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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature
Naz´arite. This word is derived from a Hebrew word, which signifies to 'separate one's self;' and as such separation from ordinary life to religious purposes must be by abstinence of some kind, so it denotes 'to refrain from anything.' Hence the import of the term Nazarite—one, that is, who, by certain acts of self-denial,' consecrated himself in a peculiar manner to the service, worship, and honor of God.
We are here, it is clear, in the midst of a sphere of ideas totally dissimilar to the genius of the Christian system; a sphere of ideas in which the outward predominates, in which self-mortification is held pleasing to God, and in which man's highest service is not enjoyment with gratitude, but privation with pain.
It may be questioned, if at least so much of this set of notions as supposes the Deity to be gratified and conciliated by the privations of his creatures, is in harmony with the ideas of God which the books of Moses exhibit, or had their origin in the law he promulgated. The manner in which he speaks on the subject () would seem to imply that he was not introducing a new law, but regulating an old custom; for his words take for granted, that the subject was generally and well known, and that all that was needed was such directions as should bring existing observances into accordance with the Mosaic ritual.
The law of the Nazarite, which may be found in Numbers 6, is, in effect, as follows—male and female might assume the vow; on doing so a person was understood to separate himself unto the Lord; this separation consisted in abstinence from wine and all intoxicating liquors, and from everything made therefrom: 'From vinegar of wine, and vinegar of strong drink; neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes or dried;' he was to 'eat nothing of the vine-tree, from the kernels even to the husks.' Nor was a razor to come upon his head all the time of his vow; he was to 'be holy, and let the locks of the hair of his head grow.' With special care was he to avoid touching any dead body whatever. Being holy unto the Lord, he was not to make himself unclean by touching the corpse even of a relative. Should he happen to do so, he was then to shave his head and offer a sin-offering and a burnt-offering; thus making an atonement for himself, 'for that he sinned by the dead.' A lamb also, of the first year, was to be offered as a trespass-offering. On the termination of the period of the vow the Nazarite himself was brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, there to offer a burnt-offering, a sin-offering, a peace-offering and a meat and a drink-offering. The Nazarite also shaved his head at the door of the tabernacle, and put the hair grown during the time of separation into the fire which was under the sacrifice of the peace-offerings. 'And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them in the hands of the Nazarite after the hair of his separation is shaven; and the priest shall wave them for a wave-offering.' 'After that the Nazarite may drink wine.'
There do not want individual instances which serve to illustrate this vow, and to show that the law in the case went into operation. Hannah, Samson's mother, became a Nazarite that she might have a son. Samson himself was a Nazarite from the time of his birth (Judges 13).
From the language employed by Samson, as well as from the tenor of the law in this case, the retention of the hair seems to have been one essential feature in the vow. It is, therefore, somewhat singular that any case should have been considered as the Nazaritic vow in which the shaving of the head is put forth as the chief particular. St. Paul is supposed to have been under this vow, when () he is said to have 'shorn his head in Cenchrea, for he had a vow' (see also ). The head was not shaven till the vow was performed, when a person had not a vow.
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Nazarite'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​kbe/​n/nazarite.html.