Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Vow of A Nazarite

Numbers 6:2 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:

3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.

4 All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.

5 All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.

6 All the days that he separateth himself unto the Lord he shall come at no dead body.

7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head.

8 All the days of his separation he is holy unto the Lord.

A Nazarite is a consecrated man or woman. According to the bible dictionary “it is a man under a vow to abstain from wine, from any cutting of the hair and any contact with the dead. The vow might be lifelong, or for a short, definite period.”

“Nazarite, Hebrew nazar, dedicate, is a vow of a peculiar kind which may be taken by either sex that sets them apart from others for the service of God. The vow may be for life or a definite period of time.

The term "nazarite" comes from the verb nazar meaning to separate, or with persons, to separate them from others, so they are distinguishable, and consecrated to God (Genesis 49:26; Deuteronomy 33:16). Others hold that the word nezer, a diadem, contains the orginal concept of nazar, which will then radically signify a crown, and the hair is regarded as a crown to the person. In accordance to this view, the Nazarite is a crowned one, because he has "the crown of God upon his head" (Numbers 6:7), evidently in allusion to the mass of uncut hair, which was considered an ornament (2 Samuel 14:25, 26).

The Nazarite, the one taking the vow, separated himself from others while remaining in the world by consecrating himself to God for a certain period of time, although there have been life-long Nazarites. The uncut hair of the Nazarite also distinguishes him as being consecrated to the Lord, and signifies his vital powers which he rendered to God. The hair is his diadem of consecration, and like the anointed priest he must not defile it by approaching the dead. Some rabbis discouraged the taking of the Nazrite for more than thirty days because it is against the spirit of Judaism. The Nazarite laws could only be kept in Erez Israel (the promised land).”
(Sources:Unger, Merrill F., Unger's Bible Dictionary, Chicago, Moody Press, 1966, pp. 779-780
Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 689 )

Are we all not attempting to become consecrated to the Lord? As LDS members we too have a food requirement, known as the Word of Wisdom, and are also instructed in the manner in which we should dress, or given council on our appearance. The “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet outlines that code very beautifully and it applies to all members of any age. We are also cautioned about those with whom we associate and encouraged to surround ourselves with others who are like minded in their beliefs and values.

In fact, these three requirements are very specifically discussed previous to entering into the House of the Lord or the Holy Temple.

Do we strive to keep the Word of Wisdom?
Do we wear the clothing we received?
Do we associate with any organization or individual who would be in conflict with our beliefs?

By becoming consecrated in these ways we are allowed to “separate” ourselves from the world and enter into a Holy place, perhaps even our very own Erez Israel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the article. I am a member of the church and have been doing some research of my own recently on the subject of the Nazarites. There seems strong connections between the Nazarites and the Nazarenes. Some say no but when you look at the evidence Samuel was a Nazarite and there are several figures that are questionably Nazarites from John the Baptist, Isaiah, Elijah, Jesus and James. In the second century histories James the Just is called a Nazarite from birth and it is clearly stated that he ate no flesh and drank no wine. We can believe these statements because in the third and fourth centuries the church fathers already aposticizing were bagging them for these traits. Daniel, Hosea, Isaiah all have similar dietary messages in their writings. Samuel started the school of the prophets which was continued at least to Elijah and this was on Carmel. Present day Nazareth is at the base of the Carmel. These are not just happen stance.