[From June 4, 2012]
"There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. his wife was barren, having borne no children. And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, 'You shall conceive and bear a son...'"
Judges 13-16 is the crazy, drama-laden, NC-17 rated story about Samson. It definitely has all the makings of an HBO miniseries! But before the exploits of Samson titillate our senses, we get his birth story. Or, to be more specific, how his upcoming birth was first communicated to his parents: Manoah and "his wife."
The fact that this was a male-dominated society is clear from the start. We hear the name & lineage of Samson's dad, Manoah. But all we know about his mom is that she is Manoah's "wife." Nevertheless, the angel comes to HER, not him. The angel tells her she'll give birth to a son. She is to have a tempered pregnancy (no wine, strong drink or unclean foods!). When he's born, there's only one stipulation for his life: no hair cuts. Ever. His hair will be a sign of his relationship with (and separation for) God.
So "the wife' tells Manoah all that happened.. He, in turn, asks God to send the messenger back one more time. God does. Again, the angel comes to "the wife." She runs to get Manoah, who wants to make sure it's the same guy from the day before. Then he asks the angel how they're to raise their son. "What is to be the boy's rule of life; what is he to do?"
Now, what caused me to want to journal today is the very next words by the angel. It's brilliant! (Especially in a male-dominated society!) "The angel of the LORD said to Manoah, 'Let the woman give heed to all that I said to her...'" Then he repeats her pregnancy restrictions. That's it. He doesn't answer Manoah's question directly. Why? Because he's already told "the woman" what to do: no haircuts. Did Manoah not believe her when she told him that? Did he think it was too simplistic? Did he believe his wife not to be a reliable conduit of communication? We don't know. But I love the fact that the angel validated his message to her! She knows. Ask her.
God has ways to cut through the human biases that we project upon others. God sees all of us as persons of equal value & worth. Amen to that!