Judges 13:20
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.
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(20) From off the altar.—The rock (tsor) of Judges 13:19 is now hallowed into an altar (mizbeach).

Fell on their faces.—Comp. Leviticus 9:24; Numbers 14:5; Ezekiel 1:28.

13:15-23 What Manoah asked for instruction in his duty, he was readily told; but what he asked to gratify his curiosity, was denied. God has in his word given full directions concerning our duty, but never designed to answer other questionings. There are secret things which belong not to us, of which we must be quite contented to be ignorant, while in this world. The name of our Lord is wonderful and secret; but by his wonderful works he makes himself known as far as is needful for us. Prayer is the ascent of the soul to God. But without Christ in the heart by faith, our services are offensive smoke; in him, acceptable flame. We may apply this to Christ's sacrifice of himself for us; he ascended in the flame of his own offering, for by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, Heb 9:12. In Manoah's reflections there is great fear; We shall surely die. In his wife's reflection there is great faith. As a help meet for him, she encouraged him. Let believers who have had communion with God in the word and prayer, to whom he has graciously manifested himself, and who have had reason to think God has accepted their works, take encouragement from thence in a cloudy and dark day. God would not have done what he has done for my soul, if he had designed to forsake me, and leave me to perish at last; for his work is perfect. Learn to reason as Manoah's wife; If God designed me to perish under his wrath, he would not give me tokens of his favour.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. 17-20. Manoah said unto the angel …, What is thy name?—Manoah's request elicited the most unequivocal proofs of the divinity of his supernatural visitor—in his name "secret" (in the Margin, "wonderful"), and in the miraculous flame that betokened the acceptance of the sacrifice. The flame; either arising from the fire which Manoah brought for the offering, or produced by the angel out of the rock in a miraculous manner.

From off the altar, i.e. from that part of the rock which served instead of an altar, upon which the sacrifice was laid.

The angel ascended in the flame, to manifest his nature and essence to be spiritual, because not capable of hurt by the fire; and celestial.

Fell on their faces; partly in reverence to that glorious presence manifested in so wonderful a manner; and partly out of a religions horror and fear of death upon this occasion, as is expressed Judges 13:22, for the prevention whereof they fell down in way of supplication to God. For it came to pass, when the flame went up towards heaven from off the altar,.... That is, from the rock, which served instead of an altar, and from whence perhaps the fire sprung which consumed both the burnt offering and the meat offering, the flame of which went up to heaven; this rock or altar having no covering, but was "sub dio", open to the heavens:

that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar; making use of the smoke, as Josephus (r) says, as a vehicle in which he openly went up to heaven:

and Manoah and his wife looked on it; on the flame and smoke, and the angel in it as he ascended; just as the disciples of Christ looked steadfastly on him as he went up to heaven, when a cloud received him out of their sight, Acts 1:9.

and fell on their faces to the ground; with astonishment and surprise at what they saw, through fear and reverence of the divine Being, of whose presence they were now sensible, and as worshipping of him, and praying to him.

(r) Ibid. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 8. sect. 3.)

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.
20. in the Flame of the altar] as though it were His native element, Exodus 3:2. The sign may well have suggested a more spiritual view of Jehovah’s nature (Kittel l.c.). The flame is that kindled by Manoah; contrast Jdg 6:21.Verse 20. - Looked on it. There is no occasion for the italic it, the phrase is identical with that at the close of ver. 19; but the rendering would be better, And when Manoah and his wife saw it, they fell, etc. The angel of the Lord then repeated the instructions which he had already given to the woman in Judges 13:4, simply adding to the prohibition of wine and strong drink the caution not to eat of anything that came from the vine, in accordance with Numbers 6:3.
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