The Nazarite Vow -- By: James McLeish

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 20:2 (Summer 1977)
Article: The Nazarite Vow
Author: James McLeish

The Nazarite Vow

James McLeish

M. Div. Alexandria, Minnesota


The Old Testament is always a gold mine or principles, concepts, and theology which must be mined out in order to govern any proper understanding of the New Testament. It is the foundation upon which the New is built; it is the Old Testament root which sustains those marvelous New Testament flowers. It is the light which scatters shadows of confusion and drives off thieves of truth and consistency and ecclesiastical sobriety.

Study of the Mosiac Law and its theocratic relationships is essential to any grasp of Old Testament Theology, and a study of the vows contained in the Law will be profitable not only in over-all, Old Testament understanding, but also in the practical applications of New Testament, Christian truth.

The purpose of this brief study is to examine one of the vows found in the Law, the Nazartie vow (sometimes spelled Nazirite).

The scope of this study will include an analysis of the Nazarite regulations as found in Numbers 6 and a survey of the Nazarites of Bible times, particularly those of the Old Testament. The former will include a study of the nature and initiation of the vow, its conditions, its violations, its termination, and its significance in the theocratic system and for the individual. The latter will include a look at those in the Bible called Nazarites and those assumed to have been under the Nazarite vow on the basis of other evidence.

A brief discussion of Old Testament vows in general is in order before examining the Nazarite vow in detail. Vows, nedher, have been defined as “voluntary obligations or oaths made to God, generally on the condition of His bestowing certain specified blessings.”1

Vows can be further broken down into two major types: vows of devotion and vows of abstinence. A vow of devotion might involve promises to perform certain things for God or bring certain things to God in return for certain benefits hoped for from His hand (Gen. 28:20–22; Lev. 27:2, 8; Num. 30; Judges 11:30).

A vow of abstinence might involve a number of different kinds of self-imposed restrictions (Num. 30:3, 13; 6:1...

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