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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

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those under the ancient law who engaged by a vow to abstain from wine and all intoxicating liquors, to let their hair grow, not to enter any house polluted by having a dead corpse in it, nor to be present at any funeral. If, by accident, any one should have died in their presence, they recommenced the whole of their consecration and Nazariteship. This vow generally lasted eight days, sometimes a month, and sometimes their whole lives. When the time of their Nazariteship was expired, the priest brought the person to the door of the temple, who there offered to the Lord a he-lamb for a burnt-offering, a she-lamb for an expiatory sacrifice, and a ram for a peace-offering. They offered, likewise, loaves and cakes, with wine, for libations. After all was sacrificed and offered, the priest, or some other, shaved the head of the Nazarite at the door of the tabernacle, and burned his hair on the fire of the altar. Then the priest put into the hands of the Nazarite the shoulder of the ram roasted, with a loaf and a cake, which the Nazarite returning into the hands of the priest, he offered them to the Lord, lifting them up in the presence of the Nazarite. And from this time he might again drink wine, his Nazariteship being accomplished.

Perpetual Nazarites, as Samson and John the Baptist, were consecrated to their Nazariteship by their parents, and continued all their lives in this state, without drinking wine or cutting their hair. Those who made a vow of Nazariteship out of Palestine, and could not come to the temple when their vow was expired, contented themselves with observing the abstinence required by the law, and cutting off their hair in the place where they were: the offerings and sacrifices prescribed by Moses, to be offered at the temple, by themselves or by others for them, they deferred till a convenient opportunity. Hence it was that St. Paul, being at Corinth, and having made the vow of a Nazarite, had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, a port of Corinth, and deferred the rest of his vow till he came to Jerusalem, Acts 18:18 . When a person found he was not in a condition to make a vow of Nazariteship, or had not leisure fully to perform it, he contented himself by contributing to the expense of sacrifices and offerings of those who had made and were fulfilling this vow; and by this means he became a partaker in such Nazariteship. When St. Paul came to Jerusalem, A.D. 58, St.

James, with other brethren, said to him, that to quiet the minds of the converted Jews he should join himself to four persons who had a vow of Nazariteship, and contribute to their charges and ceremonies: by which the new converts would perceive that he did not totally disregard the law, as they had been led to suppose, Acts 21; Acts 23, 24. The institution of Nazaritism is involved in much mystery; and no satisfactory reason has ever been given of it. This is certain, that it had the approbation of God, and may be considered as affording a good example of self-denial in order to be given up to the study of the law, and the practice of exact righteousness.

Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Nazarites'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​wtd/​n/nazarites.html. 1831-2.
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