Samson’s Call to Separateness

This week’s ‘Haftarah’ (weekly Prophet’s portion) tells the story of the birth of Samson and can be found in the Book of Judges in chapter 13. The reason why this biblical chapter was chosen to be read together with the weekly Torah portion of ‘Naso’ {נשא} (Numbers 4:21–7:89) is the focus on the laws of ‘Nazir’ {נזיר} – a person who decided to take a vow to ‘retire’ from the everyday life and dedicate himself to serving God.

Samson’s Wedding, Rembrandt

In fact, we are witnessing here a classic case of the way the connection between the weekly Torah portion and the weekly Prophet’s portion teaches the Bible in a special way:
first in theory and then how it was used in practice. This means that the people learn about the laws of the ‘Nazir’ during the traditional Torah reading (weekly Torah portion) and then they learn about Samson who was a ‘Nazir’ in practice (weekly Prophet’s portion).

The weekly Prophet’s portion ends with the following verse:

“And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.” (Judges 13:25)

Earlier this week, we discussed the Hebrew meaning of the word ‘Mahaneh’ {מחנה} (‘camp’) and here we have a great example of a biblical place which bears this name.

And a nice anecdote is that in Modern Israel ‘Zorah and Eshtaol’ are the names of two small places not so far from Jerusalem still in existence today. Between the ‘Zorah and Eshtaol’ of today there is a junction that is called ‘Samson’s Junction’…