We have an interesting story of the spiritual discernment, strength and leadership of Samson’s mother. Her name is not mentioned in the Bible, but according to tradition she was called Hazelelponi or Zʻllpunith. She was a daughter of Etam and sister of Ishma.
Let’s read the story of the announcement of the future miraculous birth of Samson, as presented by an angel to Hazelelponi and see how she responds in comparison to her husband, Manoah…
“2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of Dan, whose name was Manoah, and his wife was barren, (she had never born children). 3 And the angel of the Yahweh appeared unto this woman and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren and hast had no children, but thou shalt conceive and bear a son. 4 Now keep thyself and drink no wine nor strong drink and eat no unclean thing. 5 For thou shalt conceive and bear a son, and no razor shall come on his head, for the child shall be a Nazarite unto Yahweh from the womb; and 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 Yahweh came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of Yahweh, very terrible; but I did not ask him where he was from, neither did he tell me his name; 7 but he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive and bear a son, and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing; for the child shall be a Nazarite to Yahweh from the womb to the day of his death.
- We see here that Hazelelponi had spiritual understanding to realize that this announcement that came to her was carried directly from Yahweh. She did not have to discern whether it was from Yah or from another source. She possessed the fear of Yahweh when she received the message and didn’t think whether to question the message or directive (in contrast to Zechariah who questioned Yah and thus went mute until his son, John, was born). She had no doubt in her mind where this message came from and what she was to do about it. She remembered the orders given to her about how she was to live until his birth and how she was to raise her child in obedience to the commands.
8 Then Manoah prayed unto Yahweh and said, O Yahweh, let the man of Yahweh whom thou didst send come again unto us and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.
- We can tell from this verse that Manoah didn’t have the discernment or trust to believe what she said, and so he questioned both her judgement and recollection of the message and wanted to first see the messenger for himself, and second, hear from the messenger what the actual instructions were. In his eyes, seeing was the only way of believing.
9 And Yahweh hearkened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of Yahweh came again unto the woman as she sat in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 And the woman made haste and ran and told her husband and said unto him, Behold, the man that came unto me has appeared unto me today.
- Yahweh was patient with Manoah and actually answered his doubting mind and once again sent the messenger, but He would not send the messenger to Manoah directly, but to validate Hazelelponi’s judgement and recollection, he sent him to his wife once again. Obviously Hazelelponi knew that her husband wouldn’t believe her own words for the second time, so she ran to get her husband so that he could see for himself and actually trust her.
11 And Manoah arose and went after his wife and came to the man and said unto him, Art thou the man that spoke unto this woman? And he said, I am.
- Even though Hazelelponi told Manoah this was the same man (messenger), he still didn’t believe her, so had to ask the question of the man himself. We see that Manoah could not discern who this man was, if he was from Yahweh or not, even though his wife knew right away.
12 Then Manoah said, Now let thy word come to pass. How shall we order the child, and what shall he do?
- Manoah either didn’t listen to his wife, or didn’t remember what she said, so he thought to get clarification on how to raise this child. He couldn’t trust the original message and needed more information.
13 And the angel of Yahweh replied unto Manoah, Let the woman keep herself from all that I said. 14 She may not eat of any thing that comes of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; all that I commanded her let her keep.
- The messenger told Manoah basically that what he told his wife was true and she told him correctly, but he would repeat it for Manoah as he was still questioning his wife and the message.
15 And Manoah said unto the angel of Yahweh, I pray thee, let us detain thee until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.
- It would seem that Manoah wanted the man to stay around for a while so he could question him more and evaluate whether this was for real or not. It doesn’t seem that Manoah even believed him.
16 And the angel of Yahweh replied unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread, but if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, sacrifice it unto Yahweh. For Manoah did not know that this was the angel of Yahweh.
- Continued proof that Manoah couldn’t spiritually discern between a normal man and this messenger of Yahweh, but yet his wife recognized him right away on both accounts.
17 And Manoah said unto the angel of Yahweh, What is thy name that when thy words come to pass we may honour thee? 18 And the angel of Yahweh replied, Why dost thou ask for my name? It is wonderful.
- I think Manoah may have been trying to play a game with this man trying to figure out where he came from by asking his name. Hazelelponi didn’t need to know his name as she already understood where he came from.
19 So Manoah took a kid with a present and sacrificed it upon a rock unto Yahweh, and the angel did wondrously, and Manoah and his wife looked on. 20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of Yahweh ascended in the flame of the altar as Manoah and his wife looked on, and they prostrated themselves on the ground on their faces. 21 But the angel of Yahweh did not appear any more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of Yahweh. 22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die because we have seen Yahweh. 23 But his wife said unto him, If Yahweh had desired to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and the present from our hands, neither would he have showed us all these things, nor would he have announced this according to the time.
- Hey, he finally got it! Manoah had to see a physical miraculous sign in order for him to believe the message. He wasn’t tuned in spiritually, so the only way to get him to actually believe was to do something out of the norm and it freaked him out thinking he might actually die because of seeing this. First, he didn’t trust his wife’s message, nor the message from the man, but only when it was beyond his physical comprehension of the laws of nature. Note again that Hazelelponi understood Yahweh and His character and was able to explain that to her husband so that he might come to an understanding of what had just happened.
24 And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the child grew, and Yahweh blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of Yahweh began to manifest himself at times in him in the camps of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.” Judges 13
Many times, we tend to place man above woman as far as connectedness to Yahweh goes because, honestly, most of the Bible tells obvious stories of men and few stories of women. But, when we look hard into Yah’s Word, we see women of strength and character and whereby, even in this case, we have her as the spiritual leader of the family during this time period of their lives together. Yahweh desires for the man to lead his household spiritually, but because of our fallen world, we often see this is not the case, even today. When I look around me in my life, most of the strong spiritual women that I know fulfill the spiritual leadship roles within their families and the men are barely hanging on and struggling just as Manoah did to believe and trust in Yahweh with all that they are. I pray for the men in our lives that they have the courage to take on the role that they were originally intended to fulfill and dive in full force.