The law of the Nazarite is appropriately added to other enactments which concern the sanctity of the holy nation. That sanctity found its highest expression in the Nazarite vow, which was the voluntary adoption for a time of obligations to high and strict modes of self-dedication resembling, and indeed in some particulars exceeding, those under which the priests were placed. The present enactments do not institute a new kind of observance, but only regulate one already familiar to the Israelites Numbers 6:2.
A Nazarite - Strictly, Nazirite. This term signifies “separated” i. e., as the words following show, “unto God.” It became a technical term at an early date; compare Judges 13:5, Judges 13:7; Judges 16:17.
Liquor of grapes - i. e. a drink made of grape-skins macerated in water.
From the kernels even to the husk - A sour drink was made from the stones of unripe grapes; and cakes were also made of the husks Hosea 3:1. This interdict figures that separation from the general society of men to which the Nazarite for the time was consecrated.
Among the Jews the abundance of the hair was considered to betoken physical strength and perfection (compare 2 Samuel 14:25-26), and baldness was regarded as a grave blemish (compare Leviticus 21:20 note, Leviticus 13:40 ff; 2 Kings 2:23; Isaiah 3:24). Thus, the free growth of the hair on the head of the Nazarite represented the dedication of the man with all his strength and powers to the service of God.
The consecration of his God - i. e. the unshorn locks: compare Leviticus 25:5 note, where the vine, left during the Sabbatical year untouched by the hand of man, either for pruning or for vintage, is called simply a “Nazarite.”
The third rule of the Nazarite interdicted him from contracting any ceremonial defilement even under circumstances which excused such defilement in others: compare Leviticus 21:1-3.
Prescriptions to meet the case of a sudden death taking place “by him” (i. e. in his presence). The days of the dedication of the Nazarite had to be recommenced.
When the days of his separation are fulfilled - Perpetual Nazariteship was probably unknown in the days of Moses; but the examples of Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist, show that it was in later times undertaken for life. Again, Moses does not expressly require that limits should be assigned to the vow; but a rule was afterward imposed that no Nazarite vow should be taken for less than thirty days. To permit the vow to be taken for very short periods would diminish its solemnity and estimation.
Numbers 6:14, Numbers 6:15
The sin-offering (compare the marginal references), though named second, was in practice offered first, being intended to expiate involuntary sins committed during the period of separation. The burnt-offering (Leviticus 1:10 ff) denoted the self-surrender on which alone all acceptableness in the Nazarite before God must rest; the peace-offerings (Leviticus 3:12 ff) expressed thankfulness to God by whose grace the vow had been fulfilled. The offerings, both ordinary and additional, required on the completion of the Nazarite vow involved considerable expense, and it was regarded as a pious work to provide the poor with the means of making them (compare Acts 21:23 ff; Numbers 6:18
Shave the head - As the Nazarite had during his vow worn his hair unshorn in honor of God, so when the time was complete it was natural that the hair, the symbol of his vow, should be cut off, and offered to God at the sanctuary. The burning of the hair “in the fire under the sacrifice of the peace offering “represented the eucharistic communion with God obtained by those who realised the ideal which the Nazarite set forth (compare the marginal reference).
The priest shall wave them - i. e. by placing his hands under those of the Nazarite: compare Leviticus 7:30.
Beside that that his hand shall get - The Nazarite, in addition to the offerings prescribed above, was to present free-will offerings according to his possessions or means.
The angel's prohibition included “every unclean thing.” The distinction between articles of food as clean and unclean was not a merely ceremonial and arbitrary regulation, but was based upon sanitary principles. To the observance of this distinction may be traced, in a great degree, the marvelous vitality which for thousands of years has distinguished the Jewish people. The principles of temperance must be carried further than the mere use of spirituous liquors. The use of stimulating and indigestible food is often equally injurious to health, and in many cases sows the seeds of drunkenness. True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously that which is healthful. There are few who realize as they should how much their habits of diet have to do with their health, their character, their usefulness in this world, and their eternal destiny. The appetite should ever be in subjection to the moral and intellectual powers. The body should be servant to the mind, and not the mind to the body. PP 562.1
The divine promise to Manoah was in due time fulfilled in the birth of a son, to whom the name of Samson was given. As the boy grew up it became evident that he possessed extraordinary physical strength. This was not, however, as Samson and his parents well knew, dependent upon his well-knit sinews, but upon his condition as a Nazarite, of which his unshorn hair was a symbol. Had Samson obeyed the divine commands as faithfully as his parents had done, his would have been a nobler and happier destiny. But association with idolaters corrupted him. The town of Zorah being near the country of the Philistines, Samson came to mingle with them on friendly terms. Thus in his youth intimacies sprang up, the influence of which darkened his whole life. A young woman dwelling in the Philistine town of Timnath engaged Samson's affections, and he determined to make her his wife. To his God-fearing parents, who endeavored to dissuade him from his purpose, his only answer was, “She pleaseth me well.” The parents at last yielded to his wishes, and the marriage took place. PP 562.2Read in context »
On the following day Paul began to carry out the counsel of the elders. The four men who were under the Nazarite vow (Numbers 6), the term of which had nearly expired, were taken by Paul into the temple, “to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.” Certain costly sacrifices for purification were yet to be offered. AA 406.1
Those who advised Paul to take this step had not fully considered the great peril to which he would thus be exposed. At this season, Jerusalem was filled with worshipers from many lands. As, in fulfillment of the commission given him by God, Paul had borne the gospel to the Gentiles, he had visited many of the world's largest cities, and he was well known to thousands who from foreign parts had come to Jerusalem to attend the feast. Among these were men whose hearts were filled with bitter hatred for Paul, and for him to enter the temple on a public occasion was to risk his life. For several days he passed in and out among the worshipers, apparently unnoticed; but before the close of the specified period, as he was talking with a priest concerning the sacrifices to be offered, he was recognized by some of the Jews from Asia. AA 406.2
With the fury of demons they rushed upon him, crying, “Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place.” And as the people responded to the call for help, another accusation was added—“and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.” AA 406.3Read in context »