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A Mother of Peace

Today we have the story of the birth of Samson. Samson is not a name that is very well known, except perhaps in relation to the cutting of his hair by a woman named Delilah, and maybe his strength in destroying the building with his bare hands. But there is a little more in the story of Samson than that. Samson’s mother – another of our un-named female characters – was the wife of Manoah. We are first introduced to her as yet another woman who is barren. And she is also another woman who is visited by an angel to announce a forthcoming birth. The angel informs the wife of Manoah that she will bear a son and that the boy will be a nazirite – one consecrated to God – from birth. In Samson’s case there is a pattern here that we see replicated many times: a wife unable to conceive, an angelic visitor from the Lord, and a child who is then set aside for the Lord, a nazirite (one separated). Nazirites take the vow that they shall not drink wine or anything else made from grapes, they will not cut their hair, and will not become ritually impure by contact with corpses or graves. The barren status of Manoah’s wife (as with other barren women from the Old Testament Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Hannah) is a flag waved throughout the Israelite tradition that the child conceived will have special heroic status. Which fits here too as there is a context here, of a people under oppression for whom this child’s birth brings the possibility of salvation, a possibility of peace. In this case the Israelites have been under the hand of the Philistines for forty years. Samson grew up to be the last of judges and his story can be found in the book of Judges chapters 13 to 16. He was famous for his strength and for his love of Delilah. Not only does he lose his hair and therefore his strength, but he also loses his eyes as a prisoner of the Philistines. It is only after some time when his hair grows back that his strength returns, and he ends up killing all of the Philistines when he destroys the temple and dies in the process. It is assumed that this killing brings peace to the people of Israel with the destruction of their enemies. It is not a peace that is long lived, but he is remembered as one of the judges who delivered Israel from their enemies. Although not as gruesome or destructive as Samson’s peace, the peace that we look forward to with the coming of the Christ Child, is the peace of the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven brought to us through the presence of Jesus Christ.

Jay Robinson

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