What a Nazirite vow looks like
Swearing off hard drinks1The LORD told Moses: 2Tell the Israelite people this:
If any of you men or women take a special vow of devotion to me—such as the vow to live as Nazirites— 3I want you to follow these rules. Don’t drink wine or any other drink with a kick to it. That includes beer and the cheap vinegar wine. Don’t even drink fruit drinks like grape juice. Don’t eat raisins, either. 4When you’re living under a Nazirite vow, don’t eat anything that comes from a grapevine. Not the skin of a grape. Not the seeds of a grape. Not anything in between.
Swearing off haircuts5Don’t cut your hair, either. When you’re living under a Nazirite vow, devoted to the LORD, let your hair grow. 6Don’t touch a dead person. 7It would make you ritually unclean. Don’t even touch your dead father, mother, brother, or sister. Remember, you’ve taken a vow of devotion to God. 8Stay ritually clean for as long as you devote yourself to God—for the duration of this special vow.
Accidentally breaking the vow9But if someone beside you dies suddenly, contact with that dead person will ritually contaminate you and end your vow. To purify yourself and restart your vow, you need to wait seven days and then shave the hair off your head. 10On the eighth day, bring to the worship center two doves or two young pigeons. Take them to the place where animals are sacrificed, near the entrance into the Meeting Tent, and give them to the priest. 11He’ll offer one bird as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering. These sacrifices will atone for your sin of touching a dead person and will get you back on track with the LORD. Then you need to renew your vow and your promise not to cut your hair again until the vow is over. 12You can't just pick up your Nazarite vow where you left off. You have to start over at the beginning. Live your vow for the entire time you initially planned. You need to bring a year-old male lamb to sacrifice as a guilt offering.
Long list of Nazirite sacrifices13When you finish your Nazirite vow, you need to bring sacrificial offerings to the Meeting Tent at the worship center. 14You need a year-old male lamb. Make sure there’s nothing wrong with it. You also need a year-old female lamb as a sin offering. And you’ll need a ram that has nothing wrong with it, which you’ll present as a peace offering.
15Also bring a basket with liquid offerings along with some yeast-free bread. Bring some thick loaves and some thin loaves. Make them with fine flour mixed with olive oil. 16The priest will present all of these to the LORD. He’ll present your sin offering and your burnt offering. 17And he’ll sacrifice the ram as your peace offering. He’ll also present to the LORD your basket of unleavened bread and your liquid offering.
18Then you’ll shave the hair off your head. Do this near the entrance into the Meeting Tent, where animals are sacrificed. Place the hair on the burning altar, and then put the meat of the peace offering on top of it. 19After you shave your head, and after the ram’s meat has been boiled, the priest will give you the ram’s shoulder along with two loaves of yeast-free bread—one thick loaf and one thin. 20Then the priest will take them back and lift them to the LORD. They are sacred offerings that the LORD gives to the priest. The priest will also keep the breast and a thigh from the offering. At this point, you have finished your vow. It’s okay to drink wine again.
21This is how you should behave when you take a Nazirite vow. Remember this, whatever you promised the LORD you would do during your vow, do it. That’s why you took the Nazirite vow.
God bless you22The LORD told Moses:
23Give this message to Aaron and his sons:
Here’s a blessing of encouragement I want you to give to the Israelite people.
“May the LORD bless you
And keep you safe.
And may he show it with his kindness.
26May the LORD treat you well
And fill your life with peace.” 27When Aaron and his sons speak words of blessing like these to the Israelite people, I will bring the words to life.
People ritually unclean were not supposed to touch others or go to the worship center because they ritually defiled by whatever they touched. Israelites were able to get ritually clean again by following a set of procedures that included bathing, washing their clothes, getting sprinkled with “water of purification” (Numbers 19), and waiting for a stretch of time, often seven days.
A sin offering here refers to something the people of Israel brought to God after they realized they accidentally broke one of God’s laws earlier. Some scholars say a better translation is the opposite of “sin” because the sacrifice is intended to “un-sin” people, to purify them. So those scholars call it a “purification offering.”.
This was the most common animal sacrifice. Worshipers burned the entire animal. The writer doesn’t say why it takes two sacrifices: a sin offering and a burnt offering, each with different procedures. Scholars speculate that it may have taken both birds and both offerings to accomplish what one offering of a larger animal did. Blood of the first bird was sprinkled on the sides of the altar (Exodus 4:5-7). That blood ritually purifies the altar and atones for the sin, making the person right with God again. But there’s hardly anything left of the bird to burn after that. The second bird was burned on the altar (Exodus 1:14-17) perhaps to help provide a respectable amount of flesh for the altar. But these are educated guesses.
In older lingo, the guilt offering was called the trespass offering, as in, “Forgive us our trespasses” or sins. In fact, scholars can’t seem to figure out what the difference is between a “sin offering” and a “guilt offering.” One guess is that guilt offerings are more serious and often involve making restitution. Leviticus 5:14-7:7 talks about when a person needs to make a guilt offering. Leviticus 7:1-10 talks about how to make the sacrifice.
A peace offering, described in Leviticus 3, is one of several prescribed offerings in Jewish tradition. When Jewish people wanted to give thanks to God for something, such as good health or safety, they would sacrifice a sheep, goat, cow, or bull. They would burn part of the animal, including the kidneys and fat covering the intestines. They would eat the rest in celebration, often with family and friends. It takes a fair number of hungry people to eat a cow. But people were eager to eat meat because it was rare in Bible times for common folks to eat meat, many Bible scholars say.
Scholars translate “thick loaves” and “thin loaves” in various ways: cakes, wafers, flat loaves. The two Hebrew words are ḥallâ (thick loaf, ring-shaped loaf, bread cake) and rāqîq (thin loaf, wafter, flat cake). Whatever they looked like or tasted like, they were made of wheat or barley flour, ground fine and then mixed with olive oil. No yeast added to make the bread dough rise. So, the loaves were likely flat, heavy, and chewy.
A blessing is the opposite of a curse. Instead of wishing harm on people, it’s a wish and a prayer for good things to happen to them. It praises people. It encourages them. It asks God to show kindness to them. Many people seemed to believe that the words, with God’s help, had the power to make the wish come true.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.