Numbers 6

CHAPTER VI

The vow of the Nazarite, 1, 2.

In what it consisted, 3-8.

When accidentally defiled, how he is to be purified, 9-12.

The sacrifices he is to bring, and the rites he is to perform,

when the vow of his separation is fulfilled, 13-21.

The manner in which the priests are to bless the people, 22-26.

The name of the LORD is to be put on the children of Israel,

whom He promises to bless, 27.

NOTES ON CHAP. VI

Verse 2. When either man or woman shall separate, &c.] The

word nazir, from nazar, to separate, signifies

merely a separated person, i. e., one peculiarly devoted to the

service of God by being separated from all servile employments.

From the Nazarites sprang the Rechabites, from the Rechabites the

Essenes, from the Essenes the Anchorites or Hermits, and in

imitation of those, the different monastic orders. Some contend

strongly that the Nazarite was a type of our Lord; but neither

analogy nor proof can be produced. Our blessed Lord both drank

wine and touched the dead, which no Nazarite would do: as to his

either shaving his hair or letting it grow, we know nothing. His

being called a Nazarene, Mt 2:23, is nothing to the purpose, as

it can mean no more than either that he was an inhabitant of

Nazareth, which was a place of no credit, and therefore used as a

term of reproach; or that he was in a general sense consecrated to

the service of God-so were Samson, Samuel, Jeremiah, and John

Baptist; or rather, that he was the netser or BRANCH,

Isa 11:1,

and tsemach, Zec 3:8; 6:12, which is quite a different word;

but this title is expressly applied to our blessed Lord by the

above prophets; but in no place do they or any other prophets call

him a Nazarite, in the sense in which nazir is used. Indeed

it could not in truth be applied to him, as the distinguishing

marks of a Nazarite never belonged to him. He was, it is true, the

netser or branch out of the root of Jesse, the genuine heir

to the throne of David, whose dominion should extend over the

universe, who should be King of kings, and Lord of Lords; but the

word ναζωραιος, Mt 2:23,

signifies merely a Nazoraean, or inhabitant of Nazareth.

Verse 3. No vinegar of wine, &c.] chomets signifies

fermented wine, and is probably used here to signify wine of a

strong body, or any highly intoxicating liquor. Dr. Lightfoot

supposes that the LEPER being the most defiled and loathsome of

creatures, was an emblem of the wretched, miserable state of man

by the fall; and that the NAZARITE was the emblem of man in his

state of innocence. Wine and grapes are here particularly

forbidden to the Nazarite because, as the doctor thinks, being an

emblem of man in his paradisaical state, he was forbidden that

tree and its fruits by eating of which Adam fell; for the doctor,

as well as the Jewish rabbins, believed the tree of knowledge to

have been none other than the vine.

Vinegar of strong drink] See Clarke on Le 10:9.

Verse 5. There shall no razor come upon his head] The vow of

the Nazarite consisted in the following particulars:- 1. He

consecrated himself in a very especial and extraordinary manner to

God. 2. This was to continue for a certain season, probably never

less than a whole year, that he might have a full growth of hair

to burn in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the

peace-offering, Nu 6:18. 3. During the time of his separation,

or nazarate, he drank no wine nor strong drink; nor used any

vinegar formed from any inebriating liquor, nor ate the flesh or

dried grapes, nor tasted even the kernels or husks of any thing

that had grown upon the vine. 4. He never shaved his head, but

let his hair grow, as the proof of his being in this separated

state, and under vows of peculiar austerity. 5. He never touched

any dead body, nor did any of the last offices, even to his

nearest kin; but was considered as the priests, who were wholly

taken up with the service of God, and regarded nothing else. 6.

All the days of his separation he was holy, Nu 6:8. During the

whole time he was to be incessantly employed in religious acts.

Verse 7. The consecration of his God is upon his head.]

Literally, The separation of his God is upon his head; meaning his

hair, which was the proof and emblem of his separation. Now as

the hair of the Nazarite was a token of his subjection to God

through all the peculiarities of his nazarate, a woman, who is

married, is considered as a Nazarite for life, i. e., separated

from all others, and joined to one husband who is her lord; hence

St. Paul, probably alluding to this circumstance, says, 1Co 11:10:

The woman ought to have power upon her head, i. e., wear her hair

and veil; for this hair is a proof of her nazarate, and of her

being in subjection to her husband, as the Nazarite was under

subjection to the LORD by the rule of his order.

Verse 10. Two turtles, or two young pigeons] The same kind of

offering made by him who had an issue, Le 15:14, &c.

Verse 18. Shall take the hair-and put it in the fire] The hair

was permitted to grow for this purpose; and as the Nazarite was a

kind of sacrifice, offered to God through the whole term of his

nazarate or separation, and no human flesh or blood could be

offered on the altar of the Lord, he offered his hair at the

conclusion of his separation, as a sacrifice-that hair which was

the token of his complete subjection to the Lord, and which was

now considered as the Lord's property.

