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Judges chapter 13

New International Version

1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.
2 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. 3 The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, 'You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. 4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. 5 You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.'
6 Then the woman went to her husband and told him, 'A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn't ask him where he came from, and he didn't tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, 'You will become pregnant and have a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from the womb until the day of his death.''
8 Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: 'Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.'
9 God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 The woman hurried to tell her husband, 'He's here! The man who appeared to me the other day!'
11 Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, 'Are you the man who talked to my wife?' 'I am,' he said.
12 So Manoah asked him, 'When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule that governs the boy's life and work?'
13 The angel of the LORD answered, 'Your wife must do all that I have told her. 14 She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her.'
15 Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, 'We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.'
16 The angel of the LORD replied, 'Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the LORD.' (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the LORD.)
17 Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the LORD, 'What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?'
18 He replied, 'Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.' 19 Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the LORD. And the LORD did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: 20 As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. 21 When the angel of the LORD did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the LORD.
22 We are doomed to die!' he said to his wife. 'We have seen God!'
23 But his wife answered, 'If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this.'
24 The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, 25 and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
English Standard Version

1 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.
2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. 3 And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. 4 Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, 5 for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, 7 but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”
8 Then Manoah prayed to the LORD and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.” 9 And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field. But Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “Behold, the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me.” 11 And Manoah arose and went after his wife and came to the man and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to this woman?” And he said, “I am.” 12 And Manoah said, “Now when your words come true, what is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission?” 13 And the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. 14 She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her let her observe.”
15 Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “Please let us detain you and prepare a young goat for you.” 16 And the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD.) 17 And Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?” 18 And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” 19 So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the LORD, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. 20 And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground.
21 The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. 22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” 23 But his wife said to him, “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.” 24 And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the LORD blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
King James Version

1 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. 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. 3 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. 4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: 5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no rasor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name: 7 But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.
8 Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born. 9 And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day. 11 And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am. 12 And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him? 13 And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware. 14 She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe.
15 And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee. 16 And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD. 17 And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour? 18 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret? 19 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. 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. 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. 22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God. 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.
24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
New American Standard Bible

1 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD handed them over to the Philistines for forty years.
2 And there was a man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was infertile and had not given birth to any children. 3 Then the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, 'Behold now, you are infertile and have not given birth; but you will conceive and give birth to a son. 4 And now, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. 5 For behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he will begin to save Israel from the hands of the Philistines.' 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, 'A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. So I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’?'
8 Then Manoah pleaded with the LORD and said, 'Lord, please let the man of God whom You have sent come to us again so that he may teach us what we are to do for the boy who is to be born.' 9 And God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 So the woman hurried and ran, and told her husband, 'Behold, the man who came the other day has appeared to me!' 11 So Manoah got up and followed his wife, and when he came to the man he said to him, 'Are you the man who spoke to the woman?' And he said, 'I am.' 12 Then Manoah said, 'Now when your words are fulfilled, what shall be the boy’s way of life and his vocation?' 13 And the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, 'The woman shall pay attention to all that I said. 14 She shall not eat anything that comes from the vine nor drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; she shall keep all that I commanded.'
15 Then Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, 'Please let us detain you so that we may prepare a young goat for you.' 16 But the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, 'Though you detain me, I will not eat your food, but if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the LORD.' For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD. 17 And Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, 'What is your name, so that when your words are fulfilled, we may honor you?' 18 But the angel of the LORD said to him, 'Why do you ask my name, for it is wonderful?' 19 So Manoah took the young goat along with the grain offering and offered it on the rock to the LORD; and He performed wonders while Manoah and his wife looked on. 20 For it came about when the flame went up from the altar toward heaven, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground.
21 Now the angel of the LORD did not appear to Manoah or his wife again. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. 22 So Manoah said to his wife, 'We will certainly die, for we have seen God.' 23 But his wife said to him, 'If the LORD had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have let us hear things like this at this time.'
24 So the woman gave birth to a son, and named him Samson; and the child grew up and the LORD blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him when he was in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
New Living Translation

