How the Book of Judges Illustrates the Humanity and Personhood of the Unborn

The above picture is from the recent protest in Poland, which led to the overturning of a near-total ban on abortion. What grieves my heart is the utter lack of recognition of the obvious… the humanity and personhood of the unborn.

Man (left to his own devices, uninfluenced by the virtue of God) does not desire to, nor is he/she even capable of, not suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18-22, 8:5-8).

As evidenced in the left hand portion of the photo, the unregenerate person fails to acknowledge that there is (at the very least) a second and separate person in existence during pregnancy. From their darkened perspective, only the mother ought to be in view. And, if and only if the mother so chooses to proclaim “personhood” for her unborn child, that is when such is to be respected by all and not before. But, as I said, if and only if she says so. Until then, the unborn is not a person.

There are some however, who would acknowledge that the unborn is a person during the later stages of pregnancy. But, less would admit such is the case in the early stages, and even far less would admit that personhood begins at conception. That’s incredibly rare.

So, what does the Bible say or even imply regarding the humanity and personhood of the unborn?

Check out this passage from the Book of Judges…

Judges 13:1-24 (ESV)
“And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.

There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, but he said to me, Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”

Then Manoah prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.” And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field. But Manoah her husband was not with her. So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “Behold, the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me.” And Manoah arose and went after his wife and came to the man and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to this woman?” And he said, “I am.” And Manoah said, “Now when your words come true, what is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission?” And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her let her observe.”

Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please let us detain you and prepare a young goat for you.” And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.) And Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?” And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground.

The angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord. And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.” And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the Lord blessed him.”

(I am not going to go into what a “Nazarite” is. For an explanation, please refer to Numbers 6:1-21.)

What I want to illuminate is how scripture categorizes the unborn in this passage.

Did you notice how Manoah’s wife was instructed to avoid consuming certain things PRIOR to becoming pregnant?

This is important…

Why?

Because, nothing of the vine, strong drink, or unclean food is permitted to get into the baby’s system. And, since the unborn is completely effected by the mother’s living habits during pregnancy, caution must be taken by the mother as to protect the child from being contaminated from such. In other words, if the mother was to have any of these things in her system when the child was conceived, the child would then be disqualified for Nazarite appointment.

Consider it this way…

If the unborn is not yet a person (as the world promotes), then there would be no danger in the mother contaminating the “non-person” during pregnancy due to what she consumes. To say it another way, if the Bible agreed with the world, then the unborn could only become contaminated after birth. But, this is not what we see in scripture. What we see in the Book of Judges is a warning to the soon to be mother (who has not yet conceived), to…

…be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son.

The mother is to make the necessary adjustments to her life not after the child is born, nor during the pregnancy, but PRIOR to conception in order for the child to be qualified for Nazarite designation. Conception is the moment that a new person comes into being. When one is conceived (according to scripture), THAT is when one then exists, and not some artificially declared moment some time later as the world proclaims.

Unless one repents and trusts in Jesus Christ, one will always be resistive the obvious, as depicted in the above photo. It is important that we (Christians) continually recognize where we came from prior to our conversion. I will leave you with this final thought from the Psalmist…

Psalms 51:5 (ESV)
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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4 thoughts on “How the Book of Judges Illustrates the Humanity and Personhood of the Unborn”

  1. Great point, John! I wish I had thought of that application when I preached on that passage… This just reinforces the treasures that can be found as we plumb the depth of the scriptures. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. This is a very compelling passage. Thank you. I have always used the narrative around John the baptist for this………15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

    And of course the implications of Christ’s own incarnation.

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