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.
Did evil — That is, fell into idolatry, not after the death of Abdon the last judge, but in the days of the former judges.
Forty years — To be computed, not from Abdon's death, but before that time. And it is probable that great slaughter of the Ephraimites made by Jephthah, greatly encouraged the Philistines to rise against Israel, when one of their chief bulwarks was so much weakened; and therefore began to domineer over them not long after Jephthah's death. These were a very inconsiderable people. They had but five cities of any note. And yet when God used them as the staff in his hand, they were very oppressive and vexatious.
 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.
Of the family — That is, of the tribe or people.
Bare not — An emphatical repetition of the same thing in other words, which is an usual elegancy both in scripture and other authors.
 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.
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 redeemer.
 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:
Beware — Because the child was to be a Nazarite from the womb, verse 5, and from the conception; and because the mother's pollution extends to the child, she is enjoined from this time to observe the following rules belonging to the Nazarites.
Strong drink — Under which are comprehended the other particulars mentioned, Numbers 6:2-4.
Nor eat — Any of those meats forbidden, Leviticus 11:1-47, which were forbidden to all, but especially to the Nazarites.
 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor 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.
A Nazarite — A person consecrated to God's service.
Begin to deliver — And the deliverance shall be carried on and perfected by others, as it was by Eli, Samuel, and Saul; but especially by David. God chuses to carry on his work gradually and by several hands. One lays the foundation of a good work, another builds, and perhaps a third brings forth the top stone.
 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:
Man of God — A prophet, or sacred person, sent with a message from God.
Terrible — Or, venerable, awful, full of Majesty.
 And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?
Let thy words — Or, thy words shall come to pass: I firmly believe thy promises shall be fulfilled.
How — What rules shall we observe about his education?
 And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.
Let her — Whilst the child is in her womb, and after the child is born let him observe the same orders.
 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.
Made ready — Supposing him to be a man and a prophet, to whom he would in this manner express his respect, as was usual to strangers.
 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.
Bread — That is, meat, as bread is commonly taken in scripture.
To the Lord — Not unto a man, as thou apprehendest me to be; but unto the Lord, as thou wilt by and by perceive me to be.
 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?
Honour — Either by making honourable mention of thee, or by shewing respect to thee, by a present, which they usually gave to prophets.
 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret
Secret — Hidden from mortal men: or, wonderful, such as thou canst not comprehend: my nature and essence, (which is often signified by name in scripture) is incomprehensible. This shews, that this was the angel of the covenant, the Son of God.
 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.
Meal-offering — Which were generally joined with the chief sacrifices.
A Rock — The angel's presence and command being a sufficient warrant for the offering of sacrifice by a person who was no priest, and in a place otherwise forbidden.
 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.
The altar — That is, from that part of the rock which served instead of an altar, upon which the sacrifice was laid.
Ascended — To manifest his nature and essence to be spiritual.
Fell — Partly in reverence to that glorious presence manifested in so wonderful a manner: and partly, out of a religious horror and fear of death; for the prevention thereof they fell down in way of supplication to God.
 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.
Nor would, … — This expression seems to have some emphasis in it, to enhance God's mercy to them, as being afforded them in a time of such grievous calamity; and in a time when the word of the lord was precious; and there was no open vision.
 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.
Blessed him — That is, endowed him with all those graces and gifts of mind and body which were necessary for the work he was designed for.
 And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
To move — That is, to stir him up to heroical designs; to shew forth its power in the frame of his mind, and in the strength of his body, discovered to his neighbours in extraordinary actions; to encline his heart to great attempts for the help and deliverance of God's people, to give some essays of it to his brethren, and to seek all opportunities for it.
Of Dan — A place so called, either from the expedition of the Danites, Judges 18:11,12, which though placed after this history, was done before it: or from some other camp which the Danites had formed there, to give some check to the incursions of the Philistines.