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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Numbers 6

Verses 1-27


The Law of the Nazirite. The Priestly Benediction

1-21. The Law of the Nazirite.

A Nazirite (from Heb. nazir, ’to separate’) is a man or woman ’separated,’ i.e consecrated to Jehovah by means of a special vow of abstinence. The word has no connexion with ’Nazarene,’ which means an inhabitant of Nazareth. During the period of his vow the Nazirite comes under a threefold obligation, (1) to abstain strictly from wine and all products of the vine, whether intoxicating or not (Numbers 6:3-4); (2) to let his hair grow (Numbers 6:5); and (3) to avoid all ceremonial defilement through contact with a dead body, even that of a near relative (Numbers 6:7). If he is accidentally defiled by the sudden death of any one beside him, he must perform rites of purification, and reconsecrate himself, counting as null whatever part of the period of the original vow may have elapsed (Numbers 6:9-12). At the expiration of his vow he presents certain sacrifices (Numbers 6:13-17), shaves his head and offers his hair upon the altar, and returns to ordinary life (Numbers 6:18-21). The Nazirite’s vow may either be for a limited period, which is the case supposed in this passage, or for life. The antiquity of the rite is shown by what is related of Samson (Judges 13:5), and of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11), who are usually regarded as lifelong Nazirites. It is also referred to in Amos 2:12. The Nazirite was not a hermit, but a very active devotee of Jehovah. He was very jealous for the Lord God of Israel, and while the vow of consecration and abstinence may sometimes have been undertaken for private and personal reasons, as e.g. to obtain the fulfilment of a desire, it was in many cases the expression of a religious and patriotic zeal, which sought to protect the primitive simplicity of Israel from the corrupting and enervating influences of heathen civilisations and religions. In this respect the Nazirites had much in common with the prophets, with whom they are classed in Amos 2:11-12, as being ’raised up’ by Jehovah Himself. In NT; references to the Nazirite vow are supposed to be found in Luke 1:15 (John the Baptist), in Acts 18:18 (St. Paul), and Acts 21:24.

5. See on Leviticus 19:27.

7. The consecration of his] RV ’his separation unto.’

9. Die.. by him] i.e. beside him. Head of his consecration] his unshorn locks were the visible sign of his vow of consecration.

14, 15. The burnt offering betokened his entire dedication to God; the sin offering was presented for the sins he may have committed unwittingly during the period of his consecration; and the peace offering was an expression of his thankfulness for having been able to complete his vow. On the meaning of these sacrifices, see Leviticus 1, 3, 4.

18. This denotes the completion of his vow: cp. Acts 18:18.

21. Beside that that his hand shall get] RV ’beside that which he is able to get,’ i.e. in addition to any other offerings which it may be in his power to make.

22-26. The Priestly Benediction. It is part of the duty of the priests to bless the people in the name of Jehovah: see Deuteronomy 10:8; Deuteronomy 21:5, and see on Leviticus 9:22, Leviticus 9:23. The priestly benediction consists of three double clauses of increasing length and intensity, in each of which the sacred name is used. Cp. the threefold Christian benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14. Psalms 67 is evidently modelled on this benediction; cp. also Psalms 4:6; Psalms 29:11; Psalms 31:16; Psalms 80:3, Psalms 80:7, Psalms 80:19;

25. Make his face shine] show favour.

26. Lift up his countenance] take gracious notice of him.

27. Put my name upon] This may mean simply to pronounce Jehovah’s name over the people in blessing and thus mark them as His by covenant relation, as the Christian minister does when he baptises ’into the name of Christ.’ But in OT. the ’name of Jehovah’ is His revealed character; see on Exodus 3:13. So that to ’put Jehovah’s name’ upon a person is to declare to him the presence and nature of Jehovah. The priest does this when he blesses the people. He gives them the assurance of Jehovah’s presence and favour.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Numbers 6". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/numbers-6.html. 1909.