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Holman Bible Dictionary


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(naz' uh rite) Member of a class of individuals especially devoted to God. The Hebrew term means consecration, devotion, and separation. Two traditional forms of the Nazirite are found. One was based on a vow by the individual for a specific period; the other was a lifelong devotion following the revelatory experience of a parent which announced the impending birth of a child.

The Nazirite's outward signs—the growth of hair, abstention from wine and other alcoholic products, the avoidance of contact with the dead—are illustrative of devotion to God. Violation of these signs resulted in defilement and the need for purification so the vow could be completed. Numbers 6:1-21 regulated the practice and lined the phenomenon to cultic law and locality. Numbers 6:1-8 show how the Nazirite's period was begun. In case of defilement, a method of purification was given ( Numbers 6:9-12 ). The status was terminated (Numbers 6:13-21 ) by the burning of shaven hair and the giving of various offerings. Parallels exist between the cultic purity of the high priest and the Nazirite.

The lifelong Nazirite in biblical tradition included Samson (Judges 13:1 ), Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1 ), and John the Baptist (Luke 1:15-17 ). In the New Testament, Paul took the Nazirite vow for a specific period of time (Acts 18:18 ; Acts 21:22-26 ). Amos 2:12 shows an ethical concern for protecting the status of the Nazirite.

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Nazirite'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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