Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Years. It is not clear whence this sixth and longest servitude is to be dated. If it terminated at the death of Samson, when the Philistines lost their chief nobility, &c., we must allow that the Israelites began to be obliged to pay tribute in the 6th year of Abesan. (In the year before Christ 1193, Salien) Chap. xii. 8. (Haydock) — Marsham dates from the third month after the death of Jair, to the third year of Samuel, during which period Heli governed in one part, and Jephte, Abesan, Ahialon, and Abdon in other provinces of Palestine. It is not very material which of these systems be adopted, as they do not contradict the text. All Israel was not reduced under the power of the Philistines; but the neighbouring tribes were infested with their incursions, and were obliged to pay tribute. Juda complains at their invading his territory, and they allege that it was because Samson had been the aggressor, which shews that the Israelites retained some little liberty, chap. xv. 9. (Calmet) — The servitude had scarcely commenced, when God provided Samson a deliverer for his people. (Salien, in the year of the world 2860.) (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Saraa, in the confines of Juda and of Dan, ten miles north of Eleutheropolis. (Eusebius) — Manue seems to have resided in the country, near this town, ver. 25. (Menochius)
Ver. 3. Angel, in human form. Some Protestants pretend that he was “the Son of God,” and yet (ver. 16) they say, “he sought not his own honour, but God’s, whose messenger he was,” (Bible, 1603) in which they plainly contradict themselves, or else teach Arianism, as if the Son were not true God, and equal to his Father. (Worthington) — The title of God, (Jehova) which is given to this angel, (ver. 15, 21) is no proof that he was the Supreme Being, chap. vi. 11.
Ver. 4. Thing. Exhortations to observe the law are not unnecessary. (St. Augustine, q. 50.) Besides the things which common people might take, such as wine, grapes, &c., were unclean for the Nazarites. The mother of Samson was required to abstain from every species of uncleanness as much as possible, at least while she bore and nursed her child. (Calmet) — Abulensis says, she was unquestionably under peculiar restrictions till her delivery. (Menochius) — This was a preparation for the child who should abstain from all unclean things, not only for a time, (Numbers vi.) but during his whole life, that he might be a more perfect figure of Christ. (Worthington) — His dignity was not of choice, nor could he forfeit it by touching any thing unclean, nor by the violent cutting off his hair. As the deliverer of the people, he must often have been obliged to touch dead bodies. (Calmet) — Begin. The power of the Philistines was greatly broken by Samson, chap xvi. 13. (Menochius) — But Samuel, Saul, and David had still to contend with them, 1 Kings vii. 13. (Haydock)
Ver. 6. And when, &c. Hebrew, Chaldean, Syriac, Arabic, and the Vatican Septuagint read a negation, “And I did not ask him whence he came; neither did he tell me his name.” The other copies of the Septuagint, St. Augustine (q. 51.), &c., agree with the Vulgate though St. Augustine suspected that the negation was wanting. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Born. Josephus ([Antiquities?] v. 10.) insinuates that Manue was touched with a sort of jealousy, as his wife had mentioned the comeliness of the stranger. (Haydock) — But St. Ambrose (ep. 70) has undertaken his defence; and surely God would not have wrought a miracle to gratify his request, if it had not proceeded from a virtuous motive, desiring to enjoy the same happiness as his wife, and to know precisely how they were to educate their son. (Calmet) — Procopius thinks that the wife of Manue was of more eminent virtue than her husband, and was therefore honoured with the first vision. She had been most afflicted at her sterility, and had prayed more earnestly for the people’s safety. (Menochius)
Ver. 12. Himself. Hebrew and Septuagint, “What shall be the judgment (education; Calmet) of the boy, and what his works? (or Protestants) how shall we do unto him?” (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Let her refrain, &c. By the Latin text, it is not clear whether this abstinence was prescribed to the mother or to the child; but the Hebrew (in which the verbs relating thereto are of the feminine gender) determines it to the mother. But then the child also was to refrain from the like things, because he was to be from his infancy a Nazarite of God, (ver. 5) that is, one set aside in a particular manner, and consecrated to God; now the Nazarites, by the law, were to abstain from all these things.
Ver. 15. Dress. Hebrew and Septuagint, “let us make.” Vulgate, faciamus, is used either for a common feast or for a sacrifice, Exodus xxix. 36. Virgil, (eclog. iii.) Cras faciam vitulâ. Manue did not yet know who the angel was. He only designed to give him something to eat. A kid was then esteemed the most delicious food, and physicians esteem it very wholesome. The taste of people has since altered. (Bochart, Anim. p. i. b. ii. 52.) (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Bread is put for all sorts of food. Angels eat none, Tobias xii. 19. (Menochius)
Ver. 17. Honour thee with a suitable reward, 1 Timothy v. 17.
