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Published Date: October 31, 1996

Published Date: October 31, 1996

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From a Pastor’s Notebook: Male-Female Themes in Judges 13-16

Observations on Judges 13

When Yahweh appears, he appears not to “the male head” but to me woman (v. 3)! If Manoah is the spiritual head, why doesn’t God work through him? Instead, God deals directly with her.

God gives her a theology lesson about the boy—as though she is the primary raiser of this child, not the “head,” Manoah.

She gives her husband spiritual instruction, becoming his teacher and not vice versa! She is “over” him. Proves the logic in saying, “Let the one who knows, teach, regardless of gender.” Since she knows, she should be “above,” teaching.

She also knows not to inquire into the angels’ personal realm— the angel is too awesome (v. 6). Here she shows wisdom and acuity. Manoah, on the other hand, is blundering and intrusive, and is curtly rebuked by the angel (v. 18). She shows more acute spiritual sensitivity and wisdom than her husband!

When God returns, once more he comes to the woman alone (v. 9), even though it was Manoah who prayed and asked for a visitation. Once more God works through the woman to the man. She is his “head”! He is “submissive” to her! Without her, Manoah would have known nothing. Manoah couldn’t relate directly to God; God had to work through his wife! Incredible, isn’t it?

Note that in verse 11, “Manoah arose and followed his wife.” How stunning!

When Manoah dialogues with the angel (vv. 11-13), the angel avoids Manoah’s questions, is elusive and aloof, and directs the conversation to and around the woman.

Manoah “did not know that he was the angel of the Lord” (v. 16), but the wife knew it (see v. 6)! Once more, she shows deeper spiritual awareness.

In the end, Manoah acts emotionally, erratically, with fear, and with the absence of logic. He jumps to a conclusion, and demonstrates cowardice and infantile behavior (vv. 21-22). His wife however is calm, cool, logical, secure and reassuring (v. 23). She has the correct theology—while he is theologically weak, shallow and amiss. She has to teach him correct theology! It’s a good thing she is the head or the family would have been in direct violation to the angel.

Throughout the story Manoah appears emotional, but the wife logical. He is jumpy and easily jostled—she is calm and cool. He seems quite easily upset—she is stable. He cannot grasp God—she is in sync with God. He is crude and invasive—she is wise and appropriate. He is ignorant— she is enlightened. If mere is a spiritual head in this family, it’s not Manoah.

The wife, not Manoah, names her child. She, not her husband, takes the initiative (v. 24).

Observations on Judges 14 and 16

“Father and mother” occurs in tandem seven times (vv. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 16) indicating at least an equal parental investment in Samson’s life!

Manoah is not the head. There is a balanced, equilateral relationship here!

Evidently these two people die (16:31). Samson had brothers, but his parents aren’t mentioned again after Chapter 14.

In the beginning, the woman, not the man, is the “head,” and later they are equal. However, Manoah is never seen and the “head” and his wife as the “submitter.”

It’s very important to keep in mind the fact that God was behind this whole story. If male “headship” is so important to God, why does God violate God’s own value? If an asymmetrical marriage relationship, with the female “one down,” is so vital to God, why is God so uninterested in preserving “headship” in this particular marriage relationship?

Maybe we had better rethink the so-called notion of male headship and female submission!

Maybe we should also remember God considered Samson a Hero of Faith (Hebrews 11:32) and not a failure!