October 3rd 2019 – Numbers 6:1-12

"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.

“All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.

“All the days that he separates himself to the Lord he shall not go near a dead body. Not even for his father or for his mother, for brother or sister, if they die, shall he make himself unclean, because his separation to God is on his head. All the days of his separation he is holy to the Lord.

“And if any man dies very suddenly beside him and he defiles his consecrated head, then he shall shave his head on the day of his cleansing; on the seventh day he shall shave it. 10 On the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two pigeons to the priest to the entrance of the tent of meeting, 11 and the priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, and make atonement for him, because he sinned by reason of the dead body. And he shall consecrate his head that same day 12 and separate himself to the Lord for the days of his separation and bring a male lamb a year old for a guilt offering. But the previous period shall be void, because his separation was defiled."

Numbers 6:1-12

The repeated insistence and emphasis on the idea of 'separation unto the Lord', seen al- ready in the instruction about the service of the Levites in the Tabernacle and in the legislation about the lepers in the camp, is underlined even more impressively and forcibly in the laws concerning the Nazarite vow. This vow was a vow of separation. The word derives from 'nazir', meaning 'to separate'. It was a vow that could be taken for a specific period, as here, or for a lifetime (as with Samson, in Judges 1316). The latter does not seem to be in view in these verses. The relation between the temporary vow and the lifelong one is an uncertain one, and commentators find the subject a perplexing one and it is obvious that Samson's case presents some peculiar features when compared with the regulations set out here, only one of which - that of the long, unshorn hair - seems to have been important for him. At all events, the vow envisaged here is the temporary one, which involved principally three conditions: abstinence from intoxicating liquor (3, 4) abstinence from the cutting of the hair (5), and abstinence from contact with any dead body, involving ritual defilement and uncleanness (68). We shall look at these conditions further.