MANOAH (ma-nō'a, Heb. mānôah, rest). The father of Samson. Little is known about him except from the record in Judg.13.1-Judg.13.25, which states that he was of the tribe of Dan and was a good Hebrew who desired a son and heir. The appeal of his wife was answered by a visiting angel, whose promise of a son was confirmed by a miracle during a sacrifice. He was a trustworthy parent, rearing Samson according to instructions. But he failed to teach him that marrying a pagan woman was abhorrent (Judg.14.1-Judg.14.11).
MANOAH mə nō’ ə
, LXX Μανωέ
). The father of Samson.
Samson’s mother carried the angelic message of his impending birth to Manoah who lived in Zorah, a town in the tribe of Dan before the Danites moved N to take the city of Laish (Judg 13). On a second appearance of the angel, Manoah did not request a repetition of the promise, but with implicit faith said “Now when your words come true, what is to be the boy’s manner of life, and what is he to do?” (v. 12). After another reminder of a perpetual Nazirite vow (Num 6) which was to begin with the child’s mother, Manoah sought to reward the messenger with food, but was told instead to prepare a burnt offering.
It seems strange that Manoah “did not know that he was the angel of the Lord” (v. 16), but it must be recalled that his wife had said merely “his countanance was like the countenance of the angel of God” (v. 6). Manoah realized that he was the angel of God when he ascended in the flame of the offering into heaven and his words were fulfilled in the birth of Samson.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
A man of Zorah and of the family of the Danites. Manoah was the father of Samson, and his life-story is but imperfectly told in the history of the conception, birth and early life of his son. No children had been born to Manoah and his wife, and the latter was considered barren (Jud 13:2). Finally it was revealed to her by an angel of the Lord that she would conceive and bear a child. She was cautioned against strong drink and "unclean" food, for her child was to be born and reared a Nazirite to the end that he might save Israel out of the hands of the Philistines (Jud 13:3-5). That Manoah was a devout man seems certain in view of the fact that, upon hearing of the angel’s visit, he offered a prayer for the angel’s return, in order that he and his wife might be instructed as to the proper care of the child to be born (Jud 13:8). The request was granted and the angel repeated the visit and the instructions (Jud 13:9-13). Manoah with true hospitality would have the guest remain and partake of food. The angel refused, but commanded a sacrifice unto Yahweh. When Manoah had prepared the sacrifice and lit it on the altar, the angel ascended in the flame from the altar and appeared no more (Jud 13:15-21). The child was born according to the promise and was named Samson. Manoah and his wife appear twice in the narrative of Samson’s early life--once as they protestingly accompanied him to sue for the hand of a Philistine woman of Timnah in marriage, and again when they went with him to Timnab for the wedding.
Josephus richly embellishes this Scriptural narrative concerning Manoah, but offers no further light upon the occupation or character of Manoah. At the death of Samson, his brothers went down to Gaza and brought back the body and buried it by the side of Manoah in the family tomb near Zorah (Jud 16:31). In Samson Agonistes Milton gains dramatic effect by having Manoah survive Samson and in deep sorrow assist at his burial.