Numbers 6


‘The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the LORD as a Nazirite, they must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or other fermented drink. They must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. As long as they remain under their Nazirite vow, they must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins. “‘During the entire period of their Nazirite vow, no razor may be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the LORD is over; they must let their hair grow long. “‘Throughout the period of their dedication to the LORD, the Nazirite must not go near a dead body. Even if their own father or mother or brother or sister dies, they must not make themselves ceremonially unclean on account of them, because the symbol of their dedication to God is on their head. Throughout the period of their dedication, they are consecrated to the LORD.’ Numbers 6:1-8

The Nazirite

For men or women, taking on a Nazarite vow meant they would consecrate themselves or dedicate their lives for service to God. And there were 3 stipulations regarding this divine calling, which we find here.

1. They couldn’t partake of the ‘fruit of the vine’, which meant they were to abstain from drinking wine, in order to live a simple and sober life Numbers 6:3-4.

The Nazarites were essentially prohibited from eating or drinking anything that was produced from the grapevine. Samson’s mother had to abstain during her pregnancy, as Samson was set apart from the womb, Judges 13:4. Samson also broke this vow, Judges 14:10.

2. Nazirites had to refrain from cutting their hair as an observable sign of their vow, Numbers 6:5.

The outward symbol of the vow was necessary in order that others do not offer the Nazarite something that would contradict his or her vow. For the Jews, if a person had an abundance of hair, this was seen as a sign of physical strength and perfection, 2 Samuel 14:25-26. However, if a man was bald, this was regarded as a grave blemish, Leviticus 13:40ff / Leviticus 21:20 / 2 Kings 2:23 / Isaiah 3:24.

3. Nazirites were to avoid contact with a dead body, which would disqualify them for tabernacle worship, Numbers 6:6-7.

There was a chance that they become unclean and so, the Nazarite wasn’t even permitted to help in the burial of his or her own family members, Leviticus 21:1-3. Samson broke this vow too when he touched a dead carcass, Judges 14:8-9.

They were to a people separated for the Lord, and so, committed to the Lord’s service. And so, to take the Nazirite vow was indeed a privilege for any man or woman to take but it also carried with it a lot of responsibility.

‘If someone dies suddenly in the Nazirite’s presence, thus defiling the hair that symbolizes their dedication, they must shave their head on the seventh day—the day of their cleansing. Then on the eighth day they must bring two doves or two young pigeons to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting. The priest is to offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering to make atonement for the Nazirite because they sinned by being in the presence of the dead body. That same day they are to consecrate their head again. They must rededicate themselves to the LORD for the same period of dedication and must bring a year-old male lamb as a guilt offering. The previous days do not count, because they became defiled during their period of dedication.’ Numbers 6:9-12

There was a possibility that someone could die suddenly in the presence of a Nazarite, which indirectly, would lead to them defiling their hair. If this happens they were to shave their head on the seventh day and take two doves or two young pigeons to the priest for an offering.

Notice that there are three Levitical sacrifices required.

1. The sin offering. 2. The burnt offering. 3. The guilt offering.

Concerning the hair, Jewish tradition says, ‘they buried it because it was then considered defiled. The hair shaved off after the completion of the vow was burnt as a sacrifice, Numbers 6:18’.

‘Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the period of their dedication is over. They are to be brought to the entrance to the tent of meeting. There they are to present their offerings to the LORD: a year-old male lamb without defect for a burnt offering, a year-old ewe lamb without defect for a sin offering, a ram without defect for a fellowship offering, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings, and a basket of bread made with the finest flour and without yeast—thick loaves with olive oil mixed in, and thin loaves brushed with olive oil. “‘The priest is to present all these before the LORD and make the sin offering and the burnt offering. He is to present the basket of unleavened bread and is to sacrifice the ram as a fellowship offering to the LORD, together with its grain offering and drink offering. “‘Then at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the Nazirite must shave off the hair that symbolizes their dedication. They are to take the hair and put it in the fire that is under the sacrifice of the fellowship offering. “‘After the Nazirite has shaved off the hair that symbolizes their dedication, the priest is to place in their hands a boiled shoulder of the ram, and one thick loaf and one thin loaf from the basket, both made without yeast. The priest shall then wave these before the LORD as a wave offering; they are holy and belong to the priest, together with the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented. After that, the Nazirite may drink wine. “‘This is the law of the Nazirite who vows offerings to the LORD in accordance with their dedication, in addition to whatever else they can afford. They must fulfil the vows they have made, according to the law of the Nazirite.’” Numbers 6:13-21

The Nazarite vow was to last at least one year and at the end of this time, the Nazarite would bring offerings before the priest in order to end the time of the vow, Acts 21:23-26.

Once the priest did all the proper ceremonies to end the vow, the Nazarite’s head was shaved to show the public that they had finished the time of the vow.

The fellowship offerings were normally consumed by the offeror and his friends, celebrating at the same time the lifting of the ban against drinking wine.

Jewish tradition says, concerning the hair, ‘it was burned, not as a sacrifice, but in order to keep an object of consecration from being profaned’.

The Priestly Blessing

‘The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “‘The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:22-27

Moses, Aaron, and their spiritual descendants were commanded to bless the people. By raising up the character of God before the people, the people were in turn encouraged to live holy lives before God who is holy, Isaiah 6:3.

The blessing reassured the people, Psalm 91 / John 17:9-15 / 1 Thessalonians 5:23, reminded them that God’s favour was to them, Psalm 21:6 / Psalm 34:15, gave them assurance of God’s peace, John 14:26-27, and gave them confidence in that God had claimed His people by putting His name on them, John 14:26-27.

This blessing is incredible and very personal, notice the word ‘you’ is said six times, in other words, there’s no mistaking the point of this blessing, God really wants to bless them.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The name Jehovah is three times repeated. The Jews think there is some mystery, and we know what it is, the New Testament having explained it. There we are directed to expect the blessing from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, 2 Corinthians 13:14, each of which Persons is Jehovah, and yet they are not three Lords, but one Lord.’

Go To Numbers 7


"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."