Haftarah Nasso: Reading the Text II
“And an Angel of God appeared to the woman, and he said to her, ‘Behold please, that you are barren, and you have not given birth, and you will conceive and bear a son’.” It must have been important for the woman to realize that the birth of Samson was miraculous. Otherwise, it would be no reason for the angel to tell her that she was barren and had not given birth. She probably already knew.
We must explain the redundancy of “barren” and, “not given birth.” The Commentaries say on this verse that the redundancy was only to stress and clarify that she had always been so. Yet, once it was explained in the previous verse why would it have to be explained again? It certainly was not for the sake of the woman.
We must also note that there is a stress on the woman being barren, meaning that it wasn’t Manoach who could not have children.
Although the verse says that it was an Angel who appeared, the Targum and many Commentaries say that it was actually a profit. They will have to explain why the first chose to describe the prophet as an Angel.
It is also interesting to note that in this verse and others it refers to the Angel as an, “Angel of God,” the Name representing His Attribute of Kindness, while in others it refers to the angel as the, “Angel of the Lord,” referring to His Attribute of Judgment. The birth was a result of mercy, and the rules and regulations regarding Samson’s life were an expression of Judgment. We will have to see if this will be consistent throughout our story.
From the fact that the angel says both, that she will conceive and bear a son, we can see that she was concerned over the viability of the child even if she would conceive. This seems logical when we see that she was instructed to follow certain laws while she was carrying Samson. She may very well have thought that the viability of the baby would be dependent on her following the rules set by this Angel, and, she probably was correct in so assuming, for why else would the Angel separate the conception and the birth into two steps?
When it says that the angel appeared to the woman, instead of saying that he appeared to Manoach’s wife, which is how she was described in the previous verse, we see that the angel appeared to her on her own merit, not because she was the wife of Manoach.
Some Commentaries say that the reason the Angel spoke to the woman was to inform her that it was not her husband’s fault for their not having children. The Angel did not tell Manoach that his wife was barren so that he would not blame her. We see, say they Commentaries, that part of the responsibility of the that part of the responsibility of the Angel was to restore peace in Manoach’s family, so that Samson would grow up in a peaceful household. It is interesting to remember that the laws of Nazir follow the laws of Sotah in our portion, which focus on the restoration of peace between husband and wife. We also find many other allusions to peace in our portion such as the Altar.
Samson was certainly not a person who lived in peace. He could never be a “normal” person because of his extraordinary care and strength, and because of his moments of inspiration. He was also not consistently a holy person, as the Spirit of God would appear and disappear. Samson is described as being bounced back and forth. He lacked inner peace. The lack of inner peace was his own, not because of the household in which he was raised.
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