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PHILISTINE OPPRESSION, Judges 13:1.
1. The Philistines From the narrative of the Ammonite oppression, and Jephthah’s rule in eastern Palestine or Gilead, the historian now passes to the extreme west the Shephelah, or maritime plain of Philistia and introduces us to a nation of warriors that gave Israel more trouble than they had hitherto experienced from any heathen power. These warlike foes have been frequently mentioned before, (see note on Joshua 13:2,) but here they appear for the first time as having dominion over Israel. For this dominion they had doubtless been aiming many years, and they had met with at least one check from the heroic Shamgar. Judges 3:31. But the successful invasions of northern and eastern powers, and Israel’s many misfortunes, gave them marked advantages for extending their conquests over the southern tribes.
Forty years This period seems to have included the twenty years of Samson’s judgeship, (Judges 15:20;) at least the Philistine power was not fully broken in his day, but only greatly weakened. These foes maintained their rule, with only occasional breaks, till the time of Samuel. It was a most memorable period in the history of the chosen people. The tribe of Judah lost all spirit, and quietly succumbed, (Judges 15:11;) and long before the night of oppression ceased, the ark of God was captured, and the sanctuary at Shiloh made desolate.
SAMSON’S BIRTH, Judges 13:2-25.
2. Zorah Identified by Dr. Robinson with the modern Surah, which is situated on a high conical hill about thirteen miles west of Jerusalem, and overlooking the Wady Surar. It was first assigned to Judah, (Joshua 15:33,) but afterwards to Dan. Joshua 19:41.
Family of the Danites This expression is used interchangeably with tribe of the Danites. Compare Judges 18:1-2; Judges 18:11; Judges 18:30.
Manoah “A person of such great virtue,” says Josephus, “that he had few men his equals, and, without dispute, the principal person of his country. He had a wife celebrated for her beauty, and excelling her contemporaries.”
3. The angel of the Lord See note on Judges 6:11. This Angel of the covenant himself performed the mission, so like that which Gabriel afterwards was sent to fulfil, (Luke 1:26,) when the woman was Mary, and the child to be born was the Wonderful, (Isaiah 9:6,) even the incarnation of Him who now appeared as a mysterious theophany, 4. Drink not wine The mother of the mighty Nazarite must herself be a Nazarite for the time.
5. A Nazarite unto God from the womb For the law concerning Nazarites, see Numbers 6:1-21. The key to the divine side of Samson’s history is to be found in this Nazarite condition. Unless we keep this earnest and solemn background of his life-consecration to Jehovah in view, his buffoonery and lewdness, and even his mere feats of strength, would seem strange and inexplicable when detailed with such elaborate fulness. From the theocratic standpoint Samson was a sacred character, a great national hero; and his consecration as a Nazarite from the womb, together with his agency in delivering Israel from the Philistine yoke, is the great redeeming fact and feature of his romantic life. See note at end of chap. 16.
He shall begin to deliver Israel But he was not to complete that deliverance. His giant feats of valour were but to weaken the Philistines’ power over Israel, and prepare the way for that more pure and spotless Nazarite, Samuel, who should complete that work of national salvation. 1 Samuel 7:13.
6. A man of God The human form he bore led her to mistake the Angel for a prophet, and yet she thought that he was more than human.
Very terrible Majestic. His presence was such as to command a holy fear.
8. Manoah entreated His faith, like Gideon’s, demands a repetition of wonders.
9. As she sat in the field Pausing to rest, perhaps, as she was going or returning from some fountain to draw water. Dr. Robinson observed near the fountain of Zorah several women, “toiling upwards towards the village, each with her jar of water on her head. The village, the fountain, the fields, the mountains, and the females bearing water, all,” says he, “transported us back to ancient times, when in all probability the mother of Samson often in like manner visited the fountain, and toiled homeward with her jar of water.”
12. Manoah said Manoah’s words are not correctly rendered in our English version, but should read, Now thy words shall come to pass; what shall be the manner of the child and his work? The former sentence has the relation of a protasis to the following, as, When thy words come to pass, what shall be, etc.? By the manner and work of the child, Manoah meant both their manner and work towards their son, as expressed in the English version, and also his manner and work towards them and Israel. The Angel answers so far as their work is concerned, but leaves it for the future to tell the rest.
15. Let us detain thee Manoah would observe those rites of oriental hospitality by attention to which Abraham entertained angels unawares.
16. I will not eat of thy bread But the same Angel did eat of the food (Genesis 18:8) which Abraham prepared; why not do the same with Manoah? Abraham, we may answer, was “heir of the world,” (Romans 4:13,) and a far more important person in the history of the Old Covenant than Manoah, and so with him the Jehovah-Angel might well come into closer fellowship than with other saints.
For Manoah knew not This statement is given as a reason for the Angel’s suggestion that Manoah might, perhaps, now appropriately offer a burnt offering to Jehovah. He does not tell him that he is the Angel Jehovah, but he powerfully suggests that thought to the mind of Manoah, and thus leads the latter to inquire after his name.
18. Why askest thou thus after my name Not a rebuke, but one of those profound questions which lead a man to look into the depths of his heart, and read its inner motions. It was designed to lead Manoah to ponder thoroughly, then and afterwards, the several facts in this memorable theophany.
Seeing it is secret Rather, and it is Wonderful. It is the adjective form of the same word which in Isaiah 9:6 is rendered Wonderful. There is a deep significance beneath this word, involving the marvellous person, character, and works of Him who in the fulness of times “was made flesh and dwelt among us… the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.
19. Manoah took a kid Here notice another instance of a person offering a burnt-offering with his own hands, and far from the tabernacle.
Offered it upon a rock As Gideon offered his kid and unleavened cakes. Judges 6:20.
Did wondrously His acts accorded with his name. The great miracle was his ascension in the flame of the altar; by which sublime manifestation he overwhelmed Manoah and his wife with a sudden conviction of his divine essence and glory. This conviction only deepened and became more permanent with the lapse of time, and the fact that the Angel no more appeared.
22. We shall surely die Compare note on Judges 6:22.
23. If the Lord were pleased to kill us Reason and faith united, in the heart of the wife develop into a noble and devout trust, and triumph over the fears and trembling of the husband. The essential element of her faith and reason was identical with that which led the apostle to write: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32.
24. Samson The name signifies, according to Josephus, one that is strong. Some have doubted this signification, because the root shemesh means the sun; but Furst shows that from the sense of being bright, shining, comes easily the metaphorical sense of being distinguished, strong. Hence the name indicates a distinguished hero.
The Lord blessed him By endowing him with remarkable physical powers, and thus preparing him for the great mission of his life to begin to deliver Israel from the oppression of the Philistines. Judges 13:5.
25. Spirit of the Lord began to move him Literally, began to strike him; that is, to urge or impel him to perform marvellous feats of strength. He may have rent many a lion in his youthful days, and such feats had as much to do in developing his faith in God, and preparing him to smite the Philistines, as David’s smiting of the lion and the bear had in preparing him to cope with Goliath. 1 Samuel 17:37.
Camp of Dan In Judges 18:12, the word is rendered as a proper name, Mahaneh-Dan. It was the district belonging to the Danites lying between Zorah and Eshtaol. This latter place has not been clearly identified with any modern site, but probably lay between Zorah and Kirjath-jearim. Compare Judges 18:12, and Joshua 15:33.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Judges 13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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