Discovery: Nazirite Vow

I must have been under a rock during the day I was taught about the Nazirite vow in Sunday school.  Maybe I was day dreaming; maybe I was absent that day; maybe it wasn’t even a subject taught at my church.  A devotion I read several weeks ago mentioned the Nazirite vow and I’ve had to really dig in so that I could understand this concept.

Numbers 6:1-8 describes the vow as a way to make a special Covent with the Lord.   It was a strictly voluntary, special in its intent, and indicates a separation from a temptation.  It seems that the vow was used most frequently during a time of difficulty or extremely hard trials and temptation…at that time, the person could take this vow as a way to grow closer to the Lord. 

Interestingly enough, Numbers 6:3 commands that anyone taking the Nazirite vow should abstain from drinking alcohol.  More specifically, it called for an abstinent from wine and all products made from the grape plant. This would have included grape seed oil or cream of tartar.  

Another aspect of the vow included continually growing one’s hair.  If one temporarily forgot the vow, a simple look in the mirror would remind them.  It became not only a reminder of the vow, but a testimony opportunity when asked why they were growing out their hair.  

This led me to another question…are there any examples in the New Testament that speak to the Nazirite vow?  Guess what? Of course, there is! 

In Acts 18:18 (NASB), Luke wrote “Now Paul, when he had remained many days longer, took leave of the brothers and sisters and sailed away to Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him.  Paul first had his hair cut at Cenchrea, for he was keeping a vow.” 

Why was Paul exhibiting behavior associated with Nazirite vow?  He was traveling from Corinth towards Syria when he cut his hair.  His recent experiences in Corinth and in Athens, where he had apathetic encounters with non-believers, very few conversions to Christianity, a lack of new church establishment, and cult-like behaviors of worshiping Aphrodite.  His decision to take a special vow with an outward showing of cutting his hair was a way to mark the growth of his hair from the moment of the vow, as well as a means to protect himself and draw closer to the Lord during his trials.  

Most Americans would be able to tell you about the unique attributes of the wedding vows.  Heck, most would even acknowledge it’s a convent with/before God.  All would recognize that the wedding ring is the outward sign of the wedding vow having been taken.  We know about the wedding vows because we’ve attended ceremonies, watched them on tv, or even taken part in our own commitment with this vow.  We are comfortable with the concept of the wedding vow.

Why am I not as comfortable with this vow mentioned in Numbers and Acts?  How did I know about this very personal “Nazirite vow?”  In a moment of self-doubt, I felt like a horrible Christian that wasn’t studying her Bible enough.  And in the next instance, I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I just need to keep studying…keep digging…keep praying.

What Biblical revelations have you had this week? Come to the porch and share!!


Numbers 6:1-8 (NIV)

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the Lord as a Nazirite, they must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or other fermented drink. They must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. As long as they remain under their Nazirite vow, they must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins. During the entire period of their Nazirite vow, no razor may be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over; they must let their hair grow long. Throughout the period of their dedication to the Lord, the Nazirite must not go near a dead body. Even if their own father or mother or brother or sister dies, they must not make themselves ceremonially unclean on account of them, because the symbol of their dedication to God is on their head. Throughout the period of their dedication, they are consecrated to the Lord.’”

2 thoughts on “Discovery: Nazirite Vow

  1. Emily,
    I grew up as a “religious mutt,” a Heinz 57, a child of multiple denominational influences. Such an upbringing can be a blessing and a curse. I had a Wesleyan Methodist father, a Southern Baptist mother, Pentecostal cousins and so on. What this meant on Sundays was I would be going to church with my father on one Sunday and my mother the next. Sunday mornings were never happy times as we went our separate ways each week, while I watched my friends go together, as a family, to worship. The reason for this made an indelible mark on my heart and on my parents’ relationship at that time. I recall the Wesleyan minister sitting in our den, condemning my mother for cutting her hair. It broke her heart for this condemnation and my father sat and listened. I decided right then and there as a six year old that I wanted no part of any kind of “religion” that would create that kind of divisiveness and confusion. My mother wore a short bob, like most women of the 60’s, and she also held a very responsible job, unlike some women of that time. Because she wanted to worship in a place where she felt safe and in sanctuary, she never joined my father’s church.

    (Ironically, as a married adult I became a Presbyterian and left the Southern Baptist faith because of their stand against women in the pulpit. I had two female ministers in the family by then, none welcomed to speak at “my home church.”) But I digress….

    The fruit of the grape was never an issue in our home as it was not allowed. My grandmother never permitted playing cards in her home. So I grew up “safe” from grape juice and Old Maid cards until I was old enough to go to the store to buy my own with my allowance.

    My point is this, I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about the Bible or the teachings of the Creator. As a Bible scholar, you know that some of the rules and laws we read in the Bible were necessary for that time and are often confusing today. My revelation is that to stay in alignment with God is to live one’s purpose. Watching out for obstacles to that path that cause confusion or self-doubt of our commitment to Christ has to be wrong. When I read that you felt more or less ashamed for not knowing about the Nazirite Vow, that broke my heart. My grandmother often told me, “The Devil is the author of confusion.” I stand on that and when I am received by the Father at my time of homecoming, I will have many questions, all answered in that great “a ha” moment.

    Wishing you well during these trying times. Thank you once again for permission to share my heart as you shared yours.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate your comments and love that you felt comfortable in sharing your background and thoughts.

      I apologize if I gave the impression that I was ashamed about not knowing anything about the Nazirite Vow. I was stumped and amazed about the Nazirite Vow…and I don’t recall ever hearing about it…but I’m not ashamed of when I learn something from the Bible that I hadn’t previously considered.

      In the true spirit of the New Testament, we are all striving to be more Christ-like, but we won’t attain the perfection we seek until we are in heaven. I know there are hundreds (if not thousands) of concepts in the Bible that I don’t understand or haven’t yet learned about.

      The beauty of the Iron Porch is that you and I can have a conversation about those “unknowns” and that we can compare our backgrounds to encourage one another in that walk with Christ.
      Again, Thank you for sharing!
      Hugs, Emily

      Liked by 1 person

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