ma-no'-a (manoach, "rest"): 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 (Jg 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 (Jg 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 (Jg 13:8). The request was granted and the angel repeated the visit and the instructions (Jg 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 (Jg 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 (Jg 16:31). In Samson Agonistes Milton gains dramatic effect by having Manoah survive Samson and in deep sorrow assist at his burial.
C. E. Schenk