Notes on Judges 13, verses 19-25
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Judges 13:19, KJV: 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.
In the KJV, “meat” offerings were usually grain offerings (see Leviticus 2). Manoah took a kid then offered it, with the grain (“meat”) offering, on a rock to the LORD. Note that there is no mention of the Tabernacle or of any priests or Levites who should have assisted in this offering. Even so, the LORD was apparently pleased with Manoah’s offering. The Visitor “did wondrously” while Manoah and his wife observed. The text does not specify just what the Visitor actually did at that time. They still seemed to think this Visitor was only a “man of God (verse 6)”.
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.
This verse gives a hint of the size of the rock Manoah used as an altar. Apparently it was large enough for the body of a kid (sizes clearly would vary) and an unspecified quantity of grain for the “meat” offering. One wonders where Manoah found materials for starting the fire for this offering. When the Angel of the LORD accepted Gideon’s offering or meal, He touched the food with the end of His staff (Judges 6:21) then disappeared. No need to confuse the events of Gideon’s day with Manoah’s day: different locations, different offerings, and different circumstances.
Verse 19 states the Visitor “did wondrously”’ but no details are given. Even if the action described here was the only deed the Visitor performed, it would have been indeed wondrous! The Visitor went up (to Heaven itself?) in the flame on the altar! Manoah and his wife both fell on their faces to the ground, which was and is a true act of worship (Balaam, Num. 22:31; Joshua, Jos. 5:14; to name two examples).
21 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.
How did Manoah discover that the Visitor was the Angel of the LORD? Besides whatever the Angle “did wondrously”, the Angel also disappeared in the fire of the offering. No human could do this and live.
One thing to remember is that the Angel did not appear frequently or randomly; He only came on special occasions. No one should be surprised that He didn’t appear any more after this visit. At any rate, Manoah and his wife realized their Visitor was the Angel of the LORD. And they were scared, as the next verse will indicate:
22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
Both Manoah and his wife seem to have known that Moses asked to see the Glory of God (Exodus 33:18) and God’s reply, “And he said, ‘Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live’ (Exodus 33:20).” This may refer to seeing God in His Glory, even as Moses wished to see. On at least one occasion, God appeared in human form to certain people. Abraham’s visit by the Three Visitors in Genesis 18 is proof of this: one of these Visitors was the LORD Himself (Gen. 18:1, 13).
One day, every person will stand before God to be judged: believers for their deeds in order to receive rewards for serving the Lord (1 Corinthians 3, 2 Cor. 5:10) and unbelievers for their deeds at the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).
Which judgment will you face, reader?
23 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.
Manoah’s wife was truly a wise woman. She not only pointed out the obvious fact that she and her husband were both still alive after seeing the Angel of the LORD in person, but also explained that if the LORD was not pleased, He would not have accepted their offerings. She went on to remind Manoah of all the things they had seen and heard while the Angel of the LORD was with them.
24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.
God had promised Manoah and his wife a son (verse 3). The text does not specify when the boy was born, or how much time had taken place between the promise and the actual birth. What is important is that once again God kept His promise!
Something easy to miss is the statement, “the LORD blessed him”. Indeed the LORD did bless Samson, making him a judge and a champion for Israel. Sadly, as later chapters will reveal, Samson did not remember these blessings. At the very least, he seems not to have appreciated these blessings until it was almost too late for him to do anything of value for Israel.
25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
Zorah was the city of Manoah and perhaps his wife, as well. Samson may well have spent time in his father’s home town but also went to Eshtaol (its exact location is uncertain), also both cities were in the original tract of land given to the Danites.
The “camp of Dan” is probably not the same as the later “Mahaneh-Dan” mentioned in Judges 18:12, which was in the land of Judah. Samson began to sense the movements by the Spirit of the LORD (the Holy Spirit) in these formative years, before he began to “judge” Israel.
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).