Numbers 6

Chapter six outlines the procedures for a special type of vow – the Nazirite vow. Nazirite means “consecrated one,” and most who took this vow did so temporarily. Only two men were clearly said to have been lifelong Nazirites — Samuel (1 Samuel 1:27-28) and Samson (Judges 13:4-5, 14) — although some teachers believe that John the Baptizer may have been as well. This vow was available to both men and women.

The requirements of the Nazirite vow consisted of three parts (Numbers 6:1-8): 1) do not consume anything from a grapevine, fruit or drink; 2) do not cut one’s hair; 3) do not come in contact with a dead body, even a close relative. Since the third part was not completely in their control, God made allowance in case a person died right next to him and he touched the body (Numbers 6:9-12). He was required to go through seven days of purification, then shave his head, offer sacrifices, and start the length of his vow over again. The time from before his defilement had been voided. At the end of the vowed length of time, he would bring sacrifices to the tabernacle to offer to Jehovah and shave his head again (Numbers 6:13-21). After this, he was free to eat and drink again as before his vow.

The chapter concludes with what has become a well-known blessing (Numbers 6:22-27). God gave the priests a blessing which they could say over the Israelites, tying the people to the very name of Jehovah.