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Judges 13 strongly parallels Genesis 18. I my question about that passage was how Abraham was able to determine that the person he was talking to was God so quickly. This time, I have the opposite problem:

Judges 13:19-21 (ESV)
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.

Wait a minute! A guy rising up to heaven in a flame: no big deal. When he doesn't come back: the angel of the LORD? Did Manoah really not put the clues together until then? Or is the "then" in this passage just showing us the passage of time rather than causation?

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Seems to me that those positively disposed to the deity respond to god automatically. –  user44 Feb 3 '12 at 20:30
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Remember that the paragraph break is not in the original. –  DJClayworth Feb 6 '12 at 16:02

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to Brown, Driver, and Briggs Lexicon, the word translated "then" is 'az which carries a meaning of "at that time." I would understand the first part of this verse as being parenthetical to the statement of verse 20.

Judges 13:19-21 (ESV) 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.

Also, the word for "know" used here comes from yadah, which often carries an implication of deep, deep knowledge. This is the same word used to indicate the sexual intimacy of a married couple. It is more than head knowledge, it is a knowledge of experience.

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Bringing in the BDB is a good call. +1 –  swasheck Mar 5 '12 at 15:41

I think it's best to understand the then as applying to both the angel of the LORD ascending in the flame as well as departing, taking the incident as a whole. When Manoah and his wife see the angel of the LORD ascend in the flame, they both fall with their faces to the ground - very typical of a theophany (e.g. Genesis 17:1-3, Exodus 3:6, Numbers 22:31, Joshua 5:15). That, then, seems to be the point of recognition.

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These and other passages like Luke 24:13-34, show us that God reveals knowledge in his own good time. In this case, he revealed to Manoah after the angel was gone.

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