The Hindoos, after a vow, do not cut their hair during the term

of their vow; but at the expiration of it they shave it off at the

place where the vow was made.

That the hair of the head was superstitiously used among

different nations, we have already had occasion to remark;

(See Clarke on Le 19:27;) and that the Gentiles might

have learned this from the Jews is possible, though some learned

men think that this consecration of the hair to a deity was in use

among the heathens before the time of Moses, and in nations who

had no intercourse or connection with the Jews.

Verse 21. This is the law of the Nazarite] We learn from

Maimonides, in his Treatise of the Nazarite, that a man might

become a Nazarite in behalf of another; that is, might assist him

in bearing the expenses of the sacrifices, &c. "A son may fulfil

the vow his deceased father hath made, but did not live to

accomplish:-He that saith, upon me be the shaving of a Nazarite,

he is bound to bring the offerings of shaving for cleanness, and

may offer them by the hand of what Nazarite he will. If he say,

Upon me be half the oblations of a Nazarite, then he bringeth half

the offerings by what Nazarite he will, and that Nazarite payeth

his offerings out of that which is his."

"By this," says Mr. Ainsworth, "we may see the reason of that

which James said to Paul, though he had no Nazarite's vow upon

him: 'We have four men who have a vow on them; them take and

sanctify thyself with them, and BE AT CHARGES WITH THEM, that they

may shave their heads, &c. Then Paul took the men, and the next

day, sanctifying himself with them, entered into the temple to

signify the accomplishment of the days of sanctification, (or

Nazariteship,) until that an offering should be offered for every

one of them;' see Ac 21:23-26. For though Paul had not vowed or

fulfilled a Nazariteship himself, yet might he contribute with

them, and partake of their charges about the sacrifices."

Verse 23. On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel]

The prayer which God makes for his followers, and puts into their

mouth, we are sure must be right; and to it, when sincerely,

faithfully, and fervently offered, we may confidently expect an

answer. If he condescended to give us a form of blessings or a

form of prayer, we may rest assured that he will accept what he

himself has made. This consideration may produce great confidence

in them who come with either prayer or praise to the throne of

grace, both of which should be, as far as circumstances will

admit, in the very words of Scripture; for we can readily attach a

consequence to the words of God, which we shall find difficult to

attach to the best ordered words of men. Take with you words, and

turn unto the Lord. What words? Why those which God immediately

puts into their mouths. Take away all iniquity, and receive us

graciously; so will we render the calves of our lips; we shall

then give the sacrifices of which our lips have spoken, when we

made our vows unto thee. See Ho 14:2.

Verse 24. The Lord bless thee] There are three forms of

blessing here, any or all of which the priests might use on any

occasion. The following is a verbal translation:-

1. May Jehovah bless thee and preserve thee!

2. May Jehovah cause his faces to shine upon thee, and be

gracious unto thee!

3. May Jehovah lift up his faces upon thee, and may be put

prosperity unto thee!

This is a very comprehensive and excellent prayer, and may be

paraphrased thus:-

1. May God speak good unto thee, by giving thee his excellent

promises! (See Clarke on Ge 2:3.)

May he preserve thee in the possession of all the good thou hast,

and from all the evil with which thou art threatened!

2. May the Holy Trinity illuminate thy heart, giving thee the

true knowledge of thyself and of thy Maker; and may he show thee

his graciousness in pardoning thy sins, and supporting thy soul!

3. May God give thee communion with the Father, Son, and Spirit,

with a constant sense of his approbation; and grant thee

prosperity in thy soul, and in all thy secular affairs!

This I suppose to be the spirit and design of this form of

benediction. Others will doubtless interpret it after their

manner. Several wise and learned men believe that the mystery of

the Holy Trinity is not obscurely hinted at in it. God the FATHER

blesses and keeps his followers. God the SON is gracious unto

sinners in remitting their offences, which he died to blot out.

God the HOLY SPIRIT takes of the things which are Christ's, and

shows them unto genuine Christians, and diffuses the peace of God

in their hearts. In a word, Christ, the gift of the Father by the

energy of the Holy Spirit, came to bless every one of us by

turning us away from our iniquities.

1. EVERY genuine Christian is a true Nazarite. He is separated

from the world, and dedicated solely to the service of God. 2.

His life is a life of self-denial; he mortifies and keeps the

flesh in obedience to the Spirit. 3. All this enters into the

spirit of his baptismal vow; for in that he promises to renounce

the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked

world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh-to keep God's holy

word and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of his

life. 4. The person who is faithful has the blessing of God

entailed upon him. Thus shall ye bless the children of Israel,

&c., &c. See Clarke on Nu 6:5 and "Nu 6:7".

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