1 May 2017 Bible Reading
Today’s reading in Judges introduces us to Samson.
God provides Samson as a judge during a time when He was using the Philistines to punish the Israelites. An angel appeared to Manoah, from the tribe of Dan in the city of Zorah, and his wife. The angel tells them they will soon have a son (Samson) who will deliver the Israelites. The angel requires that both Manoah’s wife and the child, Samson, strictly abstain from alcoholic beverages. Samson was to never cut or shave his hair. In ancient Israel, those wanting to be especially dedicated to God for a time could take a Nazarite vow, which included these requirements. The Nazirite vow is described in Numbers 6:1-21.
13 The children of Israel again did that which was evil in Yahweh’s sight; and Yahweh delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. 2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and childless. 3 Yahweh’s angel appeared to the woman, and said to her, “See now, you are barren and childless; but you shall conceive, and bear a son. 4 Now therefore please beware and drink no wine nor strong drink, and don’t eat any unclean thing: 5 for, behold, you shall conceive, and give birth to a son. No razor shall come on his head; for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb. He shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”
6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A man of God came to me, and his face was like the face of the angel of God, very awesome; and I didn’t ask him where he was from, neither did he tell me his name; 7 but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, and don’t eat any unclean thing; for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”
8 Then Manoah entreated Yahweh, and said, “Oh, Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us, and teach us what we should do to the child who shall be born.”
9 God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field, but Manoah, her husband, wasn’t with her. 10 The woman hurried and ran, and told her husband, and said to him, “Behold, the man who came to me that day has appeared to me,”
11 Manoah arose, and followed his wife, and came to the man, and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife?”
He said, “I am.”
12 Manoah said, “Now let your words happen. What shall the child’s way of life and mission be?”
13 Yahweh’s angel said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her beware. 14 She may not eat of anything that comes of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. Let her observe all that I commanded her.”
15 Manoah said to Yahweh’s angel, “Please stay with us, that we may make a young goat ready for you.”
16 Yahweh’s angel said to Manoah, “Though you detain me, I won’t eat your bread. If you will prepare a burnt offering, you must offer it to Yahweh.” For Manoah didn’t know that he was Yahweh’s angel.
17 Manoah said to Yahweh’s angel, “What is your name, that when your words happen, we may honor you?”
18 Yahweh’s angel said to him, “Why do you ask about my name, since it is incomprehensible?”
19 So Manoah took the young goat with the meal offering, and offered it on the rock to Yahweh. Then the angel did an amazing thing as Manoah and his wife watched. 20 For when the flame went up toward the sky from off the altar, Yahweh’s angel ascended in the flame of the altar. Manoah and his wife watched; and they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 But Yahweh’s angel didn’t appear to Manoah or to his wife any more. Then Manoah knew that he was Yahweh’s angel. 22 Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.”
23 But his wife said to him, “If Yahweh were pleased to kill us, he wouldn’t have received a burnt offering and a meal offering at our hand, and he wouldn’t he have shown us all these things, nor would he have told us such things as these at this time.” 24 The woman bore a son, and named him Samson. The child grew, and Yahweh blessed him. 25 Yahweh’s Spirit began to move him in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
14 Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 He came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. Now therefore get her for me as my wife.”
3 Then his father and his mother said to him, “Isn’t there a woman among your brothers’ daughters, or among all my people, that you go to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?”
Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.”
4 But his father and his mother didn’t know that it was of Yahweh; for he sought an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines ruled over Israel. 5 Then went Samson down with his father and his mother to Timnah, and came to the vineyards of Timnah; and behold, a young lion roared against him. 6 Yahweh’s Spirit came mightily on him, and he tore him as he would have torn a young goat; and he had nothing in his hand, but he didn’t tell his father or his mother what he had done. 7 He went down, and talked with the woman, and she pleased Samson well. 8 After a while he returned to take her; and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion; and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. 9 He took it into his hands, and went on, eating as he went. He came to his father and mother, and gave to them, and they ate, but he didn’t tell them that he had taken the honey out of the lion’s body. 10 His father went down to the woman: and Samson made a feast there; for so the young men used to do. 11 When they saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him.