1 Again the Israelites did evil in the LORD's sight, so the LORD handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for forty years.
2 In those days a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children. 3 The angel of the LORD appeared to Manoah's wife and said, 'Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. 4 So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. 5 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.'
6 The woman ran and told her husband, 'A man of God appeared to me! He looked like one of God's angels, terrifying to see. I didn't ask where he was from, and he didn't tell me his name. 7 But he told me, 'You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.''
8 Then Manoah prayed to the LORD, saying, 'Lord, please let the man of God come back to us again and give us more instructions about this son who is to be born.'
9 God answered Manoah's prayer, and the angel of God appeared once again to his wife as she was sitting in the field. But her husband, Manoah, was not with her. 10 So she quickly ran and told her husband, 'The man who appeared to me the other day is here again!'
11 Manoah ran back with his wife and asked, 'Are you the man who spoke to my wife the other day?' 'Yes,' he replied, 'I am.'
12 So Manoah asked him, 'When your words come true, what kind of rules should govern the boy's life and work?'
13 The angel of the LORD replied, 'Be sure your wife follows the instructions I gave her. 14 She must not eat grapes or raisins, drink wine or any other alcoholic drink, or eat any forbidden food.'
15 Then Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, 'Please stay here until we can prepare a young goat for you to eat.'
16 'I will stay,' the angel of the LORD replied, 'but I will not eat anything. However, you may prepare a burnt offering as a sacrifice to the LORD.' (Manoah didn't realize it was the angel of the LORD.)
17 Then Manoah asked the angel of the LORD, 'What is your name? For when all this comes true, we want to honor you.'
18 'Why do you ask my name?' the angel of the LORD replied. 'It is too wonderful for you to understand.'
19 Then Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered it on a rock as a sacrifice to the LORD. And as Manoah and his wife watched, the LORD did an amazing thing. 20 As the flames from the altar shot up toward the sky, the angel of the LORD ascended in the fire. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell with their faces to the ground.
21 The angel did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Manoah finally realized it was the angel of the LORD, 22 and he said to his wife, 'We will certainly die, for we have seen God!'
23 But his wife said, 'If the LORD were going to kill us, he wouldn't have accepted our burnt offering and grain offering. He wouldn't have appeared to us and told us this wonderful thing and done these miracles.'
24 When her son was born, she named him Samson. And the LORD blessed him as he grew up. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he lived in Mahaneh-dan, which is located between the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol.
Christian Standard Bible

1 The Israelites again did what was evil in the Lord's sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines forty years. 2 There was a certain man from Zorah, from the family of Dan, whose name was Manoah; his wife was unable to conceive and had no children. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, "Although you are unable to conceive and have no children, you will conceive and give birth to a son. 4 Now please be careful not to drink wine or beer, or to eat anything unclean; 5 for indeed, you will conceive and give birth to a son. You must never cut his hair, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from birth, and he will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines."
6 Then the woman went and told her husband, "A man of God came to me. He looked like the awe-inspiring angel of God. I didn't ask him where he came from, and he didn't tell me his name. 7 He said to me, 'You will conceive and give birth to a son. Therefore, do not drink wine or beer, and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from birth until the day of his death.' "
8 Manoah prayed to the Lord and said, "Please, Lord, let the man of God you sent come again to us and teach us what we should do for the boy who will be born."
9 God listened to Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman. She was sitting in the field, and her husband, Manoah, was not with her. 10 The woman ran quickly to her husband and told him, "The man who came to me the other day has just come back! "
11 So Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he asked, "Are you the man who spoke to my wife? ""I am," he said.
12 Then Manoah asked, "When your words come true, what will be the boy's responsibilities and work? "
13 The angel of the Lord answered Manoah, "Your wife needs to do everything I told her. 14 She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine or drink wine or beer. And she must not eat anything unclean. Your wife must do everything I have commanded her."
15 "Please stay here," Manoah told him, "and we will prepare a young goat for you."
16 The angel of the Lord said to him, "If I stay, I won't eat your food. But if you want to prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord." (Manoah did not know he was the angel of the Lord.)
17 Then Manoah said to him, "What is your name, so that we may honor you when your words come true? "
18 "Why do you ask my name," the angel of the Lord asked him, "since it is beyond understanding?"
19 Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered them on a rock to the Lord, who did something miraculous while Manoah and his wife were watching. 20 When the flame went up from the altar to the sky, the angel of the Lord went up in its flame. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell facedown on the ground. 21 The angel of the Lord did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Then Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord.
22 "We're certainly going to die," he said to his wife, "because we have seen God! "
23 But his wife said to him, "If the Lord had intended to kill us, he wouldn't have accepted the burnt offering and the grain offering from us, and he would not have shown us all these things or spoken to us like this."
24 So the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The boy grew, and the Lord blessed him. 25 Then the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in the Camp of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

