Judges 13:2
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.
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(2) There was a certain man. . . .—The narrative of the birth of Samuel (1Samuel 1:1) is similarly introduced.

Zoran.—The name means “place of hornets.” In Joshua 15:33 it is mentioned with Eshtaol among the towns north-east of the Shephelah, and it belonged to Dan (Joshua 19:41). Robinson identifies it with Surah, fourteen miles from Jerusalem, seven miles south of Yalo, west of Kirjath-jearim. It is mentioned again in 1Chronicles 11:10; Nehemiah 11:29. Its conical hill and abundant fountain made it a strong and convenient place.

Of the family of the Danites.—There seems to be no clear distinction between “family” (mispachath) and “tribe” (shebet), since they are used interchangeably in Judges 18:1-2; Judges 18:11; Judges 18:30. The same word is used of the house of Levi (Zechariah 12:13). It has, however, this appropriateness, as applied to Dan, that the tribe seems to have consisted of the single family of Shuham (Numbers 26:42).

Manoah.—The name (“rest”) perhaps expressed the yearning of the Israelites in these troubled days.

His wife was barren.—We find the same circumstance mentioned of Sarah (Genesis 16:1), Rebekah (Genesis 25:21), Hannah (1Samuel 1:2) Elizabeth (Luke 1:7). Many of the phrases here used occur in Luke 1:7; Luke 1:11; Luke 1:15; Luke 1:31; Luke 2:23. The Talmud (Babha Bathra, 91) says that the name of Samson’s mother was Hazelelponi, or Zelelponi (for which they refer to 1Chronicles 4:3), and that she was of the tribe of Judah. Zelelponi means “the shadow falls on me.”

And bare not.—The pleonastic addition is common in the forms of ancient literature. “Sarai was barren; she had no child” (Genesis 11:30). “I am a widow woman, and my husband is dead.” It often takes the form of both a positive and negative statement, as “Thou shalt live, and not die.” “It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves,” &c.

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.

13:1-7 Israel did evil: then God delivered them again into the hands of the Philistines. When Israel was in this distress, Samson was born. His parents had been long childless. Many eminent persons were born of such mothers. Mercies long waited for, often prove signal mercies; and by them others may be encouraged to continue their hope in God's mercy. The angel notices her affliction. God often sends comfort to his people very seasonably, when they feel their troubles most. This deliverer of Israel must be devoted to God. Manoah's wife was satisfied that the messenger was of God. She gave her husband a particular account, both of the promise and of the precept. Husbands and wives should tell each other their experiences of communion with God, and their improvements in acquaintance with him, that they may help each other in the way that is holy.Zorah - See the marginal reference.

His wife was barren - To mark more distinctly the high providential destiny of the child that was eventually born. Compare the similar circumstances of the birth of Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, and John the Baptist.

Jud 13:2-10. An Angel Appears to Manoah's Wife.

2. Zorah—a Danite town (Jos 15:33) lying on the common boundary of Judah and Dan, so that it was near the Philistine border.

Zorah; a city, of which see Joshua 15:33 19:41.

Of the family, i.e. of the tribe or people, as family sometimes signifies, Joshua 7:17 Jeremiah 8:3 10:25 Amos 3:1 Micah 2:3 Zechariah 14:18.

Barren, and bare not; an emphatical repetition of the same thing in divers words, which is a usual elegancy, both in Scripture and other authors.

And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites,.... Of the tribe of Dan, in which tribe Zorah was, and seems to have lain both on the borders of Judah and Dan, Joshua 15:33; See Gill on Joshua 15:33; see Gill on Joshua 19:41, and this man was not a mean man, but of rank and figure, a principal man in the country, according to Josephus (g); though the Talmudists (h) say he was a plebeian:

whose name was Manoah; which signifies "rest", and has much the same signification as Noah; and by this name he was well known in those times, and among his people:

and his wife was barren, and bare not; had no child, as the Targum; and it is observed by many, that several eminent persons were born of women that had been barren, as Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, and John the Baptist; and it is remarkable, that the strongest man that ever was born of such a woman, as the following account relates. The name of this woman, the mother of Samson, is said (i) to be Zalalponith; see 1 Chronicles 4:3.

(g) Antique. l. 5. c. 8. sect. 2.((h) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 61. 1.((i) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 91. 1. Juchasin, fol. 10. 8.

And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was {a} barren, and bare not.

(a) Signifying that their deliverance came only from God, and not by man's power.

