SPECIAL TOPIC: NAZARITE VOW

A. This was a way for someone, male or female (cf. Num. 6:1), who was not of the tribe of Levi, to dedicate himself or herself to God's service (i.e., "holy to the Lord"). Nazarite means "one separated" (BDB 634), which is the root idea of the Hebrew term holy.

B. In the OT it was a life-long vow

1. Samson (Jdgs. 13:7)

2. Samuel ( 1 Sam. 1:21)

3. John the Baptist

C. Judaism developed a short-term Nazarite vow (probably developed from the words in Num. 6:5).  The shortest length was thirty days.  This short-term vow culminated in the shaving of the head and burning of the shavings along with a sacrifice at the temple.

D. The specific requirements (cf. Num. 6:1-8)

1. Abstain from wine and strong drink, eat no product of the vine (cf. Num. 6:3-4).

2. Do not cut one's hair.

3. Do not touch a dead person.  This would make it impossible to participate in any of the Jewish funeral procedures.

4. A provision for accidental defilement is in Num. 6:9.  Apparently Paul's situation in Acts 21:23-25 involved this issue.  There was a period of purification and a sacrifice prescribed (cf. Num. 6:9-12).

 

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