What does Judges 13:20 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: 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.
NASB: 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.
CSB: 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.
NLT: 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.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar—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.
Verse Commentary:
At the suggestion of a stranger—whom they apparently believe to be a prophet (Judges 13:2–11) or "man of God"—Manoah and his wife are offering a burnt offering to God. This is in the form of a young goat and grain. It is their sincere expression of thanks and devotion; praise to the Lord for the wonder He has worked in the promise of a baby (Judges 13:12–19).

Now something astonishing happens. The stranger—whom they apparently believed to be merely human—suddenly rises into heaven in the flame of their burnt offering. The prior verse carefully noted the pair were watching, so this is no misunderstanding or optical illusion. They are staggered by seeing this supernatural event. It brings sudden realization about the Person to whom they've been speaking. This is "the angel of the LORD," seemingly God Himself in human form.

The awestruck couple do the only appropriate thing: they fall in the prostrate position of worship, humility, and submission before God. However, the same realization has left Manoah afraid for their lives (Judges 13:21–22).
Verse Context:
Judges 13:8–25 explains how Manoah learned of his wife's interaction with a messenger from God. He prays for more understanding, so he can properly fulfill his obligations. The angel of the Lord appears, again, and repeats his instructions. The child is to be consecrated as a Nazirite for his entire life. Manoah prepares a sacrifice, and the angel disappears into the flames. This further confirms the truth of the message. Manoah and his wife name their child Samson, who shows signs of blessing and the influence of God's Spirit from an early age.
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).
Accessed 6/22/2024 7:23:05 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com