Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 1606 – 1669

The Angel Ascends after Manoah's Sacrifice

drawing with pen and brush (23 × 20 cm) — c. 1655 Museum Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn biography

This work is linked to Judges 13:20

Tags: Samson

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Manoah and his wife are without children as she cannot conceive. But then one day a "man of God" appears to the woman and tells her she will soon be pregnant.

Out of gratitude Manoah sacrifices a kid goat. Then something miraculous happens: the man of God ascends in the flame, up to heaven.

The Bible says that Manoah and his wife both fell to the ground. Rembrandt choose a depiction that is more in line with their reactions. Manoah fears he will die as he has just seen God. His wife is more down to earth: if God had wanted to kill them, he wouldn't have gone through all that trouble.

Manoah's wife is not named. She would indeed give birth to a child: the great Samson.

The caption in French reads "L'ange quitte Manüé et sa femme, et s'éleve au milieu de la flame quil avoit excitée": the angel leaves Manoah and his wife, and rises in the flame he ignited. It was probably written by the 18th century French collector Pierre Crozat, who owned some 350 Rembrandt drawings.

Rembrandt made two other drawings on this episode, in the late 1630s and in the early 1650s.

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