What does Judges 13:5 mean?
ESV: for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”
NIV: You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.'
NASB: For behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he will begin to save Israel from the hands of the Philistines.'
CSB: for indeed, you will conceive and give birth to a son. You must never cut his hair, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from birth, and he will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines."
NLT: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.'
KJV: For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no rasor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
NKJV: For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”
Verse Commentary:
"The angel of the LORD," essentially God Himself in human form, has appeared to the formerly barren wife of a man called Manoah. God has given her fantastic news: she will have a son. That news is immediately followed with special instructions. This will be no ordinary boy. The Lord has set him aside to live according to a particular set of vows: as a "Nazarite." Further, the child is to experience the unique life of a Nazirite before he is even born.

The word Nazarite means "one separated" or "one consecrated." This is different from the term "Nazarene," which means a person from the town of Nazareth. The law given to Israel allowed any Jewish man or woman to take the "vow of the Nazarite" to set themselves apart to the Lord. This was intended to be voluntary, and only for a limited time (Numbers 6:1–21). Nazarites were required to follow three specific rules: No contact with grapes or any product of grapes, including wine or other alcohol, no haircuts, and no contact with dead bodies.

What God tells Samson's mother (Judges 13:24–25) is something new. Samson would not volunteer to be a Nazarite. God appointed him to this lifestyle before he was even born, and with the intent to keep those vows forever. God's instruction was that Samson never contact alcohol or grape products, starting from the moment that he was conceived. He was not to cut his hair, either, even as a child.

The Lord was setting Samson aside for a unique and special purpose: to begin saving Israel from their oppression under the Philistines (Judges 13:1). From the very beginning, the Lord knew Samson would only start this process. The Philistines would continue to afflict the Israelites until later in the tenure of Samuel (1 Samuel 7:12–14) and would persist as enemies until the time of King David.

As He has in the past (Judges 2:16), the Lord is bringing up a deliverer to save His people from their enemies. This time is different. For the first time, God appoints the deliverer before he is even born. Neither does God wait, apparently, for Israel to cry out for help. God's power and grace are working together for the good of His people.
Verse Context:
Judges 13:1–7 begins as Israel, once again, descends into sin and evil, resulting in hardship. This passage describes an interaction between a childless women and a messenger from God, possibly Yahweh Himself in human form. He tells her she will give birth to a son who is to be dedicated as a Nazirite from the womb. This child's purpose will be to begin rescuing Israel from oppression under the Philistines. The woman tells her husband, Manoah, who is from the tribe of Dan.
Chapter Summary:
The Lord appoints another deliverer for Israel, this time in response to oppression under the Philistines. An impressive stranger appears to Manoah and his wife, announcing they will have a son. This child is to be set apart as a Nazarite from before birth until death. His mother must not drink wine or strong drink or eat any unclean thing. This visitor then disappears into the flames of a burnt offering. The couple realizes they have seen a manifestation of Yahweh, Himself. Samson is born and soon shows signs of God's influence.
Chapter Context:
After Jephthah's rescue (Judges 11—12) this passage begins with another generation sinning against God. As is the pattern of the book of Judges, this leads to oppression. Israel is subject to forty years of misery under the Philistines. God appears to the wife of Manoah in the territory of Dan. She is commanded to consecrate her unborn son as a Nazarite, and that this child will begin to save Israel from the Philistines. Samson is born and is blessed by God. This is as pure as Samson's life will be—the rest of his story is an awkward, scandalous example of the Lord using flawed people to accomplish His great purposes.
Book Summary:
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
Accessed 5/26/2024 4:42:58 PM
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