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Bible Commentaries
Judges 13

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7

Judges - Chapter 13

Angel Visit, vs. 1-7

Thus begins the inspired record of the exciting adventures of Samson. It is the time of the oppression of the Philistines which lasted for forty years. This is probably the same time as the double oppression of Jephthah’s time (Judges 10:6-9). At that time the Philistines were one of Israel’s oppressors, and while Jephthah ridded the land of the Ammonites the Philistines still oppressed. The forty years of oppression thus would have perhaps covered the judgeships of Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon, and the childhood and boyhood of Samson. These judges were in areas either east or north of the Philistines and not directly affected by that oppression.

Sometime during this period, it seems, Samson was born. He was the son of Manoah, a man who lived at Zorah, in the tribe of Dan was one of the westernmost tribes of Israel, his portion of the land reaching to the Mediterranean Sea, but cut off from it by the infiltration of the Philistines after the conquest by Joshua. Zorah was in the western foothills of the Judaean mountains, perhaps twenty-five miles west of Jerusalem.

Manoah and his wife were childless, for she was barren. An angel of the Lord appeared to her, took note of her childlessness and informed her that she would conceive and bear a son. During the period of her pregnancy she was to eat nothing unclean and drink no wine or strong drink. For the baby she was to bear was to be a lifelong Nazarite. (See the law of the Nazarite, Numbers, chapter 6.) This child would "begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines." As the study of Samson continues it will be seen why Samson only "began" to deliver the Israelites form the Philistines.

Manoah’s wife reported her experience to him, describing her informant as a man of God with a countenance like an angel of God. Though he reminded her of an angel it does not appear that she or Manoah suspected that he actually was a heavenly being. The angel’s directions concerning the child and purpose of his birth were repeated to Manoah, but they knew not to whom they owed this information, since the wife did not inquire the name of her. informant.

Verses 8-25

Return Visit and Instruction, vs. 8-25

Manoah desired direct information from the man of God concerning the things told his wife. He may have felt slighted, or doubted his wife’s understanding of the event, or perhaps he wished to know the person and to affirm the authenticity of this wonderful news. Manoah was a man who had faith in the Lord and who was on praying terms with Him. Maybe he should have had faith enough to accept what had been told his wife without further ado. But when he prayed for the Lord to allow a return visit of his wife’s informant the Lord heard and answered his prayer, (Mr 11:22).

Again the angel of the Lord appeared initially to Manoah’s wife, but this time she hastened away to bring Manoah. When he arrived he ascertained that this was the one who had given his wife the information about the impending birth of a child. When informed affirmatively Manoah proceeded, to ask about the provisions and care to be taken relative to this child. At this there would seem to be some exasperation with Manoah on the part of the angel. After all, the requirements had been made perfectly clear to his wife, and the angel so implied. Nevertheless, he repeated it for Manoah’s own satisfaction.

Next, Manoah wished to prepare a meal for the man of God, but was informed that he would not eat of his bread. If Manoah wished he could make an offering to the Lord. It is clearly noted here that Manoah had no idea he was speaking with an angel of the Lord. He asked the name of the informant, indicating that he might wish to call the child after his name. He was answered with a question, "Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret" (verse 18). The Hebrew word translated "secret" is literally "incomprehensible," and is sometimes translated "wonderful". Note that one of the Lord’s Messianic names is "Wonderful" (Isaiah 9:6). Also the "angel of the Lord" in the Old Testament usually indicates the second Person of the triune Godhead. Thus it was actually the Lord to whom Manoah and his wife were beholden for this happy news.

The Danite couple soon realized that they had been conversing with a heavenly being. They brought out their offering and placed it on a rock. The angel of the Lord then began to do things at which the couple wondered. When the flame from the offering mounted up heavenwards the angel ascended in it. Immediately Manoah and his wife fell on their faces to the ground. Manoah and his wife did not see that angel again, but they both now knew they had looked upon the Lord.

Manoah was greatly disturbed. He knew that the Lord had told Moses no one could look on His face and live (Exodus 33:20), so he concluded that they would die. His wife had more presence of mind and judgment of the incident. She informed him that the Lord’s reception of their offerings indicated His acceptance of them. Neither would the Lord have told them all these things and promised them a child only to kill them.

So in time the child was born to Manoah and his wife, and they called him Samson. His name means "little sun" in Hebrew, and he surely must have been the little sun of his formerly childless parents’ lives. He grew up with the blessing of the Lord upon him. As he approached manhood the Spirit of the Lord would move upon Samson from time to time, and the power the Lord was giving him began to be manifest before his own people and before the neighboring Philistines, from Zorah to Eshtaol. This latter place was a short distance east of Zorah in the borders of the tribe of Judah, a significant point in later events relative to that tribe and Samson.

Let us learn from this chapter that 1) the Lord will do marvelous things for His people to relieve them from oppression; 2) we should not be too ready to doubt the experiences of others with the Lord; 3) we should be able to recognize when the Lord is speaking to us; 4) when the Lord has a thing for us to do, or to do through us, we should not doubt our ability to do it by His power.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Judges 13". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/judges-13.html. 1985.
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