2. Zorah] Jdg 13:25, Jdg 16:31, Jdg 18:2; Jdg 18:8; Jdg 18:11, usually mentioned with Eshtaol; in Joshua 19:41 counted as Danite, in ib. Joshua 15:33 as belonging to Judah, which later on absorbed the Danite settlements in the south; re-inhabited after the exile, Nehemiah 11:29. Zorah was an ancient Canaanite town, and is referred to in the Amarna Letters (173, 21) along with Aijalon. The name is preserved in the modern Ṣar‘a, 15 m. west of Jerusalem. The situation of the town just opposite Beth-shemesh (prob. = Mt Ḥeres Jdg 1:35) exposed it to Philistine influences.

of the family of the Danites … Manoah] The Danites were a small tribe, hence ‘family’ is used here and in Jdg 18:2; Jdg 18:11; Jdg 18:19, though ‘tribe’ also occurs in Jdg 18:1; Jdg 18:19. Originally they attempted to settle in the southern lowland, but the Amorites forced them into the neighbouring hill country (Jdg 1:34 f.), a district which afterwards passed into the possession of Judah. From their southern settlements the Danites, probably owing to Canaanite or Philistine pressure, migrated to the north, and established themselves at Laish or Leshem-Dan, near the sources of the Jordan (Jdg 18:2; Jdg 18:11 ff., Jdg 18:27 ff.; Joshua 19:47). The account of this migration, though given at the end of Judges, probably belongs to the period of ch. 1. The Danites were already settled in their northern home at the time of Deborah (Jdg 5:17). But ch. 18 does not say that the entire tribe migrated; some families remained behind in the south, as the present narrative implies. Manoaḥ must have been closely connected with the Manaḥathites of Zorah, a family which traced its origin to the Calebite clans (1 Chronicles 2:52-54), and had affinities both with the Horites of Seir (Genesis 36:23 P) and with Judah (1 Chronicles 4:1). This Horite family lived in Zorah and was absorbed into the mixed tribe of Dan: such seems to be the conclusion suggested by the genealogies. Manoaḥ thus becomes, the eponymous ancestor of the family which bore his name, and in popular tradition Samson was known as his ‘son,’ just as Jephthah is called the ‘son’ of Gilead in Jdg 11:1.

was barren, and bare not] Cf. Sarah Genesis 11:30, Hannah 1 Samuel 1:2, Elisabeth St Luke 1:7. The child in such cases was a special gift of God, and marked out for a special career.

Verse 2. - Zorah. Enumerated among the cities in the tribe of Dan in Joshua 19:41, but ascribed to Judah, ibid. 15:33 (there transliterated Zoreah) and in 2 Chronicles 11:10. Probably the boundary passed through the city, as that of Judah and Benjamin did through Jerusalem. In Nehemiah 11:29 it is transliterated Zareah, and also ascribed to Judah. It is almost always coupled with Eshtaol, as in ver. 25 of this chapter. It was situated in the Shephelah, or plain country, and was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:10). It is supposed to be represented by the modern Surah, at the entrance of the Wady Ghurab. The family of the Danites. It appears from Numbers 26:42, 43 that there was only one family in the tribe of Dan, so that in this case tribe and family were co-extensive. Judges 13:2Whilst the Israelites were given into the hands of the Philistines on account of their sins, and were also severely oppressed in Gilead on the part of the Ammonites, the angel of the Lord appeared to the wife of Manoah, a Danite from Zorea, i.e., Sur'a, on the western slope of the mountains of Judah (see at Joshua 15:33). Mishpachath Dani (the family of the Danites) is used interchangeably with shebet Dani (the tribe of the Danites: see Judges 18:2, Judges 18:11, and Judges 18:1, Judges 18:30), which may be explained on this ground, that according to Numbers 26:42-43, all the Danites formed but one family, viz., the family of the Shuhamites. The angel of the Lord announced to this woman, who was barren, "Thou wilt conceive and bear a son. And now beware, drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean: for, behold, thou wilt conceive and bear a son, and no razor shall come upon his head; for a vowed man of God (Nazir) will the boy be from his mother's womb," i.e., his whole life long, "to the day of his death," as the angel expressly affirmed, according to Judges 13:7. The three prohibitions which the angel of the Lord imposed upon the woman were the three things which distinguished the condition of a Nazarite (see at Numbers 6:1-8, and the explanation given there of the Nazarite vow). The only other thing mentioned in the Mosaic law is the warning against defilement from contact with the dead, which does not seem to have been enforced in the case of Samson. When the angel added still further, "And he (the Nazarite) will begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines," he no doubt intended to show that his power to effect this deliverance would be closely connected with his condition as a Nazarite. The promised son was to be a Nazarite all his life long, because he was to begin to deliver Israel out of the power of his foes. And in order that he might be so, his mother was to share in the renunciations of the Nazarite vow during the time of her pregnancy. Whilst the appearance of the angel of the Lord contained the practical pledge that the Lord still acknowledged His people, though He had given them into the hands of their enemies; the message of the angel contained this lesson and warning for Israel, that it could only obtain deliverance from its foes by seeking after a life of consecration to the Lord, such as the Nazarites pursued, so as to realize the idea of the priestly character to which Israel had been called as the people of Jehovah, by abstinence from the deliciae carnis, and everything that was unclean, as being emanations of sin, and also by a complete self-surrender to the Lord (see Pentateuch, p. 674).
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