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.Jdg 13:1. The children of Israel did evil again — That is, fell into idolatry, not, it seems, after the death of Abdon, the last judge, but in the days of the former judges. The Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines — These were a very inconsiderable people. They had but five cities of any note. And yet, when God used them as a staff in his hand, they were very oppressive and vexatious. Forty years — To be computed, not from Abdon’s death, but before that time. This is the longest oppression which the Israelites ever sustained, but Sir John Marsham and others think it is not different from that mentioned Jdg 10:7-8, but one and the same with it; the Philistines harassing the Israelites in the west, while the Ammonites oppressed them in the east; and that, though the tyrannical treatment of them by the Philistines lasted longer, yet it began at the very same time with the other, and rendered their distress the greater. Others suppose, that it did not begin till after Jephthah’s death, and that the great slaughter of the Ephraimites made by him greatly encouraged the Philistines to rise against Israel, one of Israel’s chief bulwarks being so much weakened.
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.Jdg 13:2-3. Of the family of the Danites — That is, of that tribe or people. His wife was barren, and bare not — An emphatical repetition of the same thing in other words, which is a usual elegance both in Scripture and other authors. The angel — The Son of God, yet distinguished from the Lord, because he appeared here in the form of a servant, as a messenger sent from God. The great Redeemer did in a particular manner concern himself about this typical redemption.
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:Jdg 13:4. Now therefore beware — She was to conform to the manner of life observed by the Nazarites, while she carried her infant in her womb, and perhaps while she nursed him; because, as it follows in the next verse, he was to be a perpetual Nazarite to God, from his conception to his death; which would have bear impossible if she had drunk wine or strong drink, because a child in the womb and its mother subsist by the same nourishment. Drink not wine nor strong drink — Under which are comprehended the other particulars mentioned Numbers 6:2-4. And eat not any unclean thing — Any of those meats forbidden Leviticus 11. These were forbidden to all, but especially to the Nazarites. In all probability the Israelites were negligent at that time in observing the precept with relation to meats, otherwise there would have been no need to mention this.
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.Jdg 13:5. The child shall be a Nazarite — Consecrated to God’s service in a peculiar manner. He shall begin to deliver Israel — He did not complete the deliverance of the Israelites from the servile yoke of the Philistines; but the work was carried on and perfected by others, namely, by Eli, Samuel, and Saul, and especially by David. Samson galled them severely, but they still continued to oppress Israel, as they did when he was born, and the oppression continued, more or less, till the memorable victory of Ebenezer, recorded 1 Samuel 7:13, when they were subdued, and their tyranny of forty years ended. Thus God chooses to carry on his work gradually, and by several hands. One lays the foundation of a good work, another builds, and perhaps a third brings forth the top-stone.
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:Jdg 13:6. A man of God came unto me — A prophet, or sacred person, sent with a message from God. Like the countenance of an angel, very terrible — Or venerable, awful, full of majesty. Though Manoah’s wife had never seen an angel before, yet she might well say this, as it was a prevailing opinion among all people, that celestial beings were more excellent in their nature than mankind, and bore an extraordinary majesty in their countenances, which struck the human beholder with awe and admiration. But I asked not whence he was, &c. — The lustre of his aspect infused such an awe into her, as rendered her incapable of making such inquiry.
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.Jdg 13:8. Then Manoah entreated the Lord, &c. — Not hesitating or doubting, on account of his wife’s long barrenness, he believed the heavenly message, and looked upon the thing as quite certain, only he desired that the man of God might appear to them again, to instruct them in what manner they should treat the child when it should be born. And God graciously answered his humble petition.
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?Jdg 13:12. Now let thy words come to pass — Or, thy words shall come to pass. I firmly believe thy promises shall be fulfilled. How shall we order the child? — Houbigant renders this, What shall be the method of educating the child? What rules shall we observe in bringing him up? How shall we do unto him? — What profession shall we prepare him for, or how shall we instruct him, so as to make him fit to be the deliverer of Israel?
