🔼The name Manoah: Summary
- Rest, Quiet
- From the verb נוח (nuah), to rest.
🔼The name Manoah in the Bible
The one and only Manoah in the Bible is Manoah of Zorah in Dan, the father of Samson, the proverbial strong man and twelfth judge of Israel (Judges 13:2). Manoah's son Samson wasn't exactly an example of booming intellect, and the short and deliberately comical chapter we have on Manoah shows that the apple didn't fall far from the paternal tree. In fact, Manoah is such a fop that even the Almighty shows obvious reservations about having to deal with him. And so he goes directly to Manoah's unnamed wife.
Manoah's wife hasn't borne her husband any children but it's not clear whether she suffers from a malady or from a husband who doesn't know where the parts go (as his name may suggest). He certainly doesn't know how to listen. And so the angel of the Lord announces Mrs. Manoah's imminent conception to her alone. He also provides her with clear and elaborate instructions on what is to become of her son and how to bring that about. He is to be a Nazirite from birth, meaning that his hair cannot be cut and that he cannot consume any grape products, even when still in her womb. When the angel has finished speaking, Mrs. Manoah hurries to her husband and relates in detail what the "man of God, whose appearance was like that of the angel of God; very awesome" has told her concerning her future son.
Manoah sees his wife and hears her talking but has trouble achieving oversight. He clearly finds talking to his wife a futile investment, and addresses YHWH to request another house call. The Lord hears his prayer but, with a divine flair for ostentatiousness, sends his angel again to Mrs. Manoah. She again rushes to her husband, who gets up and follows his wife to find the Man he asked to see, the one whose appearance was like that of the angel of God; very awesome.
"Are you the one who spoke to my wife?" Manoah asks, to be sure. "I am," sighs the angel and repeats verbatim what he told Mrs. Manoah.
Manoah, however, shows no sign of interest in the message but swiftly inclines his attentions to the messenger with dubious enthusiasm. "What about a bite to eat, huh?" Manoah blurts out, obviously eager to befriend such a fine shiny customer. "What do we call you? What's your email address?"
The angel responds with the archaic equivalent of, "Boy, you're too dim witted to befriend me," demonstrates his powers by doing unspecified wonders and sails off in tracing flames.
Finally Manoah understands that he's been dealing with God, but his insight still doesn't direct him to the angel's message. Instead he fears that the Lord has sent them an angel, twice, to slay them in the end. His much wiser wife, on the other hand, shows him how utterly senseless his reaction is.
Whether Manoah actually begins to listen to her, the story doesn't tell.
🔼Etymology of the name Manoah
The name Manoah is identical to the noun מנוח (manoah), meaning either place or condition of rest, which comes from the verb נוח (nuah), meaning to rest:
The verb נוח (nuah) means to come to rest or to cease interference. Noun נחת (nahat) means quietness or a quiet attitude. Noun ניחח (nihoah) or ניחוח (nihoah) means a quieting or soothing. Noun הנחה (hanaha) means a giving of rest. Noun מנוח (manoah) describes a place or condition of rest. Noun מנוחה (menuha) or מנחה (menuha) means resting place, or quietness.
Verb נחת (nahet) means to descend or go down. Noun נחת (nahat) means descent, and is identical to the noun meaning quietness (see above). Adjective נחת (nahet) means descending.
Verb נחה (naha) means to lead or guide. This verb has no derivatives.
For a meaning of the name Manoah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Rest, Quiet and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Rest "i.e. recreation". BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't interpret our name but does list it under the verb נוח (nuah), meaning to rest.
It seems obvious from the story that Manoah is physically and mentally like a bag of potatoes, and always in the wrong place at the wrong time. In this context his name means Lazy One or Sloth.