Bible Commentaries
Numbers 6

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary

Verse 2


(2) When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow . . . —Better, When a man or woman shall make a special (or singular) vow (as in Leviticus 27:2)—the vow of a Nazirite. The verb which is here used denotes the doing something wonderful or extraordinary, and the spiritual lesson seems to be that Christ’s servants are expected and required to do something more than others (Matthew 5:46-47). The vows here referred to were made for a specific period. At a later time, however, some were consecrated or set apart as Nazirites during the entire period of their lives, as in the case of Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist. This consecration, however, appears to have been made rather as the result of Divine revelation than of arbitrary appointment on the part of their parents. The meaning of the word Nazirite (Hebrew nazir) is contained in the concluding words of the verse—to separate (i.e., himself) unto Jehovah—where the cognate verb is used.

Verse 3

(3) He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink . . . —The law of the Nazirite in this respect, as in regard to defilement from the dead, was more strict than that which was enjoined upon the priests, thus typifying the entire surrender of the heart and life to God, and freedom from the distraction of earthly ties. The ideal of this separation, however, was not that of a life of monastic seclusion, but of action, and of uninterrupted devotion to the Divine service. The priests were forbidden to drink wine, or strong drink, when they entered the tabernacle to perform service there, but were not prohibited the use of wine at other times. Strong drink (shecar) is supposed to have been made of barley and dates or honey. The prohibition to eat any of the produce of the vine, even of that which was not intoxicating, seems designed to denote the entire consecration of the Nazirite to the Divine service, and the obligation which rested upon him to abstain from all the desires and delights of the flesh. The love of cakes made of raisins is coupled in Hosea 3:1 with idolatry.

Verse 4

(4) From the kernels even to the husk.—The word which is rendered kenels is supposed by some to denote sour grapes, and by others the kernels of berries. The word zag denotes the shell or husk.

Verse 5

(5) There shall no razor come upon his head.—The hair was to be suffered to grow in all its luxuriance during the days of the Nazirite vow. The meaning may be illustrated by reference to Leviticus 25:4-5; Leviticus 25:11, where it is prescribed that in the seventh year the vine was not to be pruned, and that the grapes of “the undressed vine” (literally, the grapes of the Nazirite) should not be gathered.

Verse 7

(7) He shall not make himself unclean . . . —The law of the Nazirite in this respect was equally stringent with that of the high priest (Leviticus 21:11), and more stringent than that which was imposed upon the priests generally (Leviticus 21:2-3).

The consecration.—Better, the separation (Hebrew, nezer). So also in Numbers 6:9.

Verse 11

(11) And the priest shall offer . . . —The word which is here rendered “offer” (asah), like the Greek poiein, means literally “do.” Its sacrificial signification, however, in this place, is entirely dependent upon the context.

By the dead.i.e., by reason of, or on account of the dead body with which he had been brought in contact.

Verse 14

(14) And he shall offer.—The word which is here rendered offer is different from that which is used in Numbers 6:11, and means literally to bring near. The cognate noun is Corban—a word which St. Mark translates into Greek dovon, and which means a gift offered to God. (Comp. St. Matthew 15:5-6; St. Mark 7:11). The sin-offering was an offering of atonement for sins committed during the period of the consecration of the Nazirite, and the burnt-offering typified the entire consecration of the body, soul, and spirit of the offerer to the Lord.

Verse 15

(15) And their meat offering, and their drink offerings.i.e., the offerings of fine flour and oil and wine which belonged to the burnt-offerings and the peace-offerings (Numbers 15:3, &c.).

Verse 18

(18) And the Nazarita shall shave . . . —The consignment of his hair to the sacrificial fire formed a solemn and suitable termination of the days of his separation to the Lord during the continuance of his Nazirite vow.

Verse 21

(21) Beside that that his hand shall get.—i.e., besides any voluntary offerings which it may be in his power to make.

Verse 23

(23) On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel.—The occasions on which this blessing was used are not recorded. The blessing itself, which marks in a special manner the spiritual character of the chosen people, consists of three double clauses. In each of these three clauses the sacred name Jehovah is repeated, and there is a rising gradation in the blessing invoked, until it culminates in that peace which is the highest of those gifts that God can bestow and that man can possess. There has been commonly recognised in this blessing an allusion to the doctrine of the Trinity. Mention is made in Leviticus 9:22 of a blessing pronounced by Aaron upon the people, but no form of words is found there.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Numbers 6". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.