And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.Jdg 13:13-14. Of all that I said, let her beware — While the child is in the womb, and after the child is born, let her observe the same orders. We may observe that the angel gives no answer to Manoah’s question, how the child should be educated, &c., as willing that they should not be solicitous about that at the present, but leave it to the care of Providence, which, in proper time, would so direct matters in regard to the child, as that he should be fitted for the great purpose he was intended for. He therefore only repeats his injunctions to the woman how she should act during her pregnancy.
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.
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.Jdg 13:15-16. Until we shall have made ready a kid — He supposed him to be a man and a prophet, to whom he would in this manner express his respect, as was usual to strangers. I will not eat of thy bread — That is, meat, as bread is commonly taken in Scripture. If thou wilt offer a burnt- offering — As Manoah had made no mention of a burnt-offering, but only desired the angel, whom he took for a prophet, to accept of a repast with them, Le Clerc’s translation of this passage is to be preferred. But (not and, as we render it) if thou wilt offer a burnt-offering to the Lord, do it: that is, if thou desirest to express thy thankfulness to the Lord, thou mayest do it by offering a burnt-offering.
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?Jdg 13:17-18. That when thy sayings come to pass, we may do thee honour — Either by making honourable mention of thee, or by showing respect to thee by a present, such as they usually gave to prophets. Seeing it is secret — Meaning, not only, that it would be of no importance or service to him to know his name; but that his name was hidden from mortal men, and wonderful, as the word פלאיpeli signifies, and is translated Isaiah 9:6, where it is applied to Christ, the wonderful child born, and son given, who has the government upon his shoulders, and is the mighty God. The angel means, My nature and essence, often signified by name in the Scriptures, are incomprehensible. This shows, that this was the Angel of the covenant, the Son of God, that spoke to Manoah.
And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?
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.Jdg 13:19-20. And offered it upon a rock — The presence and command of the angel being a sufficient warrant for the offering of sacrifice by a person who was no priest, and in a place otherwise forbidden. Vitringa, however, supposes that “it was the angel who upon this occasion performed the principal functions of the priest; the most essential of which was to put the fire to the burnt-offering.” Manoah, he observes, “dared not to perform the offices of the priesthood in the presence of a personage whom he took for an extra-ordinary prophet, commissioned from God. All that he did was done by order of the angel, or as his minister; just as the Israelites obeyed Elijah afterward,” 1 Kings 18:34. The angel, or rather he, (for there is nothing for angel in the original,) did wondrously — Bringing fire out of the rock, as in the case of Gideon, Jdg 6:21, to consume the burnt-offering, and then ascending in the midst of the flame, hereby manifesting his nature and essence to be spiritual. Off the altar — That is, from that part of the rock which served instead of an altar, upon which the sacrifice was laid. Manoah and his wife fell on their faces — Partly out of reverence for so glorious a person manifested in so wonderful a manner, and partly out of a religious horror and fear of death; for the prevention whereof they fell down in the way of supplication to God.
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.Jdg 13:23. If the Lord were pleased to kill us — The reasoning of Manoah’s wife here is very just, and shows her to have been a woman of good understanding. Indeed, both of them seem to have been persons of eminent piety, who, amidst the prevailing corruption and idolatry of their people, retained their integrity, and adhered to the worship and service of the true God. And of such God is always mindful, both bestowing peculiar favours upon them, and communicating blessings to his church, and to the world, through their means. Nor would, as at this time, have told us such things — This expression seems to have some emphasis in it, to enhance God’s mercy to them, as being afforded them in a time of such grievous calamity; and in a time when the word of the Lord was precious, and there was no open vision.
And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.Jdg 13:24-25. The Lord blessed him — That is, endowed him with all those graces and gifts of mind and body which were necessary for the work he was designed for. The Spirit of the Lord began to move him — To excite him to heroical designs and extraordinary actions, above the power of mere unassisted human abilities; to incline his heart to great attempts for the help and deliverance of God’s people; to give some essay of it to his brethren, and to seek all opportunities for it. At times — Upon certain occasions, which might make known to the people that God intended to begin the work of their deliverance by this extraordinary person. In the camp of Dan — A place so called, either from the expedition of the Danites, (Jdg 18:11-12,) which, though recorded after this history took place before it, or from some other camp which the Danites had formed there to give some check to the incursions of the Philistines.
And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.