Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
LAW OF THE
2-8. When either man or woman . . . shall vow a vow of a Nazarite--that
is, "a separated one," from a Hebrew word, "to separate." It was used
to designate a class of persons who, under the impulse of extraordinary
piety and with a view to higher degrees of religious improvement,
voluntarily renounced the occupations and pleasures of the world to
dedicate themselves unreservedly to the divine service. The vow might
be taken by either sex, provided they had the disposal of themselves
and for a limited period--usually a month or a lifetime
(Jud 13:5; 16:17).
We do not know, perhaps, the whole extent of abstinence they practised.
But they separated themselves from three things in particular--namely,
from wine, and all the varieties of vinous produce; from the
application of a razor to their head, allowing their hair to grow; and
from pollution by a dead body. The reasons of the self-restrictions are
obvious. The use of wine tended to inflame the passions, intoxicate the
brain, and create a taste for luxurious indulgence. The cutting off the
hair being a recognized sign of uncleanness
(Le 14:8, 9),
its unpolled luxuriance was a symbol of the purity he professed.
Besides, its extraordinary length kept him in constant remembrance of
his vow, as well as stimulated others to imitate his pious example.
Moreover, contact with a dead body, disqualifying for the divine
service, the Nazarite carefully avoided such a cause of unfitness, and,
like the high priest, did not assist at the funeral rites of his
nearest relatives, preferring his duty to God to the indulgence of his
strongest natural affections.
9-12. If any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the
head of his consecration--Cases of sudden death might occur to make him
contract pollution; and in such circumstances he was required, after
shaving his head, to make the prescribed offerings necessary for the
removal of ceremonial defilement
But by the terms of this law an accidental defilement vitiated the
whole of his previous observances, and he was required to begin the
period of his Nazaritism afresh. But even this full completion did not
supersede the necessity of a sin offering at the close. Sin mingles
with our best and holiest performances, and the blood of sprinkling is
necessary to procure acceptance to us and our services.
13-20. when the days of his separation are fulfilled, &c.--On the
accomplishment of a limited vow of Nazaritism, Nazarites might cut
their hair wherever they happened to be
but the hair was to be carefully kept and brought to the door of the
sanctuary. Then after the presentation of sin offerings and burnt
offerings, it was put under the vessel in which the peace offerings
were boiled; and the priest, taking the shoulder
when boiled, and a cake and wafer of the meat offering, put them on the
hands of the Nazarites to wave before the Lord, as a token of
thanksgiving, and thus released them from their vow.
23-27. Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye
shall bless the congregation of Israel, &c.--This passage records
the solemn benediction which God appointed for dismissing the people at
the close of the daily service. The repetition of the name "Lord" or
"Jehovah" three times, expresses the great mystery of the
Godhead--three persons, and yet one God. The expressions in the
separate clauses correspond to the respective offices of the Father, to
"bless and keep us"; of the Son, to be "gracious to us"; and of the
Holy Ghost, to "give us peace." And because the benediction, though
pronounced by the lips of a fellow man, derived its virtue, not from
the priest but from God, the encouraging assurance was added, "I the
Lord will bless them."