Haftarah Nasso: Reading the Text IV
“And the woman came and she said to her husband saying, ‘A man of the Lord came to me, and his appearance as the appearance of an angel of the Lord, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he was from and he did not tell me his name. And he said to me, ‘Behold you will conceive and bear a son, and now do not drink fresh wine or old, and do not eat any impurity, for a Nazir of the Lord the boy will be from the womb until the day of his death.’”
Tzlalfonit’s version of the angel’s instructions seems inaccurate: She added that the boy was to be a Nazir until the day of his death, and she did not mention the restriction on cutting the boy’s hair, his saving the Jews, and she changed, “anything impure,” to “any impurity.”
Why did she say that his appearance was the appearance of an angel? Was she familiar with angels? If she meant that he was awesome, she says that later, and if she thought that he really was an angel, she should have said that an agnel appeared.
Why does it say that she said to her husband, “saying,” which is usually an expression of, “say it to someone else,” as in, “And God said to Moses, saying”?
There seems to be much more to the angel appearing specifically to her as opposed to Manoach than her being the one with restrictions while pregnant. She sensed that some things were only for her information, and not for her husband. This would mean that it wasn’t necessary for Manoach and others to know that a savior was about to be born. We will find as the story progresses that she, far more than Manoach, is more sensitive to what is happening.
Why did she say that she had not asked him where he was from instead of saying that she had not asked for his name? She says that he didn’t offer his name, meaning, she knew that for some reason, it would have to come from him. In fact, later in the story, Manoach asks his name and is not answered as Manoach desired. She realized that there was more to his identity and its significance to what was about to happen. The appropriate question for someone who suspects that he is an angel is to ask where he is from; “Are you from Heaven, an Angel? Or, are you from Earth, a Man of the Lord?” It didn’t matter to her. She was totally focused on the message, not the person; an important theme in the Samson story, a tale of a person impossible to define!
She describes the man as similar to an Angel of the Lord although the verse describes him as an Angel of God. She experienced the message as an expression of Din, Specific Judgment, not as a sign of Divine Compassion for Israel!
We should also wonder why she is never mentioned by name, as if she as an individual was not important, although her husband, Manoach, was!
The verse wants us to appreciate her experience of the news: She was to share some information to be repeated, as in, “Saying.” She knew that not all the message was to be shared because the identity of the messenger would be significant if Israel was to know that this boy would save them; people would want to know the source of the news. She knew not to share that part of the message!
She wanted Manoach to create and protect an environment of purity in the home for the sake of the child, so she adjusted the instructions.
She also picked up from “Begin to save Israel,” that the boy’s life would be incomplete, and that she would outlive him! Otherwise, how could she be instructed that no razor shall touch his head all the days of his life!
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