Judges Chapter 13
As mentioned, Samson's exploits cover three chapters in the Book of Judges. But it is worth pointing out as a prelude the little comedy with his parents in Chapter 13 before he was born. The main character in this chapter is Samson's mother, before whom an angel of the Lord appears twice to announce her forthcoming pregnancy from sterility along with detailed instructions concerning her diet and rearing of the infant.1 She runs to her husband to repeat in detail all that was told by the angel. Later, while working the fields, the angel appears to her a second time. Wife again runs to husband and brings him back to the angel, apparently sitting there waiting, and where the husband then asks of the angel what's what. For the third time, supposedly for our benefit in case we didn't understand the first two go-rounds, the angel details the care and maintenance of wife and infant. “Oy vey!” the husband might have exclaimed after the angel2 disappears into the smoke and flame from the burnt offering. “We are doomed to die,” he laments to wife, “we have seen God!” It then has to be explained to daddy-dimwit with something like: “Um...yeah...right, I've just been told I'll be pregnant when I'm sterile, will have a son, and must raise him in detail. Then, what, smitten unto death as some cosmic joke? 'Har har, har! Gotcha!' gawfaweth Yahweh Tzbaoth!?” And throughout the Prelude in this little drama Samson's mother, known only as 'woman', 'wife', and 'she', is never given a name. Star of the entire chapter and scene yet never named! I guess our author never considered her to be any more important than a baby machine for infant care while tilling the fields. Or was something else implied?
But Samson's father's name is מנוח, Mnuch, 'Manoah'. The word-name means 'rest, quiet'. By the use of gematria the letters of his name sum up to 104. There are many words and phrases to be discovered under number 104. One such from the Latin Cabala Simplex is lapis ignis, 'stone of fire'. Of itself this might not mean anything. But, if one sees in אשה, ashah, the word translated 'woman' and 'wife' as the spouse of Manoah throughout chapter 13, it is discovered that this spelling is also the feminine form for 'fire', and as 'burnt offering' in the Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature.3
It seems illogical, if the story were an accurate account of an actual event, that Samson is named, the father is named, but throughout Chapter 13 the principal character of the wife is nameless. Unless something might be hinted behind ashah for 'woman' and 'wife'. What these hints might suggest to a Literal Qabalist is that something divine, profound, and of import may lie coded beneath the surface narrative, rooted in the Hidden Fire of Divinity.
So the 'woman' (again) gives birth to a boy and names him שמשון, Shmshun, 'Samson'. The name is packed with Qabalistic implication. Qabalists can analyze a word by breaking it into parts. This method is called Theosophic Articulation. שמש, Sh M Sh, Shemesh, the first three letters in Samson's name, is one term in Hebrew for the Sun, our solar orb. As a verb it can mean 'to be used, to serve'. This carries over the fiery element suggested previously by lapis ignis and ashah. The next letter, ו, Vav, transcribed as our 'V' or 'U', but given the 'O' sound, is frequently used in Hebrew grammar as the conjunction “and” of itself, as in - this and that. The final letter Nun, נ (or ן in its final form), is related to associative words and pictorial symbols for the human reproductive force, and by that association, procreative semen. So, imagery-wise, Qbalists teach, Samson at once represents the “Sun and Seed,” or Solar Consciousness and the Reproductive Force. Imagine that.
In Qabalistic occult doctrine there is a direct correlation between these two ideas. On the Qabalist's Tree of Life the Sun represents Tiphareth, the Christ Consciousness deep within human consciousness. Seed, and all ideas of generation, is assigned to the fifth sphere on the Tree of Life, Geburah, commonly translated as Severity. Geburah also evokes ideas of 'strength, justice, fear, fire and wrath'. The gematria of שמשון, Shmshun, Samson, totals 696. This is equal to the number behind אשה מצרק, Ashah Metzarek, 'Cleansing Fire', or 'Purifying Fire'. Note the spelling for 'fire' here is the same as 'woman, wife, burnt-offering'. So in Samson's name we have imagery that combines the Sun and Seed with ideas of a Purifying or Cleansing Fire.
According to Qabalists it combines esoteric doctrines behind Tiphareth and Geburah. That is, the sphere Geburah on the Tree of Life also represents the Will/Sex-Urge in human consciousness, and combined with the Consciousness named Christos in the Western Tradition, which Tiphareth represents, the separated human will dissolves to become one with the Cosmic Will-Force. This is the true Free Will which humankind is to inherit. Our separative, human will, albeit progeny of that Cosmic Will and erroneously believed to be the “free will” in generic humanity, is relatively independent when thought as originating within human personality. It is within us to evolve ourselves and align our separative will with that of the cosmos by releasing any remote thought that it is “ours,” and surrender it to the sole use by the Christos level of Consciousness within us. According to Qabalistic instruction, one step toward achieving this advanced state of awareness is the result of re-channeled reproductive energy inward. This, I believe, is the overall esoteric lesson behind the Samson story.
Samson apparently grows to manhood in מחנה דן, Mchnh Dn, 'Mahaneh Dan'. Mahaneh means 'military encampment, settlement' (an environment in the nature of Geburah?) in the region of the tribe of Dan. The tribes of Dan and Judah bordered Philistine territories and were constantly harassed. There is no record of Samson's formative years. We must take it on faith that mom and dad raised him in accordance with the angel's instructions. Now, enters Samson...
1 This might be one argument in favor of those who hold Samson to be an actual individual. The instructions are aimed toward persons selected to be Nazirites, who take a vow and live a disciplined life. See Numbers 6: 1-21.
2 In verse 18 the angel of the Lord replies when asked his name: “...it is beyond understanding.” The Hebrew word rendered is פלאי, peli. It means 'wonderful, remarkable', but translated variously as, 'understanding, secret, and wonderful'. In Isaiah 9:6 the term is used to describe the “Prince of Peace,” when Jesus' birth is prophesied.
3 The word in Judges 13:23, עלה, alah, curiously translated in various Bibles as 'burnt-offering', cannot be found in any dictionaries as such. Literally it means 'leaf, frond' as a noun, and as a verb 'to increase, to advance, to mount'. As noted, the dictionary word for 'burnt-offering' is, אשה, ashah.