What does Judges chapter 13 mean?

This chapter begins like many others in the book of Judges (Judges 2:16–19) but continues in an unusual way. Another generation of Israelites fall into depravity and sin: serving the gods of the Canaanites and the nations around them. The Lord responds once more by turning His people over to a foreign power, this time the Philistines (Judges 13:1).

God does not wait, this time, for His people to cry out for help in their suffering. Instead, the Lord appoints a deliverer before the man is even born. Also unusual is that this new judge will only "begin to save Israel."

Manoah and his wife live in Zorah, in the territory of the tribe of Dan. This is in south-central Israel near the heart of Philistine power. One day, "the angel of the LORD," Yahweh Himself in some temporary human form, appears to Manoah's wife. He announces that although she has been barren, she will give birth to a son. Barrenness and miraculous intervention are common aspects of God's work in Israel throughout the Old Testament (Genesis 11:30; 25:21; 29:31). He tells her not to drink alcohol or eat anything the law describes as unclean. Her son is meant to live under a Nazarite vow (Numbers 6:1–21) from the womb. The boy is destined to begin to save Israel from the Philistines (Judges 13:2–5).

The woman seeks out her husband and tells him this news. Manoah quickly prays, asking God to send back the strange "man of God," who they believe only has the appearance of an angel. His request expresses faith that the prophecy is true. He doesn't seem to question "if" this will happen but asks for more information about how to raise their son. The Lord grants this request and reappears. "The angel of the LORD" repeats how important it is that Manoah's wife follows the restrictions for someone under a Nazarite vow (Judges 13:6–14).

Manoah still doesn't grasp the nature of this Person to whom he speaks. He believes the stranger to be a man of God, but he does not understand this is "the angel of the LORD." He asks the stranger to stay so he can bring a meal. The stranger refuses to eat yet encourages Manoah to offer the Lord a burnt sacrifice. Manoah asks the stranger's name but is told it is too wonderful for them to understand. This somewhat echoes God's self-identification to Moses (Exodus 3:14), as well as other Scriptures describing the Lord as beyond human comprehension (Isaiah 55:8–9). Manoah offers the young goat and a grain offering to the Lord on a large rock (Judges 13:15–18).

As Manoah and his wife are observing their guest, "the angel of the LORD" disappears into the flames of the offering and vanishes up towards heaven. The couple instantly recognize this supernatural disappearance as proof they have been talking to "the angel of the LORD," meaning Yahweh Himself. They fall on their faces in humble worship. Manoah briefly fears they will die because they have seen God (Exodus 33:20). The wife assures her husband that if God meant to kill them, He would not have accepted their offering. Nor would He have shown them these things or told them about the child (Judges 13:19–23).

They do not die, and the woman gives birth to a son. She names him Samson, and the boy is blessed by God. When he is a young man, the Lord's Spirit begins to stir in Samson. This begins while he is in a specific place between his hometown and a town called Eshtaol (Judges 13:24–25).

This holy, sanctified beginning to Samson's life is as "clean" as his story will be. The rest of his life is a series of scandals, questionable choices, and bloodshed. Despite not being an especially "heroic" character, Samson is still used by God for His greater purposes.