Read to Read …Again
Daily Reading: Numbers 5-6
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord:
A Nazarite was not a person from Nazareth, they would be a Nazarene. Jesus was not a Nazarite; He was a Nazarene. A Nazarite in Israel was one who chose to fulfill certain conditions for a certain period of time. Here are the parameters of one that put upon themselves the Nazarite vow.
It was a voluntary vow. 6:2 No one could constrain another to enter into this vow. However, notably, Samson (Judges 13:5) and Samuel through his mother (I Samuel 1:11) were both placed into the vow of the Nazarite from birth.
Any Israelite could make this vow. Man or woman. 6:2 Manoah’s wife took upon her this vow upon the announcement of the angel concerning her son Samson (Judges 13:3-7)
It was a vow of total consecration and separation, 6:2 and 5-8. This person would separate themselves in an unusual manner for a limited time, or a lifetime. They would not be outcasts like the leper, but rather “set aside” for a special purpose.
It was a vow of reproach. vs. 5 In Scripture there are only two classifications for men who had long hair; the Nazarite and the rebellious, as seen in the life and style of Absalom who was not a Nazarite (II Samuel 14:26, 15:1-12).
This vow demanded extreme caution, diligence, and self-restraint concerning their diet and drink. vs. 3-4
The Nazarite could not touch the dead body of a human or the carcass of a dead animal. vs. 6- 7, 9
The Nazarite must offer special offerings and participate in unique religious rites. vs. 8-21.
For the Nazarite vow, the Lord God was placed above all others: family and friends. vs. 2, 7.
This was a serious, life changing, vow of the highest order. By reading these requirements it is obvious that Jesus was not a Nazarite. In Luke 7 Jesus touched the wagon carrying a dead man and raised him back to life. That would violate the Nazarite vow. He touched a leper in Matthew 8:3. He offered no special Nazarite offerings in the Temple. He was a Nazarene in that He lived in Nazareth, but not a Nazarite.
To me, the Nazarite vow is one of total dedication to the Lord God of Heaven. Everything in life is affected by one making a Nazarite vow, diet, social interactions, purpose of life, and religious duty. Those making this vow of separation unto God were noticeable by sight and probably socially unacceptable in “polite society.” Again, so too today those who choose to practice New Testament separation do so willingly and are largely misunderstood by society, and noticeable by sight and manner of life. They practice holiness in accordance with God’s Word and teachings. Perhaps for a time or a life some today live in the spirit, but not by the letter, of the Nazarite vow.
William T. Howe Ph.D.