn’t have received their burnt offering, showed them these things and announced the pending birth of a son.
Analysis of the Relationships: Nowhere in the Old Testament do we see a husband-wife that displayed such complementary character strengths as shown by Manoah and his wife. What Manoah lacked his wife had and what his wife lacked he had. They brought out the best in each other; they respected each other.
Manoah’s wife didn’t keep secrets from Manoah. Promptly she told him about the Man of God’s visit. She trusted Manoah and wanted him to share the Man’s announcement. Both were ecstatic that after all this time they were going to have a son. When Manoah’s wife told him that a Man of God announced that she would have a child, Manoah didn’t placate his wife with, “Sweetheart, you want a baby so badly that you had a vivid dream.” Manoah believed her story. In fact, he believed it so thoroughly that he asked God to send the Man back again so they could get more information. Not once does the Bible indicate that Manoah wanted a second visit from the Angel so he could verify his wife’s story.
Both Manoah and his wife were comfortable in their roles. Manoah’s words and actions indicated that he was the spiritual head of the household, e.g., he prayed and was able to articulate the significance of seeing God (Exodus 33:20). Manoah’s wife thought quickly and rationally, e.g., reasons why God wasn’t going to kill them. She wasn’t reticent about sharing her thoughts with Manoah.
Reflection: What if Manoah refused believe that he was the father of his wife’s baby? He could have concluded that the male visitor was the child’s father. Would Manoah’s disbelief made a difference in the outcome of the story and marriage?
After an individual’s relationship with God, his or her next most important relationship is with their spouse. Lesser Known Bible Characters tells the stories of 6 marriage. Some, like Manoah and his wife, were excellent; others were anything but healthy. Go to http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/ and get the book that describes these Bible marriages.
Copyright May 24, 2014; Carolyn A. Roth; all rights reserved.