And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
The Philistines have been mentioned as oppressors of Israel in Judges 3:31; Judges 10:7, Judges 10:11; and the Israelite worship of the gods of the Philistines is spoken of in Judges 10:6. But this is the first time that we have any detailed history in connection with the Philistines. They continned to be the prominent enemies of Israel until the time of David.
Forty years - The Philistine dominion began before the birth of Samson Judges 13:5, and was in force during Samson's twenty years' judgeship Judges 14:4; Judges 15:20. The 40 years are, therefore, about coincident with Samson's life.
And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.
Zorah - See the marginal reference.
His wife was barren - To mark more distinctly the high providential destiny of the child that was eventually born. Compare the similar circumstances of the birth of Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, and John the Baptist.
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.
Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:
For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no rasor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
A Nazarite - See the marginal reference. and note. The common Nazarite vow was for a limited time, like Paul's Acts 18:18; Acts 21:23-26. Others, like Samuel 1 Samuel 1:11, were Nazarites for life.
Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:
A man of God - The designation of a prophet, of frequent use in the books of Samuel and Kings 1 Samuel 2:27; 1 Samuel 9:6-8, 1 Samuel 9:10; 1 Kings 12:22; 1 Kings 13:1, 1 Kings 13:5-6, 1 Kings 13:11, and applied to Timothy by Paul in the New Testament 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 3:17.
His countenance - Rather, "his appearance," as the word is rendered in Daniel 10:18.
But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.
Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.
And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.
And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day.
And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.
And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?
Translate, "What shall be the manner (or ordering) of the child, and what shall be his work (or exploits)." The original message of the Angel had given information on these two points:
(1) how the child was to be brought up, namely, as a Nazarite;
(2) what he should do, namely, begin to deliver Israel.
And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.
She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe.
Compare Numbers 6:4. In both passages the vine is described by the somewhat unusual though more accurate term, "vine of the wine" - the grape-bearing vine - to distinguish it from the wild cucumber vine 2 Kings 4:39, or other plants to which the name vine was applied.
And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.
The language of Manoah, like that of Gideon Judges 6:18, seems to indicate some suspicion that his visitor was more than human. The word rendered "made ready," is also the proper word for "offering a sacrifice," and is so used by the Angel in the next verse. By which it appears that the Angel understood Manoah to speak of offering a kid as a burnt-offering. Hence, his caution, "thou must offer it unto the Lord." (Compare Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:8; Acts 10:25-26.)
And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD.
And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour?
Do thee honor - If applied to a man, it would be by gifts, such for instance as Balak promised to the prophet Balaam Numbers 22:17, and such as were usually given to seers 1 Samuel 9:7-8; 2 Kings 5:5, 2 Kings 5:15 : if to God, it would be by sacrifices Isaiah 43:23.
And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?
Secret - Rather, "wonderful," as in the margin. In Judges 13:19 the Angel "did wondrously," probably as the Angel that Appeared to Gideon had done, bringing fire from the rock. See the marginal references and notes.
So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD: and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.
For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.
But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.
And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.
And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.
Samson - The etymology is doubtful. Perhaps it comes from a word signifying "to minister," in allusion to his Nazaritic consecration to the service of God.
And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
In the camp of Dan - Rather, "Mahaneh-Dan" (see the margin). The impulses of the Spirit of the Lord perhaps took the shape of burning indignation at the subjection of his brethren, and thoughts and plans for their deliverance, but especially showed themselves in feats of strength (Judges 14:6; Judges 15:14; Judges 16:30. Compare Acts 7:23-25).