12 Samson said to them, “Let me tell you a riddle now. If you can declare it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing; 13 but if you can’t declare it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing.”
They said to him, “Tell us your riddle, that we may hear it.” 14 He said to them,
“Out of the eater came out food.
Out of the strong came out sweetness.”
They couldn’t in three days declare the riddle. 15 On the seventh day, they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband, that he may declare to us the riddle, lest we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you called us to impoverish us? Isn’t that so?”
16 Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, “You just hate me, and don’t love me. You’ve told a riddle to the children of my people, and haven’t told it to me.”
He said to her, “Behold, I haven’t told my father or my mother, so why should I tell you?”
17 She wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted; and on the seventh day, he told her, because she pressed him severely; and she told the riddle to the children of her people. 18 The men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?”
He said to them,
“If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer,
you wouldn’t have found out my riddle.”
19 Yahweh’s Spirit came mightily on him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and struck thirty men of them, and took their plunder, then gave the changes of clothing to those who declared the riddle. His anger burned, and he went up to his father’s house. 20 But Samson’s wife was given to his companion who had been his friend.
29 The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for he was before me.’ 31 I didn’t know him, but for this reason I came baptizing in water: that he would be revealed to Israel.” 32 John testified, saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending like a dove out of heaven, and it remained on him. 33 I didn’t recognize him, but he who sent me to baptize in water, he said to me, ‘On whomever you will see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
35 Again, the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, being interpreted, Teacher), “where are you staying?”
39 He said to them, “Come, and see.”
They came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother, Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which is, being interpreted, Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is by interpretation, Peter). 43 On the next day, he was determined to go out into Galilee, and he found Philip. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said about him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are King of Israel!”
50 Jesus answered him, “Because I told you, ‘I saw you underneath the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these!” 51 He said to him, “Most certainly, I tell you, hereafter you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before Yahweh.
102 Hear my prayer, Yahweh!
Let my cry come to you.
2 Don’t hide your face from me in the day of my distress.
Turn your ear to me.
Answer me quickly in the day when I call.
3 For my days consume away like smoke.
My bones are burned as a torch.
4 My heart is blighted like grass, and withered,
for I forget to eat my bread.
5 By reason of the voice of my groaning,
my bones stick to my skin.
6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness.
I have become as an owl of the waste places.
7 I watch, and have become like a sparrow that is alone on the housetop.
8 My enemies reproach me all day.
Those who are mad at me use my name as a curse.
9 For I have eaten ashes like bread,
and mixed my drink with tears,
10 Because of your indignation and your wrath,
for you have taken me up, and thrown me away.
11 My days are like a long shadow.
I have withered like grass.
12 But you, Yahweh, will remain forever;
your renown endures to all generations.
13 You will arise and have mercy on Zion;
for it is time to have pity on her.
Yes, the set time has come.
14 For your servants take pleasure in her stones,
and have pity on her dust.
15 So the nations will fear Yahweh’s name;
all the kings of the earth your glory.
16 For Yahweh has built up Zion.
He has appeared in his glory.
17 He has responded to the prayer of the destitute,
and has not despised their prayer.
18 This will be written for the generation to come.
A people which will be created will praise Yah.
19 For he has looked down from the height of his sanctuary.
From heaven, Yahweh saw the earth;
20 to hear the groans of the prisoner;
to free those who are condemned to death;
21 that men may declare Yahweh’s name in Zion,
and his praise in Jerusalem;
22 when the peoples are gathered together,
the kingdoms, to serve Yahweh.
23 He weakened my strength along the course.
He shortened my days.
24 I said, “My God, don’t take me away in the middle of my days.
Your years are throughout all generations.
25 Of old, you laid the foundation of the earth.
The heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will endure.
Yes, all of them will wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a cloak, and they will be changed.
27 But you are the same.
Your years will have no end.
28 The children of your servants will continue.
Their offspring will be established before you.”
15 A simple man believes everything,
but the prudent man carefully considers his ways.
16 A wise man fears, and shuns evil,
but the fool is hot headed and reckless.