Ver. 18. Wonderful. Hebrew Peli. Some have concluded that this was the proper name of the angel, as it is one of the titles of the Messias, Isaias ix. 6. But it is more probable that the angel did not reveal his name. (Chaldean) Others divide this sentence thus, “and he (the angel, or rather God) was wonderful.” He was the author of all miracles, to whom sacrifice was immediately offered. It is doubtful whether the angels have distinctive names. But we read of Michael, &c., and there is no reason why they should not have names denoting their peculiar dignity and offices. (Calmet) — Michael, the guardian of the church, perhaps appeared on this occasion. (Menochius)
Ver. 19. On. Manue was convinced that the person who had authorized him to offer sacrifice, had power to dispense with him. (Worthington) — The angel “did wonderful things,” as the Hebrew may be explained, causing a flame to proceed from the rock and to consume the victim, as Josephus assures us, (Calmet) and as the angel who had appeared to Gedeon had done, chap. vi. 21. (Menochius)
Ver. 22. Seen God: not in his own person, but in the person of his messenger. The Israelites, in those days imagined they should die if they saw an angel, taking occasion perhaps from those words spoken by the Lord to Moses, (Exodus xxxiii. 20.) No man shall see me and live. But the event demonstrated that it was but a groundless imagination. (Challoner) — Elohim is applied to angels and men, as well as to God. (Calmet)
Ver. 23. Come. The wife of Manue allays his fears with great prudence, as she observes that God had just promised them a son. (Haydock)
Ver. 24. Samson signifies, “His sun, or joy;” or Syriac, “service.” (Calmet) — “His, or a little sun.” (Menochius) — Blessed him with graces and strength, suitable for his office. (Calmet)
Ver. 25. To be. Septuagint, “to walk along.” Jonathan, “to sanctify.” Samson began to manifest an eager desire to deliver his brethren. (Calmet) — Dan, as it was called from those 600 men who encamped here, when they were going to take Lais, chap. xviii. 12. (Haydock) — God inspired him to commence the liberation of his country, when he was about 17 years old, (Usher) or 20 according to Salien. Then he entered upon his judicial authority, and punished the wrongs which the Philistines did him in person, as well as his countrymen. The seven years wandering of Æneas had terminated in his death just before, at the river Numicus. (Halicar. 1; Salien, in the year before Christ 1176.) (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The people fall again into idolatry, and are afflicted by the Philistines. An angel fortelleth the birth of Samson.
1 And *the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord: and he delivered them into the hands of the Philistines forty years.
2 Now there was a certain man of Saraa, and of the race of Dan, whose name was Manue, and his wife was barren.
3 *And an angel of the Lord appeared to her, and said: Thou art barren and without children: **but thou shalt conceive and bear a son.
4 *Now therefore beware, and drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing.
5 Because thou shalt conceive, and bear a son, and no razor shall touch his head: for he shall be a Nazarite of God, from his infancy, and from his mother’s womb, and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.
6 And when she was come to her husband, she said to him: A man of God came to me, having the countenance of an angel, very awful. And when I asked him whence he came, and by what name he was called, he would not tell me:
7 But he answered thus: Behold thou shalt conceive and bear a son: beware thou drink no wine, nor strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite of God from his infancy, from his mother’s womb until the day of his death.
8 Then Manue prayed to the Lord, and said: I beseech thee, O Lord, that the man of God, whom thou didst send, may come again, and teach us what we ought to do concerning the child, that shall be born.
9 And the Lord heard the prayer of Manue, and the angel of the Lord appeared again to his wife, as she was sitting in the field. But Manue her husband was not with her. And when she saw the angel,
10 She made haste, and ran to her husband: and told him, saying: Behold the man hath appeared to me, whom I saw before.
11 He rose up, and followed his wife: and coming to the man, said to him: Art thou he that spoke to the woman? And he answered: I am.
12 And Manue said to him: When thy word shall come to pass, what wilt thou that the child should do? or from what shall he keep himself?
13 And the angel of the Lord said to Manue: From all the things I have spoken of to thy wife, let her refrain herself:
14 And let her eat nothing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: and whatsoever I have commanded her, let her fulfil and observe.
15 And Manue said to the angel of the Lord: I beseech thee to consent to my request, and let us dress a kid for thee.
16 And the angel answered him: If thou press me, I will not eat of thy bread: but if thou wilt offer a holocaust, offer it to the Lord. And Manue knew not it was the angel of the Lord.
17 And he said to him: What is thy name, that, if thy word shall come to pass, we may honour thee?
18 And he answered him: *Why askest thou my name, which is wonderful?
19 Then Manue took a kid of the flocks, and the libations, and put them upon a rock, offering to the Lord, who doth wonderful things: and he and his wife looked on.
20 And when the flame from the altar went up towards heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended also in the flame. And when Manue and his wife saw this, they fell flat on the ground;
21 And the angel of the Lord appeared to them no more. And forthwith Manue understood that it was an angel of the Lord,
22 And he said to his wife: We shall certainly die, because we have seen God.
23 And his wife answered him: If the Lord had a mind to kill us, he would not have received a holocaust and libations at our hands; neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor have told us the things that are to come.
24 *And she bore 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 be with him in the camp of Dan, between Saraa and Esthaol.
1: Judges x. 6.
3: Year of the World 2848. — ** Genesis xvi. 11.; 1 Kings i. 20.; Luke i. 31.
4: Numbers vi. 34.
18: Genesis xxxii. 29.
24: Year of the World 2849.