Haftarah Nasso: Reading the Text V
Posted in honor of J.S. who will be studying this text on Shavuot in her quest to discover her Gadlut: “And Manoach prayed to God, and he said, Please God, the man of the Lord whom You sent should please come again to us, and let him teach us what we should do with the boy who will be born.”
Why does Manoach want the Man of the Lord to reappear? He says that he wants the man to teach them what to do with the boy, yet, all the instructions were already given. In fact, when the angel reappears, he says, “as all I have commanded your wife.” And the angel will repeat the wife’s version rather than the original!
Did Manoach not want to rely on his wife? Why should the man appeared to her and not him if she was not reliable? Why does Manoach say, “come again to us,” if the man had not appeared to them but only to her?
If we examine Manoach’s words carefully we will see that he is not asking for further instructions of Samson’s nezirut but rather how to raise the child. It was obvious to him that if God was setting the boy aside even before birth as a Nazir that this would be no typical child. Manoach sensed that his wife was leaving something out; the explanation that the boy would start to save Israel from the hands of the Philistines. Why did Manoach not ask his wife if she had left anything out? Why would he believe that God would send and incomplete message?
Manoach may have understood the appearance of the man to his wife simply as a means of giving instruction to the one presently responsible; her restrictions while pregnant. The angel had left no instructions for the child’s upbringing.
The term used to describe Manoach’s prayer is unusual. We find it when Isaac and Rebeccah were praying for a child. It is a term used to signify that the supplicate her wants to change what has already been set. Why is this term used here?
“And the Lord heard the voice of Manoach, and the angel of the Lord came again to the woman, and she was sitting in the field, and Manoach her husband was not with her.”
Manoach had prayed to the Divine Attribute represented by the Name God, yet his prayers were heard by the Divine Attribute represented by the name Lord. We would expect a special favor to be an expression of kindness, God, meaning it should have said that God heard.
Why is the Angel now described as an Angel of the Lord and not as the Angel of God? It probably has something to do with God referring to Himself as Lord in the beginning of the verse. The name Lord implies that all this was supposed to happen; Manoach asking for a reappearance, and the return of the angel. This would mean that Manoach had to be sensitive on his own to the extra care that would be necessary in the child’s upbringing. Yet, we do not find the angel responding to that request at all.
Why does the verse have to remind us that Manoach was the woman’s husband? Why do we have to know that she was sitting in the field? Why did the angel not appear directly to Manoach if his return was only in response to Manoach’s prayer?
Here it says that the angel “came,” and in the first verse it said that the angel “appeared.”
The angel does not speak until the woman ran to get her husband. This emphasizes that the appearance was only for the sake of Manoach; so why did he not appear directly to the man?
It must have been necessary for everything to go through his wife.
“And the woman hurried and ran and told her husband. And she said to him, Behold, the man has appeared to me, the one who came to me today.”
Why does it say both “ran,” and, “hurried”?
Why does it say that she “told him” and “said” to him? What did she tell him?
Why does she refer to this time as an “appearance” and to the previous visit as a “coming” when the verse does the opposite and refers to the first meeting as an appearance and the second as a coming? There is a difference between the two terms. Appears implies all of a sudden, and came, planned, which fits in with the way the verse describes the two meetings.
Did the woman feel that this one was sudden and the first more planned? It would seem logical for her to assume that everything was covered in the first meeting, which was the only one originally planned. Therefore she would refer to the first as coming. Yet, the second meeting which was only in response to Manoach’s prayer, she considered all of a sudden, and appearance, and not essential. But the verse sees it in reverse. Why?
“And Manoach got up and walked behind his wife, and she came to the man and he said to him, Are you the man who spoke to the woman? And he said, I am.”
Why did Manoah ask him if he was the man if his wife had already said that he was?
Why does the verse say that he came to the man, instead of saying, “they” came?
Why is it important for us to know that he walked behind his wife? It seems to be important for us to know that she was there even though she seems to be ignored in this conversation.
The verse switches from referring to her as “the woman,” to calling her, “his wife.” Yet, Manoach asks if he was the one who spoke to, “the woman,” instead of saying to, “my wife.”
Let us postulate that the term “woman” speaks of her on her own merit, while the term “wife” speaks of her only as the wife of Manoach. We must examine the verses to see if this is consistent, and if it helps us. She is described as “the woman” in all verses except two, 11, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23, and reverts to referring to her as “the woman,” in verse 24 with the birth of Samson.
Verse two set Manoach as the main character of the story for whatever reason, so it is reasonable to refer to her as “his wife.” In verse 11 it says that Manoach followed “his wife,” which implies that he would not have followed a woman, only his wife. Perhaps he felt that the angel or messenger is reappearing only for the sake of his wife, to whom the messenger originally spoke. Therefore, it says that he followed “his wife.”
The problem is that the verse makes it clear that the angel reappeared because of Manoach’s prayers.
In verses 19 through 23 the verses are no longer dealing with the message of the angel. It is the story of how they realized that the messenger was an angel. It was at Manoach’s bidding that the Angel reveal his identity, therefore, it is logical for the verses to refer to her as “his wife.” When the child is born, she takes over, as we can see from the fact that she names him;t it was her decision, not Manoach’s. Therefore, the verse reverts to referring to her as “the woman,” on her own merit.
We have said that Manoach assumed that since the messenger had originally appeared to his wife, and even this time came to her so she had to go and get her husband, that the reappearance should be credited to his wife, on her own merit. Therefore the verse says that he followed “his wife,” as he considered himself secondary to her.
He asked the man if he was the one when spoken to “the woman,” again, Manoach is saying that the angel appeared to her when her own merit, not as “his wife.”
When Manoach asked if he was the same man, he was asking if this would simply be a reiteration of the original message, the same one given to his wife, or if Manoach’s question as to how to raise the child, would be answered.
Manoach assumed that his prayers had been effective, otherwise why would the messenger returned? Yet, the man came to the woman not Manoach which sent a contradictory message. That is why Manoach had to ask the man if the message would be the same as the original.
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.