When the angel speaks to the wife of Manoah, he says :

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. Judges 13:5 KJV.

But when she recounts the details to her husband she says :

But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death. Judges 13:7 KJV.

Not only does Manoah's wife not mention the delivering of Israel, she also brings in the subject of the future child's death, something the angel did not.

My quotes above are from KJV and YLT is almost the same. Is there anything in the original Hebrew that would shed light on why the woman does this ?

Is she seeing into the words of the angel and realising that by saying only 'begin' to deliver, that there is an implication that the future child will die in the attempt ?

Does the Hebrew properly bear this 'begin to' meaning ?

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    Aren't quotes in the Bible summaries of what was actually said? Angel spoke all this and likely more but one who wrote Judges shortened it and made woman speak different words to not repeat verses earlier, but really she told her husband everything. Commented Aug 18, 2019 at 21:57
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    Both are evidently paraphrases and/or summaries of what was said. Commented Aug 18, 2019 at 22:58
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    I understand the vow of the Nazarite to apply from the day it is taken till the person dies (1 Sam. 1:28). In the case of Samson, Manoah’s wife was told to keep Nararite dietary conditions from conception, that the vow of the Nazarite would apply from the child’s birth, and she would know it would obtain until the day the as-yet unborn child would die, as a man. She also knew from the angel that Samson would not complete the task of deliverance. To my female mind, I see a logical link with what she told Manoah. She was focussed on the Nazarite vow aspect (applicable till death) and
    – Anne
    Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 9:13
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    not so much on the task of deliverance. But I know nothing of the Hebrew words involved so I can only make this little comment in the hope that it is helpful. If it's just plain wrong, or inappropriate, kindly tell me!
    – Anne
    Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 9:14
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    @NigelJ: What has one got to do with the other ? I'm simply saying that if being a Nazarite would have been a simple passing phase in the child's life, as opposed to his life's destiny, the angel would have probably never brought it up in the first place.
    – Lucian
    Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 11:19

1 Answer 1


Have searched this more than once to no avail. However, tonight I happened on an 'unusual' commentary with some intriguing tidbits.

Exegetical Exercise (Judges 13:1-7, 24-25)


...Manoah’s wife is not reported to say anything to the angel. She does not agree verbally (as Mary does in the NT) to this announcement – which actually makes her similar to Moses & Gideon, who also never actually say the words “OK” or anything to that effect.

Manoah’s wife “comes” and “tells” her husband that she has seen “a man of God” – the term for a prophet, not a “messenger of YHWH” which is the term used in v. 3 – and describes his appearance as being “like an angel of God [Elohim, not YHWH],” NRSV translates “awe-inspiring,” it would be possible to understand “fearsome.” She mentions that she didn’t ask where he came from, and he didn’t tell her his name; both statements might be hints that she knew better than to ask, that she was at least somewhat aware that this visitor was extraordinary.

She passes on to her husband the information that she will conceive and bear a son, is to drink neither wine nor strong drink, omitting the instruction about hair cutting (why?), says that the boy is to be a nazirite from birth, adding the comment “to the day of his death.” Rabbinical commentary considers this a foreshadowing of Samson’s conflictual life and early death.

She might be telling Manoah this not only because she and her husband have good communications, *but because husbands and fathers have the opportunity to nullify their wives’/daughters’ vows once they hear of them. (See Numbers 30.)

She is in effect announcing to him that she will be taking on the vow of a nazirite, at least for the duration of this promised pregnancy; she would need him to go along with it to be able to comply. This also might have something to do with his request that YHWH send the man back to confirm the instructions (v. 8). I wonder whether Manoah wonders whether he needs to participate in the nazirite thing, or if it will just be his wife, and later his son.

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