Nameless. Some sources offered Zlelponith or Hazelelponi as possibilities for the woman of Judges 13. I nicknamed her Zel. One might miss Zel on the way to ‘the rest of the story’. But Zel of Judges 13 deserved my pause.
Few facts are offered about her. She married Manoah and was barren. Missing details of Zel’s emotions and life left me wanting more.
- How had childlessness affected her and her marriage?
- Was she sad and cried like Hannah?
- Was she older and far beyond child-bearing age like Sarah?
- Was she tempted to pursue other means to add children like Rachel?
- Was she belittled by neighbors and family for her barrenness?
No complaints or impatience noted in Judges 13. I believe Zel lived her barren life by her solid faith in God.
One day, with no blinding light or trumpet blaring, an angel appeared to Zel. The angel delivered unbelievable news: Zel was going to be a momma.
Following this heavenly encounter, Zel went to her husband.
A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t ask where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he said to me, “You will become pregnant and have a son.” Judges 13:6-7 (NIV)
Zel identified the holy visitor with no doubt or fear. Manoah prayed and requested the angel visit again. Perhaps the soon-to-be-daddy needed to confirm his wife’s sanity or remove his mountain of doubt. God answered his prayer. But the angel appeared to Zel, hard at work in the field.
The woman hurried to tell her husband, “He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!” Judges 13:10 (NIV)
Zel received two angelic visits. She was given the messages, not her husband. God recognized and rewarded her steely, unwavering faith. A hard worker, she exhibited the fortitude to adhere to the required Nazirite vows. God chose her.
Once the angel departed, Manoah panicked. But not Zel, she exuded calm, peace, and resolve. She knew whom she saw and she understood her God-ordained assignment.
“We are doomed to die!” he said to his wife. “We have seen God!”
But his wife answered, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this.” Judges 13:22-23 (NIV)
As much as I want to identify with Zel, most days my faith resembles Manoah’s. Please show me. I’m not sure. I can’t believe without more evidence. All mixed with a healthy dose of doom and gloom.
In nine months, Zel became a momma to Samson. Known for long locks, immense strength, and very poor choice in women, Samson judged Israel for 20 years. God knew Samson would need a strong, sensible, faith-filled momma like Zel.
Samson was physically strong, but Zel was a spiritual rock. She had to be as she prayed Samson through his defiant and disobedient years. For God’s chosen mighty man, He chose a very mighty momma.