What does Judges 13:1 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: 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.
NASB: 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.
CSB: The Israelites again did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines forty years.
NLT: 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.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.
Verse Commentary:
Chapter 13 begins with an all-too-familiar statement. Yet another generation of Israelites descends into moral evil (Judges 2:16–19). Based on previous chapters, the nature of this evil at a minimum includes worship of false gods: the idols and deities of the Canaanites and other surrounding nations. This idolatry would be evil in and of itself (Exodus 20:1–6). Further, worship practices of the Canaanites often involved sexual immorality and violence such as human sacrifice (Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:9–14).

The Lord's response is also familiar. He allows this new generation of unfaithful people to be defeated and enslaved by their enemies. This time, it's the Philistines once again. God will break their stranglehold on Israel in a startling way that demonstrates His grace and mercy.

The Philistine people were part of a large migration of tribes known as the Sea Peoples. They arrived in considerable numbers from the Aegean regions around 1200 BC. Known for violence and destruction, the Sea Peoples attacked Egypt and were pushed back by Rameses III. They settled along the southern coast of Canaan, where they built up five major fortified cities: Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza. From that base, they pushed eastward into Canaan to dominate Israel and the other peoples of the region.

The Philistines will continue to be a major enemy of Israel until the time of King David; however, God limits their active oppression of His people to four decades. During this era, He raised up another judge to begin to save Israel.
Verse Context:
Judges 13:1–7 begins as Israel, once again, descends into sin and evil, resulting in hardship. This passage describes an interaction between a childless women and a messenger from God, possibly Yahweh Himself in human form. He tells her she will give birth to a son who is to be dedicated as a Nazirite from the womb. This child's purpose will be to begin rescuing Israel from oppression under the Philistines. The woman tells her husband, Manoah, who is from the tribe of Dan.
Chapter Summary:
The Lord appoints another deliverer for Israel, this time in response to oppression under the Philistines. An impressive stranger appears to Manoah and his wife, announcing they will have a son. This child is to be set apart as a Nazarite from before birth until death. His mother must not drink wine or strong drink or eat any unclean thing. This visitor then disappears into the flames of a burnt offering. The couple realizes they have seen a manifestation of Yahweh, Himself. Samson is born and soon shows signs of God's influence.
Chapter Context:
After Jephthah's rescue (Judges 11—12) this passage begins with another generation sinning against God. As is the pattern of the book of Judges, this leads to oppression. Israel is subject to forty years of misery under the Philistines. God appears to the wife of Manoah in the territory of Dan. She is commanded to consecrate her unborn son as a Nazarite, and that this child will begin to save Israel from the Philistines. Samson is born and is blessed by God. This is as pure as Samson's life will be—the rest of his story is an awkward, scandalous example of the Lord using flawed people to accomplish His great purposes.
Book Summary:
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
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