Tag Archives: nameless women

Manoah’s Wife, Samson’s Mother

Manoah's wife1

The Annunciation to Manoah’s Wife, Jacopo Tintoretto

“There was a certain man from Zorah, of the stock of Dan, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren and had borne no children. An angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, ‘You are barren and have borne no children: but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now be careful not to drink wine or other intoxicant, or to eat anything unclean. For you are going to going to conceive and bear a son; let no razor touch his head, for the boy is to be a nazirite to God from the womb on.'” Judges 13:2-5

This is the literary formula known by scholars as the “annunciation type-scene.” The category is based on the analysis of the many stories about angels announcing to women that they will give birth to a special son. Some examples of this form are Sarah, Rebecca, Hannah, and Mary. Usually the motif includes the following elements: 1) appearance of the angel, 2) the expression of fear, 3) the message, 4) an objection, 5) reassurance, and 6) the ascension of the angel. (See Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative pp. 47-52 for a fuller description of the annunciation type-scene.) Continue reading